A serious case can be made that in 2021, Trivium frontman Matt Heafy is the hardest working man in music.
A quick glance at his Instagram shows an individual balancing fatherhood (twins, no less), a huge following on the streaming service Twitch (on which he does two daily streams, consisting of original and covered music, and gaming), as well as a myriad of guest spots with up-and-coming metal bands – with, of course, a little bit of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu thrown in.
That’s not even taking into account his main career in Trivium, who’ve just dropped what is arguably their finest LP, In The Court Of The Dragon, a mere 14 months after the critically acclaimed What The Dead Men Say. It’s a workload akin to The Rock, Joe Rogan or Kevin Hart, with discipline being what underpins it all.
“I’ll run you through the full schedule”, Heafy says when we caught up over the phone.
“I wake up at seven o’clock, clean the house and prepare breakfast for all of us. 7:30, we all eat and I prep the social media schedule for the day. Eight o’clock, 30 minutes of vocal warm-ups while the kids watch TV, with coffee in hand. 8:30, we’re thankful to have someone helping us out in the house, so I go into my office where the streams are set up and ready to go. 8:30 to 11 o’clock, Trivium stream with some games thrown in at the end.
“11 o’clock is Jujitsu time. My Jujitsu partner comes around because we train in my backyard, and we’ve done that for the last 18 months. 12 o’clock, prep lunch, spend time with the kids and get ready for the second stream. 1:30, get ready for the second stream. The streams end by 4 o’clock, and then it’s time with the kids.”
It’s exhausting to read, but exhilarating to hear when Heafy explains it to you with military-esque intensity.
“My schedule isn’t because of Trivium or Twitch – my dad’s a Marine and my mum’s Japanese, so I was raised by two of the most disciplined and regimented cultures. And raising children, they need structure and schedule as well.”
The same work ethic goes for the band – on a musical level at least – with In The Court Of The Dragon requiring a mere 14 days to track. It’s nothing short of a jaw-dropping feat given the level of technical complexity and cinematic scope found on the album.
“We stream every single show we play for free, I listen to each show really, really carefully, and we’ve been performing better than ever...“
“We’re all as intensive as each other with our rehearsal schedules,” Heafy says. “We practise non-stop, and we spend an intense amount of time on our instruments so that when we go and do shows after a long break, we’ve been making sure the chops are there. When it’s time to work and be creative, it’s so effortless for us – I make sure I’m singing and screaming one-to-four hours a day, five-to-seven days a week. It’s more like being an athlete than a musician; I’m making sure that I’m always ready to go.
“We’ve never said over the last three records, ‘It’s writing time’ – someone has come up with a new riff and things have just gone from there. With this one, I was just noodling on the stream one day, and that was a major part in how this started. For us, it’s all about capturing lightning in a bottle.”
The results speak for themselves, with In The Court Of The Dragon being met with glee by the broader metal world – a community that once wrote the band off as opportunists capitalising on the new wave of American heavy metal, and the metalcore hype of the mid 2000s. Indeed, the bands ‘middle’ period is a mixed bag, with LPs like Vengeance Falls and Silence In The Snow feeling like affairs that took two steps forward and one step back.
“With The Crusade, Vengeance Falls and Silence In The Snow, we set boundaries,” Heafy says, bluntly noting that these records were indeed misfires. “Here, we went in prepared but we didn’t have boundaries. We made whatever feels right, and that’s a big part of why these most recent records seem to have resonated with people so much. We can’t believe that ten records in, people are saying that we’re writing our best stuff now – that’s a really incredible place to be as a band.”
With ten records behind them, it feels like Trivium are anything but a nostalgia act, with In The Court Of The Dragon completing a hat trick of career-defining (or -saving) releases (The Sin And The Sentence and What The Dead Men Say make up this holy trinity). It’s the kind of consistency that the band have always hinted at, but never quite delivered – a fact that Heafy is keenly aware of moving into a post-COVID world.
“Without a doubt, we’re the best live band we’ve ever been,” he says. “We’re the best studio band we’ve ever been, too. We stream every single show we play for free, I listen to each show really, really carefully, and we’ve been performing better than ever. We live ten minutes from each other, we have our own headquarters, and we’re more ready than ever to make the records that we want to make.”
In The Court Of The Dragon is out now via Warner
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