From Vocal warmups to ‘Overwatch’, Here’s How Trivium Uses Twitch to Reach Fans

James McMahon
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If you know your metal, you will know Matt Heafy from the highly acclaimed Orlando, Florida thrash metal band Trivium, in which he has sang and played guitar for almost twenty-years. If you’re a gamer, and specifically if you use Twitch, you may well know him from there too. For close to a year now, he’s broadcast daily, playing games, sharing his guitar warmups, doing vocal clinics and even occasionally practising Brazilian jiu-jitsu. We thought it’d be fun to catch-up with the Trivium frontman and find out his gaming story, as well as how one of metal’s leading lights came to be a rising Twitchstar.

Matt, how did you get into videogames?

“Well, I recall beating the first Mario when I was very very young. I grew up on the classic Nintendo games – Mario, Donkey Kong – but it was really the Final Fantasy series that hooked me. Once getting into Final Fantasy, I would really immerse myself in the worlds of those games. I have a massive collection of every game, strategy guide and the toys of the Final Fantasy series.

Then I loved Goldeneye; that would be the precursor to my obsession with the Modern Warfare games, and then playing COD games online. I love the competitive modes online of these games. My path was NES, SNES, N64, PS 1, 2, 3, 4, and – thanks to streaming – PC. That’s probably been in the last six to ten months or so.”

What’s the thing you love most about gaming?

“When I was younger, the Final Fantasy games, specifically 4, 6, and 7, really delivered storylines I connected to; atop the backdrop of truly wonderful music. The characters were people I gravitated towards and felt like I had a bond with – it was amazing to actually care about your digital characters you played alongside. The music ended up being a foreshadowing to my career. The Final Fantasy games mentioned had metal elements throughout, laced with classical and at times electronic. All elements I love in music today.”

How did you come to start broadcasting your gaming sessions on Twitch?

“After befriending a few YouTubers, I initially thought I would dabble in that; when I mentioned it to my bandmates, Paolo [Gregoletto, bass] recommended Twitch to me. I looked it up and it sounded amazing: play videogames, have people watch. I started in March 2017 – playing an occasional 30-60 mins on console on ps4 with a cam.

It was in January of 2018 that a few of my close friends at Twitch – when they heard about my intensive routine to practice guitar and vocals – recommend I stream that… Twitch has since lent me an IRL Gunrun backpack as well. So now, every single show day I stream my warm-ups and Trivium shows from the backpack. At home, I stream daily vocal and guitar practice. With any spare time, games are a must for my stream.”

That’s very committed. Is it difficult to do ‘on the road’?

“Every single show day is streamed, as long as the signal holds. It would be insanely difficult without the Gunrun backpack so I am very lucky that Twitch has entrusted me with one of these. At home, I have a very specific Monday-Friday, 9am to 11am routine, usually playing Fortnite with [Twitch royalty] Dakotaz and Yelo, then from 3pm to 6 or 6.30pm I warm up and get into guitar and vocal rehearsal.

We have recently started doing Kiichichaos Karaoke, where I have played anything from *NSYNC to Dragonforce. On tour I bring my ASUS ROG Zephyrus and all my connection peripherals with me at all times so I can game during any free time. I am also a streamer for the ASUS ROG Stream team. People sometimes ask me, why do you do it, and my answer is always, connecting with countless supporters worldwide and creating a truly wonderful community. The only thing I don’t like is not being at 5,000 to 100,000 viewers per stream… yet.”

While most people use Twitch to stream gameplay, Matt also uses his channel to teach fans guitar warmups and give them an unedited insight into touring life,

If anyone is reading this that is thinking of starting streaming with Twitch, what are your tips – ‘dos’ if you will – you’d give to them before they start?

“If you’re going the IRL route, bring something unique or fun to the table. If you’re a musician, try to have a good sounding way to bring your instrument into the stream so people have a good quality stream to watch. Do set rules and do stick to them. Toxicity in anything ruins everything; I make sure my stream is positive, inclusive and fun. We have games and music as an outlet – a way to get out of the trials and tribulations of everyday life. I recommend a stream that’s fun, non-argumentative, and not negative. You need to be enjoying it.

People can tell if something isn’t fun to you. Do what’s fun, do what you’re good at. It is work. It’s a lot of work to build a community and a channel. It’s still a mountain to climb for myself. I am a very small streamer in the grand scope of things – but I want to grow. I know that music is what brings my core audience in; but I also know if I get better at games, I could attract the gaming population of Twitch as well. Make friends too. It’s important to befriend people in your chat, other streamers, and to be supportive of your peers. Don’t force things, but do reach out and make pals.”

Okay, finally, and this is the big question, so think about it really hard Matt. Don’t rush to answer. Give it some thought. So… if Capcom were to cast you in a Street Fighter game, what would be your finishing move?

“The long vocal warm up. I force my opponent to warm up as much as I do… they pass out from exhaustion. KiichiKappa.”

Trivium’s eighth studio album, The Sin And The Sentence, is out now.

James McMahon
James McMahon is a journalist from the north of England, though he currently lives in east London with his wife and Ramones records. He was formerly the editor of Kerrang! magazine for absolutely ages, and now writes for Vice, The Big Issue and The Observer. He likes Bigfoot, Xbox and crisps.
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