The Return Of The Kiichi-Kun I (as published in Burrn Magazine in Japan)


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The Return Of The Kiichi-Kun I

There's no place on Earth that I strive to be in more than Japan; no where I feel more at home (outside of my own home); no where that when I'm away from it, I miss like one misses loved ones on a trip far away in some remote part of the planet.

I was born in the Yamaguchi prefecture (Iwakuni) January 26, 1986. I consider myself to be half-Japanese (my mother's side), half-Marine (thanks to my military father). My family relocated to the USA when I was about 1, so I have zero recollection of ever being in Japan as a child. 

Thankfully - due to the band I am in, I am able to return once every year and a half or so. Lately - and unfortunately - Trivium only comes back for either a brief press run or one show in Tokyo. One show? That's torture! I'd prefer to have a year long tour there than one measly show. Either way, one is better than none. Trivium returned for Loud Park 2013 and we had the greatest Japanese show ever, and one of the greatest shows of our career even. But if you live in Japan, you probably already heard about that show. Let's go behind the scenes of everything else that happened on my visit.

My wife Ashley and I both have a strong love for all things Japan: the people, the art, the food, the architecture, the history, the language, the mythology, the religion, the music, the sub-cultures… basically any and everything Japanese is something we want and need to be fully immersed in. Ashley decided to join us on our one show stint, and we both decided we'd stay an extra 3 and a half days just to do whatever we want: eat, drink, sightsee, learn, and enjoy. 

I live a strict life on the road: no food 4 hours before a show, no food 3 hours before bed, no alcohol, no caffeine, rigorous exercise (yoga, weights, Jiu-Jitsu), and I ensure 8-10 hours of a sleep a night. In Japan? All rules are broken, cuz hey! It's Japan! After our long flight, we checked into the Tokyu Excel (one of my favorite hotels due to it's insanely centralized location within Shibuya (one of my favorite cities on the globe)) we all dropped our bags and headed down to go eat (the most important thing for me when in Japan). We then met up with one of our dearest friends in the entire world, Koji from Roadrunner. 

Koji is one of the first people I met in Japan, we've shared some of the best meals of our lives with him - Ash and I even invited him to our wedding; I consider Koji a "food soul-mate" of mine. So naturally, we knew he would know what's up for chow tonight. Hell… I even recall a night where he, Corey and I were at a bar till 6 am; me doing headstands, Koji fueling the shots, then CKB and I DJing "In Waves" before it was even out for anyone at the bar. Now that is very rare for ol' Kiichi-kun on the road.

We rallied up our entire band, most of our crew, Ashley, Tommie-san (Trivium Japan president), and headed to Rakuzou, an Izakaya spot. We tore into: the soft-bones of chicken; beautiful Japanese beer (the best in the world!); samma sashimi, karage; sashimi salad; yaki-tori of heart, skin, and other yummy-bits; bacon-wrapped asparagus; ebi-mayo (Koji's fave); a delicious packet of chicken prepared unlike anything I've had; fish fins and mayo; grilled beef; a few deserts (matcha affogato, and a custard); then grilled oni-giri (my mother always made me oni-giri, so while in Japan - I need this). Izakaya is a favorite of mine due to the fact that everyone gets to eat together, tasting the same things your dinner-friends taste; this is my favorite thing to do with loved ones: eat and share and just be. 

Calling it early due to the big show the next day, everyone slept quite hard; I managed to get about 11 hours of sleep that night.

The following morning was show-day; I awoke ready to get back to eating. A couple of us suited up to trek in the deserted early morning streets of Shibuya, where breakfast is a rarity. For a city and a country so obsessed with food, finding breakfast is a very daunting task. Lucky for us there was a new small chain, Kamukura.  

Ashley is more of a croissant and cafe' au lait kinda gal, so noodles and rice and beef for breakfast is a hard notion for her to swallow. I understand that ramen for breakfast is sort of crazy to a Japanese person, but I say ramen time is any time of the day. I had both a rice and beef bowl with a sunny-side up egg and ramen with pork and gyoza and rice balls. Man! Oiishi!  

Afterwords, it was time for yet another tradition of mine, the Starbucks matcha frappucino. We don't have this drink in the US of A; I drink a lot of these when in Japan - and yes, I prefer local buisiness and small local chain to global chains, but this matcha frapp can't be beat. I guzzled it down happily and headed to the hotel to pack up for the upcoming show.



New Orleans, Louisiana 

It was on the In Flames, Trivium, Veil Of Maya, Kyng North American tour, where we had aday off in New Orleans. I've never had a proper food experience in NOLA, so it was time we straightened that out. On this tour, we had quite the all-star line-up as far as food-friends go for me: Joey B (Trivium's tour manager), Rob Suchan (now ex-Trivium merch) and Paolo. Amazingly, pretty much most of our band and crew wanted to hang and chow during the day, so we all headed out to our first spot, Cochon Butcher. 

Cochon I believe has two restaurants: a sit-down, and a sandwich spot (sort of a deli); we wanted to hit Butcher so we could eat and drink, then repeat throughout the day in multiple locations. Everyone grabbed beers and placed their orders. The place is a very cool, contemporary take on the deli; you can see the meats curing, a chalkboard displays all their specials and regulars; sleekly modernized little renovated old-place (I assume for the last part). 

I was stoked. Anytime I walk into a place that comes this highly recommended from my friends and Rob's friends alike - I know I'm in for a treat. My only bummer experience was when I was asking the girl at the register what she recommended, alongside a few other questions about the place, she very shitty-ly responded "man. You ask a lot of questions don't you?" I won't hold it against the place, since bitchiness is typically inherent before a vocational choice.Anywho, I ordered: an LA 31 Pale Ale, the Cochon Muffaletta (house made meats, provolone, olive salad; iconically New Orleans), hot boudin with pickles and mustard. The hot boudin (white sausage) was perfectly delicious, the pickles and mustard went very well with it; the muffaletta was fantastic: salted, cured meats stacked high with cheese and olives - a real treat (I unfortunately don't have the picture of this elusive and legendary NOLA staple). 

All of us happy and full of some fantastic food, we next hit Napolean House for their house specialty: A Pimm's cup cocktail (a quite tasty one). We then hit Apple Barrel Bar for some Abita Ambers (New Orleans' most well-known beer brand); then hit R Bar for some more beers; then rounding off our food and drink trip-'round-New-Orleans with beignets and cafe au laits from Cafe Du Monde. A super-touristy spot, but with a nice beignet and coffee nevertheless.

For dinner, we hit a place Rob's friends recommended and would be meeting us at: Bacchanal, a food truck in the backyard of a bar. This setup is not unlike something you'd see in Austin, Texas; Christmas lights were the only source of lighting over-head, picnic tables and happy people eating and drinking greet you on your entry to the backyard. 

Now, locationally and population-wise, this is sort of a paradoxical universe for my band mates: it was generally mostly populated with hipster kids, and now in come four dudes who obviously look like they don't fit in (I think I heard the vinyl of Grizzly Bear come to a screeching halt). I feel like I can fit into any environment when talking about food, but I could see steam rising off of Corey and Nick's heads. 

I went for White Bordeaux, a frisee' salad, polenta, steak, then a Saint Arnold Stout. The food orders are all taken at the truck, tucked in a far part of the backyard. Once you order, the chef brings you your plate at your table. The food here was unstoppable: as great as anything you'd expect in a sit-down restaurant; the dishes humbly served on paper plates. This place makes you think of being at a friends' backyard cookout. 

So we had Rob, his pals, my band mates and myself. One of the female dinner guests we had was oddly rude to Paolo (a snide remark about polenta or something), then later on with Rob (I think when they left the restaurant it involved Rob getting out of the car in traffic or something). Maybe the ladies are just extremely passionate about their food in this town? Who knows.

