In Waves' Beginnings and the Tampa Food-Tour (featuring Jon Paul Douglass and his photography)

In Waves' Beginnings and the Tampa Food-Tour (featuring Jon Paul Douglass and his photography)

Tampa, Florida

Jon Paul Douglass is the man responsible for the gorgeous artwork on Trivium's In Waves. A while back, Trivium had a huge chunk of time home and I had just moved into the same building as JP - at that time, we'd go be gym-rats together, talking films, art, video games, and some of the draft ideas I had flowing for "the next Trivium album." We'd review some of my lyrical ideas, song titles, and themes on the cardio machines… head back to my place and play Call Of Duty Nazi Zombies for hours… eat dinner prepared by my wife or his girlfriend… then by night (when the girls had girls' nights) we'd watch films by directors like Lynch, Von Trier, Nolan, and other legends. JP's the one who introduced me to all those directors. There may have been a vaporizer present at times…

Could you say Willdug (as I call him since he has four first names: Jon Paul William Douglass) is responsible for showing me the path to what would become my inspiration for what inspired the latest Trivium album? God yes. I remember the film and night that changed it all for me… the visual display that showed me that Film-art is something of a reality (before this point, I did not get Blue Velvet - it made me mad the first time I saw it)...

Antichrist. Empire Szechuan. Pencil sharpener machine (code for the ol' vapor-boy). 

So there we were, at another plane of existence to say the least - chomping down on some of Central Florida's finest greasy-spoon, potentially MSG-full, NYC-style Chinese delivery service (the only delivery spot I think that would even deliver to our building) and the film begun. Not unlike the first time hearing metal for the first time with Metallica's Black Album, my cherry was burst (not from Willdug mind you…). I won't give away any plot or anything - but I'll say the film changed me. It taught me of a new source of inspiration that would eventually spiral into the creation of In Waves.

That film was the gateway drug that led me into wanting - needing more. We'd watch more of JP's picks, I'd get notes and lists of what to watch and just absorb this new medium I'd been completely unaware of until then. We started coming up with the fact that… maybe the new Trivium album should have the similarity to the frightening vision of the desolate nature-world of Antichrist - let's… "let things take their time" (as Danny Jones - artist extraordinaire who worked In Waves with JP - would say) and do it differently. The wheels were in motion now - our brains knew where the record needed to go - where the vision had to be. The most iconically important chapter of JP and I's eventually creation of the In Waves "world" was the trip to Bell, Florida. A creepy nature-realm where only Baptist churches and gas stations pepper the woods' dirt roads that eventually only led to more woods and dirt roads. It was at that spot where we created the early vision photos and videos and concepts of the world that became the Trivium record. The stories of Bell are for another day though… 

So yeah. Needless to say, we're buds. 

JP used to live in Tampa, and one day decided to take me on a man-trip/ food-tour of his old stompin' grounds. Our first stop was the Taco Bus, for Tampa's take on the traditional taco (the only real way to have a taco). I guess the spot started off initially as just a bus, but it is now a bus covered by an overhang, with an attached building. A bus/ food truck needing to expand is always a good thing. Double-layered tortilla, cilantro, onion, lime, meat. Rice and beans with queso fresco accompanied. That day, the Taco Bus was truly great. It was hard not to order the entire menu - but the plan was to eat at as many spots in a day as possible. We drive to our next spot.

First Choice BBQ is tucked away in the corner of a strip mall (Florida has lots of strip malls). The inside is old and warm. Office park-style ceilings, fluorescent lighting, newspaper ads under the table glass.. no frills, baby. You order at a counter that looks like a mall food-court in a mall that's… maybe been around for a long time… The chopped pork and sauce, served with more sauce on top with hamburger buns was some damn good BBQ. It's always the unassuming spots that wow you. 

Next, it was a small drive to the downtown area - with a Thai Tea for the road from a spot next to a head shop. Mema's Alaskan Tacos is in the area somewhere near the State Theater (a venue Trivium is quite familiar with). The Alaskan taco is a fried, crispy tortilla-shell with fish and cabbage and other bits tucked inside. The crunch of the taco shell went fantastically with the soft fish within. My introduction to the Alaskan Taco was a pleasant one. 

