Bullet For My Valentine

Bullet For My Valentine
Just weeks before the release of their sophomore album, Scream Aim Fire, Bullet For My Valentine’s vocalist/guitarist Matt Tuck spoke with Exclaim! over the phone from his flat in Cardiff, Wales right after band practice and almost two weeks before the band head out on a European and North American tour with supporting acts Still Remains and Skinny Red.

Do you feel like Scream Aim Fire was a successful record?
As far as I’m concerned it’s very successful, you know it hasn’t come out yet and that makes it hard to tell what the public thinks of it, but you know that’s not why we write music anyways. We just kind of write music we like and think is good to be put on a disc and hope that people will like it and can relate to it.

So the band is happy with the final product regardless of what the public thinks?
Yeah, most definitely. I think it’s the only thing we can do you know. We have to satisfy ourselves or we could be known as sell-outs and that’s not what we’re into. We’re into making good music as best as we can and hopefully people will like it.

Over the course of two full-length CDs it seems like you have a definite songwriting formula.
Yeah, there is definitely a formula, structure and identity in our songs.

What influences are present on this album?
Everything from hard metal like Slayer and Metallica to more Def Leppard and Queen as well. Those elements we fell in love with and blended them in with aggression and accessibility — that’s what we feel we do best so that’s what we did. But those dynamics are more extremely defined.

When you’re writing lyrics is it a group collaboration or do you take on that responsibility?
It’s kind of me. I just sit down and get busy when I can. I sit the boys down and try and make them happy. I throw them ideas but it’s mostly just me.

Are there times or places that you get more work done lyrically?
Lyrically, I love to not be on tour, I’d rather be at home or actually in the studio. When I’m on tour it’s hard to get my head into a writing mode lyrically when we have guitars being set up in the background and other distractions. And people are always jamming, filling up my ears. Typically I like to be relaxed and I like to be alone.

Do you have a place where you draw your lyrics from?
Yeah, I take it from different things. The Poison was very much about relationships and fictional scenarios and that kind of thing. On this one I wanted to dabble with things I hadn’t before like warfare, revenge songs, and there’s more real stuff on their about being a band, being on the road, highs and lows of what we do for a career and about my throat operations because I thought I wouldn’t be able to sings again.

Do you feel there are any parallels between Scream Aim Fire and The Poison?
There are definitely parallels there; we do have a formula for writing and this shows the progression of a band that had been on the road for three years. We’ve naturally gotten better even though you don’t really notice until you write the album and it’s really stepped up a lot.

When Bullet For My Valentine are recording an album is it business or pleasure?
Actually, recording is a pleasure for me; it’s when I see my babies come to life. For me I’m at my most creative, intense and content in the studio. That’s where I strive as a songwriter and I would think most songwriters would strive really. You can really experiment and put ideas out there and take them away.

Do ever clash with producers or take their advice?
It’s definitely my way or no way really. That’s they way it’s been with Clive Richardson because he totally trusts me as a songwriter and us as a band. He knows what we want to achieve and how we want to sound sonically. It’s a match made in heaven. He doesn’t really try to over-produce anything, but he throws in ideas as much as everyone and we try everything like that. I’m definitely up for anything that’s proven. We try everyone’s ideas, so if it doesn’t work then we do what I think is best — that’s the only way we can be happy with the end product.

Does that ever upset anyone in the band?
I’m sure it has in a couple of ways, but I think I’ve proven myself as a songwriter with how well The Poison’s done and how it was received. In the beginning I’m sure it rocked a couple of boats in the band, but it wasn’t about me being selfish, it’s about me being a songwriter, having a vision in my head and how I want it to sound. I think I proved my point that I can knock a song together. That’s why I was left alone on this one and hopefully I’ve done it again. They know it’s for the good of the band and don’t take it too personally.

What are some of the things you don’t like about recording?
Vocals without a doubt. It’s such a horrible thing to be a singer in a studio environment. Just working at takes, you have to get the performance, the character, the aggressive vocals — it’s just a really hard thing to capture. You don’t want it to sound like you’re singing in a studio. Recording the vocals is the weirdest part of recording an album.

