Originally published in Guitar World, December 2010
Trivium's guitar duo takes some time off to discuss all things shred.
For flat-out, unapologetic soloing, who blows your mind?
COREY BEAULIEU Marty Friedman, Yngwie Malmsteen and George Lynch.
MATT HEAFY Tossin Abasi. He's always been an incredibly talented guitarist, but with his new project, Animals as Leaders, he brings not only mesmerizing ability to the table but also fantastic songs. It's very rare that technical guitarists can make interesting songs that aren't just brain exercises and fretboard pyrotechnics, but Tossin blows this away.
What album/song inspired you to play fast?
BEAULIEU When I started playing, the two albums that really inspired me were Megadeth's Rust in Peace and Slayer's Reign in Blood.
HEAFY My biggest inspiration for fast playing was Krisiun's Apocalyptic Revelation. That's the album that got me really into learning tremelo picking. I think the tremelo-picking technique is being used more and more every year by heavy bands and is a very versatile technique that can be applied to leads and rhythms alike. "Aborticide (Into the Crypts of Holiness)" is the song that inspired me to get very precise with tremelo picking, and since then tremelo is something I utilize on all fronts of guitar playing.
What helped you progress dramatically as a guitarist?
BEAULIEU My teacher gave me a really good practice regimen. Plus, just learning and playing along to songs helped me learn chord patterns, scales and phrasing. I pushed myself to learn harder songs, which really challenged me and improved my chops.
HEAFY John Petrucci's Rock Discipline. I would watch the tape and learn the exercises in the booklet. To this day I still use the memorized exercises to warm up before every show, using a metronome, proper form and sitting straight.
What was your biggest technical hurdle?
BEAULIEU My legato. It's not the hardest thing to learn, but it's definitely the hardest to keep up on if I don't practice it often.
HEAFY Playing guitar and singing simultaneously. Both must be practiced separately, very slowly, until they're mastered, and then you have to bring the two together slowly. I used Metallica's Master of Puppets and the Cunning Stunts videoto emulate and learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time. It takes years of practice to combine influences and mold it into a new, unique and personal style.
What key performance in your discography is a successful example of what you try to achieve?
BEAULIEU The songs I get the most compliments on are "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation" [Ascendancy] and "In the Fire" [Roadrunner United]. I like playing fast, shredding and all that good stuff, but when I approach a song, my goal is to add to the track and make my parts catchy so that they stay with you.
HEAFY The solo section in "Rain," from Ascendancy, seems to be a great embodiment of the stylistic niche in which I think I shine. Blazing speed is always a fun thing, but you have to be sensible about what you're doing if you want to complement the song, and when it's time to be simple, you have to be. "Rain" is a blueprint at times for me to remember what my strength in my playing is.
Is shredding a good thing?
BEAULIEU The lead players I really enjoy bring a melodic sense to the shred and make it catchy. When people abuse shred, it sounds like nonsense. But if shred is done right, people love that shit.
HEAFY The people who do that ludicrous 1,000-notes-a-minute playing are just working out the technical aspects of guitar to its fullest. But nine times out of 10, they completely neglect what I think is most important in musicianship: songwriting. I'm all for mastering your instrument, but it's all about the music when it comes to bands that perform songs. It's difficult to master songwriting and technical prowess. It almost seems like you have to pick which one you'll favor.
What are you currently working on, and what is your goal as a player?
BEAULIEU We're working on our new album, which will come out next year. My goal as a player was always to be in a metal band and make a career out of writing and playing music. Technical skills never came up as a goal.
HEAFY We're working on our fifth album. We've collected between 30 to 40 songs and are narrowing that down to the best 14 for the album. As far as goals as a guitarist, it's all about being what I am best at and finding the exact voice that is my playing. Our next record is comprised entirely of sounds that are uniquely and truly us, and the playing has to shine through with that mindset.