The Bricks is a restaurant/ bar/ coffee shop owned by the people who own/ owned the skate park Jon Paul used to tear up on his board. Really great priced, casual bites here - with an alright drink selection. The only bummer of this place:

I ask the waitress politely, "What beer do you recommend between this one… and this one?"

"I don't drink." My emotionless server responds.

I respond "Oh… alright, um… I'll take a Sierra then."

Planning my meal... "Between this sandwich and this one… which do you think is the best?"

The answer: "Uh… I don't eat meat."

"Oh… okay. Sorry about that… I'll have this one then." My reply.

She then scribbles it down and walks away. 

Alright. I get it. If you don't drink and don't eat meat… awesome for you - but if you work at a restaurant, at least be semi-aware of how to recommend or help guide patrons to a decision that may make their night. Have beliefs and opinions on people that eat meat and drink? Don't work at a freaking place that serves either. Go sell lettuce at a lettuce bar. Let's not be rude here… I've been to plenty of restaurants with fully knowledgable servers who are vegetarian or sober who can at least get the lowdown from the chef or other servers - without shoving their belief system down your throat with a judging look and/ or comment. Didn't Anthony Bourdain say that there is a direct correlation between the sense of humor of a person and their meat intake? Yeah… there - it was true. 

The food? Real good. Simple, unpretentious (the food in this case), and at a price-point that I was quite impressed with (I felt a venue like this one could have charged a bit more - but thankfully didn't).  

On our walk back to the parking garage, Willdug pointed out some of the old spots he would frequent back in the day… dancin' up a storm and raging (in his own special raging sort of way). It was a great insight into seeing the place where a dear friend sorta grew up. We drove back pleasantly full and buzzed and called it a day. 

Down With The Rudy's (featuring David Draiman)

Down With The Rudy's (featuring David Draiman)

Austin, TX

It was the Austin show on the Dream Theater tour, when all us Trivs decided to meet up with our friend David Draiman from Disturbed. David, at that time, lived around the Austin area - and having been buddies of ours since about 2005, we figured a good hang was in order.

The first time I met David was back on what I think was the Danzig show in Chicago… or maybe it was Roadrage with Machine Head and Chimaira… either way - he was at the show, and we all had a chance to meet. Having always been a fan of Disturbed (I saw 'em back on one of their first tours when they opened for Danzig and Six Feet Under at the House Of Blues Orlando, and every following time they ever played the central Florida area), I was pretty taken aback to find out that David was into Trivium. Back then and to this day, I consider David to be one of Metal's best singers and frontmen alike. His voice is iconic and instantly recognizable - with a range that spans some serious octaves. Pitch-perfect live-performances and a hell of a presence on stage are also a constant with Draiman. 

It was a quick chat that first night, but from then on, we'd occasionally run into each other over the years during one-off's and festivals and such. Years down the road, we were finally able to do a proper tour with Disturbed in Australia alongside As I Lay Dying, shortly before the release of In Waves. Shortly after that Aussie run, we found ourselves on another tour with Disturbed in the States on the Mayhem tour. 

On Mayhem, I was able to perform with Disturbed on the Dimebag Darrell anniversary - I even managed to… well… fuck my cameo up! The verses were intended to be traded off by David and Sully Erna (Godsmack), with the whole tour doing the chorus and back ups - well here comes ol' Keech (unaware of that arrangement) coming in 8 bars early on the second verse… "Run your mouthhhhh while I'm not arounddddd… it's easy to achieeeeevvveee!!" Then David politely taps and me says "Dude! You're early! And that's Sully's verse…" We both chuckle, I stop and hurry back to the side of the stage and await the chorus. Oops.

On the last date of the tour, we traded contacts to keep in touch - and in Austin we'd finally be able to share a meal (and the meal is always the best way to properly kick off a reunion). 

