Matt Heafy

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Matt Heafy
Trivium-Rock im Park 2014- by 2eight DSC8991.jpg
Heafy performing at Rock im Park in 2014.
Background information
Birth name Matthew Kiichi Heafy
Also known as Matt Heafy
Born (1986-01-26) January 26, 1986 (age 30)
Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan
Origin Orlando, Florida, United States
Genres Heavy metal, metalcore, thrash metal, death metal, black metal, power metal[1]
Occupation(s) Guitarist, vocalist, musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass, drums, saxophone, banjo
Years active 1998–present
Labels Lifeforce, Roadrunner
Associated acts Trivium, Capharnaum, Mindscar, DragonForce, Caliban,Any Given Day

Matthew "Matt" Kiichi Heafy (born January 26, 1986)[2] is a Japanese American musician, best known as the guitarist and lead vocalist[3] for the American heavy metal band Trivium. Heafy is also the lead vocalist for the band Capharnaum, along with Trivium's former producer Jason Suecof.


Heafy was born in Iwakuni, Japan to an American father and a Japanese mother. His father, formerly a member of the United States Marine Corps, is half-Irish and half-German.[4] Although Heafy was born in Japan, he lived there for only one year. He does not speak Japanese fluently; however, he has mastered some of the basic phrases and uses them when he performs in Japan. He does the same thing with German as well.[5] His family then moved to Orlando, Florida, where it currently resides. Heafy attended Lake Brantley High School. He completed his senior year while also touring in Europe, and graduated in 2004.[6][7]

Heafy learned to play the saxophone in years leading up to becoming more serious on guitar at the age of twelve. At that period he was mostly listening to pop punk bands, and even auditioned for a local one by playing the Blink-182 song Dammit. However, he was not accepted for unspecified reasons. He also cites being introduced to heavy metal by his classmate, David, who gave him a copy of Metallica's self-titled album.[8][9]

Heafy does not know formal music theory, and was almost completely self-taught. He does know how to read sheet music, but can only apply it on the saxophone and banjo. However, in 2015, he started taking formal training for the guitar.[10]

"Self-taught for quite a bit of it, did lessons on and off for maybe two or three years, but I do not know anything formal music on guitar. I do on saxophone though…but that doesn’t help me on guitar."[9]

He currently plays a custom Gibson 7-string guitar.[11] He used 6-string guitars for Trivium's first two albums, utilizing standard tuning and Drop D tuning on Ember to Inferno, and solely drop D tuning on Ascendancy.[12] On Trivium's third record, The Crusade, he returned to standard tuning and performed some songs on 7-string guitars (also tuned standard). On Shogun, Heafy used 7-string guitars almost exclusively, with only two songs using a 6-string. For Trivium's fifth studio album In Waves, Heafy returned to using solely 6-string guitars and used drop C# tuning similar to the drop D as seen on Ascendancy.[13] For Vengeance Falls, Trivium's 6th effort, Heafy continued to solely use 6 string guitars tuned to Drop C#. For the recording of Trivium's seventh studio album "Silence In The Snow," Heafy used both 6 and 7-string guitars, tuned to Drop C#, A# Standard and Drop G#.

On January 10, 2010, Heafy married Ashley Howard[14] in Orlando, Florida. The wedding was attended by close friends and family.

Matt still often uses the same first Gibson Les Paul he got from his father, in both live and studio settings.[15]


Main article: Trivium (band)
Matt Heafy at Nova Rock Festival 2014

Matt Heafy, following his guitar performance at the school's talent show, was asked to join Trivium by the band's original singer Brad Lewter. Originally, he was accepted as lead guitarist, despite being only 13 years old (other members were 16-17 at that time). Lewter, however, quit the band in less than a month. The drummer Travis Smith persuaded Heafy to do vocals, even though his singing skills were considered poor by the band and Heafy himself. Eventually, Heafy took the position by performing growling and screaming, the only vocal techniques he was capable of at that time. However, he expressed the desire to develop a decent singing voice. In 2016, Heafy stated that he had been using the incorrect self-taught unclean vocals for the last 15 years, which loop led to the vocal chords damage by his late 20s.[16]

With the release of Trivium's 4th album, Shogun, Heafy greatly expanded his vocal range; from very melodic singing to hardcore screams. In 2011 Trivium's fifth studio album In Waves was released with a 'greater emphasis on songs rather than skill,' with the album featuring the full range of Heafy's vocal talents with some songs being entirely composed of screaming and others with no screaming at all, and many songs that fused the two as with previous records.

In Trivium, Matt shares lead guitar duties with Corey Beaulieu, although he is responsible for recording the rhythm tracks on the albums.

Matt Heafy performing live.

