Trivium’s latest album is What The Dead Men Say. I spoke with guitarist Corey Beaulieu about the new record, releasing it during the uncertainly of a global pandemic and other topics.
Chad Bowar: How has the coronovirus pandemic affected Trivium as a band, and you personally?
Corey Beaulieu: Luckily we had we didn’t have that much touring at this time to reschedule. We have a lot of touring starting in the summer. So, we don’t know yet. We have to play it by ear to see depending on how everything unfolds if stuff has to be cancelled or rescheduled. But we’re one of the fortunate ones that our schedule is starting later, that it hasn’t been affected as much as other bands. I feel bad for a lot of bands that have had to cancel tours when a lot of bands are really relying on that tour income to keep things going. Right now, we’re just trying to push forward with the release of the record.
It’s uncharted waters, just playing it by ear at the moment, and just going about everything as normal as possible. We’ve been off tour for a while and when I’m off tour, I basically just stay at home anyway and I don’t really go out. So, it hasn’t really changed my daily activity. When they say stay home as much as possible, that’s my normal day to day. So, I’ve basically been training myself for years to be self-quarantined. I’ve been hanging out at home doing my normal thing. The only time I ever leave the house is to go to the grocery store or something like that. When it gets dark out I go run a few miles every night to get out of the house and get some exercise and then I just hang out. So, I don’t really get cabin fever where I feel like I need to go out. So, I’m dealing with it pretty well.
Let’s talk about the new album, What The Dead Men Say. What led you to work with Josh Wilbur again on this one?
We just love working with Josh. His personality and his vibe, it’s such a great working relationship. He’s become an extension to the band. His personality just fits in perfectly with our group dynamics. And his way of working as a producer, it’s just great. There’s no arguments, there’s no tensions. Everyone’s just having a good time. And Josh is great because he lets the band be the band. He’s not one of those producers that feels like he has to step in and try to get all his ideas crammed into the band.
If there’s something that happens or we’re playing something where he strongly feels that there’s something we should address he’ll bring it up. But other than that, he’ll just listen to our songs or during pre pro, we’ll play it, he’ll be like, “This kicks ass.” He just wants the band to be the best version of the band. And if he doesn’t hear anything that he feels like needs to be addressed or changed, he won’t bring it up. This is the fastest we’ve ever made the record in our career. So, the whole familiarity with each other and how we work and just knowing that we get along so well that we were able to make a record so time efficient that it makes it so much fun, and you don’t get burned out.
Did you record extra tracks for B sides and things like that or did you just record the ones that are ending up on the album?
We felt that after the last record where we spent all the time and recorded 14 or 15 songs, and then two years after the record was out, we still had all these songs that weren’t used for anything. In this day and age with streaming being a big thing now, you don’t really need all this extra content like you used to do back in the day when they’re doing deluxe editions or special edition versions of the record. So, we’re like, we’re just gonna do nine songs, and nothing else. And then later on, if we need an extra song for something, it’s easier for us to just go in and record a song than waste our time recording 15 songs and having it sit around for a couple of years when we could have just went in for a day or two and recorded it separately. So,there’s no extra tracks, no covers or anything like that. It was nice to be able to just focus on the songs that will be on the record and not deviate to record cover songs or this and that.
Your last several albums have been pretty consistent in charting anywhere from 13 to 25 in the US. Do you anticipate this one in that same range?
I think now it’s even harder for rock and metal to chart. Even if we sold the same amount, I don’t think we would chart as high. Rock and metal is definitely behind the ball when it comes to streaming. I know a lot of metal stuff is still predominantly physical sales. People are buying the CDs and the vinyl packages and bundles and stuff that we sell and a lot of other bands sell. And so it’s hard to keep up with the the rap and pop stuff because you might chart high if you go off physical sales. But if you look at what’s in the top 10 now, a lot of that stuff is so big in streaming that they might sell like 6,000 CDs, but they’ll end up selling the equivalent of 150,000 copies because they stream so much. And a lot of the metal stuff sells a lot of physical copies, but they don’t have anywhere close to the streaming.