From here, the Trivium's parted ways with our other guests and headed to Musical Legends to meet the In Flames band and crew for a couple drinks, then we all eventually headed off to Erin Rose for way-too-many Abitas. It's always a treat to be reunited with our extended family, the In Flames band and crew. 

New Orleans did us right this time around. 

haggis has stopped running circles round the hill and arrived here with his friends neeps and tatties fired in a whiskey cream sauce


Glasgow, Scotland

Oh, Scotland. The land of deep-fried chocolate bars, deep-fried pizza, deep-fried haggis, not-deep-fried haggis and kilts. Scotland, while maybe not reputable for its cuisine, is notorious for having some of the most intense crowds in this neck of the woods. Crowds so loud and crazy and devoted, that they put other countries to shame. 

I was thankful to still have my wife Ashley with me on this leg of the Trivium & In Flames tour - and extra thankful when she remembered a serious gem of Glasgow: The Butterfly And The Pig. We first stumbled upon this little oasis accidentally on The Black Crusade tour (Machine Head, Trivium, Dragonforce, Arch Enemy, Shadows Fall) and have essentially been bringing it up anytime anyone ever brings up Scotland. 

We went back, 4 years later only to be greeted by the same exuberantly friendly server. We were then seated at the same table from those years past, then we ordered a round of Tennent's. The menu at The Butterfly is pretty hilariously written up; we order: "Cream of chicken, leek and spring onion soup de loop," "Cillia black is back in black in a pudding, with salad, apples, bacon. Contains black sudden, parmesan cheese and a wee friend quail eggs on top," "Haggis has stopped running circles round the hill and arrived here with his friends neeps and tatties fired in a whiskey cream sauce," and "Like mamma used to make beefy beef stew served with mash potatoes and a puff pastry hat." I - obviously have a tendency to over-indulge...

I say it every time I eat with friends who maybe haven't eaten with me much: I prefer to share. I want everyone to be able to experience as many tastes and textures as possible, the same eats that their cohorts are enjoying; my wife and I live by this with food with family and friends. So how was this feast? 

The soup tasted like it's ingredients and nothing more, the exact way a soup like that ought to be. The salad was perfectly balanced: just enough vinegar in the dressing; just the right ratio of egg, cheese, ham and black pudding for me, and greens and healthy bits for my vegetable preferring spouse (a meat eater, but one who prefers vegetables to anything else edible (crazy right?)). That is what a salad should be. I had the Haggis last time here, and I was having it again - I assume "neaps" are Parsnips, the "tatties" obviously potatoes. The Haggis here is splendid. Meaty, stick-to-your-bones, fill-you-up goodness that someone way-back-when cleverly created when deciding to stuff different parts of an animal in other parts… then into it's own stomach. Sound brutal? I call it ingenious. The beef stew is something you'll see all around in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland - The Butterfly does this really nicely; in a massive portion at that. I found the description cute too. 

If you haven't tried Scottish food before, or have heard horror stories of the dread Haggis - I suggest you go here. Here The Butterfly And The Pig. will show you how fantastically Scottish food can be done. 

The Offal Stuff, The Good Stuff and the Christmas Market


London, England

It was on the Trivium, In Flames, Ghost, Rise To Remain and Insense tour, on the day of our London Brixton show, when Kirsten (Trivium's longtime (and super lovely) PR extraordinaire) set up a food-related promo event. Today, I was to chow down on some of Britain's finest in the offal department. 

The line-up included: a Scotch Egg, Cockles and Whelks, Jellied Eels, and some sort of sausage-in-a-pastry. I've now had numerous interpretations of the Scotch Egg around the globe, and I can tell you with absolute assurance that a Scotch Egg is a damn good thing: a boiled egg, nestled in meat, coated in breading (either fried or baked). Good right?! This was a classic one; minced meat, normal egg, good nevertheless. The Whelks (a villain in Final Fantasy VI mind you) and the Cockles taste like they look: like briney-oceany-clammy-flavored chewy-bits. I am a fan of shelled-food, and these… they're not awful, just nothing to particularly rave about. Jellied Eels! If you're not a fan of something that tastes like you're licking the inside-of-a-whale's-blow-hole, you may not like this dish. Texture? Its like… dolphin spooge (I imagine…). It didn't gross me out by any means - but again - it's something that's worth trying and may or may not be something you crave for a midnight snack.

I was quite fortunate to have my wife and longtime partner in food and drink-related inter-continental crime with me for a bit of this run, so we decided we wanted something really good. We were given recommendations by some good foodie friends who we went to high school with, who had recently visited the U.K., to hit up St. John's for some grub.

St. John's has what I think were three or so locations: a fancier sit-down restaurant tucked inside of an unassuming building, a bakery/bar/bar-snacks area where you can get plates to share alongside a nice local pint, then the third which is located off-site from the former two. We picked the bar/bakery. In sort of a modern loft/factory setting, St. John's is an eatery that is wide-open and inviting in it's not overly-large interior. The bar is stocked with all sorts of good things to drink down; I went with the Helles by Meantime Brewery, with American Hops. A fine pint it was. The delectable looking breads and sweets were calling out to my growling stomach, but I prevailed in waiting for the real good stuff. I went for Roast Bone Marrow with a Parsley Salad, house made Bread, and Sea Salt; Native Oysters to follow. Ashley had the Welsh Rarebit (I assumed a game animal like a rabbit, but it was actually sort of a grilled cheese toast-thing).

Don't eat marrow? You're missing out. Think of it as the essence-of-meat-flavoring in a spreadable-form. You take this little spear-thing, jam it into the bone and slather it on that fantastic baked (then grilled) bread. Atop that, drop some Sea Salt and Parsley Salad. Frickin' good. Simple, classic ingredients that make the knees buckle. The oyster were served simply with a lemon hunk and a mini jar of vinegar and chopped onions. A good, fresh, local oyster doesn't need much; I had one nude, one with a light drizzle of that tasty, vinegary dressing. This was my first time trying any Welsh Rarebit; it's a piece of bread, with a sharply flavored cheese adorn on top, it's then perhaps oven-baked to crisp it all up a bit. Real tasty. 

Myself stuffed on slimy, yummy bits, and Ashley on a real fancy grilled cheese, we called for Coffees and pudding (ya gotta have your pudding!). We split a Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and a Mince Pie with Cream. Both deserts were impeccable. Probably the best Bread Pudding I've had whilst in England. Rich, not-good-for-you, but oh-so-darn-good. Cold ice cream pornographically oozing all over that hot hunk of sweet. 

Deciding to be slightly heart-smart (another Rob Suchan-ism), we take a cab to wander about the Christmas Market… or Village… or whatever it was called. Slugging down a couple hot Mulled Wines, Ashley eventually convinced me to get in the Ferris Wheel - and lemme tell ya: I do not like heights. I'll spare you the photos of my scared-lookin ass. 

Dawn Of A New Day (At In Flames' Restaurant 2112)

"Dawn Of A New Day"




"Dying In Your Arms"


Dawn Of A New Day (At In Flames' Restaurant, 2112)

Gothenburg, Sweden

Life used to be sort of difficult in Trivium: always hearing of "other bands" that either say that we suck or that "Matt Heafy is a _____ (insert numerous insults in blank)", or ludicrously cold commentary online about things surpassing the boundaries of necessity when you simply don't like a band. It hurt a bit being in my late teens just making the kind of music I wanted, but always having to "hear" about how bands, press, or kids thought I or the band sucked. Nowadays? I never hear anything band really (or don't mind), and I've managed to befriend some musicians that I always considered some of the greatest people on Earth. 

