Cutting a third album is quite the unique situation. On a group's debut, the band have hardly a care in the world, the debut composed of the tracks they've penned while touring clubs and so on. A second release is affected by the success or lack thereof of a debut however, since certain expectations are placed on the group. Perhaps certain quarters want the group to expand and evolve their sound, and in doing so, this deviates from that group's original sound. In releasing "Scream Aim Fire
", this is seemingly what happened to Bullet For My Valentine
Just over a year after the January 2008 issue of second full length "Scream Aim Fire
", in early 2009 Bullet For My Valentine
revealed that writing sessions were already under way for the group's third opus. Previous material released includes debut effort "The Poison
" (2005-6), not to mention a self-titled EP (November 2004) and the EP "Hand Of Blood
" (August 2005). As opposed to waiting for tracks to be penned, vocalist Matt Tuck
wrote lyrics at the same time. Bullet For My Valentine
entered the studio in April 2009 with producer Don Gilmore
(known for having worked with Linkin Park and Good Charlotte), whereas in the past the outfit had worked with Colin Richardson
. Tours such as 2009's Mayhem Festival caused a break in recording, demoing occurring in Monmouthshire, Wales and recording occurring in Malibu, California. An early December 2009 update revealed that recording sessions had concluded.
In early February 2010, Bullet For My Valentine
travelled to L. A. to film music videos for the songs "The Last Fight
" and "Your Betrayal
", filming them in two days with director Paul R. Brown
. That same month, the title of the act's third album was announced: "Fever
" will be released in North America on April 27th, and one day earlier internationally, through Jive Records.
On April 15th at 13:30 GMT, Hit The Lights
' Robert Gray
telephoned Bullet For My Valentine
frontman Matt Tuck
to discuss "Fever
UG: Hello. This is Robert Gray from Ultimate-Guitar.com. Can I speak to Matt please?
Oh, hi there.
How are you Matt?
I'm very well. How are you?
I'm ok. Would it be alright if I began the interview?
Bullet For My Valentine began writing new material in early 2009. From there, how did things develop into what became 'Fever'?
Basically, we just had a long period of time off from touring and press and everything so we could basically concentrate a hundred percent on writing. We didn't have that on 'Scream Aim Fire', and we think it suffered because of that. We just wanted to get a lot of time off to particularly get the right songs, and that's what we did really. We did demos of them, and when we were happy and had enough material, we went into the studio with Don Gilmore and recorded it for real.
In an interview, you said that the recording sessions for second studio album 'Scream Aim Fire' "just ripped (the members') hearts out of wanting to be in a band". What did you mean by that statement?
"We knew we had the potential to be bigger and better, but we needed someone to push us further."
Just because of the process, we didn't get proper time to write songs. We wrote 'Scream Aim Fire''s songs while we were on tour. I was going through a physical battle with my voice, not being able to sing, and we were trying to write songs to please other people like critics and journalists who were saying bad things about the band - that we weren't a real metal band etcetera. We weren't extremely happy with the end result; there's great stuff on 'Scream Aim Fire', but it was never the album it could've been for multiple reasons really. 'Scream Aim Fire' was an album we wrote to try to prove people wrong, and wasn't an album we made for ourselves. 'Fever' is an album that was a hundred percent us; we didn't listen to anyone's opinions, what critics' opinions were, or what people thought we should do, or how we should sound. We wanted to be a hundred percent us, and natural, and if we liked it, then it was good enough. We should've done that the second time around, rather than listening to other people's opinions.
'Scream Aim Fire''s material was written for other people, as opposed to the band itself?
Some of it was written a hundred percent for us, but we tried a little bit too hard to be metal when we should've just carried on doing what we did really - like we did on all of 'The Poison' material. So yeah, 'Scream Aim Fire' was a decent album, but it could've been better.
Bullet For My Valentine chose to work with producer Don Gilmore as opposed to working with Colin Richardson who the group had worked with before, stepping out of its comfort zone. Why did Bullet For My Valentine want to work with Don Gilmore?
Working with Colin was great, but we thought we had gone as far as we could with him. With all due respect to Colin, he's not a record producer - he's an engineer. We needed someone who actually looked at the songs, ripped them apart, restructured them, and gave ideas, whereas in the past, we just basically did everything ourselves. We knew we had the potential to be bigger and better, but we needed someone to push us further, and Don was the man for the job really.
