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INTERVIEW: Paolo Gregoletto – Trivium

For TRIVIUM, the UK has long stood as a second home for the US metallers. It was the UK that helped put the band on the map of heavy metal and since then, the band have enjoyed a fruitful career rising to the summit of modern metal. Now, 18 years into the career the band are closing up the cycle for album number seven, Silence In The Snow, with a widespread tour across the UK and Europe. Before a show in Manchester (read our review here) we spoke to bassist Paolo Gregoletto to talk about the band’s foothold in the UK, the reception to Silence In The Snow and looking ahead to the next TRIVIUM album!

So we are about half way through the UK tour, how has this tour been for you and TRIVIUM?

Paolo: We’re three shows in and we’re rocking pretty hard man, it’s been great! We’re playing ninety minutes every night and it feels like it is flying by so that’s usually a pretty good sign!

So in terms of the setlist balance, what sort of approach are you going for?

Paolo: I think since it was the last tour of the album we decided not to go super heavy on new stuff, we have three songs because I feel like that’s a pretty good amount for a new album and then we just tried to balance it out, at least play one song from every record. Ascendancy probably has the most songs in the set and then it’s like two to three from the other records and Ember has a song so we’re trying to cover all the territories. It was mainly just about playing the songs we wanted to play and make sure we leave on a high note for the last tour.

And being a couple of dates in, has there been any stand out shows in particular?

Paolo: Well they’ve all been good but Belfast was probably the craziest so far, but we’re talking like not much of a difference from show to show, really great energy! Really I think a lot of it is due to the set, the way we planned it out, the way we keep songs moving so there isn’t a lot of down time. It just makes the set flow really nice.

TRIVIUM has always had a really strong relationship with the UK. What is it in particular about our scene that you love?

Paolo: I mean the fact that the UK was really the first country and the first tour experience we had where we felt that we weren’t just having good shows, it was like a real connection. It actually felt like we were making fans and making a dent somewhere. Ascendancy had just come out so it was like we had no anticipation for that, so once it came out and we realised what was happening this was like ground zero for TRIVIUM, so we’ve always felt a real connection every time we’ve come back, no matter what record it has been on, it’s always been a place we’ve looked forward to coming and playing and the last three shows have definitely reminded us of why.

So would you say that the UK market has been a vital cornerstone for the success of the band?

Paolo: Oh definitely, anytime you can have some place in the world take off for you it really helps you step into other markets. But for us the first three albums the UK was really the stepping stone into Europe, we really connected there. Eventually, on In Waves we hit out stride in Europe so if we didn’t have the UK I don’t think we would of ever had that chance. It’s the same in other parts of the world, you have to have those stepping stones.

This tour is still in support of Silence In The Snow, which is now approaching the end of the cycle. How have you found the reception for that album?

Paolo: Well this time last year we were playing shows over here in some of the smaller cities and the reaction was good back then but now that the record has been out for a year it definitely feels like it has taken root a bit more, especially in our own crowd. It doesn’t feel like the energy is dipping in relation to the other songs, probably the newest song in the set that maybe people are least familiar with is Rise Above The Tides which is expected, it is not a single from the record it is a track we just wanted to play. But when we play Silence In The Snow and Until The World Goes Cold, you can definitely feel that these are songs that will be staples in the set for years to come that we can rotate in which is always good. We’ve been lucky that with a set like we are playing today a lot of these songs are over ten years old now and they still feel good, they still feel fun for us to play, they still feel relevant and people still get excited. If you can have a couple of those songs on every record you’re hitting a good spot!

So when you look at Silence In The Snow how do you think it holds up compared to your back catalogue?

Paolo: I mean it is definitely going to stick out because I think it is definitely a very unique record amongst all the other records. How it is viewed in the long run is hard to say but getting to the end of the cycle and feeling that people have had a connection with the record and the songs hold up live is a good sign. So it really just depends, five to ten years from now, people look back on records differently. I mean look at The Crusade, it has a different view amongst our fans and people who really didn’t care for it much then, it seems to have much more of a fanbase now because when we play songs from that record people go crazy! Maybe it was because it was more of a black sheep in the beginning and people are like “it’s kind of weird, it’s kind of different” but now when you look back at it with fresh ears, if you are new fan just discovering it, you have a different impression of it. I think with this record it could be a really similar thing and I feel that a lot of songs we haven’t played from the record we will eventually get to down the road.

So really it’s just waiting for more time to pass for the record to sink in?

Paolo: Yeah, I mean for us we don’t like to overload people with new stuff in sets, you can only play so many songs from a new record. So it’s like the balancing act, really you just play it by ear with a record. In the beginning when we first started touring we only had like on record so we could play a lot more from it and every record that comes out after, it’s spread out more. Balancing between songs that people want to hear or expecting to hear and then also what we would like people to hear and check out.

Oh definitely and now that this cycle is coming to close, I imagine the attention is now focusing on the next album, have you already worked out what direction you want to take TRIVIUM for the new album?

