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. 

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… 

Revolver Golden Gods Weekend (part I)

Revolver Golden Gods Weekend (part I)

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)

2012 very well may be the final year for all us mere-mortals, and if Trivium's schedule is any indication - I may welcome the relaxation post apocalypse. After slugging away tour into consecutive-tour, we were supposed to have around 10 days off at home - however in usual Trivium fashion, there was a catch.

We wrapped up the Asking Alexandria tour, flew home for a few days, then flew back out to L.A. for the Golden Gods awards show and performance. Ashley and I got in a night early and wanted to hit up some decent food. We stayed across the street from the Grammy Museum at a newly renovated hotel (it was a Days Inn or Best Western at the first USA Golden Gods… and man did it suck then - it was good now, but the name slips me). We were a short walk away from a "noun and noun" New American restaurant (and you know me and that New American), so we headed to Bar And Kitchen. 

L.A…. I definitely had an off-perception of the city for years. I was convinced that L.A. was only for the air-headed, coked up, ex-child star actresses and rock-star-style-printed douche-bag clothing-wearing Jersey Shore extra-looking mother-effers who would find themselves at the end of the night puking up their jello-shots into the storm drains outside of The Rainbow. It may have taken me a couple trips outside of the area around "rock and roll" L.A. to see otherwise… but I tell ya - once I saw the light - it was blinding.

The people in L.A. are actually pretty damn nice. And they know their food and drinks. Real well. It seems with minimal effort, almost anywhere in the surrounding subsections of LaLa-land, you can find some seriously legit ethnic hole-in-the-wall spots and fancy spots alike; dive bars and proper classic cocktail bars exist symbiotically. Bar And Kitchen is something that would be more so a rarity in maybe a place like Ft. Wayne, but in L.A. - there are tons of New American spots that do it incredibly well. The Venice Beach area? The amount of great food out there is what convinced me finally that "yeah - I could live here." 

At B and K, I began with a Moonlighter (Islay Scotch, Blanc Vermouth, St. Germain and bitters) - a manly, deep-flavored cocktail. It was the initial opening flavor of citrusy/rind-bitters, and the finish of Scotch. It was like drinking Scotch without the all-intensive bite. We begun with a Beet Salad that consisted of shaved fennel, orange, goat cheese and a hazelnut vinaigrette. The mix of shaved fennel and orange is a combo I've recently become rather infatuated with. Fresh, summer-flavors with that almost vinegar-pickley flavor in the fennel and vinaigrette pairing - it reminded me of Polish pickle-flavors - I loved it. 

Parmesan Truffle Tots? Fuck yes. Anything "tater tot" is a must for me. Perfect. My main was Shrimp and Grits done with a Spanish Chorizo ragout. Best Shrimp and Grits I've ever had. Hands down. The sauce that surrounded the grits… could be compared to Franks Hot Sauce with a slight vinegary-base maybe? And I mean that in the holy-fricking-shit-this-rocks sort of way. The Chorizo and Shrimp pairing reminded me of the seafood/sausage pairing you'd see in Portuguese food. Tangy, spicy, hearty - this thing had so much flavor bursting out of what would be perceived as such a simple dish. Really spot on. 

Ashley had the Kurobata Pork Shank with Spatzle, brusels sprouts two-ways and a bourbon mustard sauce. You can't see due to the dim lighting, but this thing belongs in Game Of Thrones, being eaten by a White Walker… it was medieval and massive. I tried to help finish it - but it was futile. Really fantastic regardless - but I was still gushing over my Shrimp and Grits that reminded me of Portugal and Franks.  

It's odd when I'm too full for desert - but I was. Oh well. More food the next day. 

Burgers With Petrucci

Burgers With Petrucci

Hearsay Gastro Lounge, Houston, TX

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - food unifies people. I've found in all my years of living, that I've gotten to know people better over a meal than over anything else. Whether that's drinking, jamming, banging, hanging - food does this magical thing to people who are sharing that same experience. What I love about food in a situation of hanging out, it is that the people involved are sharing the same experience together. Food is a requirement of living, it's a base need - so when you can make the food something great, with people that are great - you're in for a great time. 

About 3/4's through the Dream Theater support tour, we began getting a lot bro-sier with the dudes in the band. I shared with John that I am massively in to food and that I needed to show him "my" world on this tour. John Petrucci has always been one of my favorite guitarists on earth, so I figured it would be a nice way to show my appreciation for his influence.

To backtrack. When I was about 16 or so, I picked up "Rock Discipline" - JP's VHS instructional. This has to be the most intensive guitar-instructional I have ever seen. This VHS (now a DVD, obviously) covers all the bases of warming up, technique (broken down into category), brief bits on theory and chord-building - I'm telling you - this thing is my Bible as far as guitar playing goes. To this very day, every Trivium show - I warm up to the (now memorized) warm up section, the chromatic 4-finger exercise and the sextuplet run exercise. When anyone asks me "how to get better at guitar" I say: "Buy a metronome and John Petrucci's Rock Discipline.

Dream Theater's influence on me as a song writer is pretty obvious on Trivium's progg-ier bits as well ("The Crusade," "Shogun," etc.). I remember coming home daily from high school, eating my mom's home-made Ramen with Soy-cured Beef and watching Dream Theater's "Metropolis Pt.2: Live." So whenever I hear that album, I think of Ramen and "String Beef."

