When Florida’s premier Thrash/Metalcore band, Trivium, released The Crusade in 2006, drummer Travis Smith felt he’d “broken out of the box” – surpassing his previous recorded performances exponentially. With the release of the band’s fourth CD, Shogun, however, he thinks he may have “jumped the gun” with that claim. “That quote would apply 100 percent right now,” says the drummer. “This record really has the Travis Smith stamp on it. It shows my true identity behind the kit. I did some really cool stuff on Shogun that I’ve never done on any previous record; cool little tricks that you can’t plan. I was in the right headspace and the right environment, working with the right people. I felt good about going in there and laying down my drum tracks. Among our other records, this record totally stands out. Shogun will be the challenge for me to out-do myself for the next record.” Catch Travis and Trivium on tour now with Slipknot and Coheed & Cambria.
Metal Edge: The drums on Shogun sound great. Did you use any special studio micing?
Travis Smith: There were mics everywhere (laughs). I recorded drums in a 3,000 square foot room at The Sound Kitchen Studios in Nashville. Nick Raskulinecz, who produced the record, has interesting micing techniques. He had about seventy mics on the drums and ten room mics alone. We had two mics for every tom, top and bottom, three mics on the snare, and four mics in each kick drum. All the cymbals had their own mics. There were mics behind me and in the ceiling; you name the place and there was a mic. The drums are so full because he literally captured every sound.
Metal Edge: Do you have a favorite part of your kit?
Travis Smith: My favorite drum is always the snare drum. There’s something about the snare: I can tune them and they just make me smile. I guess it’s how loud they are; like a gun blast. When choosing snares I’m very picky about them and the way they’re tuned. I’m a drummer that tunes the snare differently in the studio than I do live. For Shogun, I tuned it a little lower than I usually do, so it’s got more body, which is what I was going for. So the main difference between my recording snares and my live snares is that I lose the body live and go for more ear-piercing attack. The snare drum [sound] on Shogun is way different than any snare drum that I’ve used on other recordings. I wanted it to have a punch and to rattle your speakers whenever I hit it!
Metal Edge: Did you record with the DW snare?
Travis Smith: For Shogun, I actually used a TAMA Bell Brass snare. Sometimes I try using different rims because often you can get different sounds just by swapping out the rim. I tried several different rims on the snare but I ended up using the factory rim that came with it, which is really fat and heavy duty. When it comes to my snare drum I’m a super heavy hitter. I hit the snare differently than I do any other drum and I have my own technique, which consists of [hitting] half rim and half head. It’s a technique that I’ve picked up over the years of playing so much and it’s what I think hitting the snare drum should sound like. I just detune the top head a little bit and wail the f*ck out of it (laughs).
Metal Edge: The Slipknot tour includes dates at huge places like Madison Square Garden. Have you yet played a venue of that size in the States?
Travis Smith: We haven’t done a tour like this in the States ever, and we are so looking forward to it. Growing up, you dream of playing [at MSG] and now we’re getting that opportunity to show people what Trivium is all about. That’s what we live for – to play live and be out there on that stage. We’ve played arenas with Slayer on the Unholy Alliance tour over in Europe, but now Slipknot is giving us that opportunity to really try to win over new fans here. We have a thirty-five minute set, which will be thirty-five minutes of complete chaos. We’re going out there to kill.
Sizes: 8, 9, 10 and 12-inch Rack Toms, (2) 16×18-inch Floor Toms, 21-inch Gong Drum (used as additional Floor Tom), 7×14-inch Snare, 20×24-inch Kick
Sticks: Ahead Travis Smith Signature Sticks
Official Website: https://www.trivium.org/
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.