Bullet For My Valentine on Soundwave, ‘Venom’ and returning to Australia
To coincide with the announcement of their first Australian tour since 2013, Bullet For My Valentine frontman Matt Tuck caught up with SAMUEL BAUERMEISTER to talk about Soundwave’s failure, the future of metal and their latest album Venom.
After leaving their mark on the Soundwave tour in 2011 and 2013 Bullet For My Valentine were set to return for a third festival tour earlier this year. They’d been announced as one of festival’s drawcards way back in August last year when AJ Maddah began announcing the lineup, but after months of build up and hype the festival collapsed leaving fans of the Welsh heavy metal crew stranded.
Now the band has finally answered the cries from Australia announcing a a triple bill tour with support from Californian metalcore heroes Atreyu and New Orleans five piece Cane Hill. They’ll all be hitting the stage at intimate venues in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne this October on a tour that’s certain to feature more than its fair share of bruises and breakdowns. “They’re not the biggest shows we’ve ever done but in a way that’s going to make it even more cool,” says frontman Matt Tuck. “Coming back to Australia after four years with a number one record under our belt in some smaller venues, it’s going to be pretty nuts.”
Tuck says that the Soundwave cancellation didn’t come as much of a surprise – “Every time we seem to come to Australia things go tits up” – but he’s looking forward to making a return and sharing the songs from the band’s fifth album Venom. The album, which debuted at the top of the Australian charts on release last August, is the first with the band’s new bass player Jamie Mathias and also saw BFMV re-enlist producer Colin Richardson who’d worked on their debut album The Poison back in 2005. Tuck says it’s their “most aggressive record” to date and promises that the tour will back up that bold claim.
2015 was a really big year for Bullet for My Valentine both personally and musically, how have you all adjusted?
There was kind of no adjustment period necessary. We just kind of went into the motions of what we do – writing records and touring. It just so happens that Venom connected and massively drove us and we got a few number one’s off it. We’ve just been doing what we do and no adjustment was really needed, we’re just cracking on and enjoying it.
Jamie Mathias joined the band early last year, what has he brought to the table for you guys?
He’s brought a lot of things, from a musical point of view and a life point of view. He’s a great player and he’s got the most amazing voice. He’s really added a new dynamic to the live set – vocally and musically. Obviously he’s never been in a position like this before so he’s bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the band which is great – and its just good vibes, you know? He’s just a really nice, down to earth Welsh dude. He almost made something with his old band, it was gone, and now he’s got this second chance, which is amazing.
Who did he play with before?
He was the front man of a band called Revoker who got signed to Roadrunner Records. They made an album, it came out, they did some quite high profile support slots and then for some reason it all went tits-up when Roadrunner went tits up. It’s one of those kind of sad stories in that they were given this opportunity and then it all went wrong. But thankful for Jamie, he’s gone from that into Bullet which is pretty awesome for him.
‘Venom’ feels like a return to your earlier records like ‘The Poison’ and ‘Scream Aim Fire’, but its also got this fresh kind of Thrash sound – what made you want to explore this dynamic?
I don’t know. It just felt like something we wanted to do. With Fever and Temper Temper we kind of showcased the band with its biggest sound and they had kind of touches of metal in those records but this time around we just wanted to make it the most aggressive record we’ve done and thankfully we’ve felt like we achieved that goal. We wrote a lot of stuff that didn’t make it because we didn’t think it hit that criteria and that’s why it took a lot longer to write than anything we’ve ever done. We just had such a clear vision of what we wanted it do be: dark, super intense, ugly lyrics, heavy and we never took our eyes off that prize and thankfully the time spent writing it was worth it. It’s been a massive success, it’s been brilliant.
How have the crowds been responding to it all live?
“This time around we just wanted to make it the most aggressive record we’ve done”
It’s been incredible. Opening up with that intro and then straight into ‘No Way Out’ is just crushing. It’s just a perfect opening track for a metal show – it’s intense, it’s heavy, it’s got groove, it’s got breakdowns, its got solos, it’s got double kicks, it’s got screams. That’s why we picked it as the opener and the first track people had heard from Venom – it really encapsulates Bullet For My Valentine in 2015/2016 – this is exactly what we need to sound like.
You took a small break from Colin Richardson producing your records, how was it to return to him again?
It was wicked. He’s been such an integral part of the Bullet family from day one. To get back in the room with him after seven years of not working with him and two albums, It was really nice. He doesn’t really do much as what you’d think as far as a producer goes, he’s just more of a wise old man just sitting in the corner of the room nodding his head. He doesn’t really try to write the songs for you or with you he just gives you his nodding metal approval and he just knows what’s up. Working with bands like he has like Machine Head and stuff throughout the years, that’s why we wanted to work with him in the first place. The way his records sound are just massive, it’s what attracted us in the first place and we’ve just had this amazing relationship ever since.
What made you want to return to him for Venom?
Just knowing the fact that he wouldn’t interfere. That was the biggest thing, that we didn’t want anyone cutting what they thought Bullet For My Valentine should be in the mix. We know what we should be and we know we can be. That’s why I think Temper Temper didn’t go down as well as we thought. We started to listen to other peoples opinions and started to write in that way. I still have fun with it – I think it’s a really good album but it’s not the best we’ve ever done. I don’t think it deserved the criticism it got, it just wasn’t what people expected and that’s purely down to because it wasn’t what we wanted to write. That’s why we went back to Colin, we knew he would let us do what the fuck we wanted and it would be the most purest Bullet record that we’ve ever done, and that’s what it turned out to be.