After Ember to Inferno, Trivium experimented with post-hardcore music, releasing one song titled "Head on Collision with a Rosebush Catching Fire" under the name "Tomorrow is Monday." As revealed in a 2008 interview in Rock Sound,[citation needed] they wrote, recorded and edited the song in one hour while intoxicated.[17]

Roadrunner United[edit]

In 2005, Roadrunner Records released Roadrunner United: The All-Star Sessions to celebrate the label's 25th anniversary. Four "team captains" were chosen: Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Murderdolls, Scar The Martyr), Robert Flynn (Machine Head), and Dino Cazares (Fear Factory) as well as Heafy.[18] Heafy also wrote the lyrics and sang the lead vocals to "The End," captained by Dino Cazares. He and bandmate/guitarist Corey Beaulieu recorded the song "In the Fire" as well, featuring singer King Diamond, bassist Mike D'Antonio, and drummer Dave Chavarri. He also wrote and played guitar on the tracks "Dawn of a Golden Age", "I Don't Wanna Be (A Superhero)" and "Blood and Flames," also contributing vocals to the latter.

Other appearances[edit]

Heafy won the Metal Hammer "Golden God" award in 2006.[19]

Also in 2006, he handled vocals for the band Korn, one of his favourite bands, (singing one song) at the Download Festival when Korn's lead vocalist Jonathan Davis fell ill.[20]

Heafy—along with several other metal artists—makes guest appearances in the music videos for "Aesthetics of Hate" by Machine Head, released March 27, 2007, "All I Want" by A Day to Remember, released January 7, 2011 and "Moving On" by Asking Alexandria, released September 12, 2014.

In 2015 Heafy contributed to the metal supergroup album "Metal Allegiance". He provided lead vocals and additional guitars on the track "Destination: Nowhere". He also contributed on guitar for the track "Triangulum I. Creation II. Evolution III. Destruction".

In 2016, Heafy appeared on Arktis by fellow musician Ihsahn.

Musical influences[edit]

Matt Heafy cites musicians James Hetfield, John Petrucci, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Ihsahn as his primary influences. His style was mostly influenced by bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, Pantera, Killswitch Engage, Machine Head, Korn, Dream Theater, Death, Burzum, Down, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Poison the Well, and later on In Flames, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, Fozzy, Dark Funeral, Emperor and Anorexia Nervosa.[13]



Matt Heafy performing in 2008.

Matt Heafy has been endorsed by Gibson since Summer 2009, but before he was endorsed by Dean after he and Corey Beaulieu were both given Dean Razorback prototypes in 2006. In 2008 his signature model, an ML shape with a graphic of the Japanese Rising Sun, was released. He stopped using Deans in 2009 after some disagreements. In summer 2009 Gibson made him a custom 7 string Explorer, which is now a production model but only available in black right-handed models.

In 2013, Epiphone released his artist signature model Les Paul in both 6 and 7 string versions. He had previously been seen playing his signature models on the Dream Theater "A Dramatic Turn of Events Tour".[21]


  • EMG 81/85 with Chrome and Gold covers. (Used on all his 6 Strings)
  • 81-7/707 with standard Black covers. (used on all his 7 Strings)


  • Studio: Marshall Amplification JVM410H heads, or Peavey 5150 block-letters with Mesa cabinets.
  • Live: Kemper Profiler Multi Effects unit with distortion patches based off the EVH 5150 III direct to the PA system.


  • Dunlop Jazz III Max Grip picks
  • Dunlop .10-.52 strings (And a .63 on 7 strings.)
  • Dunlop straps
  • Richter Guitar Straps


  • Behringer FCB1010 Midi foot controller connected to the Kemper.


Main article: Trivium discography
  • MindScar EP (2001)
Tomorrow Is Monday
  • Lush Like an Antpile (2004)
  1. "Head on Collision with a Rosebush Catching Fire"


  1. ^
  2. ^ Matt Heafy biography Archived January 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Perez, Omar (2004-12-08). "Music: Collapsing The Masses". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  7. ^ "Guitar Messenger – Matt Heafy Interview (Trivium)". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "Gear Nerd- Guitars With Matt Heafy (Trivium) - Roadrunner Records Uk". 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "The Great Explorers: The Top 10 Masters of the Gibson Explorer". 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  12. ^ "Trivium: In the Studio". Guitar World. 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  13. ^ a b "Trivium: 'We're A Great Live Band' | Interviews @". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  14. ^ "Matt Heafy Gets Married". 
  15. ^ "Gear Nerd:Trivium's Matt Heafy Part 1". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Trivium Official MySpace blog". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  18. ^ "Roadrunner United Mini-site". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  19. ^ "Golden God Award citation". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  20. ^ "Korn: Frontman Hospitalized, Band Plays With Various Vocalists". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  21. ^ a b "Ltd. Ed. Matthew K. Heafy Epiphone Les Paul Custom". Retrieved 21 February 2013. 

External links[edit]