Förra veckan tog jag mig in till hotell Birger Jarl för ett litet snack med gitarristen Corey i Trivium. Vi slog oss ned i ett litet konferensrum och snackade bl a om kommande plattan, gitarrhjältar, Sammy Hagars bok, nackdelar med internet och en del annat.
First of all, the title ”In waves”, what´s it all about? Any kind of tsunami thing going on there?
Corey: No, I guess “In waves” can mean a bunch of different things. Not just necessarily about an actual wave. It can be that things come in waves one after the other. I´m not really sure because Matt never… he´s doing this whole thing where he doesn´t want to explain the meaning of what anything means on the record, like the lyrics or the artwork or anything. He wants everyone to be able to get into the record and listen to the record and be able to form their own ideas and what the songs mean to them, instead of having someone else saying “This is what the song means!” and then not be able to make the song their own, the way it means to them. A lot of the stuff he just kind of wrote a lot and it flowed out and he didn´t really have a definite meaning of what it´s supposed to actually mean, because it just kind of came out. A lot of stuff was inspired by visual art and movies and stuff and not necessarily inspired by music. It could mean a lot of things and I just think that everything with the record, everyone will hopefully form their own… kind of what it means to them and make it more personal to them when they listen to it. I couldn´t even really tell you because Matt hasn´t even told me what most of the shit means, so I kind of have to do the same thing.
Is it always like that?
Corey: The last couple of albums it´s pretty self explanatory with a lot of the mythological stuff and on “Crusade” there were a lot of current events and news stories. This record and “Ascendancy” have like that kind of more thing were the lyrics are drawn from a more personal side and leaves it open to the listener to kind of attach themselves and have their own meaning to it instead of “Hey, this is what happened fucking two years ago in Chicago!” or something.
How do you guys work when you´re writing songs? Do you write on the road or just go “Well, it´s time to write an album, let´s lock ourselves in the basement and write!”?
Corey: We do a lot of writing on tour, so we´re always writing riff ideas in the dressing room and recording on our lap tops or like showing each other riffs in the dressing room and kind of bouncing ideas off each other. We like to do that so we have a lot of… so we can kind of start the basic song ideas. We may not have the whole record by the time we get done, but at least having like a good chunk of anywhere from like four to six songs. A good number of tunes that start early on and during the touring and on the bus, we´ll just listen to songs on the speakers and throughout the tours, modify the riffs or add stuff to them or add parts to the song. It kind of gives us a little extra head start with putting the songs together, so by the time we get off the tour and it´s time to go work on the record, we can go into the rehearsal space and everyone´s already familiar with a good chunk of songs and we can get right into putting the songs together and go through all that and fine tuning them and then things change when the whole band is playing together, with the songs and the way they feel and everything like that and then modify that and once you do that everyone brings in new song ideas and keep adding to the songs we have. We always like to have a good starting point going into it instead of “Ok, we´ve got write a record! We´ve got six months to put a record together!” and we´re starting from scratch. With this way we´ve already got a lot of the work started, so we have a lot more time to fine tune things and try out new ideas instead of trying to play catch up.
Do you go in with a whole bunch of songs and then pick from those or do you just write those songs that you need for the album?
Corey: We usually write way more than we need. Like for this album I think we almost had like 30 songs, but we cut them as we go, like we got a good chunk of like ten songs and then we bring new song ideas and the ten songs were really strong and we felt really strong about them. If someone in the band wasn´t feeling it or didn´t think it was up to par with the other songs, we kind of scrapped it and then once something would come along that we felt fit with the rest of the songs and could hold its own, then we´d keep it. We really pushed it and we didn´t want anything that we didn´t feel was good enough for the record. There´s a lot of stuff and we at least try everything. If we brought in a song idea, we at least would give it a shot and try to work it and after a while if it just wasn´t happening or wasn´t fitting the vibe that we were going for, we got rid of it. We kind of have a standard level of the type of songs we were looking for and how they fit with the other songs. They kind of weeded themselves out. We´d have something like “Wow, that´s a really cool tune!”, but it didn´t feel compared to the chunk of the stuff that we really liked for the record. Maybe if it was for a different album the song might have worked, but we wanted everything to be really cohesive, so we kind of weeded out the songs that didn´t work. We ended up writing a lot of stuff but we only recorded like 13.
Do you always start over from scratch or do you use ideas from the past?
Corey: I don´t anything that we wrote during the process for previous albums, ever made it to the next album. We usually start fresh, because after we do one record, it´s usually a couple of years later when we do the next one and then musically, we´re in like a totally different kind of zone and that explains why all our albums are so drastic from each other, but we´re always broadening our horizons with stuff. Usually when you go back and listen to old demos of songs that were there at the beginning and ended up being cut, you kind of like know why they didn´t get used, but some of the older stuff have some pretty cool riffs that I´m sure, if there was the right song wrapped around it, it would work. Usually we always try to move on to the next thing and write new type of stuff. Why use something that didn´t get used a couple of years ago when we could push ourselves to write something even cooler that we´re really stoked about. There are some little thing sometimes, like guitar melody bits or ideas that get worked into something else, but pretty much everything´s something new and it´s more fun that way.