There are days and moments in life where I think I'll wake up and everything great going on wasn't real… but that doesn't seem to happen. I finished up the Moscot Mobileyes Foundation acoustic solo show, get home and notice that the clips of the songs are online; I received a text and it's from Peter Iwers of In Flames, saying how he really enjoyed the acoustic performance clips online and would love to see if I'd be into performing at his and Bjorn's restaurant 2112. Anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn't exist musically without In Flames - and over the years (and 8 tours together), In Flames has become some of my closest band-friends in the world; so that nice text from Peter was touching and inspiring. 

Peter and Bjorn own an amazing restaurant in Gothenburg, Sweden, and I've actually had the privilege of eating and drinking (lots) there several times; so any excuse to come back to 2112 is always a good one. There was a ferry-travel date in between Stockholm and Helsinki where I was able to coordinate flying into Gothenburg on the day off to perform at 2112 for Cancer Fonden Sweden (a cancer foundation). Unfortunately, In Flames was in the USA at the time I'd be performing, but I would still be able to hang out with some of their nearest and dearest pals of Gothenburg. 

Before the last acoustic show, I was a nervous wreck… I'm used to playing Trivium shows - that doesn't phase me; but playing completely by myself is a little nerve-wracking since by that point, I had only performed once solo. Even before the European Headlining Trivium tour started, I was rehearsing the full set of songs daily - ensuring that I would perfectly nail these tracks at one of my favorite bands' restaurants. Throughout the whole tour, I would rehearse the acoustic sets and ensure my utmost healthiness to save my voice all for that one acoustic show. 

I fly out of Stockholm, and there was a group of 6-8 amateur basketball players: half of them American, half Swedish, all very tall and loud (the Americans at least). I sit in my seat, and recline when it's time to recline - violently, my seat is force-shoved back forward and held in place by the kid behind me. I turn my head slightly, shaking in rage, about to tell him off - when I start to realize that I am surrounded by his "boys" (as far as seating is concerned); having recently dealt with gang-mentality recently (and being assaulted and threatened with a gun) my mind played out the scenarios of what I could say and what would happen. It sucked - but I had to just suck it up and sit there… I knew that if I turned around and got vicious - I would be outnumbered by a bunch of half-wit wanna-be amateur gargantuan-children. Later on, I stood up on the flight and looked right at the kid - he kept eye-contact to the ground… maybe he didn't realize that the dude in front of him was decked out in all black with a massive pentagram on his back with tattooed arms… fuckin' asshole. It was another one of those moments that the human race let me down; like the gang jumping. Long story short: I was punched in the face and chased into the street by 8-10 kids threatening to kill my manager and I; gun pulled out and all; they later cut us back off by our bus, shattered our managers collar bone - luckily I phoned the police on the way back before we were cut off and they showed up to break it all up. I've never had a moment in my life before that I thought I would never be going home again. 

Flash back forward a few months. I arrive at the Elite Plaza Gothenburg - a quite nice hotel for the evening; I was even upgraded to a suite for free - bonus. I meet Jorgen and Sara from 2112 for a quick lunch at Bliss (the restaurant next door to 2112). The restaurant was closed, but Sara knew the chef, so he busted out a plate of the fish special of the day for me. This fish was some kind of white Swedish fish (most likely cod), simply prepared with a very tasty white sauce and that lasagna-looking traditional Swedish vegetable side-dish. Beautiful little dish. New Swedish I'd call it. Jorgen, Sara, and I chat a bit, then head over to 2112 to build a stage out of some wooden-crate platform-things and rugs (punk rock, but it works) and I rehearse a track or two. 

Amazingly, I was able to score a haircut at Bena with Stina before the gig - I headed over there and got my Kramer-situation situated wonderfully. Post new-doo, it was time to yoga and rehearse a bit more before the performance. 

2112 was packed to capacity with people happily chowing down on the restaurant's new menu (all gourmet burgers) and drinking their world-class beers; I headed into the stock room for some final nervous-prep and a glass of water. When it was stage time, I walked through the crowd and sat upon my make-shift stage and belted away some oldies…

The set went flawlessly on the covers. I went from "Can't Help Falling In Love" into "Sweetest Perfection", then "Hurt", "In Dreams", "Eleanor Rigby", "Hallelujah" (the show stopper), "Dawn Of A New Day" by In Flames, "Harvest" by Opeth, then closed with "Dying In Your Arms" by Trivium. Hilariously, I botched "Dying" (charmingly at least) - then the set was over. It was a pleasure to do a great little acoustic set for some Swedish friends for a good cause; I thank Peter and Bjorn for allowing me into their fantastic spot once again. 

After some photos and signings Jorgen, Sara, Tomoko (Trivium Japan), myself and a rotating cast of 2112/In Flames' nearest and dearest all begin our feast on some of 2112's best grub. 

Directly from the menu:

6 oz Cod & Salmonburger served with 2112′s homemade Skagenröra with shrimps, arrives with tomato, salad & onions, served on a homemade coarse bread.

Gelotte Grande
6 oz Vealburger with Chiliaioli, aged Cheddar cheese, onionring, salad, tomato, served on homemade bread.

Le Petit Pedda
6 oz. Ground Wagyu Prime rib served with grilled Foie Gras (Duck Liver), truffles mayonnaise, Salad, Tomatoes, Red Onions, presented on homemade coarse bread.

2112 Famous Burger
6 oz. American ground Prime Rib with truffle mayonnaise, Salad, Beef Tomato, Red Onions, Swedish aged Prästost, served with homemade bread.

All burgers are served with 2112′s famous homemade Coleslaw Salad. All buns are freshly baked at 2112.

We also had onion rings and some seriously fat-cut proper-chips. 

I was at first saddened to hear that the original chef I had become so accustomed to at 2112 had departed (he was behind all the dishes you've seen me previously consume) however- these gourmet burgers delivered some serious flavor. The combinations of the minimal ingredients and the interesting meats (like the iCod and the Pedda) made for some palette-excitement. My favorite has to have been the Le Petit Pedda; veal burger with foie gras?? Fuck. Yes. Well done 2112, well done.  

I insisted that my dinner-guests and I all simply share the dishes like good caveman-friends; I wanted us each to just pass the burgers around and take massive bites off each (the most fun way to eat with your friends). I had a fantastic set of burgers and fries with some delicious Swedish and American Micro Brew Beers (2112's specialty). 

All in all, it was a really fun night and for a good cause. I was treated like royalty at 2112 by the staff and by the patrons. I can't wait to get back over there. 

Praha Part II

Prague, Czech Republic

After the legendary feast at Cestr, we headed into the central part of the city to explore and see the sights. We basically hit all the main spots you're supposed to see: castles, churches, street markets, the Jewish quarter, astronomical clock tower - all that goodness. I find the clock tower intensely creepy - especially the weird little animatronic mini-villagers that come out from the windows at a specific hour in the day; some skeleton dude pops out up there too if I recall correctly.

We walked from the old town into the new town (or was it the other way around?), having all the classical spots pointed out by our guide Jana. Eventually - it was coffee break time (somewhere around hour 4/8 of wandering Prague) and we sat and chilled a bit. Turns out Jana was as big a black metal geek as me; we chatted our current favorites of the genre and let our appetites build back up. Once Paolo's Americano was downed (his signature drink mind you) and our coffees were slurped up, it was time to hit the Hrad. 

The Hrad is the mammoth of a church that overlooks the entire city of Praha. We hit it at such a late hour that photos and inside touring of the castle weren't quite available - but it was a staggering site regardless. A trek down a winding stone staircase and a wander back into the central of town, and it was dinner time. 

