June 28, 2018 Interview – Jason Bowld of Bullet for My Valentine
Playing it safe in music can sometimes lead to uninspired results. Fortunately, UK modern Metal leaders Bullet for My Valentine (BFMV) decided to steer the ship in a slightly different direction in route to their sixth studio album. Entitled Gravity, their latest work is filled with their signature Metal style, yet while interjecting different elements, creating a refreshing and interesting listening from start to finish.
A bold move, BFMV have always stood by integrity over commercialism, and because of such, success has followed. Eager to get the new music out to the masses, one of the band’s newest additions, Jason Bowld, took the time to chat about his experience as a professional drummer, being named a full-time member of BFMV, working with the band, the process behind Gravity, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – From your tenure in Pitchshifter, to becoming a full-time member of BFMV, what has the ride been like for you?
Jason Bowld – There has been a lot of ups and downs. As you rightly said, my career took off in Pitchshifter. From Pitchshifter, I became a session drummer and drummed for a lot of people – Killing Joke, Fightstar, etc. I kind of got to the point where I was a bit sick of being a session drummer, because it’s extremely hard work. The great thing about it is there has been a lot of variety though. That is indirectly how I got involved with BFMV – I was playing with them back in 2010, sitting in for their drummer who was sick. In between now and then, I formed a side project band with Matt called Axewound as well. The ride has been colorful, exciting, scary, and now it’s even more exciting because I’m part of something.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly has been a busy run! As mentioned, you spent a long time a part of Pitchshifter before you began touring with BFMV a few years ago. What led you to becoming the full-time drummer of the band?
Jason Bowld – It was a pretty natural progression really. I started filling in for them at the end of 2015, and it was a case of taking it month by month. Michael “Moose” Thomas’ wife was going to have a baby, and for whatever reason, he decided not to come back. I was asked if I wanted to join, it was an easy answer, because I had grown with the guys on tour and gotten to know them even better. It felt like an easy decision to make.
CrypticRock.com – Great to hear how it all worked out. The band is set to release their brand new album, Gravity, on Friday, June 29th. It is really a fantastic record, perhaps one of BFMV’s best to date. What was it like working in the studio with the other guys?
Jason Bowld – It was hard work. (Laughs) I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but it was good hard work. We started writing it last April and I think we all expected for Metal to ooze out of our veins. What happened was we jammed what we instinctively play – which is a lot of Metal power chord stuff – and it just didn’t inspire us; it felt dull and boring, like we already had been there before. We realized we needed to do something different, and quite dramatically different, but still with the hallmark of the BFMV sound – killer vocal melodies, killer riffs. We wanted lots of variety on the album, like any good album has. It took about 7 months of writing and a bit of arguing, which is completely healthy and natural if you care about something. I am happy to say the little bit of productive conflict helped us achieve our endgame, which was Gravity.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly worked out well. It is a little different, but retains the band’s signature sound. Matt Tuck has always done a sensational job of creating raw emotions with his words and singing. How would you describe the chemistry between yourself, Matt, and the rest of the band?
Jason Bowld – It’s never been better. You can see that with the live shows, because with BFMV, that’s what it’s all about. In some ways, making an album, nowadays, is secondary to doing the live shows. The live shows are the most important thing. You spend all this time creating this album, it comes out, you want that killer chart position, then it’s gone after a week, and all you are left with is touring the world.
It took us a while to understand where we were going musically with Gravity and, thankfully, we were all on the same page with that. Like you said about Matt’s vocals, and I think Gravity exploits one of the strong parts of the band, which is how he can convey emotion through his vocals.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, what really grabs you about Gravity is the dynamics. It does not get boring, you can hear the difference between each song.
Jason Bowld – That’s exactly right, that’s what we wanted, we wanted a bit of variety. The lyrical content has a thread running through it from start to finish. It’s obviously a lot about breakups, which is a positive thing, because with a breakup, comes a new beginning. With a strong lyrical theme running through the entire album, I think musically, it needed to change.
There are really heavy, aggressive moments such as “Piece of Me.” Then there is “Breath Underwater,” which is a very mellow, acoustic track, and “Letting You Go,” which is a really good hybrid Electronic Rock track.
We are pleased with the variety on it and I think it really links in well with the streaming generation who have some Hip Hop, Metal, and Dance music on their playlists. It’s not unusual for people nowadays to listen to different styles of music.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, musical diversity is a good thing. As mentioned, you have done quite a bit of touring with the band in the last couple of years. Now you are touring Europe in support of the new album before returning to North America in the fall. What have these more recent live shows been like for you?
Jason Bowld – They have been amazing, they get better and better. When I started playing and touring with the band, it really took me by surprise how big their presence was in America. In America, it is very difficult to sustain a healthy touring career, even for American bands, let alone British or European bands. The shows have been the best I have ever done with the band, it really feels like we are hopefully going to be moving up a level.