With the Internet and all these kinds of channels, it´s pretty hard keeping an album secret these days. Sooner or later it will get leaked. How do you feel about that? I remember when I grew up, you waited for a record and you didn´t know anything about it until it was released on that day. These days there are no secrets anymore.
Corey: Yeah, it´s kind of a bummer, because it kind of makes the release date not so special. It´s like “Oh, that´s when I can buy it, but it doesn´t mean that´s when I can get it!”. We started working on the record in April last year and we didn´t start recording until January and we didn´t say shit about anything! We kept our cards close to our chests and didn´t say any of the song names, any of the titles and didn´t put out anything like studio wise while we were working, like videos that played any kind of music. We kept the mystery of the record and only leaked or put any information out the way we wanted. We didn´t let anything leak through someone else. Whatever was put out online so far has been to our own doing and the way we wanted to do it. These days you can´t go until the release date without telling anyone anything, so as long as you can do it the way you want to do it, then that´s kind of the best way to go about it. A lot of bands are like “Oh, we´re in the studio and just started recording drums and these are all the song titles!” and it´s like they don´t keep anything a mystery or do anything to make any kind of surprise. With a lot of bands it´s like “Oh, here´s our new album title!”. It´s a fucking post on Blabbermouth or “Here´s our album cover!” and it´s a post on Blabbermouth and it´s not really anything exciting about it. You´re not making it like a special thing with unveiling information. A lot of people are like “Oh, new song streaming on Blabbermouth!” or on a Facebook page. We made our fans work for it where they had to figure out a fucking HTML fucking code and not just giving it to them, but making them actually figuring it out on their own to get the song and made it more special. Nowadays everything is just handed to people and information is just at a keyboard. If you make somebody put some effort into it, it makes it a little bit more special when they get to hear it and it´s not just a freebie. Kind of makes it more exciting and I think with us not saying much throughout the process of recording it and kept as much information secret as possible, it made our fans seem to be a little bit more excited about it and people seem to be generally more stoked. Instead of throwing it all out there and not making it exciting… in terms of now and this point in time with how everything works with the Internet, I thought we did a pretty good job holding out on information and I think that also made it a lot more exciting.
These days and because of the Internet, there´s always three or four different versions of an album, like the deluxe version, the Japanese version, the European version and so on and you throw in a dvd of how the album was done. Will there be stuff like that?
Corey: Yeah! We have, when the record first comes out, the standard edition which has 11 songs, but we went all out on our special edition where it has 13 songs. Two bonus tracks and a making of documentary, which we filmed in a totally different way and we also have a live DVD that we recorded and that no one´s seen yet. It´s not live in front of a crowd. It´s kind of like an intimate rehearsal with a warehouse set up and lights and different cameras. We went in there and made like a mini live DVD. We´re playing four songs off the new album and four old songs. Shot in like an industrial type of warehouse setting and I actually saw it the other day in full and I was pretty impressed. A lot of people when they do live DVDs and record it, they go into the studio and re-amp the guitars or fix shit that the fucked up. We didn´t touch anything. We had it mixed, so it´s about as live as it gets. The guy that mixed it did a phenomenal job and I couldn´t believe that nothing was touched, because it just sounds so good and we actually played really, really well. There´s some minor screw ups here and there, but for being nothing touched it´s at live as it gets and it shows you that we can play live and play our instruments. We´re confident with how we play and perform. Even if we screw up… everyone screws up, but those other bands are just too afraid to show it. It sounds really good and it´s got a really good live feeling. A guy from our label watched it and said it was really cool and that it felt like being let in to like an intimate rehearsal type of thing. I think that´s a new thing that we try and incorporate instead of the same old “making of…”. An extra bonus thing because everyone asks us about “When are you guys gonna do a live DVD?” and we never really got that excited to wanna do one. At this pint everybody does one so we wanted to wait until the time was right and we felt that this was kind of like a way to bridge the gap where they wanna have something they can watch at home, but it´s in a different setting and it´s not like playing at the “fill in the blank” festival and we also picked the not most obvious tracks. We´re not even playing “Pull harder”, which everyone expects, so if you wanna see that you have to wait for the actual DVD and there´s no time frame for that.
Leaving in mistakes and stuff like that, makes it more honest and usually makes it a lot more interesting.
Corey: All the classic ones, like even live albums that people revere like…
Yeah, it´s like KISS´ “ALIVE” and ALIVE II” and I always thought the first one was a bit more honest in its recording but it´s not. It´s pretty touched up as well.
Corey: Yeah, it´s like you can listen to Iron Maiden´s “Live after death” and you can hear Bruce struggling to hit notes and they´re not fixing that up and even with the Metallica stuff, they don´t fucking touch up anything. It´s like if you wanna hear us recorded live, you´re gonna get live and it´s not gonna be all fucking fake and touched up and fixed in the studio. I just read that Sammy Hagar book and he´s talking about that live album they did where they went in and re-tracked everything and he had to go and re-track all the vocals and that´s not really a live album is it? It´s like a studio recording with live audience.
