In this new feature from the August 2014 issue of Guitar World, the guitarists of Avenged Sevenfold, Morbid Angel, Trivium and other metal acts tell how they'll beat the heat and tame the crowds on the season's biggest tours.
TODAY: Trivium Guitarist Matt Heafy — MAYHEM FEST
Tips for playing in extreme heat?
Luckily, since our band is from Florida, we’re never really hot.
One item you’ll carry with you at all times this summer?
Me and some of our crew guys have trained and learned jiu-jitsu. So my 10-by-10 jiu-jitsu mats, my gi and my yoga mat—those are the essentials.
Considerations when playing an outdoor show versus an indoor show?
As far as set lists go, I believe there is a certain threshold of speed and technicality that doesn’t translate well live under any circumstances. There is an extreme side of music to our band, and if you play very fast and very brutal, it does literally get lost in the air.
Primary gear you’ll be playing this summer?
It’s just my [Epiphone Les Paul Custom] signature guitars. There’s just no purpose for refrigerators of stacked gear or pedal boards upon pedal boards. I cut all that out and our tone is clearer, and it’s the most powerful it’s ever been right now. I’ve always believed that the less space between my fingers and the listeners’ ears, the better.
Tips for winning over a tough crowd?
I believe that there’s a fine line between berating and being strong and encouraging. I’ve seen a lot of frontmen get very angry at a crowd when they’re not getting their way. They stomp their feet, yell at the crowd and demean them. That’s one way to lose a crowd even further. I find that if you come out with a unified feeling, allowing the crowd to be a part of you, you can still be aggressive and empowering.
Highlight of your band’s set list?
Usually when we play “Strife,” people get into it. It’s cool to see the power of a single. If not, then definitely “In Waves” gets reaction.
Advice for a band just starting to play live?
Practice your instruments. I’m always shocked at how many guitarists out there are terrible but still get accolades. Hopefully they know who they are, and hopefully they start practicing and practicing what they preach. Anything any great guitar player has ever done is possible for any other guitar player. Anything you see, you can do; it just takes time, practice and dedication. That goes for singers as well. Too many of them rely on backing tracks live.
We were signed to a major label at 18 years old, and we’ve made every mistake you can make being in a band. I’m happy we did those things early. You have to make mistakes to know how to fix them. You have to have guitars break and go through technical difficulties. I wouldn’t change any of those things. I would rather hear a singer struggle to hit a note and have emotion versus hearing it though a computer.
Also, you have to take care of yourself. Part of being in a band that tours and plays every night is you need to perform at 100 percent as a live musician. Sure, there are people that can live unhealthy and be drug addicts and alcoholics and still play well, but I’m not one of those people, and I think a majority of human beings are not those kinds of people. So on the road I’m very strict with myself: no caffeine or alcohol on show days. On days off, I’ll allow myself a coffee or a beer or two, but aside from that it’s very healthy living. It’s about performing at the maximum capacity for the people who are there to see you do what you do.
Watch the video for "Strife" here:
Photo: Jesse Wild/Total Guitar Magazine/Getty Images