Published Jan 30, 2008Just weeks before the release of their sophomore album, Scream Aim Fire, Bullet For My Valentines 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 Im concerned its very successful, you know it hasnt come out yet and that makes it hard to tell what the public thinks of it, but you know thats 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 its the only thing we can do you know. We have to satisfy ourselves or we could be known as sell-outs and thats not what were into. Were 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 thats what we feel we do best so thats what we did. But those dynamics are more extremely defined.
When youre writing lyrics is it a group collaboration or do you take on that responsibility?
Its 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 its mostly just me.
Are there times or places that you get more work done lyrically?
Lyrically, I love to not be on tour, Id rather be at home or actually in the studio. When Im on tour its 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 hadnt before like warfare, revenge songs, and theres 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 wouldnt 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. Weve naturally gotten better even though you dont really notice until you write the album and its 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; its when I see my babies come to life. For me Im at my most creative, intense and content in the studio. Thats 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?
Its definitely my way or no way really. Thats they way its 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. Its a match made in heaven. He doesnt really try to over-produce anything, but he throws in ideas as much as everyone and we try everything like that. Im definitely up for anything thats proven. We try everyones ideas, so if it doesnt work then we do what I think is best thats the only way we can be happy with the end product.
Does that ever upset anyone in the band?
Im sure it has in a couple of ways, but I think Ive proven myself as a songwriter with how well The Poisons done and how it was received. In the beginning Im sure it rocked a couple of boats in the band, but it wasnt about me being selfish, its 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. Thats why I was left alone on this one and hopefully Ive done it again. They know its for the good of the band and dont take it too personally.
What are some of the things you dont like about recording?
Vocals without a doubt. Its 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 its just a really hard thing to capture. You dont want it to sound like youre 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 theyre a Welsh band as well.
Have you toured with either one of these bands before?
Yeah, with Still Remains, weve toured with them twice. We did a tour of America and they supported us two years ago as well.
Whats it been like touring with them?
Theyre a great band and really nice guys, personally and musically, we think theyre 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, its kind of all the same. Weve been to Australia and Japan a couple of times and dont do the tour bus, because in Japan youre not allowed and in Australia you just fly because its too far. But you know its the same thing regardless if youre on a plane for four hours or 12 hours.
Do you find theres 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 Im 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. Its usually alcohol-fuelled anyway, but after a half-hour or so its all kind of sorted out since weve been together for such a long time; its kind of like four brothers getting on each others nerves. You know what I mean? We never take things seriously and it never comes to fists or anything.
Whats one of the craziest, most fucked up thing thats 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. Thats 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 couldnt 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?
Its kind of pretty good; metal and hard rock music at the moment seem to be in a good place. Its becoming pretty popular and accessible. There hasnt 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 dont know why, maybe bands arent that good anymore. Hopefully bands like ourselves, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold, who arent 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 its 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 its okay. As far as I know a lot of bands havent been signed in a while. I dont know of any new bands breaking out at the moment, as for last year Ive been out of touch because I was working on the album. In general its a good place to be and time to be in a rock band.
What do you think of the new metal genres?
Its a little much. Weve been put into many of them. It doesnt bother us and we dont 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 thats cool, so be it. Thats not a bad thing. There are many of these sub categories and genres popping up everywhere, I dont know why. I dont 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 wouldnt say hinder, but it could make people judge a book by its cover. A lot of people already think were 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 were a melodic metal band really, thats how Id describe us.
Will these expansive terms help the industry or make it worse?
I dont really think it will do either in the big scheme of things. I think it may hinder it more than help it. Its 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 Valentines latest album, Scream Aim Fire.