Trivium Were Bullied Because of Early Hype: ‘No Bands Liked Us’
With buzz comes pressure, and how you handle that may end up being how your band is judged not only by fans, but by peers. Trivium's Matt Heafy reflected on this growing pain from their early days in a chat with Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn's No Fuckin' Regrets podcast, revealing they were subject to some backlash and bullying after embracing some of their early media hype.
He recalled, “I definitely know where the worldwide hatred of other bands towards us came from – it’s from the U.K. The U.K. was the only time and place in our band’s history when we were a press band. It was just the U.K., and it was just on Ascendancy’ and it only lasted about nine to 10 months, that was it. So for those nine-ten months, we were hailed as the ‘greatest band of all time, the best, newest big thing, the new Metallica.’"
The singer says he was confident in his goals, so he rolled with the compliments in the press. He explained, "I should’ve said we’re going to be the next big metal band, but instead, ‘Yes, we’re going to be the next Metallica.’ So every band in the world started seeing this as, ‘Alright, screw these guys. Screw these cocky kids. What the hell are they talking about? These guys suck.’ As quickly as we got back to the States after the U.K. tour, all of a sudden, all of my favorite bands we toured with, they treated us like garbage, just being bullies."
Heafy says he recalls being on Ozzfest when crew members would cut them off with their golf carts to shoot dust in their face or talk crap about his band. "One of my favorite singers of another band, I remember in a live review he was talking – and I printed this – ‘Get that Trivium shirt out of my face, get him a real shirt,’" recalled Heafy. "And he brought on his band shirt and made the kid [who did the interview] give the Trivium shirt away. This was right in the magazine, in a live show."
The singer adds, "I remember seeing another like metalcore band that I love, I got the guy’s autograph in 2003, and then in 2005 he’s saying – someone asked about Trivium, and he’s like, ‘Why do I give a shit about what some spoiled, rich kid has to say about anything?’ Like, ‘Dude, I have your shirt.’"
The singer says that the backlash then started in the media who had gone from praising them on Ascendancy to ridiculing The Crusade and saying they were over. "They started ripping into us, so then we had no allies," recalled Heafy. "We went from all the bands hating us because of this good press to only having the bad press, up until this record, trying to make us nonexistent. We were never mentioned, they never talked about us, they don’t promote our tour. Like, sometimes, here and there, if we give them something, they’ll give us something back, but it’s never really like the proper reciprocation."
Heafy recalls, "No bands liked us," adding that some of it was warranted as they learned some of their crew had also been disrespectful to other acts and crew. He recalled one incident where one of their crew members turned away Jesse Leach, whom Heafy has since apologized to, from eating at the catering tent one day on tour. "I still hear about it," says Heafy, who adds that the band has taken more notice over the years as to who is representing them and how.
"It was really around In Waves, where that reputation started to dissipate, they were like, ‘Oh, wait a second. These guys are actually really nice, maybe they’ve been nice the whole time.’"
But those experiences bonded the band members, who took their lumps together. They even saw a kindred spirit in Iron Maiden, having been part of the Ozzfest bill with them in 2005 when they were famously egged by Sharon Osbourne during a public spat.
Heafy says that after Maiden were egged, they decided to wear Iron Maiden t-shirts daily for the rest of the tour and cover "The Trooper," which led to even more backlash. "Everybody hates us already anyway, except for our fans, let’s just go out there and tell these people we don’t care," recalled Heafy. "Like, ‘Let’s screw these people, let’s cover ourselves in Maiden stuff.’ And then Maiden brought us on tour after that. I don’t know if it’s because of that, but I know that they liked The Crusade. I think they liked the transition to The Crusade, they liked that kind of backing thing."
The singer says he feels like that era of combativeness has dissipated, with the occasional beefs popping up here and there, but it's never as serious as how acts sometimes went at each other in their early days. "I hope no young band has to go through what we went through, but it made us who we are too. It made us strong, that’s for sure, and it showed us who our real friends are,” said the singer.
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