Interview: Alex Bent of Trivium

It’s been a tumultuous ride for Trivium over the past 6 months. Putting out The Sin And The Sentence and suddenly becoming the focal point of a relieved, welcoming metal scene and now touring with hottest bands in our world, ending with a finale at London’s Brixton Academy – where we’re sat tonight. Fitting in nicely into this metal tapestry is Alex Bent, drumming wizard, having lent his talents to the likes of Brain Drill, Arkaik, Decrepit Birth, Alterbeast, Testament, Battlecross, Dragonlord and many, many others. It’s quite a CV he’s managed to put together over the years. Having added Trivium to that ever-growing list just over a year ago, he discusses the ride Trivium have been on in this new era, from a newbie’s perspective and the influence he’s brought to the band and the new record.

This is a pretty intense tour package, how have these shows been?

Yeah, it’s been a good month, we’re having a couple days off and then we start our US run. The bands have been amazing. Venom Prison, Power Trip and now we’ve added Code Orange for these last shows too, it’s been really good, man. It’s been awesome. I think every band has benefited really positively just for all of us being together on this package. I think you said it best, it’s been an intense package for sure. Everyone by the end of the night is like “Holy shit!”

It feels like quite a statement coming back after your first UK tour with the band last year with these three bands…

Yeah, we wanted to put together a package that’s just perfect, that’s really intense and just slams people so that by the end of the night they’re like “Woah, that was a show!”.

And coming away not knowing who the best band was or finding a new favourite band…

Yeah, it’s cool because every band has their own feel to them so I feel like there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. We’re all from different genres and different places you know.

I think that’s something Matt stressed to Metal Hammer, saying it’s important to blend genres so the scene doesn’t become stagnant…

Yeah exactly. You don’t want to put together a bill where every band sounds the same. When we put this together we wanted to take from all these different corners and say “Hey, let’s all come together and do something rad”.

Has playing with these younger bands had any influence on the band?

Yeah, myself and Trivium, we came from that world where you’re trying to work your way up and it’s really cool to see them doing it as well. I think as far as learning, I don’t know. I think it’s more just getting inspired, seeing that young fire in the opening bands. I think we all inspire each other in different ways because we like to see what they’re about and they like to ask us questions all the time about music and about the industry as a whole. Altogether I think we’re all learning from each other and inspiring each other in different ways if that makes sense!

It’s been just over a year since that first UK tour you joined Trivium, how’s your time been?

Oh, amazing, man, I really can’t complain at all. That first tour was killer, I had a great time and it’s just been going and going and going and it’s gonna continue going. We finish this run tonight after a month or so, we’re back at home for two or three days and then we’re just right back out there so yeah I can’t complain, man, it’s been fantastic.

Coming out with The Sin And The Sentence after the Silence In The Snow period, it feels like the band is in a really great place at the moment.

Absolutely, I think the guys would definitely agree. I mean, I wasn’t around for any of Silence In The Snow or Vengeance Falls or anything like that so I didn’t personally experience it but from what they’ve told me, they’ve said that this is the best they feel that they’ve ever sounded. Like you said, it’s the best they’ve felt in their whole career as far as shows and fan reactions to everything. Every show that we’ve done has just been fantastic. Silence In The Snow I think for them was going in a different direction for a little bit and trying new things while for this record we were just trying to wrap everything up and trying to take the best aspects from everything of who we are as a band and put it all together and they feel like The Sin And The Sentence was just that. Trying to take all the best aspects of the band and make a super killer record that hopefully everyone can enjoy. There’s the catchiness of Silence In The Snow but also the aggressiveness of other records they had done in the past like Shogun and all that. That was the goal, to have Trivium put together something that was killer for everybody.

How much of what’s on The Sin And The Sentence would you attribute to the life you’ve brought back into the band and the extreme influences you bring with you?

Oh thanks, man, obviously I like the really extreme stuff and I like the catchy melodic stuff too. I think me coming in, from what the guys have said, just being able to do different things, like being able to do the extreme stuff and go in that direction if we wanted, but also knowing how to tone it back so we could put together catchy songs that other people would enjoy. From what the guys have said to me, I think me coming into the band, it may have made them feel like they have more freedom to go in lots of different directions. I think that would be what I brought to the table!

Yeah, and on the album you’ve got songs like “Betrayer” next to “Heart From Your Hate”. The ability to marry those two things together is really great to have on one album.

