Interview by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
We spoke exclusively with Paolo Gregoletto on the first date of the final tour supporting their 2015 album Silence in the Snow. This is the first time new drummer Alex Bent performs with the band, and Paulo told us how that came about. He also discusses their plans to begin work on the follow-up to Silence in the Snow once the tour concludes, adding that it is likely to be a heavier offering.
Alan: Welcome back to Dublin. You’ve been here a few times, and it’s sold out here tonight.
Paolo: Yeah, this was the first show to sell out, so we’re really excited.
Alan: And it’s also the first show of this current tour, the last in support of Silence in the Snow. What are you looking forward to most?
Paolo: Yeah. I guess just wrapping the entire album up. It’s been a really eventful year and a half with the record, so to have the final tour in Europe and to start off in Ireland, we know these shows are always going to be awesome. To end it like this is definitely the way to end the album and eventually go into some new music with that being the last memory of playing live.
Alan: And when you say go into some new music, does that mean you’ve got some already?Paolo: We’ll start working on stuff after we get done with this tour. We’ll take a little breather and get together and figure out where to go next, but like any band nowadays, we keep the pace up getting new stuff out. We don’t like to take too long off because we just like to keep moving.
Alan: Yeah, your cadence is pretty regular. Your last tour date was mid-October, so you’ve been off the road for almost four months now. Did you get a chance to do any writing during that time?
Paolo: Well the main thing was getting together so we could work with Alex Bent who’s playing drums with us right now. We spent three weeks in November. It was a last minute change, but we wanted to make sure that we played and vibed well. He’s a pretty incredible player. Then we did another week of rehearsal with him about two weeks ago. So we got him up to speed, and mainly just been focusing on that. That was the priority at this point.
Alan: The last time you were here was June 2104, and Mat Madiro was your drummer at that stage. Since then, Paul Wandtke has been and gone. Can you tell us why his tenure was so short?
Paolo: He was really just not the right fit. When we had Paul join up with us last year, it was under the assumption that it would be a trial basis until the end of the cycle, and we just kinda got to the end of the last tour and decided that it wasn’t going to be the right fit. Alex happened to be available. Our friend Mark Lewis, a producer we’ve worked with, has worked with Alex and said “This dude’s awesome”. He has played with Battlecross and on their last album. He’s a great drummer. We just needed that caliber of player and it was obvious immediately when he came in what he was able to bring. And not just in playing, but in preparation and mindset. We’re at that point where we know what we need and we had to go out and find exactly what that was. Alex came in and he’s crushing the set, so I’m excited. Tonight’s the first night we’ll be unleashing him on the Trivium crowd. I keep forgetting because we’ve played for a few weeks together, that nobody else has seen this yet. That’s an exciting thing. Especially with songs you’ve played a million times, and when you still get excited by them, that’s usually a good sign that everyone’s vibing out well.
Alan: Is it frustrating for you as a bassist in the rhythm section of the band to have this constant turnover with drummers.
Paolo: As long as it’s always upgrading, I’m fine. It sucks having to teach someone new stuff, but with Alex, he learned the whole set in a week. It’s been very easy for us bringing him into the fold. It’s really just been about showing him how we play live and how we do the endings and how we go through stuff. He brought everything he needed to the table, so it’s been easy.
Alan: Are you limited by the number of songs that you can play on this tour because he hasn’t had time to rehearse a lot of the material?
Paolo: We gave him an hour and a half worth of music to have ready and that was our goal for the tour. We didn’t want to over-extend to learn a bunch of songs that didn’t need to be played yet. And once we get off this tour, we’ll probably hand him another six or seven we’ll want to play on the next tour, and maybe rotate some of the ones we’re doing on this tour out. Slowly building up the repertoire.
Alan: Sure. Silence of the Snow had much more of a Power metal vibe to it than the earlier albums. Do you have any idea what direction your music might be going in, looking towards the next album?