We show up, sit by the pool and share some drinks together - where we chat some top secret stuff (can't share yet, my friends), and then it was food time. We all pile up in David's car and head over to Rudy's, what he described as… a gas station BBQ restaurant… I was puzzled and stoked at the same time. When we show up, we see Rudy's is exactly that: a massive gas station, but only where the convenience quik-e-mart outta be, it's a big-ass BBQ restaurant. 

We essentially order every cut of animal there: sausage, ribs, pork, chicken, brisket, all the southern sides and greens and mayonnaise-salads you'd expect, and a half a loaf of white bread in the plastic. Now this stuff is good… damn good. Having been to Iron Works on a more recent visit to Austin during SXSW, I gotta say Rudy's definitely is better than Iron Works. Simple, down-home, unpretentious BBQ that's still juicy - not dry. 

As a great meal is for the first time between friends - I was super stoked that this little BBQ-joint in a gas-station would be bringing Metal-frontmen and band-mates together. We got chatting about others times we've had good meals around the globe, chatting the early days of touring from both ends… horror stories of pre-bus days; issues of little-to-no stage space as a first of 4 or 5 bands; all the good bits that only people who've shared that same insane heartache could possibly sympathize and laugh over with you. 

We rolled out of our bench in a meat-coma and headed back to Draiman's pad where we grabbed a car back to the venue for our show. All in all, it was the kind of day you don't ever forget about - sharing beers and BBQ and Metal and stories with friends. 

After the show, me and P walked far into the campus area by the gig to hit Vert's Belin-inspired Kebap. The place offers free beer, however it was non-alcoholic or Budweiser or Bud-Light… we passed. We both went for the Chicken Kebap - pretty darn good. It was interesting that at the restaurant, on their menus, they tell you how the Kebap or Kebab was created in Berlin. I always assumed Turkey - but nope: Berlin. Kebab shops in the U.K. and Europe are everywhere and typically exactly what you need to mop up all that booze in your belly after a late night pint or 20. Think of a Kebab as Europe's taco or burrito stand. 

Thouth By Thouthwetht (day 1)


Austin, Tx


The last time Trivium played SXSW was 2005 on the Road Rage Tour at what is now the "new" Emo's. I vaguely remember the performance, but it was alongside Still Remains, The Agony Scene and Three Inches Of Blood. Although having only played once on SXSW, I am very much so aware that it is basically where all the music world of the US (and the rest of the globe) combine onto the streets of Austin for several days of music, food, booze and schmooze. 

Initially, we heard we were due to play a metal showcase - then only weeks before, it was swapped to being invited to play Waterloo Records' showcase show and 5B Management's showcase at the "old" Emo's (now JR). Waterloo Records is one of the last strongholds in the USA for real record shops (selling vinyl, CD, DVD, band merch) - it's not unlike Amoeba Records in LA… picture a small Empire Records without Liv Tyler and the chick who shaves her head. 

The last time we played Austin, we were far away from Downtown - but this time, I was cognizant of the fact that we'd be in the heart of it all. I pre-warned my fellow Triviums and Trivium-crew that some serious eating would be taking place on all of our dates in Austin… We woke up in the bus at the convention center to pickup our credentials… and it was time to freakin' eat.

Rob (singer of Koufax/ Trivium's merchandising extraordinaire (also works with bands like The Get Up Kids, Larry the Cable Guy and other note-worthy acts as tour manager and merch)) is one of my main food-partners when touring North America and Europe - and since our other food-buddy Joey (Trivium's tour manager/ front of house sound engineer (also has tour managed As I Lay Dying, Coheed And Cambria and many others) was busy doing his tour-daddy work of the day getting our credentials - we hopped out of the bus with Corey Beaulieu to go start tackling some of Austin's best.

To explain in layman's terms (sort of): what's fantastic about Austin is that it's like a really hot chick (or dude, if you will) who knows they've got their shit goin' on… but is still super cool to you for some reason - giving you what you want and need (if you know how to get it). Austin is one of the spots in America for great food, drinks, art, music and people - it has all that without the pretense, without the stuck up nose, without the elitism. 