Fast forward back to the Houston-date. Me and JP had the plan to meet up at a place of my choosing; I used all my research-y bits to locate the Hearsay Gastro Lounge. Houston was tricky to find food in my normal fashion, and you can imagine - I was pretty damn nervous to go somewhere I hadn't pre-tasted to bring one of my heroes to. I decided to go in a few minutes early before Petrucci came in to scope the place out… to do my "Heafy-visual test of New American." Hearsay was perfect visually. All the things I wanna see in a true New American spot. High ceilings, exposed brick - my heart was all a-flutter. I scoped the menu and I knew instantly we were golden. 

When John came in, we finally were able to chat all the good things that touring musicians get to chat with each other. Not to make it sound like an exclusive club… but it really is a pleasure when you meet a fellow touring musician who holds the same principles, shares a similar mindset to "the life", and just gets where you're at (because they've been there too). We exchanged road-stories and compared gear preferences, picked each others brains a bit on musical influence and began the feast…

Both of us were goin' the same route: The Byrd. Angus Beef, Applewood Bacon, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Onions, Jalapenos, Fried Egg, Avocado, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Tomato, Sweet Bun, Mac and Four Cheese. A freakin' culinary mouthful. Our waitress informed me earlier that The Byrd was named after one of their young, late employees who devised this behemoth-burger before his untimely passing. This burger is one heck of a tribute I must say… me and John were stoked on this thing. 

I was excited that at that point, JP mentioned he hadn't had a burger with a fried egg… and you know me and those fried eggs laid atop meat. Everything in the burger went well together. You always know that egg, bacon and ground beef are going to go well; the jalapenos added that right amount of kick, the avocado cooled that kick down. Granted, mustard, mayo and ketchup may have been a lot… but that's the way Byrd meant The Byrd to be. Gourmet Mac and Four Cheese? Yes please. We scarfed down the towers of decadence and were both pleasantly stuffed. 

If you look back at that first sentence - here was proof once again; before this meal - the two of us were acquaintance-musicians on tour together, and afterwards? Well - I am happy to say we're friends still to this day, exchanging favorite bands, spots to eat… at the end of the tour even, John gave me… gave me one of his guitars. I almost fainted. Without a doubt - that was one of the greatest things anyone's ever given me. That guitar is one of the best playing guitars in my collection - and one that I guard with all my being. I've already written tons of new material on the guitar for the next Trivium album, and the lessons I received on the tour have advanced my playing to a further level. That gift and this friendship again are those little things that, if I told 16 year old Matt Heafy about it all - he'd tell me I was full o shit.  

Life is definitely amazing sometimes.


Palace Kitchen


Immediately after wrapping up what was one of the best shows on the Dream Theater tour, Ash/Me, Meg/Evan, Sean/Melissa, and Paolo made our way to another highly recommended place from our friends - Palace Kitchen.

If I weren't in the air right now between Sydney and Melbourne, I could ask Evan who the owner/chef of Palace Kitchen was again… Evan mentioned that one of the best chefs in Seattle owns a few food spots, and that Palace is one of his places. 

A sleekly designed, well-lit, modern-looking New American spot is the Palace Kitchen. Invitingly designed, a large open bar in the center of the floor, tables surrounding - in the back is the kitchen - openly viewable by patrons of the restaurant. Everything here is done right. When you come to a New American spot in a place like Seattle - everything down to the menus, fonts, sources of meats and vegetables, music, lighting, decor, casual (but still uniform) look of the servers - is all done right. Seattle has got to be one of the best food cities in all of North America (alongside Portland, San Francisco, New York (inclusive of Brooklyn of course), and Vancouver).

My apologies for the lighting of the photos… badass/sexy-time lighting in a restaurant make for great times, but difficult photos. 

We all start with the Wood Grilled Chicken Wings with Coriander Cream - an impossibly delicious spin on the classic American pub grub dish. At it's essence, it has all the components of what you would find in hot wings at a bar - however it's all special ingredients. I've stated before that it takes a special kind of chicken dish for me to care at all about chicken - but this was another one of those rare occasions that I was moved by chicken. Their "wings" are roughly half of the chicken, sliced right in half - great bits of white, dark, leg, breast, wing - fun for the whole family. Somewhere around the lines of familiar and new is the "wing sauce" - the coriander cream taking the place of bar bleu cheese mystery goo.

I probably need to start hash-tagging the burgers in my blog… there are a lot. The Palace Burger Royale was Ash and I's shared main: 1/2 pound of hand-ground chuck, Dahlia Bakery onion bun, fries. I washed all that goodness down with a local IPA (Schooners I think it was) - burgers and fries simply need to be eaten with a beer. 

I'm certainly fresh out of adjectives for burgers… but I can tell you without doubt this is a top-notch burger. Palace's burger well tops the last 3-5 burgers you've seen on Kiichichaos easily. Seattle really knows how to do it's food… so stay the hell away from chains - get down and local.

Coconut cake! Light, airy, fluffy, massive. I am in love with all things coconut… couple that love with an obsession with local ingredients, local restaurants - and you have Palace's damn amazing Coconut cake. I'd like to tell you it's healthy… low calorie… but no - I am sure it isn't. This thing is a hunk of cream and dairy and coconut. If you came here stoned… you'd be consuming a whole cake - inducing a diabetic-coma of winter-time-bear-hibernation proportions. Luckily I was just buzzed and only had a slice…

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.