Who are you guys doing your tour with?
We got two supporting bands first, the main supporter is Still Remains and second band is called Skinned Red — they’re a Welsh band as well.

Have you toured with either one of these bands before?
Yeah, with Still Remains, we’ve toured with them twice. We did a tour of America and they supported us two years ago as well.

What’s it been like touring with them?
They’re a great band and really nice guys, personally and musically, we think they’re awesome. We did have another main support band but they had to pull out due to their record label. We had to add them [Skinny Red] really last minute and they were just in our heads.

What are some of the good things and bad things you come across on tour?
I think things are pretty good; we kind of have our dream job, I mean we love it and know how lucky we are to do it. Nothing is really bad. The things that do kind of set us off are the boringness of the travelling and hours we spend stuck on a bus. Travelling for most of the day and hanging on to the rest of it just waiting to go on stage.

Does that help in a decision of where your favourite place to tour is?
No, it’s kind of all the same. We’ve been to Australia and Japan a couple of times and don’t do the tour bus, because in Japan you’re not allowed and in Australia you just fly because it’s too far. But you know it’s the same thing regardless if you’re on a plane for four hours or 12 hours.

Do you find there’s a place in particular where the fans receive you guys best?
Obviously we have better shows than others in every country across the world but most crowds on most nights are just really up front about having a good time, singing along and sweating from the excess energy they put out from the looks of where I’m standing.

How does the band get along on the road?
You know, there is very rarely any kind of bickering like little girls or anything like that at the moment. It’s usually alcohol-fuelled anyway, but after a half-hour or so it’s all kind of sorted out since we’ve been together for such a long time; it’s kind of like four brothers getting on each other’s nerves. You know what I mean? We never take things seriously and it never comes to fists or anything.

What’s one of the craziest, most fucked up thing that’s happened to you guys on the road?
The main one that sticks out is when our bass player Jay was hospitalised for catching his dick in his zip. That’s always a good one.

Was that on stage or an "after hours” thing?
He just got so fucking annihilated from the booze that he fell asleep and got up to go to the bathroom, took a dink and zipped it up and couldn’t get it out. He had to go to the emergency room.

What is your opinion of metal music today in comparison to the days of Black Sabbath and Slayer?
It’s kind of pretty good; metal and hard rock music at the moment seem to be in a good place. It’s becoming pretty popular and accessible. There hasn’t been a band in many years that have totally blown up to the scale of Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Metallica, like an arena band. I don’t know why, maybe bands aren’t that good anymore. Hopefully bands like ourselves, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold, who aren’t ones to shy away from telling people how ambitious we are, will be where we want to be in the next five or ten years. Maybe it’s just the calm before the storm and bands actually do start playing arenas again.

Do you think with the rise of metal music produces more fakes in the industry?
Yeah, the music industry can get saturated, but at the moment I think it’s okay. As far as I know a lot of bands haven’t been signed in a while. I don’t know of any new bands breaking out at the moment, as for last year I’ve been out of touch because I was working on the album. In general it’s a good place to be and time to be in a rock band.

What do you think of the new metal genres?
It’s a little much. We’ve been put into many of them. It doesn’t bother us and we don’t take it personal. The only thing that matters is the music on the CD at the end of the day, which we concentrate on as much as possible. If it helps people understand a band a bit more then that’s cool, so be it. That’s not a bad thing. There are many of these sub categories and genres popping up everywhere, I don’t know why. I don’t think it affects anyone at the end of the day.

If I were to attach Bullet For My Valentine to one of those sub genres would it hinder the band?
I wouldn’t say hinder, but it could make people judge a book by its cover. A lot of people already think we’re more of an emo band just because of the name of the band. People need to give the music a fair listen musically before they decide to judge it. I say we’re a melodic metal band really, that’s how I’d describe us.

Will these expansive terms help the industry or make it worse?
I don’t really think it will do either in the big scheme of things. I think it may hinder it more than help it. It’s going to confuse a lot of people, younger people who are just getting into heavy music.

Click here to read a review of Bullet For My Valentine’s latest album, Scream Aim Fire.