We tried to hit Turf N Surf initially (their site said open at 11), but their owner meanly shouted "We're closed!! 1 hour - come back!" So we wandered further to a spot Rob knew of - 24 Diner. 24 Diner is conjoined with Waterloo Records, and today there was a stage about the size of a two car garage setup in the parking lot, fenced in. This would be where chaos would soon ensue. But first - food.

24 Diner is very much so what I dig… a New American joint with a diner-feel that prides itself on carrying local produce, local sources - doing familiar dishes with slight spins or just their own way completely. I order the Chicken and Waffles with a fried egg (made from yeast-risen dough with butter, bourbon vanilla and raw sugar. Grade A light amber Vermont maple syrup accompanied. Boneless fried-chicken, brown sugar butter) - damn good. This thing was comedically large - there is no way even a stoned linebacker should finish this behemoth. The waffles were alcoholic - straight bourbon-flavored. The chicken was not skimpy in quantity by any means (I had to add the egg due to having it done that way in a few other spots around the country) - just great stuff. Corey got the avocado burger, Rob the tuna sandwich - we all (adorably) shared a Peanut Butter and Chocolate shake in 2 little glasses with me and Corey having two straws in ours. That thing was righteous. It tasted like the best peanut butter and the best chocolate you've ever had… in liquid form… for instant glucose-injection to the system. I tried to time this meal out 3 hours preshow… but I was still full during screaming "In Waves." You try that… it sucks.

We were all excited and a touch nervous about the Waterloo showcase. It was amazing that we were the only metal band on the performance - but the other bands were so far from the spectrum of metal - I was almost a little like… "uh… are we too much for these kids?" I'm talking 14-17 year old indie-girls there for Fun. kinda-thing. Yeah - we were playing with Fun. I couldn't believe it - I'd been rockin' their new record recently, I really feel like the 2nd track on the record sounds like Freddie Mercury - so I like it.

We came up a few seconds early and told the crowd - basically - "who the F we were" and "what the F we were about"… always a good ice breaker for a new crowd. I could tell quickly that 80-95% of this crowd had never heard of us… maybe never heard metal personally live - and by the end? By "F-ing explode" we had everyone moving… moshing, headbanging - people were killing it. That had to have been one of the most genuinely fun shows of recent memory - I love the opportunity to show people something new - and get them into it. 

(This paragraph was added a few days after the original typing, immediately after finishing the "South By So What" festival...)

Those young indie girls… who maybe got into Fun. through their alleged Glee rendition - rocked out ten times harder than 80% of the crowd at the tongue-in-cheek named festival in Dallas. And the hundreds of thousands of attendees of the real South By Southwest certainly trumped the 2000 or so crowd of the "So What" festival. SXSW is about diversity - showcasing all sorts of music from all over the spectrum - it's not about being complacent in similarity. SXSW does it right. 

We crushed the show, did a meet and greet for some awesome Trivium kids and some new friends - cleaned up - then me and Rob headed into town (the others were going back to… pre-game? Who knows… miss out is more like it). We hit up Jackalope for some Fire Eagle IPAs and began catching up with label-friends, management-friends and other industry-buddies. 

Having never explored SXSW before - I can tell you - it's a madhouse. It's like an adult Disney… it's like Mardi Gras with clothing… it's 1,000's of bands playing 100's of clubs everywhere in a town that is ready for it. I feel bad for the locals - but hell - their economy must kill after the fest. People guzzle down beer from the early a.m. to the… early a.m…. chowing down on some of the best damn food trucks in the country. 

We hit Trinity to meet up with one of Rob's buddies bands; Justin Arcangel (Trivium's manager meets up with us… unfortunately his plane broke down so he missed what would have been one of his favorite Trivium shows (J prefers when I'm a little… meaner… to the crowd (and I was))). No local drafts?? So I opted for Guinness. We made plans to make our way over to Iron Works BBQ for dinner. We walked over there and tried to make plans to see some acts (Rob and I wanted to see Andrew Bird and Fiona Apple - but so did the rest of Austin - so that was out) and then decided… whatever we see - we see. No plans. 

