Arielle Castillo of New Times Broward-Palm Beach recently conducted an interview with TRIVIUM guitarist/vocalist Matt Heafy. A couple of excerpts from the chat can be found below.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: What's the significance of the album's title, "Shogun"?
Heafy: I've always known of that word, and on our second Japanese tour, I was on a bus tour, like a tourist tour. They were talking about ancient shogun, who were the highest-ranking military people in ancient Japanese times. And I was like, Holy shit, that's a really epic title, I want to use that for something. But I think "The Crusade" was just about to come out, so there was no need for a title like that. We started writing the music for this record, and we saw how epic, how captivating the music was for the four of us, and we knew we needed a title that represented the music appropriately. So I brought up the title that I've always had in the back of my mind, and was like, Hey guys, how about this word? It's perfect. It's a word that summed up this album perfectly.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: Did Japanese history and folklore influence anything else with this record? I see you've got these traditional Japanese tattoos going on....
Heafy: Definitely on this record there are some Japanese historically influenced song titles, there's also some Greek stuff, Judeo-Christian stuff. None of these are really retellings of specifically what the title is, or maybe what the song seems to be about, but they're using these things as tools to further the lyrics even more. Like, the first song on the album is called "Kirisute Gomen", which was an ancient samurai term which was basically, if you pissed off a samurai, he could chop off your head by law. Like, sorry, but I have to take your head. I thought it was very pertinent. I liked it.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: So would you say this is in any way a concept kind of album?
Heafy: Conceptually, it's got the same concepts going on, but it's not a concept record. So there's three "concepts" in the same sentence. It does have some similar conceptual ideas.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: Why did you choose not to work with Jason Suecof on this album?
Heafy: Including TRIVIUM, and CAPHARNAUM, and Roadrunner United, and every demo TRIVIUM's ever done, and the Sims 2 game, and all this other shit, Jason and I have worked together about 15 times. It was time for both of us to spread our wings and listen to each other's work as fans as opposed to having to think of each other always in a work manner.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: That sounds like a really polished answer.
Heafy: It's totally true. There are so many things we've done together — death metal, black metal, joke emo, Roadrunner United, TRIVIUM.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: So you just said, Thanks, but no thanks?
Heafy: No, no, he didn't even… Both of us knew that after the last record, it was time to start doing things differently. I'm gonna work with him on a CAPHARNAUM record, so this way we can just be in a band together and not be work partners.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: Back to the actual music, you've also said that you've brought more screaming back. But around the last record, you seemed kind of anti-screaming, and against other bands that were doing screaming at the time.
Heafy: Yep. With the last record, with all the good and bads that came out of "Ascendancy". Like, we really feel that "Ascendancy" was ahead of its time, and "Ember to Inferno". Because those records were done before all the countless other bands were doing that same sing-scream, sing-scream formula. Whereas us, we were heavily influenced by the metal bands that did it, and our screaming didn't come from anything other than melodic death metal, or bands like TESTAMENT, PANTERA, or DEATH, out of Florida. So when it came time for the next record, with all the goods and bads that came out of "Ascendancy", we wanted to make a record that was still TRIVIUM, but the exact opposite of that....
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: What do you mean by "the bads?"
Heafy: When that first record came out, with the first string of press, they were like, What the fuck is this? A bunch of 16-, 17-year-olds saying they want to conquer the world? But for us, it's fantastic that we came out like that, we came out showing the world that we were not afraid, and not going to do it the way everyone else does it. And that leads up to "The Crusade", and we wanted to do something completely different. If we had done the same record, our fans and our band would have gotten bored, and I don't think we'd be around any more. I think with "The Crusade" we showed that, hey, we're gonna do exactly what we want all the time.
New Times Broward-Palm Beach: Did a lot of your fans get pissed off with that first shift in direction?
Heafy: Some did, but the people who were like, I'm never gonna listen to you again because of this record, then how much of a fan were you in the first place? We still play the old shit, we play it true to the original. People love it or they hate it, awesome. As long as there's no in-between.
Read the entire interview from New Times Broward-Palm Beach.