Mlejnice was to be our banquet hall; I begun the supper with a Pilsner Urquell and the ubiquitous Euro-bread showed up. Paolo and I are big fans of European bread. We feel there is quite a bit of care and significant history behind the ever-present European loaf. Even if you look back at all religious significance of bread - it's really impressive that something we take so for granted has been around for as long as it has; I love when it's done right. The rye-flavored brown bread here was delicious; simply served with no accompaniment. 

We started with baked peppers with pickled Balkan cheese. Succulent olive oil dressed the dish; the Balkan cheese was somewhat like feta, crumbly like bleu cheese. This was some impressive cheese - tart, salty, but with that feta-sharpness that I love so much. The peppers reminded me of Italian pickled-peppers. We had a traditional salad with veggies, then cabbage pancakes. Hot damn were those cabbage pancakes something special. Imagine the latke (the Jewish potato pancake) only done with cabbage… with that succulent Eastern European sourness of their cabbage, battered and fried into golden perfection. Heart-clogging vegetables - my favorite kind of vegetable.

My main: Beer Goulash served in a loaf of bread. Look at that thing. You want that. A massive sphere of hard Czech bread - lift the lid and be greeted with that thick, hot, hearty beef-stew. By this point, we were all already full, but with those thick burgundy-lava-filled orbs… you just had to suck it down. Such a rustic, traditional, delicious dish. Just as good as the first one I had years back. 

We wandered back to the hotel, said our goodbyes and were beyond delighted to know that we indulged on so much more than the Kentucky Fried Crap that the rest of the band and crew ate in their stale cells all day. 

Praha Part I

Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic for me has always been a place of mystery. I remember the first time we were to play there, we were quite a ways away from Prague's center. That was back on the Unholy Alliance (Slayer, Trivium, Mastodon, Amon Amarth) tour. Some of us decided to grab a cab and go check out the city for the day - our tour management at the time were a headache to say the least (constantly slightly sabotaging our good times with early bus calls to prevent us hanging out among many, many other things) and in their typical fashion, made getting there a dramatic event. I'll skip the specifics - but me and Paolo were able to break off from them and stumble into a random restaurant and be completely blown away. I remember having a Goulash in a giant bread-bowl and a whopping Medieval hunk of Pork Knuckle (that is the knee). It was insanely delicious - one of those random lucky meals you don't forget. 

Flash forward to the headlining gig in Prague, on the way up to supporting In Flames in Europe - where we were to have a full day off on the outskirts of the city. I contacted the local Roadrunner rep if they'd be keen on a hang and perhaps showing us where to go - unfortunately, schedules didn't line up - but they got me in touch with Jana at a local CZ music magazine. Jana agreed to come out the morning of our day off and show us all around Prague - eating and seeing as much as possible in that one day.

Thank the metal gods for Jana, for the day we were about to have goes down in history as one of my favorite days off in recent years on tour. 

Our first stop was at Cestr - a sort of higher end restaurant in Prague that does I guess what could be called as "New Czech"? If you're from the States, or familiar with the New American genre… it's that… but Czech. Cestr utilizes the typical Czech colors, but alongside quite a modern presentation. There were cow-graphs on the walls and on the menus that list what every part of the cow is when talking the edibles; impeccably well-designed menus and logos and fonts and presentations of all things aesthetic were ever-present; even the charcuterie room was visible slightly further down from the partially open kitchen area. Massive tanks of beer in their golden-beauty were also available to the eye. 

The Czech Republic is hailed by many a beer-nerd as a a holy land. There is something about the way the Czechs do beer that makes it constantly rank as "one of the best beers on Earth." Creme Urquell. My elixir! This stuff goes down like water - tastes crisp, clean, fresh, not too hoppy, not too anything really. It's very tricky to describe a Czech beer - but I can maybe say: picture you're favorite Pilsner, then make it taste about ten times better. That's the best I can do. That beer that Sam Gamgee in Lord Of The Rings wanted to try in that one pub that they didn't end up going to? This probably was it - only with a Hobbit-name. That good.

The amouse that greeted us was cottage cheese on house made bread, greens on top. Simple. Fresh. That European rye-tasting soft, brown bread with that light cheese - perfect compliment. There was a simple Czech-style stewed cabbage, dumplings made from grated raw-potatoes, and creamy mashed potatoes as sides. Each one presented in a humble, rustic grandma-style serving dish or pot - each one presented so minimally, but with flavors bold and delicious. Cabbage is a big thing in this country - and here, it was done incredibly; dumplings - another massive thing here… insane! The smoothest, creamiest mashed potatoes I've had in Europe. 

My main was the Knuckle (low-temperature roasted under vacuum with garlic and marjoram) and Paolo's was some cut of steak. The knuckle was presented in a sleek, gorgeous little sauce pan - the meat came with a spoon - and yes, it was soft enough to be completely enjoyed with only a spoon. The food was done perfectly.  

If you're eating with me, you know a desert must happen post gorge: Stuffed dough buns. Buns filled with poppy seeds with a rum-flavored mousse. Positively delicious. Imagine a little doughnut hole in a creamy, airy sauce that has a nice obvious taste of rum. I washed it down with a turek (Turkish coffee apparently is something enjoyed quite a bit here in Prague) and we were on our way.


Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) III

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Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) III

Warsaw, Poland

I awaken. Half-alive, belching a flavor not unlike rubbing alcohol. The reminder of recently peppered glass-flakes coating my gums doesn't like the toxic fumes emanating from my definitely acid-reflux-ing wodka-gas-chamber-stomach. Am I on a cruise ship? Better yet… a 1920's cruise ship? Sure as hell feels like it. Alas - the reminder of why I don't drink the hard stuff if it ain't in a Pre-prohibition-era cocktail… My eyeballs feel like they're swimming in a fish tank that is my skull; my stomach sloshes with each moaning turn I make to attempt to congeal onto the floor to find some water. I try to look at my hands - they're quivering - or wait. Is that my vision quivering? 

Fuck vodka.

I crawl out and chug water. 


Water after a night of drinking a lethal amount of stuff that looks like water - makes you think you're drinking that toxic gunk from the night previous. My stomach turns.

Robert crawls into the room - his eyes are blood-shot red as mine; we speak in gravelly-mutterings and hand signals. He begins pulling stuff out of the fridge.

This is how you know a friend is a friend. Even amidst a crippling hangover - he still pulls it together to make some breakfast for you; some Polish breakfast. The name escapes me - but it's comprised of an Eastern European-style cheese, chopped radish and chives, some diced onion - mixed together until creamy, then spread on lots and lots of bread. That stuff was good. Exactly what I needed to soak up the still churning vodka-soup bowl in my gut. Revitalized, we prep for our traditional Sunday feast at Mama Bielecka's. 

Mama B is Magda's mother. Apparently she's been working non-stop in the kitchen for a day and a half already prepping a feast for Robert, Hubert, Madga, Magda's sis, and myself. We show up to the apartment and are greeted by Magda's super sweet mom. Home-cooked food beats all. Home-cooked food is cooked with love - it's an ingredient you can't buy in a restaurant… Mama B was so ecstatic to have us all in her place, that we were greeted with a cheerfulness you can only get from a mother. 

The smells pouring out from the kitchen stop you in your tracks - you can almost taste the exquisite feast that would soon take place. We're at first, given a tour - we check out Magdalena's painting room, get a glimpse of the food being finalized and plated up - then we take our seats. 

Hubert's hurtin' just as bad as Robert and I, and he's brought us a cure: home-made beer. This is the stuff Hubert's been cooking up in tanks in his own home - damn good pils. Strong stuff. 