Would say that Don was the first real producer Bullet For My Valentine has worked with?
Yeah. Like I said, everything we did in the past Padge, myself and the other guys did by ourselves. We produced the albums, and Colin just recorded them. This was the first time that we actually worked with a record producer.
When Bullet For My Valentine produced itself during recording sessions in the past, has it been difficult to get a handle on things so to speak? Like in terms of whether a certain take was the best take the group could achieve, for example?
No. Our quality control is extremely high anyway. Don really didn't do a lot in the studio until it came to the vocal side of things, and then as soon as we started laying vocals down, we knew if we needed to edit the songs or reduce the guitar parts. He let us take control over the musical side, because we don't really need help in that way. We're quite capable of doing that ourselves because we have a very high standard anyway.
How did Don Gilmore help you cut the best vocals you were capable of?
Just by pissing me off I think (laughs), if I'm honest. He was quite brutal when he didn't think something was good enough, whether that was lyrically, melody-wise or performance-wise. He was all about the vocal production. He just brought out the best in me, and opened my eyes to what I could achieve really because I was settling for things that were decent but could've been better. He wouldn't let it go until it was the best it could be.
Lyrically and vocally, would you say that 'Fever' is the best album Bullet For My Valentine has recorded thus far?
Oh yeah, by far. I think everyone who hears it will also realize that as well. It's quite an obvious progression in quality, really.
Was there any specific advice which Don Gilmore gave you on a vocal or lyrical level that you'll take with you when you enter future recording sessions?
Yeah, everything. It just proved that I could really sing when I really, really tried and I committed myself. He just made me realize that I should try different things, and different lyrics and different melodies, and not to settle for the first thing that I come up with, and to try alternatives.
You said that Don Gilmore coerced you to cut the best vocals that you could by pissing you off. At times, how heated did things get between you and Don?
It got really tense a lot of the time. He was thinking what he was suggesting was better, and I was thinking what I was suggesting was better. In the end, instead of fighting about it we just tried both. Sometimes it was his ideas that worked, and sometimes it was my ideas that worked, and sometimes it was a combination of both of our ideas. It was just working as a team, and letting go of the egos really; not him thinking that he knew best or me thinking that I knew best, but working as a team.
Did it take you awhile to see where Don was coming from?
Yeah, totally. Like I said, everything we did in the past was by ourselves. It was just hard to think about what other people were suggesting because we've achieved what we've achieved in our career off our own backs, so obviously thought we knew best.
On 'Fever', what is Bullet For My Valentine exactly?
"It is an album of all killer and no filler, and is a solid album from front to back."
Just a great British rock band, I think. I think 'Fever' is a definitive point in our career, and is gonna do very well. Even if it doesn't, me and the boys are extremely happy with it. Should it fail, then at least we stuck to our guns and failed on our own terms. If 'Scream Aim Fire' wasn't successful, it would've been all for shitty reasons - that we wrote the album for other people. If we're gonna fuck up, we wanna fuck up on our own terms.
Would you define Bullet For My Valentine as a metal band, or a hard rock band?
I dunno. I could say both, to be honest. Regardless of what I say, people are gonna think differently, so it doesn't really matter. People label us in genres all the time which aren't accurate, or a true representation, which shows that some people aren't really paying attention. People can call it whatever they want, whether they like it or don't like it.
In talking about 'Fever', you've referenced Metallica's 'The Black Album' (1991). What qualities does 'Fever' share with 'The Black Album'?
I dunno. 'Fever' is a solid album from start to finish really, and in my opinion and the boys' opinion, and of course the people that've heard it. It is an album of all killer and no filler, and is a solid album from front to back. People are always gonna have preferences in terms of which songs are their favourites, but the album as a whole is solid. I think an album like 'The Black Album' has that quality from track one to track whatever. Every single song is a potential hit.
In terms of its music, is 'Fever' more straightforward?
Yeah. 'Fever' is a lot more straightforward, and a lot simpler than anything we've done before. That's what makes it sound a lot more solid I think; there's no excess fat on the drums, the vocals or anything. 'Fever' isn't overproduced, and is just a very, very solid all-round record.
In writing and recording future albums, is this a musical direction you could see Bullet For My Valentine continuing?