Paolo: It’s really hard to pinpoint and say exactly what it’ll turn into. I guess sometimes we make turns away from what we just did, and I can see the next one being a little heavier. We’ll see, once we get in there writing. We’ve got to see how we feel as people. We want the record to show where we’re at that moment. But I could see it being a lot heavier.
Alan: Also the last album had all clean vocals, and I know Matt damaged his throat back in 2014…Paolo: Yeah, luckily that wasn’t anything permanent. The best way to describe it would be like as if an athlete were to play a game the morning after playing a game the night before. It was just a bad set of events. We played a late show, had a border crossing, then played an early show at a festival, and that was it for Matt’s voice. Thankfully it was just over-worked. There wasn’t any damage. But he had to relearn a lot of stuff. He got in touch with a new vocal teacher through Matt from Avenged Sevenfold. He had actual damage to his voice at one stage. So he got him in touch with his dude. Matt relearned from the ground up; singing, screaming. And the screaming actually took a while because it’s a really different technique. Even through making Silence in the Snow, he still didn’t have it down. Now, thankfully he got it back and he’s able to do it the right way and we really don’t have any limits on new songs.
Alan: So maybe you’re not restricted to clean vocals in future?
Paolo: No, no. Honestly, the clean thing on the last record was a mixture of he just wasn’t ready with the new technique or to do the old technique, after all, that happened, and we didn’t know if he was going to be able to do it again, and we were thinking, “well, if we make a whole record that has a lot of screaming, and for some reason he can’t, then we’re kind of in a bind here”. So it was half the challenge of doing the record like that, and the other half not knowing if that was ever going to be something he could do, and not putting ourselves into a bad situation where we can’t do these songs live because Matt can’t replicate it. Now we’ve been playing all the songs with singing and screaming so everything’s back on the table again. We don’t really have a thing that it’s got to be this kind of song with singing or screaming. It’s whatever the song calls for. Having done the last record the way we did it, having done our old records the way we did them, anything is open for what we can do in the future. That’s exciting for us because it doesn’t really pigeon-hole us into anything on any song.
Alan: Speaking of being unable to perform the way you want to… We were in Copenhagen last weekend to see Metallica, and Hetfield’s voice was really bad because of the flu. Halfway through the set, he said “I want to stop. I know I’m performing badly.” He knew that. Have you ever had a similar experience where you were sick while performing and you really didn’t want to play on?
Paolo: I’ve definitely had that quite a few times. It’s really terrible, but you’ve got to go through it. But if it happens to Matt or like a Hetfield, then you know your limits. We had a show last year where Matt lost his voice and me and Corey had to do the majority of the music and Matt had to almost low-talk a lot of parts. But we got through it. It was an hour set. Sometimes you gotta push through things. As long as Matt can get up there and play the guitar, me and Corey could probably get through the set with the crowd singing along too. But I respect a guy like James because it’s all about quality and giving the fans what they want, and I’m sure they’ll come back do another show. I think they already rescheduled it. It’s disappointing, but quality matters, and not hurting yourself and your health are more important. I think people understand that. You don’t want to push your voice to the point where you really hurt it and then James is not playing for like a year.
Alan: Unfortunately, we’re being told that our time is up, so I’ll do a quick-fire “this-or-that” quiz with you.
Paolo: Sure. Go!
Alan: Silence in the Snow or Ascendancy?
Paolo: Probably Ascendancy.
Alan: Bass Guitar or Backing Vocals?
Alan: Ozzy or Lemmy?
Alan: Axl with AC/DC or Angus Young with Guns n’ Roses?
Paolo: Axl with AC/DC I think.
Alan: Trump or Obama?
Paolo: Obama.Alan: In the studio or on the road?
Paolo: That’s tough. That’s really 50/50 for me, but because we’re on the road, I’ll say on the road.
Alan: Europe or USA?
Paolo: Probably Europe, for shows for sure!
Alan: Cool. We need to wrap it up there. I wish we had time to elaborate on your choices. Thanks for taking the time.
Paolo: Thank you very much. Appreciate it!