I wasn't able to notate that day - only eat. We all gather around together and chat food, family, friends; we go through the family photo albums and get a heart-warming look at the family that is the Bieleckas. We start with a delicious soup - chunks of sausage inside, with a rejuvenating sourness to it that has become so instantly-recognizably Polish to me. Home-made pickles come up next - just as good as any pickle I've ever had. A pair of traditional salads soon follow: one semi-reminiscent to coleslaw/potato salads of back home, and a beautiful pickled, warm beet salad.

Potatoes simply roasted with dill and salt is the side for the pan-fried, breaded, pounded-thin pork cutlets. These things are magical. They remind me of katsu in Japan, which is just flattened, breaded, fried, delicious pig-product. I love me anything piggy. Multiple kinds of hand-made pierogis come out next, producing a table-resounding "ooooohhhh." Those dumplings were something special. A couple veggie-types, a couple meat types - I had about 20 of them. The cabbage meat stew was a highlight for me - unlike anything I've ever had before really. The flavors were similar to pickled cabbage and pickled beets, the bits of ground meat and vegetables paired into the thick broth-like substance were jaw-dropping. 

As if that wasn't enough… next came all hand-made, home-made desserts. A jam-filled doughnut with powered sugar and some kind of coffee-cake. Mama B could sell those doughnuts out of a truck in Austin and sell out within opening-hours… that good. Big, baseball sized dough-balls filled with a tart, yet sweet fruit jam. 

I threw in the towel. I was beaten, lovingly into submission and food coma. Mama B even gave me my Polish name: "Mateuz." It sounds like "Matoosh." It means "Matthew" in Polish. 

I don't get to be with my family when I'm out on tour… but when I am able to spend time with my friends' families around the globe - it's like a sampling, a taste, an encouragement and revitalization to keep doing what I do. It reminds me that there is no greater thing in life than family and friends. I was brought in as one of their own - and I will never forget my time shared with my friends in Poland. 

Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) II

Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) II

Warsaw, Poland

After a well-deserved sleep, Robert and I headed off to meet with Magda and Hubert (Magda's bf, Polish soldier, and soon-to-be good new pal). The lunch spot we met up at was The Inn Under The Red Hog; a Polish communist-era themed restaurant. They had an old commie-car out front… the menus were all designed like the communist propaganda newspapers… this was a rad spot. Apparently some celebrities from back in the States will even pop into this place occasionally. Bruce Willis with your pork lard anyone?

We started with the "Luxurious Lard Of The Polish People's Republic." Lard made with apple, onion, cracklings and sausage, served with bread and pickled cucumber. Yes. Lard. Friggon good lard at that. It's essentially like butter mixed with maybe pate'? Spread that artery-clogging deliciousness on some Polish-bread… and you are set my friend. The Krolewskie beer went just right with it. The Pickles are Polish and freakin' great. Our main was "Edward's Board." A "miner's" platter of "the choice of meats and sausages with a heap of potatoes and other extras." This is what I want. All the time. A steaming heap of meat - meant to share with your nearest and dearest pals. Meat, condiments (like the necessary mustard), pickled cucumber, and other Polish typical-ities. A Polish meat-board with beer and bread is all you need to kick start your heart back into life. Couldn't have been any better.

We hoofed it from lunch to the city; we passed where the old Polish ghetto wall was. It is painful to think that all that nightmare happened not too long ago; I was shown buildings where bullet holes still left pockmarks on the face of the city… people would be lined up and executed by firing squad right in public where they stood. Remnants and reminders of the past left scars littered about Warsaw on our journey to the next spot.

Our walk took us to a local art gallery with a show of Beksinki - one of Magda's favorite painters; one of Poland's most accomplished and famed, late artists. Beksinski's works hurt to look at. The anger and depression that he is able to depict in his surreal works will chill you to your source. Somewhere between the lines of Picasso's surrealism and H.R. Giger's grotesqueries is what you'll find ever-present in Beksinski's works. You can't miss this stuff - look him up; a show of his near you? Go see it. It'll change you.

We went to a skyscraper that overlooks all of Warsaw, then to E. Wedel for some dessert chocolate with chili and whipped cream in a hot chocolate drink. Needless to say - that rocked. Polish sweets and chocolates are done very well in this country - ya gotta try it. 

Robert and Hubert were explaining to me the bars in Poland… apparently they have bars where you do a shot of vodka that is paired with specific foods… things like pickles, pickled herrings - all that good salty, vinegary stuff that chases that brutal Polish vodka down. Since I always want a new bar experience unlike the typical ones I get to see - I was giddily reinstating a lot of the fact that we needed to go to one of the "vodka pickle bars." 

We hit Meta for some Kasztelan beers and Zoladkowa vodka. With our shots (and there were to be many) came pickles, pickled herring and other pickled vegetables and bread. It's rare that I drink anything other than a craft beer or two, some good red wine, or a proper cocktail on tour - in strict moderation… but when in Poland… drink as the Polish do. We slugged down shot after shot after shot, trading off between pickles and pickled, salted fish; I started getting a little… loud… a little… rowdy. 

Amazingly, my journalistic instincts were still semi-functional: I still remembered to take some photos and take some notes. My notes from here depict my obvious over-toxification: "more and more bars." "broken glass." 

From Meta, we went to a jam-packed wodka bar - their food becoming even more Grandma-meets-sophisticated than our previous haunt. There was more fish, sausage, this Polish sour cream/ cheese-chive stuff with potatoes, far-more-vodka-than-ought-to-be-drunk, terrine. More vodka. By this point, we had some more mutual local-friends show up, and me and Hubert had begun settling into a good, loud, drunken new kinship.

I traded old tour stories, Hubert traded old military-life stories. One amazing one I can vividly recall: Hubert mentioned his unit was doing training off in the wilderness of the Ukraine. Their objective was basically to survive the harsh conditions of the Eastern-wintertime - scavenging, camping, foraging, hunting - to survive. They one day found a chicken… but didn't exactly have a way to cook it. They put the chicken in a clay-pot sort of formation… buried it… and heated it. Ate it. Pretty intense. Militaries all around the world work very hard. My father was a Marine - and would share stories of their partying here and there with me; Hubert had similar intense drinking stories to share. My goal? I wanted to drink "like the Polish do." I certainly held my own. 

If you know me, you know I seldom get nuts. Warsaw? I started yelling (in Polish) "It's fucking cold, you cunt!" down the streets… started buzzing peoples apartments in the wee hours of the a.m. yelling something similar to that classic quote… then… the broken glass. 

Through some foggy alleyways and by a river, we went into this red bar. Ordered some beers and some more shots. I have this… tendency… to chew my plastic cups on tour whilst drinking alcohol. Call it a nervous tick or whatever… but I guess I completely forgot that I was drinking out of a glass glass. Started chewing - kinda hard. I feel a pop. The glass shatters and spills all over me; chunks of broken glass rain down on the carpet and on my soggy lap. But wait… 25% of the glass is… shattered… still on my tongue. I carefully extract the leftovers, wipe myself down, then the owner comes by and buys us a round of drinks for the "glass-eater." I gain a round of applause and title of being able to drink with the Poles. I am the belligerent king of Warsaw for the night. 

I have zero recollection of how we got back - but we did. 

I sleep a spinning, randomly-waking-up comatose sleep. 

I am Matt's toxic, gasping liver. 

Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) I

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Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) I

Warsaw, Poland

Thanks to a few of my good friends in Poland, I am beyond delighted to say that Warsaw, Poland holds a very special place in my heart. I don't know how many people know fuck-all about Poland outside of what we learned in school… but I tell you - if you don't and you don't want to get out and eat what the Polish eat and see what the Polish see - you are missing out severely my closed-minded "friend." Let's face it - I've brought it up numerous times, and I'll bring it up again: musicians have an amazing job - they travel the world essentially for free and have hours upon hours of spare time to see and eat the world. I've met more touring guys who hate being overseas than love it; who hate the food overseas; who could care less about the ways of life of the people around the world who make it possible for them to do what they do (and take that for granted). It pains me to think of these kinds of people. If you have a mindset like that… we probably aren't friends and probably won't be. You're probably a picky, finicky, know-it-all, jaded prick anyways. Me? I know you only live once… life is short - live that shit!

