Trivium, one of the most dynamic and exciting bands in modern metal, have released seven critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums, sharing stages with Iron Maiden and Metallica as well as selling out their own shows around the world. Their frontman Matt Kiichi Heafy, born in Iwakuni, Japan to a Japanese mother and American father and raised in Orlando, Florida, has never lost touch with his roots, something very evident in the Japanese style tattooing that adorns most of his body.
1. ‘Tsume Tsume Tsume’―Maximum The Hormone
Every time I think of Japan I think of Maximum The Hormone, having first seen them perform at Summer Sonic Festival in 2008. I’d never heard of them before so I decided to check them out, and I saw the entire crowd doing all of these coordinated hand motions and jumping in on the vocal parts, which was amazing. I always describe them as a cross between Pantera, Misfits, Bad Religion, Rage Against The Machine and a Japanese TV show! It’s freaking absurd, it’s freaking incredible, and I can honestly say they’re one of my favorite bands in the world.
2. ‘Divide My Destiny’―God Forbid
This always takes me back to Trivium’s first US tour in 2004, when we opened for God Forbid. It’s an incredibly underrated song from an incredibly underrated record by an incredibly underrated band. At that point in their career they still had some noisy, dissonant stuff going on, and I loved how angry and ugly it was, but this song was also the first indicator of the more melodic sound they would soon evolve. They were already one of my favorite bands at the time―and they still are―and that was such an incredible experience for all of us.
3. ‘Eblouie Par Na Nuit’―Zaz
I still get chills any time I hear her voice, which I think is absolutely haunting and beautiful, and the album this is from is amazing. It’s completely different from what someone would perhaps imagine me listening to but I love it. There are a lot of classical elements, really cool production and great vocal harmonies. I can’t hear it without instantly thinking of Paris, and every time we’re doing a promo trip in France I’ll be telling everyone how much I love her music, which seems to shock a lot of people!
4. ‘Spread Your Fire’―Angra
The first time we went to Australia I had just gotten into this band called Angra, from Brazil. A journalist from Burn magazine in Japan knew that I had fallen in love with Brazilian culture, and she told me I had to check them out. The whole time I was in Australia I was listening to their Temple Of Shadows (2004), and this track in particular. Their sound is what you’d expect from power metal, but they also have a lot of bossanova influences, traditional Brazilian instruments and full choirs. It’s very theatrical and unlike anything I had heard before.
5. ‘Silence In The Snow’―Trivium
Our entire 2015 Silence In The Snow album was inspired by a trip to Japan. We were playing in Nagoya with Heaven And Hell, and I had never seen them before and they completely blew my mind. I got to meet [their singer] Ronnie James Dio afterward, and right after that I started writing this song. The title came from looking through a book of Japanese tattooing, and I saw this piece called ‘Yuki No Danmari’, which depicts two tattooed warriors fighting in the snow. I looked up the translation, and straight away knew it had to be the title.
6. ‘Saturday Night’―Misfits
Wherever I am in the world, this song will always make me think of home. It was actually the first song my wife and I danced to at our wedding. I can assure you I’m not a dancer and I definitely don’t like to dance in front of other people! But when we were picking a song, we both gravitated toward this one. We just wanted to do something different, and what’s cool about this is it has that 50s rock’n’roll, swinging dance vibe but it’s about murder and dark stuff, so it was perfect for us!
In most of the Japanese hotels I’ve stayed in, they have radios built into the bed, and I remember that classical music was playing the very first time I walked into one. I loved that this beautiful, soft music basically greeted me. I love ‘Requiem’ and it will always remind me of those rooms, and while there are so many versions of it, my favorite will always be the London Symphony Orchestra’s. Now, whenever I’m doing yoga at home, cooking or stretching for jiu-jitsu, I love having classical music playing, and I actually credit that practice to those hotels.
8. ‘Wicked Sensation’―Lynch Mob
If you ask me what song will always remind me of being on a tour bus somewhere, it will always be this one. But while it’s tied to a good time for everyone else in the band, I actually associate it with being really stressed! I’d always tend to go to sleep sometime between 1―3a.m., and on this one tour―pretty much like clockwork―sometime between 5 and 6a.m. I would hear this song blaring at absolute maximum volume! Every time I hear it now, I get kind of a twitch in my eye…
9. ‘Forsaken Horizon’―Caliban
When Trivium was signed to Lifeforce Records, I was just 17 years old, and they brought us over to Europe. We only played three dates―in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium―and I became a really big fan of all the bands on that label; Caliban was high up on that list. Their Shadow Hearts (2002) heavily influenced me, and you can really hear that directly in a few of our songs. We went from having straight up classic metal and death metal influences to incorporating more of that melodic metalcore sound.
10. ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’―Vampire Weekend
I didn’t take a lot of vacations as a kid but touring with the band I see a lot of places anyway. When my wife and I took a vacation to the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas, she was really into this record so we listened to it a lot. It has this really interesting ‘island-y’ feel within its indie music sound, and almost a ‘Paul Simon-y’ thing going on. However their song ‘A-Punk’ drives me insane because it’s always the first song that plays on my phone, and I never need to hear it again!