“That moment on stage, when it’s going well, when I’m not thinking, I chase that moment.”
In this edition we drop the focus onto a very interesting and continuously active, hard-working, focused guitar player. A true role model in the modern age of how to utilise the modern methods combined with traditional dedication and drive to succeed and maintain his prestigious status. This weeks icon almost single-handedly defines the term “Flow”
Imagine being at your most productive and creative, but also at your happiest. This is achieved in a state called FLOW. In Positive Psychology, flow is a state when you are fully immersed in an activity, feeling energied, and completely absorbed in the moment.
“Flow” excerpt via -https://www.designpartners.com/heafy/
Fundamental to a Grammy nominated metal band that know no boundaries 🤘. A fully focused musician and so much more via interactive social media and the online platforms he has everything to give.
Ladies and gentlemen please raise your goblet of rock to the ever intriguing and continuously inspirational Mr. Matt Heafy!
THE SCHOOL OF METAL
It’s always interesting to learn where a guitar player started in relation to how they are today; Matt is such an incredible an interesting example of the modern day guitar player.
His legacy began in Iwakuni, Japan the place of his birth on 26th January 1986.
Born from a Japanese mother and an American father who was integrated with the United States Marine Corps, Heafy spent the first year of his life in Japan up to the point his family settled in Orlando, Florida where he currently resides.
Music was brought into his life via education and like many it was through an instrument presented to him but not chosen by him.
Music lessons were provided and the tenor saxophone 🎷 was the weapon of choice at the time; the formal lessons of course integrated music theory and the ability to develop sheet music sight reading.
This didn’t feel natural to Matt and his attention was quickly drawn to the guitar through natural inquisitive curiosity.
It was around the age of 11 that he became more serious with the guitar and looked to develop on the instrument. He is completely self-taught and although he has some form of formal musical training on the saxophone this of course doesn’t necessarily translate across and so does not really assist him heavily.
“Self-Taught for quite a bit of it, I did lessons on and off for maybe two or three years, but I do not know anything formal on guitar. I do on saxophone though, but that doesn’t help me on guitar”.
What is really admirable and generally cool is the fact that a young age Matt came across as completely fearless and auditioned with his first band at 11 years old.
At the time he wasn’t fully affiliated with the metal scene so he auditioned for a pop-punk band “Freshly Squeezed”.
The audition was unsuccessful and he didn’t progress, this appeared to drive Heafy on further, a state of mind and work ethic for him that has never changed.
“Heafy, following his guitar performance at the school’s talent show, was asked to try out for Trivium by the band’s original singer Brad Lewter. Originally, he was accepted as lead guitarist, despite being only 12 years old (other members were 15-16 at that time). Lewter, however, quit the band in less than a month due to creative differences over the band’s future musical direction. The drummer Travis Smith persuaded Heafy to do vocals, even though Heafy himself was unsure of his singing voice at that time. The band started looking for an external singer to fill in the position but had trouble finding a suitable candidate. Eventually, Heafy agreed to become a full-time lead singer for Trivium also keeping the position of lead guitarist for the band.”
A band formed in Orlando, Florida in 1999, one of the hardest working groups of musicians you will come across. This band exploded onto the scene and arose from the early 21st century, and have proved hugely influential and highly coveted within their scene.
Initially engaging onto the scene as a metal core outfit, Trivium continuously and actively progressed across a number of styles to finding their true identity, they have routinely crossed over into many genres from Metal to Prog, Thrash to Gothic melodic Metal & Death Metal to groove metal music.
The truly epic detail that defines Trivium is the fact that they built a following the old fashion way: full-on, non-stop touring – something nowadays almost redundant.
With gruelling schedules they toured the South of America to establish themselves and then moved onto the North, came full circle and toured the festival circuits in the UK, Europe and Asia.
“What I say is I practice to be as good Bruce Dickinson, Freddie Mercury and John Petrucci, knowing it won’t happen, and work to be in the biggest band in the world knowing it might not happen,” he explains, smiling, while reflecting on those halcyon days of Ascendency when so many were quick to build them up to great heights before tearing them down. “But I put in the practice that it would require to make that happen. That’s the key, it’s not to make it a nihilistic thing, you should put in that amount of training for everything you do in life, you should work to make the absolute maximum possibility. That’s why it’s non-stop.”
HEAFY TONE QUEST
As we resolve to the all important conclusion and overview we find that Matt is truly a tone enthusiast and describes every element of what contributes to his signature sound.
He is an extremely interesting player who loves to talk about and champion the gear he uses, both explaining why and how this equipment is crucially important as a player.
Let’s first take a look at the all important Rig Rundown. Early on in this interview he describes how he is very much set on Jim Dunlop electric guitar strings for both his 6-string and 7-string signature guitars.
As guitar players and fans of other guitar players we always look for inspiration and knowledge to develop our ear as well as our hands, so it’s always interesting to get the insight on what your heroes are using.
As Matt perfectly explains here, like many he believes that the artist is the sound not the gear – the cause of never-ending debate and bone of contention for many 🤔 .
“If it comes down to touring and live guitars, I do want them to feel the same as always. But it doesn’t have to be the exact same. It doesn’t have to be that one, specific, superstitious item.”
Matt points out that naturally, an instrument’s sound is primarily defined by the person who is playing it. Even the most advanced instrument can’t replace the hours that one needs to dedicate to mastering a skill.
“Vocals or guitar, 75% of the time is me rehearsing, that was something Brazilian jujutsu showed me. A lot of people think when they look up their favourite musicians – Alright, if I get this pedal, I get this head, I’m gonna sound like my guy. But it really is the hands.”
For Matt, individual mastery is what defines and sets apart someone’s particular sound.
The Rig Rundown gives us a swift insight that Matt utilises Jim Dunlop 10–52 on his signature guitars. He does describe that he uses the same setup on his seven string models but no gauge or set is disclosed. But the following video with long-standing tech Jeremy Frost really gives us an in-depth insight to the setup of the rigs even down to the IEMs and he clearly states that Jim Dunlop 10–52 is on the six string guitars and Jim Dunlop 10-63 gauge on the seven strings.
THE UNDEFINABLE ONE
The second part of the tone puzzle is the Matt Heafy Signature Jazz 3 plectrum Matt utilises, here he explains the modifications he’s made to a standard plectrum to enable optimal usability for his style and technique.
“The Jazz III has been an integral tool in my arsenal for decades,” Matt says. “There’s something about its shape, size, and build that makes you unstoppable. This version’s Max-Grip texture and slightly denser structure make it perfect for me.”
Matt is a dedicated online streamer for variable content not just music, he uses the platform twitch.tv to showcase trivia-based content along with gaming and some of his Brazilian ju-jitsu.
All in all he’s an incredibly interesting character online. This clip below showcases his guitar collection immense detail and it really is an incredible watch!
The final part to finesse the complete picture is based around a muting piece of equipment known as a “Fretwrap”.
If you’re not familiar with these particular items then again Matt really describes what it does, how it does it and why it is utilised, not only is he an exceptional musician songwriter singer and general creator he is an incredible teacher was zero effort and comes across perfectly.
In conclusion, we find that Matt Heafy is an incredible player, an amazing person, and a truly gifted musician that continues to develop and surprise us. A firm favourite here at Strings Direct both as personality and as a gifted songwriter and creator. 🤘
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