Yeah, definitely. And as a whole, not just with me coming in and bringing in what I do, as a whole team, we’re all able to work with each other in really cool ways. We’re all really into the extreme stuff but it’s really awesome for example to have someone like Paolo that is so great at chipping away at things and making songs into songs. “Heart From Your Hate” for example was going to be an extreme song. It was going to be one of the extreme songs on the record, and we decided that instead of doing that, we would form something that was more of a catchy song, like a hit. Having Paolo writing his lyrics and Matt and Corey and I, we’re all just working together and trying to make what’s best.

I read somewhere that Matt, going into this recording, wanted to be more extreme than the melodic bands and more melodic than the extreme bands…

Absolutely. That was the mindset from the very beginning. After we jammed together, because we obviously had to jam the older songs for the tour last February, after we did the tour we all got a good feel for each other. That’s when we started talking and saying “Wow, what could we do? We could do something really cool here”. Yeah, that exactly – trying to take the best from all those worlds and put them together.

And with it being half a year on, how are you feeling about the album and where do you feel the fans are at with it?

It seems like the fans have really enjoyed it. I personally enjoyed it very much. I’m really proud of everything with it, not just the drums but the whole album. It’s all really cool to me because, sort of as an outsider coming in, I’m learning all kinds of songs from every single different album, and once we put out The Sin And The Sentence it all just painted this picture like “Wow, we were able to take the aspects of each thing and put it all into one and that’s definitely what we plan to continue doing – taking the best aspects of what we do and keep putting it out there. Tonight, just like everything, we try to choose what’s best and put it together for the setlist.

I personally really like the drumming performance particularly on the album, I thought it was the best part and that led me onto the Alterbeast album you did a little while back too, so personally, what’s coming up for you next? Is there more side stuff like that or is it a total focus on Trivium?

For me right now, I’m just focusing on Trivium. I used to be someone that was playing in 15 bands at a time, lots of session work, live shows, albums, whatever. With Trivium, it’s such a big moving machine that I really don’t have the time. I’m always open for session work and stuff like that for fun, but with this I just don’t have time, man. The little time that I have off from Trivium, it’s nice to just be at home and relaxing. I just wanna put everything into this right now.

You’ve got a good CV together by this point!

Yeah! Absolutely. When I was younger I was able to experience playing with lots of different bands and different people and now I’m at a point in my life where if I’m gonna do this, I wanna be all the way in. That’s where I’m at with Trivium.

How did you start to get the work you did as a session drummer? And was it an audition situation with Trivium?

I had played with other bands and different people and everyone just knows each other. It’s really a small circle of people and when they (Trivium) were starting to have their issues, I happened to be free at the time and they were calling a lot of people they trusted as far as producers and mutual friends and stuff like that and they were all saying “You should check out Alex”. So, Paolo got in contact with me, I made a couple videos and sent them to them, I flew out, jammed and after the first jam it was like “Alright, let’s do this”. So we did the tour, put out the album and now we’re here a year later!

How did you start out when you were first playing? Was it just a case of joining as many bands as you could?

I was just making a load of videos, doing YouTube stuff, doing a lot of drum competitions. I used to be really into doing the guitar centre drum off. Just playing man and meeting people. I would say 2012 was when it really kicked off for me because I was playing with a band called Arkaik at the time and we opened for Cannibal Corpse. After that I really started to meet a lot of people in the industry and it was like one thing led to another from Arkaik, filling in for Rings Of Saturn, then filling in for Decrepit Birth, Battlecross. All these random bands, filling in for Testament and stuff. It was like climbing a ladder really and “What’s next? Hopefully the doors continue to open,” and thankfully this door opened. In due time, I got that random call and they said “Hey, this is the situation, why don’t we fly you out and see how things go?”. Things just went great man.

To bring it all back together, what’s next for the band? Is it just a case of touring the hell out of this album and do festivals next year?

Yeah, we’re gonna do the States run, obviously we’re gonna do a lot of tours. I think we’re still sort of figuring out what’s next. The fans seem to be eating stuff up a lot so I’m hoping we’ll get to go to some really cool places like hopefully Australia, Japan, South America, things like that. There’s nothing confirmed but that’s what I’m hoping for and that’s what I see in the future probably – going to all those places that the band hasn’t been to in a while and letting all those fans experience what Trivium is now if that makes sense.

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