Interview by Alex Stojanovic
He was playing in several local bands in his early years as a musician, and in 2004, bass master Paolo Gregoletto joined a band that would become not only one of the leaders of the New Wave Of American Metal, but one of the biggest modern metal bands in the world right now, and that band is Trivium.
Paolo first joined the band to record their seminal album Ascendancy (which just celebrated its 15th anniversary) in 2004, and has been with the band ever since. Trivium is about to release their ninth studio album What The Dead Men Say, which will be out on April 24th on Roadrunner Records.
Paolo Gregoletto: Yeah, I'm very stoked! Thank you!
MMK: What are you currently up to while dealing with the crazy pandemic?
PG: Just kind of chilling at home with my girlfriend and my dogs. We're just trying to take things as they come. Everything is pretty much shut down that we can do. The band's been doing press all by phone. I guess that's been our main thing lately.
MMK: I see. Really looking forward to hearing the brand new record What The Dead Men Say. One thing you guys have done over the last couple of records was keeping silent on social media while in the studio. Did the recording of the album take place at the end of last year?
PG: Yeah! We started writing last April, so it's been sort of on the down-low. We wrote in three different sessions throughout the year, and we started recording in October in Orlando, and we recorded the drums in L.A. in November. We pretty much kept it in between touring, and just tried our best not to blow our cover while we were doing it.
MMK: Staying silent on social media while in the studio, are you going to keep doing that for records to come?
PG: Yeah, we kind of felt like that's been the best way to do it. We don't want to blow the momentum or the hype too early before people have heard stuff. We like to let the music do the talking.
MMK: Two of the new songs were also featured in the new Mortal Kombat trailer. How's that for you? Were or are you a big Mortal Kombat fan?
PG: Yeah, I'm a big Mortal Kombat fan and a big Spawn fan. It was really awesome to have our music be a part of that. It's kind of a full circle thing for me - for all of us, really. I grew up playing Mortal Kombat I and II at the arcade. To be a part of the game in a little bit is really cool.
MMK: Nice! The only two Mortal Kombat games I've played were Shaolin Monks and Armageddon, but other than that, I didn't go beyond those two, either before or after. Not sure why.
PG: Yeah, Mortal Kombat I and II are like my childhood games.
MMK: Who's your favourite character?
PG: Back then, I used to play as Scorpion a lot, also Raiden, I can still remember some of their moves. If I went up to an arcade game right now, I could probably do a couple of them from memory.
MMK: Nice! I read that you live in Chicago now? How long have you lived there now?
PG: Yeah, I'm in Chicago now. I've been here for about two years now officially. Moved up here to live with my girlfriend. It's been a change of pace from living in Florida all my life.
MMK: Right. I have a question regarding Vengeance Falls. Looking back on it, it's been seven years since the record came out, and you worked with David Draiman. I'm just being honest, I really like the record, but do you think David maybe exerted a little too much influence on you guys?
PG: I think going into it, I guess this kind of applies to most of our records. I think back then, we were coming off of In Waves, and we definitely felt really good about that record. Going in to work with David, I think for both us and David, the project was kind of more of an experiment because he had never really produced anything outside of his work, and we never worked with a producer that hadn't worked on a lot of other stuff, so it was more experimental than any other project we've ever done. Every producer we've worked with before and since then has worked with tons of bands, so it was a totally different dynamic. I think also with having that dynamic, David was more of a guy that was of course more hands on with his own work, so I think it made more sense that he would try to be more hands on with us as well.
In hindsight, I would've approached the record a little different. I'm still happy with the record. The song "Strife" is probably one of our top live songs, still. In the end, it's one of those things where you try things and it doesn't really always work the way you wanted it to, but we learned a lot from David in the session, which I have taken with me as a songwriter and a musician. Any record we've made, I've learned something from, even if it hasn't been up to the level of what we had hoped for the record in terms of success or the way fans received it. It was hard, because I always want to go back and be like, "What if we never announced that we were working with David, and just released the music before we said anything." I always wanted to know the counterfactual, like what people's first impression would be. In the end, it is what it is. Most people don't know what a producer style of things are with bands, whereas David is a really recognizable, iconic singer, so I think hearing ideas and influences from him were more apparent to people's ears, than the generic regular producer that would work with a band, if that makes any sense.
MMK: Right. Speaking of records, every band has that one album or two that they look back on that they say now is their least favourite. Which record is that for you?