Paolo: Well we are still early days with that stuff but I could definitely see it being a little bit heavier and a little bit more extreme. It really just depends on when we get into the jam room and figure it all out. I would just think that since Silence In The Snow was a more melodic approach, especially with Matt, we really weren’t sure if he could get the screaming back again because he took almost two years off from being able to do the screaming properly. Now that it is back, well that’s back on the table so you would probably guess that is something that will be featured again but for us, it is always about discovering something new to add in or finding a new angle on some old stuff we’ve done. To me, that is likely where it goes but what it sounds like, to compare it to another record, I have no idea. We just have to make it happen naturally and with the drummer situation that kind of changes a lot of things too. You know, where you can go, what you can do, what your capabilities are and I feel like we have a lot on the table now that we can do that maybe on the last record we weren’t able to.

Speaking of the drummer situation, I remember reading an article saying that the drummer situation will just be made up of session members. Does that make the creative process easier or more difficult?

Paolo: Well the records since day one have always started with, well at least since The Crusade, have been me, Matt and Corey coming in with the music and then we would jam it out. It was never to discount anything that drummers have brought to the situation. No matter what, if you are a session guy or I guess more than a session guy, if you are in the room we are taking anyone’s input. We never shut people down and it is not a situation where we are paying you to not say anything, when it comes to creative stuff it’s like anyone who is a good player and has ideas just throw it out. We’ve always tried to be open like that with our writing so it hasn’t hampered it at all, it’s just a situation of trying to find a guy that would fit tour wise, playing shows and doing the record. Someone who can nail the stuff.

At this point could you ever see a drummer becoming a permanent member of TRIVIUM?

Paolo: Well it is just one of those things really, you have to let it naturally happen. I think the problem we’ve had in the past it’s like we kind of pulled the cart before the horse and you end up in that situation where you’re like “oh I spoke too soon.” You want it to be the right guy, you try to make the situation work but you got to have a certain set of standards and things need to be cleared for that stuff to happen. And for us now, getting a guy like Alex, he’s a phenomenal player! By far the technically best drummer we’ve had with us and he makes us sound 100% more tighter and he’s a super nice dude. Just from those things, yeah definitely it feels like he could work out long term but of course you never know, and he’s got to like the situation too, so that’s another part of the equation. When you get to the end of a tour when everyone is tired and cranky, that’s when you know you can stick with someone for the long term. That’s how Matt, Corey and I are, we know we’re all in it for the long haul and you know everyone’s quirks and you know no matter what, the person is always looking out for the best interests of the band. That’s something that just takes time. But yeah, hopefully this is a solid long term thing and we can just focus on making the shows the best they are, and so far these three shows have been great! I’ve felt the best coming off stage in a while.

When TRIVIUM first exploded onto the scene, especially here in the UK, you had everyone tipping you as the next big thing in metal. Now, all these years later, do you still feel that pressure to live up to that reputation?

Paolo: Well the way I view it now is that you can’t really, I guess the next big thing in metal, we have to be the best TRIVIUM and the only thing that is going to determine us going to any different level is the records and the live performances. I always feel like the only thing stopping us doing anything is usually our own self and getting in our own way. So I don’t feel the pressure in terms of having to live up to some unrealistic expectation, I don’t think to be like if were not the size of ACDC in ten years I’m going to feel like it was a total waste of time. It’s like the biggest and best TRIVIUM possible is the goal and that’s the pressure to me is realistic. We can make TRIVIUM the biggest and best it can be as it goes to comparing ourselves to anyone of our peers or any of our hero bands, it’s impossible to say you can can go down any of those paths. Everyone is on their own in that regards but to be doing this for that long and still being able to sell out shows and play to this many people. Matt asks “how many new people are here?” And it is still tons! So it feels like there is always room to grow and that you are going to have peaks and valleys as a band and you have to just focus on the music and the show.

So would you say that would be your best piece of advice for bands breaking through now?

Paolo: Yeah, just focus on your own band! It’s really easy to get distracted and discouraged, I think if you try to think in terms of other bands’ trajectories, you hear about that in so many different fields and especially in the arts, it’s like “why is this band doing this? We’ve made a record and we’re doing good and why aren’t we like that?” It’s like that shouldn’t be your focus, just focus on your own stuff and all those things will happen if people like what you do, that’s the key. You can only do the best you can and hope that people like it too. We’ve had the same things happen to us, we’ll make a record that we think is really good and it is good but maybe it won’t connect in the way you’re thinking it is going to. And then you’ll make a record and out of the blue, really Ascendancy was really out of the blue and In Waves was in Europe. I don’t think any of us were expecting it, we were expecting that maybe in the UK and in the States that people will really dig it and they did. But we were not expecting Europe to be really the place where In Waves was their version of what Ascendancy was in the UK, you can’t really anticipate that. All you can do is go into the studio and try to do your best. That’s really it and I mean, I feel great about the last record, I love playing it live and really you just have to put it out there and see what people think.

And really just to close off, once this tour comes to a close, is the focus then just focusing on the new album for the rest of 2017?

Paolo: Yeah, that’s going to be the main focus. We’ll take a little break and then we will reconvene in Orlando and figure out where the next chapter begins for us.

Well brilliant, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to Distorted Sound Paolo.

Paolo: Cheers, thank you!

Silence In The Snow is out now via Roadrunner Records.

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