Iron Works had a line out the ass… as did and would all places in Austin around dinner time. I'm always skeptical with BBQ out, since I've married into an incredibly Southern-family. My in-laws do BBQ better than anywhere and everywhere I have ever been to in the world. This is no exaggeration. Even Iron Works was majorly beaten by Tammy and Ross. I couldn't blame Justin and our label and booking agents - they're all North Easterners… the Yanks' always want BBQ in the South. 

You can see quickly that this place is legendary. It smells like BBQ-ing meat… pics of George Dub-yuh Bush, Mitten Romney, Obamy and others all greet you to your left. The air is sticky humid in delicious Southern-air and BBQ-sauce fumes. The meat pits are impressive as heck - mountains of brisket and sausage was all I could see. I did the Brisket, Sausage, Pecan Pie and a Saint Arnold Amber. Onions, potato salad, pickles, hot peppers and the ubiquitous white bread slice accompanied. Don't get me wrong… this is good stuff - it just can't beat home-cooked BBQ… if you don't have access to kick-ass home cooked BBQ - try this place out. Maybe even the gas-station BBQ-combo, Rudy's… I hear Ruby's rocks too. I've yet to try Salt Lick even. So yeah - decent - Brisket was a touch dry - the meats required the sauce more than I feel like they needed to; the sausage was just aiight. 

We headed to Barbarella Patio to see the Metalsucks showcase. Man - was everyone from my whole musical-life in Austin - ran into Roadrunner past and present, The Agency, 5B, Metal Injection, Metal Hammer UK, Mike from Darkest Hour, even the fine folks from Metalsucks. Metal Injection and Metalsucks have always been super nice dudes, and great supporters of the Triv - so it was great to catch up with everyone. 

I came in as Black Tusk was still rocking out. Beastly heavy, 3-piece: sludgy, trashy, punchy, heavy-as-balls mastodonian-band (not comparing to - simply using the primal beast as adjective for Tusk's style). Intronaut was up next - spacial, jam-band (but with metal and post-hardcore roots (if you will)) - elements of post-metal, some proggy bits in there. I feel the bass was mixed loudly that night, however - the bass lines were so damn interesting, I was happy they were cranked up a smudge. It was really interesting that to the far left and far right, both guitarists were doing main vocals simultaneously at most times. If I had to compare to bands - I'd say a touch of Neurosis, Isis, Tool (merely in the bass doing catchy prog-style lines) - one dude at the show called them a Metal Phish. Great stuff. 

We said our goodbyes and headed to the British Music Embassy for the Raw Power Management showcase (Raw Power: Rise To Remain, Bullet For My Valentine and many others). We came in during the singer (?) of Fightstar's solo-acoustic band - decent stuff; then Turbogeist took the stage (actually a 5B management band; one of the band members is Mick Jagger's son). Turbogeist is really a killer punk band. Very aggressive while still minting a great sensibility for melody (in a Misfits sorta way ofcourse). I really appreciated the 3 front guitars (2 guitars, 1 bass) doing a triple onslaught of vocals at the same time - it really takes you back to when punk was great. Turbogeist really did a great job. 

Around this point, we were hanging with all the aforementioned Trivium-industry people; Paolo and Corey and Joey showed up - Rob went to a buddy of his' show… then Clown and Craig from Slipknot showed up - we hung with them a bit. By this point - I was beat to hell… I'd been eating, walking and drinking essentially all day - whilst being battered with some great (some not-so-great) music. I did the 1-plus mile walk back and the boys stayed and hung. 

Paolo usually doesn't drink much on tour… apparently when I left, he was going shot for shot with Clown, Craig and Corey - Paolo allegedly alternating between Jack, Jaeger, Vodka and other stomach-twisting varieties. He was hung over for two days afterwords… 

Day one. Success.