PG: I think for me, Vengeance Falls has a more solid vision through it. I think from start to finish, it feels like a solid record. I think The Crusade is the one that always feels uneven to me, so if I had to pick one that was maybe my least favourite, I would always to go that one just because it feels uneven. I think it was just purely following up Ascendancy, and not giving ourselves enough time to work on it. Even if we ended up with a record that was uneven, we had songs that are some of my favourite songs of ours. I think if anything, the one I'll give ourselves credit for is that we never made a record where we didn't have songs that connected with fans. At the end of the day, a couple of great songs, and if a record doesn't hit the way you want, a couple of great songs goes a really long way, you know.
MMK: Right, it certainly does. I just gotta say that The Crusade is a record that's really near and dear to me, because that record was the one that solidified me as a Trivium fan. I got into you guys just before that record came out. I heard some off Ascendancy, and then The Crusade came out, and that's when I just went with you guys. Then of course, Shogun and everything else after that, so I will always hold The Crusade really close to me. I love it.
PG: Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
MMK: No problem. Switching it up, at the start of this year, the music world got a devastating blow with the loss of Neil Peart of Rush. If Trivium were to cover a Rush song, which song would you pick?
PG: Oh man, that's tough (laughs). We've always talked about covering a Death song, and I'm like, "Well, that's tough", because do you cover a song that was a great song and sounds great already, or something like an earlier song, and try to give it some new life or new inspiration? I don't know, that'd be a really tough one. Maybe something earlier for Rush, because you would normally go for the 2112 era, but that's so iconic, I don't know how we could really do it. Maybe something like "Working Man", or something from that era.
MMK: I'd definitely love to hear that.
PG: Yeah, I feel like it would have to be something earlier. I'm not saying the early Rush stuff is not as good, but when you go into a band's high watermark point, then it's really tough. We covered "Master Of Puppets" for that Kerrang: Master Of Puppets album back in 2006. Obviously, everyone was covering songs from that record. We tried to stay true to the original as possible. It's also nice to take something, maybe a song that didn't really have the best production, and be able to do it now. I've always loved when Metallica did that with songs, like when they covered Misfits. You hear the originals, and think that they're great songs, but Metallica just made them into something so much larger than life and iconic. I'd have to go through and sit there, but maybe something earlier from their catalog for Rush.
MMK: So maybe something from the first three records, like Caress Of Steel or Fly By Night?
PG: Yeah, something in there. I'd have to listen and go through, and be like "Okay, what's a song that Trivium could take and make their own?", but I think we got the drummer that can pull it off now. I think Alex [Bent] is a phenomenal drummer, so I would love to hear him play some Neil Peart stuff.
MMK: Yeah, absolutely! On a more happy note, this summer, you'll be on undoubtedly the Metal Tour Of The Year with Megadeth and Lamb Of God. I'll definitely be coming out to see the show in Toronto. Talk about how this tour came together?
PG: We started hearing some talk about Megadeth and Lamb Of God possibly pairing up. We're all on the same management, so it was kind of easy to hear the rumours about that. They weren't even talking about other bands they wanted to bring out yet, because they were still in the initial stages of that, but we threw our hat in the ring, because we had a new record coming out. We're friends with the Lamb Of God guys, we're friends with Megadeth's camp, and Dave Mustaine is a big Trivium fan as well, so we were kind of hoping that that would get everyone together, and then they brought us on board, and then they got In Flames on board, and it quickly became a stacked metal bill. I'm really looking forward to it, and hoping that what's happening right now will chill out, get better, and not affect any of that. The Toronto show is selling like crazy, so hopefully we won't have to move it.
MMK: Absolutely! One last question, then I'll let you go. Speaking of tours, as a fan, if I can make a request for a possible co-headline tour for the future, it would be Trivium and Testament. I would pay good money to see that one.
PG: Testament, that'd be cool. We were actually literally supposed to do that show in Thailand before it got cancelled. That could be a very cool bill. We've never really done a tour with a classic thrash band, so we could come up with a really cool concept for a tour that would be really fun to do.
MMK: Yeah for sure. Alright Paolo, that's all I got. Thank you so much for chatting with me. Hopefully if all this blows over by the summer time, I'll definitely be coming out to the Toronto show!
PG: Thank you so much man! Have a good one! See you soon!