Had the dynamic changed between Bullet and Colin since Scream Aim Fire?
It was like nothing had ever changed. He even looks the same, he just hasn’t aged a day in the last ten years. His sense of humour, his personality, the way he sits in the chair, everything was just like, Wow, it was just this huge nostalgia hit. He’s brilliant, man, he’s such a cool dude to spend time with. We just have a really good relationship. What we achieved on the EP, The Poison and Scream Aim Fire is still something he’s never done with any other bands today, so the relationship we have is very, very special.
You guys were very familiar with Soundwave in the past and were the first band to be announced for what was meant to be this years event. How did you find out it was cancelled?
“We knew what we were getting ourselves in for before we confirmed”
We knew what we were getting ourselves in for before we confirmed. We kind of knew that there was stuff looming behind the scenes and the advice from our management and our agents were “look, just fuck it anyways. The worst that could happen is that it doesn’t happen. And as long you don’t get on a plane then it doesn’t matter”. So we were super excited but then obviously the news came which wasn’t really a surprise but we were still gutted.
Every time we seem to come over in the last four years something’s happened which has stopped it happening. What are we doing wrong here? Every time we seem to come to Australia things go tits up. But thankfully we’ve managed to get some availability on some venues and some dates and we’re coming over and its happening. They’re not the biggest shows we’ve ever done but in a way that’s going to make it even more cool. Coming back to Australia after four years with a number one record under our belt in some smaller venues, it’s going to be pretty nuts.
Got any favourite Soundwave memories?
Everything, its one of the highlights of the bands touring schedule, whether its for Soundwave or doing our own stuff. It’s just an amazing place to come and play, the fans are nuts, the country is beautiful. We’re just super excited that we’ve managed to make it happen now. Obviously with the Soundwave thing we;re gutted, we’re really gutted for the fans, the band, we’re gutted for everyone, it’s just a shit situation. But we’re trying to our own shows now and it kind of works out for the best. The fans are going to get more for their money and we get to do what the fuck we want. It works out alright.
Do you feel like big event cancellations like Soundwave can effect the heavy music scene in general?
I don’t think so really. Everyone looks forward to those events and it becomes a tradition, especially for the metal community, having these places where you can go for like a weekend or two days or even just one day where it’s everyone at the same place at the same time together, enjoying music, enjoying life coming together, it’s awesome. So that side of it is kind of sad that it doesn’t happen, but at the same time the music is still there and its never going to go away.
Hopefully some day in the future there will be another Soundwave and it’ll be managed correctly because I think that was the problem and that’s the only reason why it went wrong. There was just things going on behind the scenes. It doesn’t have to do with the fans or the bands unfortunately, and we’re the ones that have missed out, it sucks.
Over the last few years, Metal has seen some of the biggest changes amongst the heavy music scene. Bring Me the Horizon’s That’s the Spirit was a huge step in another direction for them for example. Have you guys ever felt a pressure to change your sound at all?
I think of the era we grew up and the bands we listened to growing up, I think we will always be us. I don’t think we’re going to do like Horizon, it’s a very bold move and that comes with risks. For them thankfully its worked out alright. I think when you start to put yourself in that position of evolving like they have over the last two records, what you do next time is a dangerous game to play. Thankfully its worked out for them well, and long may continue. But for us I think we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved and what we’ve done, so if it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it. We’re going to evolve and things are going to change naturally and that’s great and that’s what we encourage, we love that. But I think as far as dropping guitars for synths, that’s not for us, man. We’re going to do what we do.
That’s what you guys have done really well from release to release, you’ve remained pretty consistent while adding some fresh to each record.
Yeah, I think evolution is the key. We always want every album to sound different from the last but we’re always very keen on keeping the fundamentals of what makes us what we are, they have to be there, that’s the reason why we’re here. So as soon as we start pushing them to the side for doing something else, I think that’s the start of something very dangerous.
You’ve been together as a band for close to 20 years now, what’s made you guys stay so strong in a scene where so many bands have come and fizzled out while you remain one of the biggest names in it, how do you maintain that strength within the band?
I think it comes down to a couple things. The main thing is writing consistently solid records that your fans actually love. I think that that’s what ultimately keeps a band doing what they do. That leads on to the next one which is actually making a living from it. Its difficult if that’s not happening. There’s only so long you can be in a band and fucking not get paid which is a sad reality for a lot of the bands that haven’t pursued the level that we’ve achieved. Is actually putting food on your families table possible? So it’s one of those things where those two go hand-in-hand. So I think that’s why we’re still doing what we’re doing its because thankfully we have fan base globally and we’re lucky enough to make a really good living out of it. If you don’t have either of those then they’re both fucked I guess, you know?
Bullet For My Valentine, Atreyu and Cane Hill tour
Thursday, October 20 – Metro City, Perth (18+)
Friday, October 21 – HQ, Adelaide (18+)
Tuesday, October 25 – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Thursday, October 27 – Big Top, Sydney (Lic A/A)
Friday, October 28 – Eatons Hill, Brisbane (Lic A/A)
Tickets on sale 9am local time Monday, April 18