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Friday 20 July 2018

The Spotlight: Pre-Bloodstock Interview With Shayan of Trivax By Paul H

Trivax Interview

Of all the Metal To The Masses finals to win, winning in the home of metal, Birmingham must be one of most rewarding. If seven years ago you were only playing metal underground with constant fear of being caught by the culture police, then this makes this year’s winners even more impressive.

I caught up with the main force behind the band, Shayan to find out a bit more. I started by asking Shayan to give us a quick history of the band and introduce us to the current line-up.”Trivax was formed by myself as a one man project back in Tehran, Iran in April of 2009. The reason as to why it started as a one man project was due to the fact that I didn't know and couldn't find any other metalhead musicians at the time. In 2010 I managed to put a line-up together, although there was a lot of differences and problems within the band and we had a lot of difficulty staying active due to the strongly enforced legal and cultural restrictions against rock and metal music. In 2011 I was lucky to be able to move to the UK, and within a few months I reformed Trivax with Ben Sheldon and Matt Croton who are still performing with me to this day. We have more or less been the same line-up since the British reformation, with the exception of a few changes in bass players.

As Shayan said, the project was originally formed in Tehran before Shayan came to Birmingham in 2011. I’ve read that it was very much an underground scene over there which doesn’t surprise me. However, I’m ignorant of life in Iran (our media isn’t to be trusted on honest reporting if you ask me) so I asked Shayan to explain the challenges that he faced?

“Absolutely” he said. “It is very much an underground scene and in my personal experience it was a literal situation. We practised in our drummer's basement where he had made a DIY acoustic room using egg cases and cement. While we tried our best to keep this hidden, we still received threats from the neighbours in the area that they would call the police, or even worse the culture police to come and arrest us all. Fortunately no such thing happened within the 8 or 9 months that I was there, but we did have friends who then ran into trouble and had all of their instruments broken and their hairs forcefully cut by the authorities. There was also once where we were auditioning to play a small fair in Niavaran park and initially as we were doing the first track, they cut the electricity to stop us from playing, and this was just an audition with barely anyone there and we were only playing an instrumental version of Enter Sandman. We certainly faced a lot of abuse from people and had a lot of close calls with the authorities, but thankfully with got away with things for the most part. Myself and our bass player at the time, Sina, generally tried to keep a low profile anyway which helped, our drummer however attracted a lot of unwanted attention which I didn't appreciate”.

It’s only when you read this that you realise how easy life is over here. Without wanting to get into the politics though, we moved on to the debut album Sin, which is pretty brutal. How does the band describe the Trivax sound? Shayan begins “Thank you. The first thing that I can say is that we are in no way limiting ourselves in what we create, so the extremity and aggression but also the melancholy that lies within our music is just a natural translation of our own black hearts. There is no way to really label our band, however I can say that there's a lot of old school rock influences while the general vibe and structuring is very much on the Extreme Metal side of things. We always look at ourselves as a Rock n Roll band, but this is a "Rock n Roll" band who have completely given into demonic possession and have gone feral, so that they almost sound like Black Metal by accident.

So who are the main influences for the band? This is pretty clear. “Black Sabbath, Metallica, Dissection and Celtic Frost are probably our biggest influences.”

A solid response to my next question when I asked about any the guilty pleasures?

“I don't really ever feel guilty about what I like, but have you ever heard of the Swedish band Kent? They are still one of my favourites. Obviously a lot of classics like Depeche Mode, Fields Of The Nephilim, Camel, Abba and so on... have a big place in my life. To be honest, very few of my favourite bands are actually metal. I'd feel more guilty listening to a gimmicky metal band like Dark Funeral or Alestorm”. An interesting take on Dark Funeral although I’d agree about Alestorm.

I moved onto the road to Bloodstock and asked Shayan a bit about their progress to the final. “Did you feel confident you could get to the final?”

Shayan responded “I'm not sure if it was that difficult to be honest, more in the sense that we didn't expect anything out of it and didn't approach it like our lives depended on it. We had done this before and we had seen that it can sometimes get a bit ugly when everyone gets too competitive. We just had to remind ourselves that at the end of the day, we're here to play music and enjoy our freedom of sharing that music with like-minded people, not to win a competition. We played each gig hoping to make it a good one and during none of those I expected to go through and when we did, I was just grateful that it happened. All shows were pretty decent too. We were playing a lot around the country and this also became an excuse for us to do some hometown shows and to keep a bit more active, so it was great really. We had nothing to lose but everything to gain.

What about the final itself? How did that play out and how did it feel when you heard your name announced as the winners I asked.

“It was a great show actually. It was a very warm gig, and I mean that in the literal sense. Every time you walked in the room the felt a massive layer of heat hit your knees. But everyone was really going for it and a we had a truly great reception. In the end before we heard our name, I kept telling myself that it's already been so good and all of the other bands deserve to win and brought myself at peace with it, but as soon as our name was announced I screamed and everything that I was just thinking went out the window”

Trivax play the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage on Friday. Whilst I’m sure any day would be great, I think Friday is a real win. I asked Shayan about what we can expect and why should the undecided come and watch?

“I agree with you” said Shayan. “Normally I can be a stress-head at gigs and I think that if it was on the Sunday, for example, it could have almost ruined the festival for me, but now we can play to a decent and not overly-tired crowd and actually enjoy the rest of the festival. Trivax will be there for people to witness something genuine and heartfelt. What we do is not for the sake of entertainment or pleasing anyone else, but rather to celebrate our own freedom. To celebrate the fact that we are here, but also to rebel against the prison of life. It doesn't matter if you are a Black Metal fan, a Power Metal fan, Death Metal, Pop, Rap or whatever genre there is out there... if you are present in the room while we are playing then you will feel the hypnotic force behind the spiritual magic that is Trivax. We give it our absolute heart and soul and play every show like it's our last, just like any moment the Iranian police could break in and take our instruments away and arrest us. You should expect a truly intense and emotional experience”.

The band know Bloodstock well. So for anyone who has yet to experience Bloodstock, why should you go?

Shayan is clear: “I think that it's a great festival. I have some really cool memories from being there, especially of seeing both Watain and Behemoth for the first time in 2012. It's a great atmosphere. It's everything that you would to experience from a big festival, but without it being too big so it's overwhelming or annoying. Everyone's chilled out and the music is great. If you fall in the pit then someone will help you up, although I nearly got squashed during Slayer in 2013 haha!”

Before we finished I wanted to know a bit more. Trivax have played with some decent bands in the past. What are the highlights so far?

“Thank you. Yeah there's been a few really good ones. This might sound slightly arrogant, but my personal highlights are mostly from the headline shows that we have done, such as our album launch show for 'SIN' or the final date of our headline tour in 2016 and so on. Playing HRH this year was really good too. But yeah, as of supporting other bands, the show that we did in 2015 with Cradle of Filth was really great. I'm not personally the biggest fan of them, but their supporters were really into what we were doing and it was a pretty massive venue. We really felt at home on a stage like that and everyone else seemed to think the same”.

Finally what does the future for Trivax look like?

“We will be doing a headline UK tour in September and November called 'Hysteria Across The UK', which you can find out more about it from our Facebook page. This will be our last attempt to push our album SIN and afterwards we will be focusing inwards to record our next album for a 2019 release. The progression from the last record to this one is highly evident. We are only getting started.

Our grateful thanks to Shayan and Trivax. Make sure to catch one of the highlights of the entire weekend when they play the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage on Friday 10th August. It should be an epic event.

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