That’s what we are trying to do through the end of the year, we have some really mega shows on the European tour. We want to move up to bigger venues in Europe next year, and America if we can. It’s very tough in America because there doesn’t seem to be a size venue in-between a 2,000-3,000 capacity or a 10,000 capacity. There are a lot of clubs and ice hockey arenas, but there doesn’t seem to be many 5,000 or 6,000 capacity venues, which I think is why it’s so difficult to crack America, if you like.
CrypticRock.com – Very good point. For example, there are smaller clubs, then places like PlayStation Theater in New York City, but the next level up, for the most part, is Madison Square Garden. As you said, there is not much in-between.
Jason Bowld – Yea, there really isn’t, it’s just the way it is. The Avenged Sevenfold tour we did was a strong package. It was Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking Benjamin, and us as the first band on the bill.
CrypticRock.com – That was a fantastic bill! As we spoke of early on, you have certainly done a lot through working with other artists, including performing with Killing Joke. What do you take away from these varied experiences?
Jason Bowld – It’s really helped me. Every band I have worked with, there has been something different to learn from. You take a band like Killing Joke, they are crazy guys, they have been doing it for 40 years. When I started playing live with them, it was a hell of an experience, because I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. The songs on stage would change, and you would have to look at everyone. Jaz would just look at you and tell you when you would go into a verse, and he’d be waiting for a drum fill leading into a chorus – it was all about eye contact, really raw. Anything could happen at anytime, it was almost like playing with an Industrial James Brown.
I think Pitchshifter is where I really learned my craft playing Electronic music – playing to a click and just becoming really tight playing to sequences. Along the way I have written a few albums myself with guest vocals. I worked with one band called This is Menace, where we had 19 guest singers over two albums.
I have learned a lot about songwriting. I also think as a session drummer, one thing I have learned, which has helped me a lot in the studio, is to be patient. I know how songwriters and singers work, they have a vision in their head, and that could take months to come to fruition. You might think a song is finished, but in their head, they are thinking, “I’ve only just started.” That is what helped me with BFMV – I know how Matt works, I know he likes to take his time. All the best songwriters like to take their time with something, so you have to be patient. You have to nurture an album like a baby. It takes 8-9 months to grow, then when it’s born, you let it go into the world. It’s the same sort of process, really.
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting. It seems like all these experiences have affected you in a positive way.
Jason Bowld – It has. It shows if you work hard, and stay on the road of what you believe in, you will eventually get to where you want to get to. Hopefully the road just continues, you don’t want to get to the end of the journey, you want to enjoy it. The end is the end, you want to carry on sustaining what you are doing. That is the idea for me, to enjoy the ride.
CrypticRock.com – There is no question about it! As so involved in music as you have been, what are some of your personal influences?
Jason Bowld – I think one of my biggest influences musically is Nine Inch Nails. When The Downward Spiral (1994) came out, I absolutely fell in love with it. I love the way Trent Reznor continues to evolve the music, he is a true artist. He will just completely get rid of a style the band had, and come up with a totally different sound on the next album – he just has incredible creative confidence.
Back in the day, I was into the usual sort of Metal such as Slayer, Anthrax, Prong, Megadeth, and Metallica. I also listen to Alternative music, I love Massive Attack and a Drum and Bass band called Bad Company UK. I take a lot of influence from Electronic music as well.
Also, Chelsea Wolfe, she is another big favorite of mine. She has done so many albums, but is still relatively unheard of. Her albums have so much creativity in them, each one sounds different and I love that. There is also a band called Unkle that I love. I also love Deftones, they stick to what they believe in. Even the latest Foo Fighters album is really cool.
CrypticRock.com – That is a very diverse and quality mix of music that you enjoy!
Jason Bowld – It’s just a case of keeping yourself excited and stimulated with what you are doing. It almost relates back to how we felt when we wrote Gravity, we were just excited with the initial jam sessions we did. We felt, if we are going to excite people, we need to excite ourselves first.
CrypticRock.com – Right, that makes for the best music. Last question. CrypticRock also covers Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of either genre, what are some of your favorites and why?
Jason Bowld – One of my all-time favorite films, which I have watched it 3 times now, and it gets better each time, is Get Out (2017)! When you first watch the film you think, “What’s going here?” You then realize the dark twist in it. The second time you watch it, you already know the dark twist, then you kind of see it from a different point of view, which makes it enjoyable in a different way.
For Science Fiction films, I really liked Gravity (2013). I am into watching series’ such as Westworld, which is brilliant and so deep. Also, I think The Handmaid’s Tale is really good. It’s kind of like a real life horror. My only worry with The Handmaid’s Tale is I hope they conclude it in a sensible way. I hope it doesn’t go on for 10 seasons or something ridiculous, I think that would really kill the vibe. I remember when Breaking Bad came out, obviously everyone knows how amazing it was, but what was really amazing is it was concluded in 5 seasons. I just hope The Handmaid’s Tale is concluded in the same way – a sensible amount of seasons, rather than milking the life out of it.