February 19, 2016 Interview – Matt Tuck of Bullet For My Valentine
If one follows their dreams, the possibilities are endless. As cliched as it may sound, the statement is extremely true, and for Welsh band Bullet For My Valentine, it is one that stands true nearly two decades after their formation. Aspiring musicians, like countless other kids growing up, saving their money for a new guitar, or the latest album from their favorite band, Bullet For My Valentine’s humble beginnings lead them to stardom in the international Hard Rock/Metal world by the time 2005 hit and they released their debut full-length album, The Poison. Since having developed a persona of a band unifying the melodic end of Heavy Metal with the more brutal elements of more extreme forms of Metal, along with Hard Rock sensibility, the band has distinguished themselves among their contemporaries. Having already sold over five million records worldwide to date, Bullet For My Valentine may have very well topped themselves following the release of Venom in 2015. Now more mature, more focused, and hungrier than ever, they are a force to be reckoned with. Recently we sat down with Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Matt Tuck about the past of the band, their dedication to writing the best songs possible, touring, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Bullet For My Valentine has been going strong for eighteen years now. In that time, the band has really established themselves as one of modern Hard Rock elite with one chart-topping album after another. Tell us, what has this unpredictable ride been like?
Matt Tuck – It has been amazing. It is not something we thought we would ever achieve. Four friends playing Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses tracks in my mum’s garage. Then, all of a sudden, we got this opportunity to do it for real, grabbed it with both hands, and we have not stopped since. It has been an incredible journey, nothing we ever thought we would achieve. It kind of feels like we have won the lottery in many ways. We just keep doing our thing and it just keeps getting better. It is just amazing.
CrypticRock.com – It has to be amazing. Especially when you do not expect something, that is the best feeling when it does happen. Look at the run the band has attained.
Matt Tuck – We always wanted to do it and had a dream, as most kids do, playing guitar in their bedroom to one day become Rockstars. We never thought it would come to this. We always had the ambition and motivation to do it, but at this level, it is something we just did not think was possible, but here we are. It is all good.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. The band has certainly seen a lot of growth through the years. Like with anything, you want to grow as an musician. How would you describe the progression of Bullet For My Valentine’s sound?
Matt Tuck – I think, from album to album, it has changed somewhat musically, such as how it sounds. Although, ultimately, I think we have stayed the same. I think the evolution has been something that is quite natural. We have always let what has come out do its thing. We have not thought about it too much or over analyzed. If we thought it was good and we liked it, that is what we went with. The only time we ever really thought of how we wanted an album to sound and what the content of it should be like was Venom. The progression of the band has been something we have rolled with. We have had ups and downs, but for the best part of every album, like you said, has been top 10 in many territories around the world. It has just been phenomenal. We just do not over think things. That is the key part of keeping things real.
CrypticRock.com – Very true. One thing that the band has really stood by through the years is highly melodic guitars and extremely intense vocals. Those are aspects that has always stayed true with the band.
Matt Tuck – Yes, we just hit on this identity from a very early stage in our career. What you heard on the 2004 EP and 2005’s The Poison, there was no real thought behind it. We just loved all elements of bands like Pantera and Machine Head. We were also suckers for Metallica and Iron Maiden, which did not do the aggressive thing, but they had these massive anthemic style choruses. We just have kind of wore our influences on our sleeve. That is just something we have always done. It has been the Bullet identity, which is the best thing we ever did, and we did not even try to do it (laughs). It is just one of those things we stumbled upon and it became our thing.
CrypticRock.com – Right, as you stated, it happened naturally. In 2015, you returned with a blistering new album, Venom. What was the writing and recording process like for this album?
Matt Tuck – It was business as usual, really. We accumulated a lot of stuff while on the road for the Temper Temper Tour. We documented as much as we could, be it lyrical ideas or guitars riffs. When we had the downtime and finished that touring cycle, we got together, started the piecing together, and start writing songs properly in the studio.
We just spent as much time as we needed. We usually would write 6 or 7 songs to the point we thought they were good enough, then we would go to the studio to start making the album, and write the rest as we went along. This time around took about 6 months longer than we ever have taken before. We had a chance to live with the songs, re-write certain songs if we were unhappy with them, ditch a bunch of stuff that we were not happy with, and write more. That is not something we had done before. As I said, we just have done things naturally, not thought about it much, and that was great. I think this time around, since we had such a clear vision of how we wanted Venom to sound, from track 1 to track 11, we did not really stop writing until we knew we had that.
That was the writing side of it. As soon as we got into the studio to do it for real, it was a piece of cake. The songs were ready, the structures were done, and we were all happy with it. We just laid it down, really. The writing part took a lot longer than usual, but the recording part was a lot quicker than usual.
CrypticRock.com – That is something that can be heard with Venom. The composition of the tracks are structured very well. It can be heard the album is intricately designed from start to finish.