I met Robert years back through Paolo, when we were touring with Iron Maiden. Robert is a devout Maiden-fan who travels pretty much all around the world to see them play. We supported Maiden back in '06 and I guess sorta converted Robert into a Trivium-fan as well. We'd run into each other here and there around the globe as he travelled out to our shows - and keep in sparse touch. Well - one day, I found out we had a 2-3 day drive after our Warsaw show to get into Sweden. I wasn't stoked on that… I mentioned to Robert that I was considering flying early to Sweden, to which he said: "You should stay in Poland!" 

I'm far more adventurous and social than I used to be. Dare I say that I may have been on the path to becoming one of the aforementioned kinds of jaded-musicians that I nowadays despise so much… thankfully - I saw the light. The light of food. So the plan was that I would stay at Robert's pad for those days, eat, sightsee, hangout with friends, then meet up with the bus in Sweden via a flight (and not a hell drive). I don't know if in every case globally that it's a great idea to stay in someone's home who you didn't really know that well… but this time I lucked out. 

First things first. It was show day in Warsaw (a headlining show, still on the way up to meeting the In Flames headlining tour) and it was lunch time. Robert did invite the rest of the band to stay in Warsaw only to be greeted by a unanimous "no" - but I was keen. Paolo, Robert, and I all went to lunch in the old town square. Bazyliszek was our lunch spot. Tyskie beer to start. I've previously mentioned how Czech beer is considered to be one of the greatest beers on earth. For me? I say Polish tops Czech. I love Polish beer. I don't know how to describe in perfect accuracy what it is exactly that Polish pilsners do so differently in comparison to it's German and Czech counterparts… but I can tell you that I like it better than the others. It's drinkability surpasses German beers by a long-shot - and I typically always want a German beer. 

The obligatory bread came out first; zurek (sour barley soup with smoked bacon, seasoned with grated horseradish, served with egg and white sausage) followed. Zurek is an insanely Polish dish. Everyone knows zurek in Poland. The sourness is of a similar characteristic to things like sauerkraut and pickled cabbage and pickles (there are a lot of sour flavors in Poland) the chopped egg and chopped sausage and bacon within add nice textural treats in the broth - delectable soup I must say. Pierogis are very Polish as well. Kind of like Poland's version of gyoza or an empanada even. We had meat, cabbage and mushroom, and cheese and potato - all served with bacon cracklings. It's hard not to eat all of them yourself. Pierogis, like all things in dumpling-form - is something I always get quite ravenous about. 

The other style of food that gets me hot and bothered? To quote Anthony Bourdain: Meat in tube form. A platter of Polish sausages served with sauerkraut and mustard was our main. Blood sausage you say? Oh my god yes. Sound creepy to you? Don't think of the name - just try it. If you like sausage and sausage breakfast-patties - you will like this. Yeah, it's a little iron-y… but you're a mammal - your steak had blood running through and around it - let's eat the isolated source! It's freaking good!

From here - it was time to head back to the venue in Warsaw to meet up with another one of our long-time friends from Poland: Magdalena. Magdalena - to say the least - is an artist. Her painting skills when I first met her were near-legendary… nowadays? She's progressed so much to a point that I am convinced in a few more years of honing her skills - she will be one of the only modern-day painters who paints like the classical-greats. She's that good. 

We heard about her back in the day due to her renditions of Trivium band members. At the show, she brought along her mother (a big Trivium fan as well!), sister, boyfriend, and a few others. Magda soon presented the four of us with her newest creation: updated paintings of the Trivium boys in their In Waves garbs. Impeccable. She even nailed Nick's classic… uh… Nick look. Ha!

The first time we played Warsaw, I think 80 kids showed up. That night? 1,000 kids. Sold out show. Incredible. My Polish keeps getting better too. It's gotta be all that Polish alcohol and food I consume. 

We wrapped up an incredible show (some of the Behemoth dudes even came by!) and I was off to Robert's for a nightcap beer with some friends and a doze to prep for my day of Warsaw the next day.

Jesse Leach, German Brats, Belgian Frites (part II)

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Jesse Leach, German Brats, Belgian Frites (part II)

L.A., California

I don't know how other band-dudes' relationships with their managers are, but I'd relate mine to that of a sibling's bond. I look up to Justin and trust Justin like one would their older brother. Never have I been professionally steered in any direction other than the right one by him, and through his constant knowledge of food spots in his old haunts - I can certainly profess that J was one of the people responsible for putting me on the path that would lead to my food-fanaticism. Arcangel (his real last name mind you) lived in N.Y.C. when I first met him back in 2002 (initially only assigned to become Trivium's entertainment lawyer, he later became co-manager and eventually sole-manager in 07/08), and he always seemed to have a vast array of knowledge of insanely impressive food spots. It seemed that every time we'd hang out for "band meetings" or what-have-you… we'd always be eating well. I wanted that spider-sense. 

Flash forward years into the future where my mental-collection of "where to eat" and "where to drink" began to be somewhat of an impressive itemization where Justin and my wife Ashley mentioned to me that maybe I ought to start photographing on my phone-camera and writing about my experiences of where I get to eat. That's where it all began. People knew me already for being ravenously into food - but now with a legit semi-professional site (the one at that specific time) - I found a new passion. Seeing this passion flourish, Arcangel suggested that I check out "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain - and the rest was history. 

Justin picked me up the morning of the "Trespass America" tour press conference to take me to the L.A. Farmer's Market. I think he mentioned that he had just seen it on Entourage and tried it a few days before and knew I would dig it. We did a couple laps around the spot, but the one that really caught my eye was Singapore's Banana Leaf - a rustic, humble Southeast Asian food stand. It's advertisement read that it did Malaysian, Singaporean, and… (!) Indonesian. I've only toured Indonesia once - but I fell in love with their food. A mixture of Asian and Indian, similarities to Polynesian, and something more - a keen emphasis on spice as well. On that Indo-tour back a few years ago, I was taught how to eat like the Indonesians at a street food-style restaurant: one leg up on the chair while you sit, that sides' arm laying across the inside so you can pick up the food with your hand for direct depositing into your gullet. Fun stuff if ya ask me. 

I went for the Mee Goreng: pan-fried noodles with two satay sticks of chicken and a fried egg on top. A spicy sauce and lime slices accompanied - scallions on top. Wonderful. Spicy, hearty, not greasy… the kind of pan-fried fill-you-up food that you want. I always want pan fried noodles or rice… and if you do too… find yourself a legit Indo-restaurant. The guy behind the counter at Singapore's was from Jakarta - so I busted out my "terima-kasih" after the meal, and we were on our way.

From the Market, it was on to the press conference. We showed up just in time for what I thought sounded like: "Ok. So that's when we have you escorted on stage by military personnel with guns who will remove your prisoner-hood, release your cuffs and you will be introduced." What?

So I had no idea that I would be getting the all-inclusive prisoner treatment of everything-but-water-boarding this morning. I was taken aback to say the least. When I eventually bumped into Jesse from Killswitch Engage and saw that he was cool with it - I felt a little more comfortable with what was about to go down. I've toured with Jesse before - back when he sang with Seemless; we even have a song we did together: "Blood And Flames" on the Roadrunner United album. You'd think with those two things that we would have hung out before… but I guess our stars hadn't quite aligned to be buddies back then. 

