Matt Heafy Details Bullying by Other Bands in Trivium’s Early Days
When Trivium first burst upon the metal scene in 2005 they were pariahs, the popular, young upstarts who the kids loved but the establishment hated. Upset that the band had never “paid their dues” before landing a contract with Roadrunner and a spot on Ozzfest (among other big tours), the band became a target of not only older, arms-crossed metal fans, but a number of bands in the scene that they looked up to as well.
Heafy recently joined Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn‘s ‘No Fuckin’ Regrets with Robb Flynn‘ podcast and spoke about the bullying Trivium endured at the hands of both their peers and the press (but never MetalSucks! we’ve always been Trivium supporters. just sayin’) in those early years, describing in detail why he believes the band were targeted and a couple of specific incidents.
This one’s a doozy, so buckle in, folks:
“I definitely know where the worldwide hatred of other bands towards us came from – it’s from the UK. The UK was the only time and place in our band’s history when we were a press band. It was just the UK, and it was just on ‘Ascendancy,’ and it only lasted about nine to 10 months, that was it. So for those nine-ten months, we were hailed as the ‘greatest band of all time, the best, newest big thing, the new Metallica.’
“Every show – 10/10, if not 11/10, ‘the greatest thing in the world.’ But what that did, like, we were confident. Since I was 12, I wanted to be in a metal band that’s big, that can play around the world, that has fans, that makes an impact – that was my goal. And that should be a goal, and people shouldn’t be quiet about their goals; they should be wanting to do well. So we came out and said, ‘Yes, we’re going to be the next…’
“I should’ve said we’re going to be the next big metal band, but instead, ‘Yes, we’re going to be the next Metallica.’ So every band in the world started seeing this as, ‘Alright, screw these guys. Screw these cocky kids. What the hell are they talking about? These guys suck.’ As quickly as we got back to the States after the UK tour, all of a sudden, all of my favorite bands we toured with, they treated us like garbage, just being bullies.
I remember ‘Ozzfest’, some of the crew people were trying to cut us off with their golf carts and shoot dust in our face – little things like that. Or talking crap about us. One of my favorite singers of another band, I remember in a live review he was talking – and I printed this – ‘Get that Trivium shirt out of my face, get him a real shirt.’
“And he brought on his band shirt and made the kid [who did the interview] give the Trivium shirt away. This was right in the magazine, in a live show. I remember seeing another like metalcore band that I love, I got the guy’s autograph in 2003, and then in 2005 he’s saying – someone asked about Trivium, and he’s like, ‘Why do I give a shit about what some spoiled, rich kid has to say about anything?’
“Like, ‘Dude, I have your shirt.’ And so this was mainly like a US band thing. That was like, it was kind of spawned from that UK thing, and then next record [2006’s ‘The Crusade‘], when we came back to the UK, they called us the worst band in the world, and then all those magazines that put us in the cover put us back on the cover, saying how we’re over.
“And they started ripping into us, so then we had no allies. We went from all the bands hating us because of this good press to only having the bad press, up until this record, trying to make us nonexistent. We were never mentioned, they never talked about us, they don’t promote our tour. Like, sometimes, here and there, if we give them something, they’ll give us something back, but it’s never really like the proper reciprocation.
“But yes, we became that band – no bands liked us. I mean, we had a couple of allies, we had you [Robb Flynn], we had Machine Head, we had… I mean, in 2005, we had you guys and that was it, but we were nice dudes. [Laughs] And I didn’t understand it. I remember even having band guys tell me like, ‘I took a lot of crap for bringing your band out here.’ Just shocking stuff. Getting bullied from my favorite bands, and it’s something we never really talked about, but we remembered it.
“It sucked. The stuff that we would never want to do, but we had some lineups of questionable people that have maybe been disrespectful to other band members or crew people, and we had crew people that we later found out were bad too. So then we had a very bad reputation, like, ‘Those guys were dicks. They’re terrible human beings, they suck. They’re cocky, they’re arrogant.’
“It was really around ‘In Waves,’ where that reputation started to dissipate, they were like, ‘Oh, wait a second. These guys are actually really nice, maybe they’ve been nice the whole time.’ I remember we had a crew guy that said something to [Killswitch Engage singer] Jesse Leach – he’s one of my favorite singers of all time.
He said to him – they just came off of a long van ride, and I apologized to Jesse about this – but they came off a long van ride, they came up to catering one day while we were headlining a show, they were on a headliner show in the States, that’s when he was in Seemless. He went up to catering to grab some food, and we had a tour manager go, ‘Whoah, whoah, nobody eats ’til Matt Heafy eats.’ And he sent him out of catering, and that caught like freaking wildfire.
“I still hear about it. I heard about it for years and years, and still to this day. But luckily, we’ve adopted it, we’ve taken that – I have it on shirts now, it’s become a fun meme, like, I’ve taken that thing to my own. And it’s hard to know when you’re 18-19 years old, you don’t know that these people that you’ve paid to be representing you well and taking care at your show talk to people like that.
“So now, we make sure anytime we see something like that, they’re gone instantly. As I said, I apologized to Jesse years later. I said, ‘Dude, whatever this tour manager did, I did not tell him to say that. I grew up listening to your music. Why would that be a thing, that I get my tour manager personally get instructed to attack you like that?’
“Then people started realizing, ‘Alright, these guys are alright.’ And then it shifted, and I’m glad other bands, I don’t really see bands go through that anymore, like, you guys toured with some of these bands that are like, ‘Oh man, whoever opens up for this band gets destroyed.’
“That was an era we saw in the ’90s, progressing up to 2000, and now it’s just easy, and I’m glad. I don’t want bands to get bullied as we did, I don’t want that to happen; that was so difficult, and then we quickly realized, ‘We have no allies. We have ourselves and that’s kind of it.’
“We had a couple of friends here and there that weren’t doing that to us, but I think that’s why we’ve always been such a tight-knit group. That’s why Paolo, Corey, and myself, and now Alex has bought into that, but why Paolo, Corey and myself specifically, it’s always been such a tight-knit relationship.
“There was a time where every press person was trying to destroy us, every band we grew up listening to was talking shit about us, and we had nothing but the three of us and our fans. That’s why our relationship is so strong, that’s why we give so much of ourselves, that’s why I give so much of myself.
“It was weird, it was really weird; like, just the amount of bad stuff that was either conjured up from us having good press at one place or just what some of these bands are doing and saying, but we really were.
At ‘Ozzfest‘ ’05, we were public enemy No. 1, from every band just treating us like garbage, but it made us want to play harder.”
There’s one thing Heafy said I disagree with: I think he’s miscasting blame onto himself for his comment about Trivium being the next Metallica as the reason the world turned against Trivium. The phenomenon isn’t his fault (or anyone in the band’s), and I think it would’ve happened no matter what: they were very young, and as he pointed out, they were nice guys, which played against them and made them an easy target. The Metallica comparisons that began with The Crusade (Roadrunner had a hand in pushing that narrative) absolutely did not help, that’s true. But I’m glad the band persevered, because much of their best material came after that era.
Trivium will perform a livestream concert this Friday, July 10th; details are on our livestream calendar.
The band had a tour planned with Megadeth, Lamb of God and In Flames for this summer and fall, but that’s been moved to 2021.
You can listen to the full interview below.
[via The PRP]