Bullet for My Valentine’s Matt Tuck: Our Old Style Wasn’t Challenging Us Anymore
Bullet for My Valentine's new album, Gravity, marks a major turn in the band's sound as they distanced themselves from their roots and expanded their skills as songwriters. Frontman Matt Tuck spoke about the album with Full Metal Jackie.
Matt, you're a very vulnerable songwriter and someone who reveals a lot of himself in his songs. Where were your head and heart while writing and recording this album?
Head and the heart... Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a dark place. I had gone through a little bit of a rough time behind the scenes in my private life and stuff the last couple of years, as well as trying to get the band rolling and on the road, and write a new record and all that stuff. Yeah, [I was] just kind of introverted, kind of darker place than I usually am. I'm usually [have a] quite upbeat, positive, metal attitude kind of guy, but the last couple years I really struggled with a lot of things. It's all come out on Gravity.
Gravity was extremely personal for you. What do you think people will relate to most in the songs?
I just think how open and honest and real they are. Lyrically on this one, I haven't really gone down the path of making things super colorful and weird and epic and just for the sake of it. I'm actually just saying how I feel about me and my life and what I'm going through and how I feel as a human being. I just hope people kind of can — when they listen to it, emotionally attach themselves to it somewhat. Everybody goes through hard times and tough things in their life and I'm no different just because I'm in a band. I just wanted to get that out there, so hopefully, when people hear it they'll be picking up on that sort of way.
The album adds synthesizers and electronic software to your sound. What did the ambiance of that type of orchestration allow you to do differently in terms of songwriting?
Well, this is album number six. We've been around a long time now, we had five previous records. We've kind of stuck to a certain way of writing, a certain sound, and have been formulating them for many years now and we just felt that the time was right to add different colors, sounds and elements and diversity to our sound and songwriting abilities.
It was just something that we never really done in the past. We dabbled in it slightly on a couple songs on Venom, so we knew that we have done that very powerful way of enhancing the feel of a song, just like movie soundtrack stuff. We really wanted to kind of ease back on the more technical side of the band which we displayed numerous times over the years on every single record.
We've been shredding solos and really complicated song structures and drum patterns and stuff like that and we just wanted to simplify everything and just have foundations and walls of sound so that the lyrical content and the vocal performances especially were in the spotlight on every single song this time. Just a different way of writing, a different approach... it was the right thing to do and the way Gravity has turned out and how big and anthemic and how good the songs sound, I definitely think it was the right thing to do.
We could have easily gone down the route of writing another kind of shred-y metal style record but it wasn't really pushing any boundaries for us as a band or songwriters. It wasn't exciting or challenging anymore. So, we decided to do something different and that's what we did.
You and your guitarist have been together since the beginning but your bassist and drummer are relatively new to the band. What makes this combination of people so potent? Especially on the new album?
I just think everyone kind of getting on board and pulling in the same direction. It's not easy when writing a record when you have four very capable songwriters and musicians in the band with you. Someone's got to kind of take the lead musically and I had a bit more a vision than everyone else on this on where to take it. Thankfully they were on board. We all wrote individually, we all wrote as a band, we wrote in pairs. If ever there was a song that someone wanted to hear, or they've done behind the scenes, everything was brought to the table.
We just looked through everything as a unit. Having Jason [Bowld] and Jamie [Mathias] on board now, it just gives the band that extra lease on life in a way. They've brought a very new energy to the band which we haven't had for a while. They have an outsider's perspective as well, which is great. Me and Padge, obviously being in since day one, and we don't know an outsider's perspective, really. From our point of view. We just live it every day and have been for like, 15 years. For them to come inside and give us their thoughts on what the band should do and how they feel, or the band should sound is great. Just being bigger and write everything massively compared to what it was a couple of years ago.
Matt, you were just 18 when everything started with [guitarist] Michael Paget. As a musician, what's the biggest difference about you now and what's exactly the same?
I think what is exactly the same is the passion and the love for what I do and want to be the best person I can be as a songwriter, as a musician, and as a guitar player. All of that. I've always strived to be the best at anything I put my mind to and I know I put my heart and soul and my life into my music since a very early age. So, I think that remains. I'm very focused, I'm very motivated to achieve things we still haven't achieved yet.
I think what has changed was just maturity, really. And how to craft a song. Do's and don'ts. I think I'm still learning now. Even though, Gravity, being a metal band there's always parameters and boundaries that seem to be put up musically and creatively. You can't do this, you can't do that, and I think having the maturity and that energy and to be brave and to not listen to what people think you should do and just do what you love, I think that's what I've learned over the past couple of years as well. Don't try and please other people. You've got to please yourself first.
Thanks to Matt Tuck for the interview. Pick up your copy of Bullet for My Valentine's new album, 'Gravity,' here and follow the band on Facebook to stay up to date with everything they're doing. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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