I haven´t read that one yet.
Corey: I read it… I bought it for the trip to Tokyo and I got so into that book that I read the whole thing from start to finish. It´s a really good book!
I guess he rips Eddie a new one?
Corey: He does a pretty good job on that, but he also compliments him and stuff so he´s not just bashing everybody, but he bashes when it´s due and he gives people the compliments and credits they deserve. It seems like a pretty honest thing. He comes from a pretty good spot where he´s not just hating on everybody. I love reading those rock books. It´s like the only books I read.
Yeah, me too! Working with a producer then. I talked to JD and Nick from Black Label Society and they said “We don´t need a producer! We know what we´re supposed to sound like, so we do it ourselves!” and then other bands go “Oh, we definitely need a producer to guide us!”. How do you feel about that? Could you work without one?
Corey: We were trying on this one, but I think the label sometimes just likes to have somebody to make sure everything is running properly and getting done. On some of the other records, like the previous one where you kind of needed someone to guide you and keep things running a certain way and tell you “Maybe you should try this part!”. We kind of had that on certain parts on other records, but on this one, when writing the record, we kind of knew exactly what we were wanting to do and what we wanted the songs to sound like, that by the time we got to the studio, I didn´t need anyone to tell me what to play for a guitar solo, I just played. Those guys are really good because we didn´t need them to hold our hands to put the songs together, we had that shit down, but they´re really good to have on the technical aspect of recording. We don´t really know how to run all the gear or how to make it work efficiently and use the stuff fast enough so you can keep the session going. Those guys are really good, because in our heads we knew how we wanted the record to sound and they have the skills and the experience to know how to take all the gear that we had at our disposal and get the sounds we were looking for and translate in on to the record, which is a big thing. An amp can sound really good in a room and some person might mike it up and it just sounds totally different. We learned a lot of stuff just by watching them and see the way they do it and the little tricks that they use to eliminate certain things or what not, so it was a learning experience on the technical aspect of how to get all that stuff to sound the way it did. They were able to get all of our ideas of how e were looking for the record to sound and actually making it happen, We did some pre-production and they had some minor comments about like “For this part, do little pause and then go into it!”. Just very small things and stuff like that. Song wise we pretty much had it locked down and they were just there to make it come to life with the recording side of everything and they did a phenomenal job on it!
When it comes to playing the guitar, do you have any personal guitar heroes? Stuff you listened to more when you were growing up and learning the guitar?
Corey: I listened to tons of stuff, but playing guitar and the stuff that I would play in my room and playing along to the cd´s the most, was like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden and Iced earth. Those were like the big ones that I learned and played along to the cd´s and then there´s a lot of other stuff that I listened to, but those are the ones that I probably learned the most, of actually learning the songs than some of the other stuff. Yngwie I couldn´t really play, but it was inspiring to listen to because I couldn´t play that fast when I was younger. It was inspirational and like “Oh, I wanna be able to do that!”, but I just can´t. There´s a lot of stuff that I listened to, but learning those songs, like learning Maiden, Slayer, Megadeth and that really showed me and was kind of like the blueprint for how to play metal and how to write metal music. Once you learn it you can kind of take it and Frankenstein it and put your own twist on it. You gotta learn the tricks from somebody and then you gotta figure it out how to take it and make your own thing out of it.
Do you still practice guitar these days?
Corey: Yeah! Pretty much when I´m at home and I´m in front of my TV. I just play guitar when I watch TV. If I sit in a room by myself and just sit there and play guitar I usually kind of like “I play guitar all the time.”, so I do something different while I´m home. My amp´s next to my TV, so I just turn my amp on, pick up the guitar, sit on my couch and just watch TV-shows or movies or something and play guitar and it´s like you´re playing but you´re not full on thinking about it. It´s just like autopilot and usually when I do that, that´s when a guitar lick or a riff will come out and then you work on it. It´s more fun for me.
When are you guys coming back to Sweden?
Corey: In November! We´ve got a tour, but we can´t really announce who we´re playing with yet, because it´s one of those business things, but it´s November and it´s gonna be a really cool tour and I´m really excited.
I think I saw you guys on your first tour here!
Corey: Yeah, it might have been the "Road rage" tour. That was our first full European tour.
Is it gonna be just Stockholm or Gothenburg as well?
Corey: Yeah, I think Gothenburg too! It´s a pretty cool lineup and I think when it´s announced, everybody´s gonna be pretty stoked. It´s a good crop of bands, so I´m really looking forward to that. Once people hear who we´re playing with, they´re gonna be pretty stoked.
So you´ll be here in the winter time when it´s freezing!
Corey: That´s when we´re always over here! (laughs) Besides last year, I think I´ve spent the last four birthdays somewhere in Scandinavia. Either Sweden or Norway, so I´m sure my birthday will be… actually I know it will be here because my birthday is in November.
Alright! Thank you Corey!
Corey: Thank you! Awesome!