Chad Bowar: How would you describe the musical direction of Shogun?
Matt Heafy: I would say Shogun combines everything that Trivium, that the four of us in the band feel like are the key ingredients of our band. Tie that in with the next evolutionary step of what the album would have been on its own, and combine all those aspects. So it’s really the past, present and future of Trivium all on one CD.
The return of the screaming vocals are what people are talking about. Was that something you had planned coming in, or did it evolve as you were writing the songs for the CD?
It’s the kind of thing that happened naturally. When it came time for The Crusade, we were done with screaming. When we started doing this next one, we started listening to riffs, and some of the parts were incredibly heavy. I had been singing over them, and it didn’t really have that intensity. Travis (Smith, the band’s drummer) said to scream over them and see what happens. So I did it, and it was perfect. It fit that heaviness. It was exactly what those parts needed to take it to the next level. With this album it’s got just as much singing as The Crusade did, and just as much screaming as Ascendancy.
How did you hook up with Nick Raskulinecz to produce the CD?
We’ve always been a fan of his stuff, but we never really thought to ask him to do our record. When it went out that we were looking for a producer for our next record, he got in touch with us. He was into it, and we were really into his stuff. I’m a huge fan of the Foo Fighters In Your Honor. I think it’s amazing. So it was as simple as that. He was a fan of our stuff, and we were fans of his. We flew him out to see a couple of shows on the Black Crusade tour with Machine Head in the UK. He flew down and hung out with us for two days. From there we all knew immediately he was the guy for our record.
How did his producing style compare to Jason Suecof, who you had worked with on your previous albums?
It was totally different, because with Jason, he’s a buddy of ours. He’s been a buddy since before we were signed. I’ve done about 15 different projects with Jason, including Trivium and non-Trivium stuff. With Nick, he came in with a whole new set of ideas that we never would have thought of. There were so many different things he would bring to the table, whether it was trying something different musically, or different recording-wise. All these techniques were about getting the best performance from us. We came to him completely prepared. We had been writing for a year or year and a half, and also came to him with six months of demoing. So when he came in we had these fully completed songs he was able to help take to the next level.
How did you narrow down all the songs you wrote to the ones that ended up being on the record?
We started off with 27 songs and worked from there. Some of the songs were a matter of combining different things. It became a matter of picking which ones we thought were the strongest. We went from 27 down to 20, and then whittled down to 15, and then got to the amount for the album.
You recorded three extra tracks for the special edition of the CD. One of those is “Iron Maiden” by Iron Maiden. How did you choose that song to cover?
With Maiden, we really wanted to do a cover of them. And we knew if we did a Dickinson song I’d be completely (screwed). So we wanted to pick something that not only showed our love for the band, but was a song we really loved. That song was perfect. It fits exactly what Maiden has been doing since they started until this day. It showed our love for the band.
You were also recently on Bruce Dickinson’s radio show in the U.K. Was that in person or over the phone?
The first one was in person. We did a full six or seven week tour with them in Europe last year. Those guys are super cool. They’re really down to earth, amazing people. They really took great care of us, and it was a blast.
What inspired the CD title?
The reason we picked that word is because when you think of a word like shogun, it sparks all this vivid imagery and storytelling, especially when you look into the definition. It’s the highest ranking military general in Japanese times. We really dug it. We felt it was an appropriate name for the album.
What are your expectations for the CD?
I think our fans are going to absolutely love it. For us, it’s the best record we’ve ever done, without a doubt. I think the next record will be even better, and the next record after that even better.