So, this time around, I’m not really depending on what it does on the Billboard charts. If it’s lower than other records, I’m not going to look at it as like, “Oh shit, the record didn’t do as well,” because it’s a different landscape as far as how you look at it.
Your “Catastrophist” video has over a million plays on YouTube, so videos in 2020 are still an important part of album promotion.
Yeah, I think nowadays if you’re gonna put out a video, you need to have quality content and something that’s gonna make people want to watch it over and over. So, we definitely still put a lot of stock into a video content. We want the video to be cool, we want it to be something that people can watch over and over again and get visual stimulation from what’s going on in the video that makes them want to watch it over and over again, besides just wanting to hear the song.
The way albums are promoted has changed a lot. It used to be you recorded your album, you maybe released one single. Now, you’ve got months and months of lead in. It’s a lot more transparent. Do you like the way it is now with the transparency or do you prefer the mystique of the old days?
I think we ride a line between both because when we’re making the record we don’t tell anybody we’re making a record. We don’t show anyone we’re making a record. We started writing the songs last year, like in March. And then we wrote some stuff in August and then recorded in September, October. We were working on the record all last year and never made a post about it, we never said anything about it. We don’t tell anybody we’re making a record until it’s time to start promoting it. So, we go both ways. Once we start promoting the record then you let all the details come out and use all this stuff to build up the anticipation and stuff.
I see bands, they’ll be in the studio and they’ll post, “Hey, working in the studio.” If you did tease everyone that you’re making a record but the record is not going to come out for a year, you lose the excitement when you actually do announce you made a record. There’s no surprise. I think you need to keep your cards close to the vest for a certain amount of time to get people’s excitement level up because there’s so much nowadays with social media and the internet and the million things that people have to entertain or take their mind off things. You need to have something to spark interest in people because there’s so much other stuff that can pull them away.
Has what you expect from your label changed?
We’ve been on the same label for our whole career basically, and they’ve always been super supportive of the band. And they basically are giving us free rein. They let us do our thing, musically. Even with the packaging and artwork and stuff, they give us our budget for how much to spend on certain things, and then they let us creatively pick the people we want to work with, do the art direction or the packaging the way we want it. And then they’re cool, and then they just go promote it.
It’s pretty awesome that the label’s let us make our vision of what we want the record to be, and then they just get behind it. And they’re usually really cool with whatever we are deciding to do. So, it’s pretty awesome that they’re very hands off in letting the band be, letting Trivium be Trivium and presenting our art in the way we want it to be perceived and looked at. They’ve been amazing and really easy to work with. We’ve been super stoked with being a part of the Roadrunner history and being one of the longest tenured bands on the label.
As you look at the up and coming crop of bands, is there anybody out there that catches your eye?
There’s a lot of really cool bands. If there’s a band we really dig, we definitely try to promote or bring them out on tour. And one of the bands that last couple years has really made huge leaps and strides that we’ve been championing for years and brought them out on multiple tours and are looking to bring them out again over in Europe in the future is Fit For An Autopsy. I love the fact that our fan base is very open minded to the bands that we bring out on tour because a lot of times bands that tour with us, they tell us later on how many fans they made from being on tour with Trivium and how our fans are just so nice and open minded to their music and have really gained a lot from our fans becoming their fans. So, yeah, Fit For An Autopsy has been a band that we’ve really loved.
A band that I really want to bring out on tour at some point and really love their last record is Dyscarnate, the UK band. They’re another band that I think a lot of people need to check out. I’m really stoked that Sylosis put out a new record, Havok’s got a really killer new song out that I’m really looking forward to hear on their new record. There’s a lot of killer stuff out there.
(interview published April 24, 2020)
Watch Trivium – “Catastrophist” Video