Now - with Jesse - he is one of my favorite vocalists and lyricists on Earth. His performance on Alive Or Just Breathing was a game changer for me. He brought the sing/ scream trade off to a new, modern level on that record. Never had the metal world heard such an intense black and white contrast of brutal screaming and passionate singing come out of one singer.

Alive Or Just Breathing musically and lyrically could be quoted easily as defining that generation of metal. KSE had influenced countless acts of varying genre with that album; the effects of that very CD are apparent today and will be for the years to come. Leach delivered a signature lyrical style on the album: lyrics with a passionate spiritual-positivity and motivation - while still being unafraid to tackle the dark-side as well. Jesse's recent return to Killswitch Engage was a sigh of relief for the metal world as far as I'm concerned. Metal needed Jesse back.

After the conference… we were hungry. During the time before and in between work at the press conference, Jesse and I started to find out that… "hey - we're both food-freaks and beer-nerds!" The similarities in taste and what we look for was becoming eery. Only one thing to celebrate that: Meat in tube form, Beer, Frites.

Wurstkusche is a spot Justin and his wife Jessica (food-freak as well) took me and Ashley to a few months back, where - I was to get the Rattlesnake and Rabbit sausage. When I was eating it… it didn't seem overly exciting or different… turned out Ash (not an adventurous "creep meat" eater (as she puts it)) ate my rattlesnake sausage (insert pun) and I had had turkey or something. Round two. I was having my rattlesnake and rabbit dammit!

Wurstkusche does German-style brats and sausages, Belgian-style frites and German and Belgian beer. What more could anyone ever need? German and Belgian beer without a doubt in my mind are two of the best beers on earth (alongside Japanese, American craft, and Polish). Meat in tube form? Fuck yeah. Double-fried Belgian frites? God yes. Many say that the Belgian's invented the frite… I think it was a past American president whilst in France merely calling it a "French fry" that gave it the name we use today. So if they invented it… they probably perfected it. In all my years of touring - some of the best pommes frites I've had are always in the Belgian/ Netherlands-areas - damn good stuff. 

Together with Justin and Vaughn (KSE's management), Jesse and I ordered our feast. I had the Rattlesnake and Rabbit (a play on hunter and prey I gather) and the traditional Bratwurst, a mountain of Belgian frites, and a Schneider Weisse. The Schneider (apparent by it's "Weisse" monicker) is a Hefeweissen-style brew; light, airy, refreshing… as our old Trivium-crew member Rob (a food-soulmate of mine) would say, a beer you could "skull". There's something magical about that style of beer out of the tap… especially when you drink lots of it. The frites were double-fried and insanely good. Crispy, not burnt; salty, not over-salted. Simple and simply served with accompanying dips. There are numerous dips to choose from at WK. 

Sauerkraut and onions were the recommended topping for my meats - the bratwurst tasted traditional as if outta Germany, and that succulent rattlesnake? Freaking rad. The right pop on that first puncture-bite, juicy and meaty - I could use about 10 of those right now.

All humans need meat-in-tube-form, fries, and beer. Get it here. 

Amidst scarfing and skulling, Jesse and I chatted recipes of things we like to cook at home; spoke of other great spots we've eaten and drank; talked about the KSE record in the works and the Trivium record in the works. It was a wonderful feast and chat. We talked of the state of metal in the world today… how in the U.S.A. and the U.K. - it's not taken as seriously as it is elsewhere in the world; elsewhere in places like Germany, Japan, Scandinavia - it's not just a genre… it's a lifestyle. For all of us in KSE and Trivium alike - it's a lifestyle. We both equally pumped each other up by talking recent songs written and their motivations (good and bad). Jesse had an amazing quote about bands and musicians like us: "We're working class musicians." He couldn't have nailed it more on the head.

Venice Ale House was to be our nightcap before heading to the airport to fly home. Venice Ale House overlooks the beach in all it's staggering Cali-beauty and even has Kombucha on tap. I love Kombucha. More people should drink it. Rob Suchan (food-soulmmate remember? Also singer/ guitarist/ song-writer of great indie-rock band Koufax) got me into it… it's fermented tea sometimes infused with fruit. It contains as many (if not more) probiotics as yogurt - so it's real good for ya. It's one of the ingredients I try to keep my body stocked with so I can "detox to retox." It was however… retox time: Stone Ruination IPA. Mmm mmm mmmm American micro-brew IPA. Hoppy, tart, bitter, high in alcohol content - manly. It ain't for the faint of heart. 

The four of us happily through back a few pints as the sun crept below the oceans' horizon and soon it was time to "Bid Farewell" (get it??). 

We shared a ride in Vaughn's rental to the airport and went our separate ways. Once again. Proof. A great meal can bring people together. I can't wait to spend that upcoming tour with Jesse. We shall feast my friend… we shall feast.

Revolver Golden Gods Weekend (part III)

Revolver Golden Gods Weekend (part III)

Los Angeles

(w/ Robb Flynn, Corey Taylor, Trivium, Slipknot, Machine Head, Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandira), John Moyer (Adrenaline Mob/ Disturbed), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Lizzie Hale (Halestorm), and everyone from the Metal and Rock universe)

Machine Head was the first live Metal band I've ever seen. My dad used to take me to the House Of Blues Orlando whenever a rad show was coming by (school nights included!) and took me to see Machine Head on their "Year Of The Dragon" tour. By that point, I had only recently gotten into Metal with bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Pantera - I hadn't yet delved into a band like Machine Head yet. 

I'll never forget that show - Robb's control over the crowd was intense, yet effortless; I remember him using his right hand for motioning the crowd on to move while still hammering on his guitar, playing with his left hand, singing simultaneously; the band was on fire that night… the entire crowd chanting "Machine Fuckin' Head!" before they went on and in between every song. Having never heard of or head MH before that point, you can imagine an introduction of a blistering headlining set from the band would certainly strike a nerve for someone new to the metal world. (I still own the tour shirt from that very show).

I got home that night, listening to samples of their albums on - preparing to hit the record stores the following day to collect every cd. I had to order some of the albums through actual stores like Borders and wait (!) for the albums to show up. It was well worth the wait. I got into Machine Head on The Burning Red, then tracked backwards into The More Things Change and  Burn My Eyes. The first time I heard "Ten Ton Hammer" and "Davidian"? I was a changed person… I started playing guitar differently, writing songs differently - adding an extra intensity to my vocals like Flynn at Trivium band practices. 

Years later, Trivium were on their third tour ever, supporting Machine Head and Chimaira across North America. Man were we nervous to meet the MH guys. The tour went fantastically (it was the tour that we inducted Paolo officially into Trivium) and we ended up becoming friends with the Machine Head band and crew. Over the years, we would share many more tours together, occasionally guest-performing with each other's bands in random spots across the globe (I played guitar for Machine Head for one bit of one tour; Robb has performed "Pull Harder" with us numerous times; I did my first failed stage dive off their stage… we even had a co-headlining tour that did 5,000-8,000 people a night). 

Nowadays, I am proud to call Robb not only a hero and a mentor, but a friend - he even helped coach me along before Shogun and In Waves to really make the albums right. The chat before Shogun was an all-encompassing lighting-of-a-fire-beneath my ass to recapture the intensity of what Trivium was on Ascendancy… to truly deliver what our band was meant to be. The discussion before In Waves was the conversation that saved the vocal performances on that record… I had hit a major slump in the studio around vocal time. We had tracked some of the verse lines 30 times with none of the performances being "the one." Defeated, I reached out to Robb - he took me through his mental processes when he does vocals on his records. The chat inspired me to deliver some of the most intense vocals I've tracked to date. The very first thing I recorded after our chat was the entirety of "Chaos Reigns." If that doesn't show that his chat inspired me… I don't know what will. 