Matt Tuck – That is something we always pride ourselves on. We are very much aware of how to write a good song in a way, but we always like to make it a Metal track as well. We do not like to scrimp on the musicality of what we do. We always like to showcase what we do, but get a balance of not being too short or not too long. The content is always there, but we always spend a lot of time on the structure of the songs. For us, having the right length for a particular song is important. The tempo as well. Making the tempo quicker in the chorus for a natural uplifting sound, that is something we put a massive amount of thought into in making the song the best it can be.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, those details make a massive difference. While, perhaps, the average ear may not pick that up, it makes a major difference in the music.
Matt Tuck – Those little details make a massive difference. When we are writing and laying it down, we know they are there, we can hear the difference when they are not there. Obviously, for the listener, they hear the end product and they won’t know it has gone through that journey. There is a lot of thought that goes into it.
CrypticRock.com – It is evident. With this album, you worked with Colin Richardson for the first time since 2008’s Scream Aim Fire. What was it like working with him again?
Matt Tuck – It was amazing. He was there from day one, really. He was part of the journey from the band getting signed. He was our number one producer on our hit list back in the day. He mixed and produced the EP, The Poison, and Scream Aim Fire. He was there before any of this happened for us. He was a big part of our team during those important times when our band was just starting out. To have him back in the studio was awesome. To have him around and talk about stories from back in 2004 when we were making The Poison. It is just like having a fifth member back in the band. He is just a really cool guy. He is just a real calming, comfort blanket kind of guy to have around you when you make a record. He is really just such a nice dude.
CrypticRock.com – That is fantastic that you had a chance to bring him back. Well, the record is certainly strong from start to finish, and it will be exciting to hear the new tunes live with your return to North America with Asking Alexandria through March. How excited are you for this new run, and what can fans expect?
Matt Tuck – We are always super excited to come here and tour. The last time we came here, we were supporting Slipknot. That was pre-album, so we had the opportunity to give people a taste of what was coming. To be here on our own headlining tour with a really great supporting act like Asking Alexandria, it is a strong bill, and people are buzzing on the album. It is the first time we have been able to play a bunch of these new songs to our fans over here. The people that are coming to the tour, we have really pushed on the production as well. We are not just up there with guitars and a backdrop. A lot of thought has gone into the production of these shows as well. That is something we have never done over here, but it looks spectacular.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly is a great lineup. Bullet For My Valentine has always brought the energy live for concerts. It will be exciting to see a production element added to that.
Matt Tuck – Yes, we have had the pleasure and luxury of doing it in the UK, Europe, and certain other territories for a long time now. Although, over here, we never really have done that for whatever reason. We thought now is the time to step it up. Venom is a killer album and we have never done it here. We felt, “Let’s do a double whammy here, push the boat out, and get the production on point.” The two back, hand and hand, is a quite sight, so it is pretty cool.
CrypticRock.com – That sounds exciting. The band has been touring extensively over the past decade or so. You have been an opening act and headlined main stages of massive festivals. With all that said, what are some of the most important things you have learned from life on the road?
Matt Tuck – I think the most important thing is to keep our shit together when it comes to Rock-n-Roll access. That old cliché, really. We had our moments early in the day, I am talking around 2010, where we were taking the booze on hard and partying like there is no tomorrow. For me personally, when I became a dad, my life turned around. The band started to explode globally, we were not just this band anymore, we were looked at as this massive big hitter in Hard Rock and Metal. I think everyone’s eyes opened and we really knuckled down to be the best band we could be, on and off the stage. We still have our moments. For the best part, the biggest lesson we have learned is being healthy physically and mentally in doing what we do, is such an important part of it.
CrypticRock.com – Right, as you said about partying, that type of thing can make or break a young band. Everything should be in moderation. Obviously it did not break Bullet For My Valentine. It is great that you did not let that happen to the band.
Matt Tuck – Yes, we have seen it in many bands. It kind of reared its ugly head in our band as well. We nipped it in the bud as quick as we could. That was kind of a dark point in our band for 12 or 18 months where we were trying to get shit together behind the scenes. Thankfully, we were strong enough to get through it, and as I said, everyone’s eyes opened. We take this very serious now. It is something we pride ourselves on and it has benefited our live show massively.
CrypticRock.com – Well that is all positive to hear. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror/Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of these genres, what are some of your favorite films?
Matt Tuck – Yes, I have always been a fan of Horror. I do not really watch anything else. I think my favorites would be The Omen series and The Exorcist (1973). There is something about them, I think maybe it was the time they were made. Nothing has really ever, for me personally, come closer to the fear factor as those. Those four movies literally petrified me with one eye open and the light on (laughs). That is kind of what you are after when you are watching a Horror film. You want to be scared and you want it to be emotionally disturbing, that is the whole point. For me, The Omen series and The Exorcist was so on point. Nothing has beaten them ever since for me.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed. Those are very frightening films. It is like you said, the time it was made, the atmosphere as well. For example, The Exorcist is not a particularly fast-moving film, so there is a lot of room for things to breath.
Matt Tuck – Yes, just the whole way it was shot. Having the victim as a little girl. It does not come scarier than that. The cinematography was so on point. Nothing even comes close. Even with today’s technology and how things are moved on in the cinema world, I cannot even think of anything that comes close to the fear factor of those movies.