So yeah, it's always good to see our MH buddies. 

Robb, Ashley, and I all drove to a restaurant Ash and I had heard of, The Fat Dog. I had a Saison DuPont Belgian Farmhouse Ale to start up, and ordered "The Fat Dog" hotdog. The restaurant had all the things that Flynn and I dig - the right decor, booze, food from good sources… it's funny, we've unknowingly picked the same restaurant in similar towns on many occasions and told each other about "a great local spot in Jackon, MI" for example. We used to do this thing… where in any hotel around the world that would have a Club Sandwich for room service, we'd judge how good that hotel is by their Club - later trading notes on our "research." 

The Saison went perfectly with my foot-long hot dog - as damn good as any great dog coulda been. Robb had a salmon sandwich special, and Ashley had some kind of chicken sandwich that I ate half of. It was good to get out for a good bite with a long-time pal and chat old stories, other great eats, and basically be out with someone else who lives the same sorta life I do.  

From this spot, I wanted to stop by The Newsroom restaurant for one of their Immune Rocket Booster juices. It has several vegetable juices, ginger, echinacea, flax seed oil and golden seal all in one slightly-colder than room-temperature juice. Yeah - some people may be a little turned off by this intensely earthy-flavored elixir… but it's the sort of thing that you know is good for you as soon as you start suckin it down (heh…). I like the concept of (my made up quote): "Detox to retox." I work hard so I can play hard… I eat granola and yogurt and fruit and vegetables and drink apple cider vinegar and Kombucha so that when it's time to eat a deep-fried ice cream bar with foie gras and marrow on-top with a bottle of sake… I can do it knowing I will retain some of my healthiness. (Hence all the yoga and eating…)

Our quest from here led us to our initial task-at-hand… acquiring badass leather jackets. I can't tell you where we went or what we found where… all I can tell you is that what we each found was pretty damn bad ass… and you? You find your own leather jacket… 

Asking Triviumandria

Corey. Eat. Fries. (movie)

Pints Of Guinness Makes You Strong

Charlotte, NC

There's no question that seeing Trivium in the midst of a touring bill that reads acts like The Amity Affliction, Upon A Burning Body, I See Stars, Motionless In White and Asking Alexandria may be just a little bit puzzling to those familiar with our usual touring-mates. Well - we've stated both musically and verbally that this is a whole new year for Trivium. 

Already this year in the USA alone, we've toured with Dream Theater, In Flames, (out with) Asking Alexandria and (will be out with) Five Finger Death Punch. I dare you to find another band who can successfully pull off all four of those different tours in a year. You'd be hard pressed to. 

It's amazing how young the AA crowd is… I'm talkin' an average of 14-17/18 being their main demographic… but you will see kids around 8-11 with their parents; and then kids in their 20's. That is an amazing thing for a band - I mean, our demo is young - but not that young. When your audience is that young… they will grow with you and stick with you if you do the right things. Each show night for us… you can see that the AA crowd knows every other band pretty damn well - and us? 60-80 percent first timers - and ya know what? It's working out really well. 

We stick out like a sore thumb… and I love that. The other bands on the tour certainly delve into heaviness and have really honed in their own style - but you can just see it that we come from a different musical planet. I feel bands that take the risk of diversity always bring something interesting to an otherwise mundane, stereotypical musical touring-world. AA is being diverse by bringing us out, and we're challenging ourselves with a new audience by being out with them. 

Everyone (who I've met) on the tour so far is super nice - the AA guys have let us know that Ascendancy was a favorite album of theirs. This is always a mind-blowing thing for us. We are not used to bands liking us. We have never been a critics' band… we have never been a bands' band… we've always been solely appreciated by our fans only. When we first started touring - all the older bands would always be pretty rough on us… cold if I may. It took 5 albums and an over 10-year career to start getting the respect that critically acclaimed bands get on their first album and first year. 

So when the AA guys mentioned they really dug our band - I was blown away and appreciative. 

We've recently been able to hang with them all a bit - and Charlotte was one of our first mass group-hangs. But let's back track for some food…

We did 12 performances in 11 days on the beginning of the AA run… some headliner shows in there, some acoustic performances - we had 3 beautiful days at home - then I flew to Charlotte at Amos' to meet up with the tour. 

As soon as I dropped my bags, I noticed a Greek place within 30 seconds walking - Greek Isles. I hit that up for a Gyro to go. Pretty decent stuff. It was turned out almost too quickly - but it certainly topped the Gyro I had just tried to eat in San Antonio across from the White Rabbit. I'd say… to quote our merch guy Rob… "It was aaaheeeiiight…" 

When dinner time rolled around, I suited up with Paolo and our tour manager Joey to head to a Latin American place I had read about: Pio Pio. We did the well over 1 and a half mile walk to Pio Pio (it even started torrentially down-pouring when we were finally close) and sat down. 

This place had a familiar vibe to it… dare I say a really-put together Nando's vibe? Nando's… yes I know I am typically anti-chain - Nando's is one of the very few chains I seek out. It's damn good stuff - hormone free, wood-fire-grilled Peruvian chicken and chips - hit it if you live in the UK or Australia. 

Pio Pio's! So I would guess this place is a Peruvian establishment - we certainly ordered a heaping feast: The Matador Combo. It was a whole rotisserie chicken, salad, rice and beans, frankfurters and fries, tostones and ripe plantains. This shit was insanely delicious. 35 or so bucks for what could have easily fed four people. 

The chicken was done very simply, no frills or nonsense; the beans were soupy-delicious, and the rice simple. I appreciate a place that can really just like the ingredients be minimal… focusing in on what you're eating - not masking. Hell - even the salad was good. Usually restaurants in the more casual realm blow it with shot salads - this one had a simple vinegar/citrus flavor going on - the avocados were a great touch. 

The plantains were reminiscent of Cuban-style, soft inside/slightly crisp/chew outside; the tostones - heavenly. I was really into the frankfurters and fries. I've never seen that before… but what's nice was the saltiness of the frankfurters went right with the non-salted fries - I'm curious how traditional that dish was… nevertheless - fantastic.

We wandered back, played a great show - then headed to the bar next door.

Tavern is a 10 second walk from the bus lot of Amos' - Rob and I popped in for some Guinness on draft and took a seat. Rob is my food buddy… we both also have an affinity for wellness and homeopathic remedies and natural-concoctions. He got me into Kombucha - I got him back into Neilmed Nasal Saline Sprays. 

Rob taught me recently that Guinness is actually kinda good for you. It's one of the only (if not only) beers that causes no inflammation… it has a good deal of iron… and a few other science-y factual bits that may not be that interesting on this beer blog just yet.

Soon, the Trivium's and crew started popping in, Nick's brother was even there… then the AA band are crew started filtering in as well. 

It's really nice to be able to be on a tour with a band that is closer to our age range than we're used to - amazingly still… the AA dudes are a couple years younger than us. It was great to finally get to have a chat about all the things band dudes get to chat about: beer, shows, guitars, playing… all that good stuff that all us band dudes can easily vent to each other about in that sort of way that each of us knows exactly how the other one feels on all things that come with this lifestyle. 

I know that they are getting a mirror of what we were getting shortly after Ascendancy: young band who is successful… people hating on that hard. I'm sure it's the same bullshit jealousy we were flooded with when we first exploded onto the scene. It was nice to reflect on the fact we've both been hit with that… granted - we still get hit with it 3 albums later! It's just a part of musical-life.

Everyone guzzled down their booze of choice and got to have a good ol' time together. It was nice to break the ice with our new buddies in Asking Alexandria.