Yeah. What we realized with Don was that by stripping things down and making things simpler, it makes it a lot better, a lot more understandable, a lot more listenable, and a lot more classic. It's definitely a formula we'll be continuing with on future projects.
Can you see Bullet For My Valentine working with Don Gilmore again?
Yeah. We'd definitely consider it next time around. We'd see how the album goes, and when we start thinking about producers the next time around, he'll definitely be on the list. Also, it'll depend on whether he wants to do it or not - it's not really up to us, unfortunately. You can ask producers, but they may not be available or may not even want to do it. We'll just have to see when the time comes.
In what ways is 'Fever' a more mature album for Bullet For My Valentine?
I'd say 'Fever' is a more mature record; it's more mature in the respect that we're not trying to overplay things, or trying to establish ourselves as having the best drummer or singer on the planet. We've done everything that the songs dictate, and just what the songs need, rather than trying to show off or trying to be too clever, and be mature in the knowledge that the most important thing is the song, and not us as individuals.
You've said that the lyrics to 'Fever''s title track are about "getting intoxicated by a woman who's bad news". Were those lyrics based on your personal experiences?
Well, kind of. All women are bad news really (laughs), but it depends if you find a good one or a psycho. But yeah, "Fever" is about rock 'n' roll excess, and having a good time - the song is about lust, basically. It's not about someone in particular, but the general male instincts to fall in love with bad girls really.
Why did you opt to promote "Fever" to title track status, and call the album that?
Just because it was a real short, catchy title. There's no big deep meaning behind it. We just thought it'd be a cool name for an album really.
You've also said that one of 'Fever''s tracks takes a dig at those who've criticized Bullet For My Valentine.
I think you're referring to "Dignity".
Does it really piss you off then when music fans feel that Bullet For My Valentine aren't that good of a group?
No, not really. Me and the boys constantly focus on just doing what we do. People can have opinions and repeat anything as much as they want, but it doesn't change anything for us. It might piss us off and it's not nice to read or hear about, but at the end of the day we do what we do, and we're pretty fucking good at it and we've become successful. We're very focused on just doing our job, rather than worrying about what other people think. That's gonna happen regardless of who you are and what you do.
One of 'Fever''s tracks touches upon the subject of suicide. Is that related to the Bridgend suicides that've been reported in the media in recent times?
No. It isn't related to Bridgend and what happened there a couple of years ago, but is just a fictional story that I thought about, like how I would react if I could make amends with someone before they died - before it's too late. If you had a chance to make amends and not to live with that guilt for the rest of your life. It's nothing to do with the Bridgend thing.
In interviews, you've mentioned how a friend of yours took his own life when you were fifteen. Did that inspire you to write those lyrics at all?
I've sung about that, but that was on 'The Poison'. That was the song "10 Years Today". We kind of got that out of our system back then, so it's not about that scenario either.
Have you had any Bullet For My Valentine fans approach you, fans who've possibly said that the group's music is what has given them strength?
We do get a lot of fans that take inspiration from our music in a positive way, fans who are going through hard times mentally, physically in their lives. It's just a nice thing to hear, that we do make an impact on someone's life in a positive way. It's just an amazing thing.
Is providing inspiration a conscious move on the part of Bullet For My Valentine, or unintentional?
No, it's totally unintentional. If you start to think and write songs with that in mind, it gets a little bit weird. If you start thinking about stuff like that, it'll just totally fuck up the writing process. Again, you'll get too concerned about what might happen or not happen and what people will think or not think about it. I just do my thing, and if people like it and take a positive influence from it, then that's awesome.
And "The Last Fight" is about drug addiction.
"It just proved that I could really sing when I really, really tried and I committed myself."
"The Last Fight" is a song about drug addiction, but comes from the point of view of the person who's trying to help this person, and they just keep getting their help thrown back in their face. The song "The Last Fight" is a bold way of saying "This is the last time I'm going to help you. If you throw it back in my face one more time, you can just fucking do what you wanna do". It doesn't come from the view of the addict, but from the view of the person who's trying to help, yet keeps getting it thrown back in their face.
Bullet For My Valentine obviously tours a lot, so is it sometimes difficult to refuse such temptations? You've probably been offered drugs a few times by whomever, I would've thought.
It's not difficult to resist at all. It's something me and the boys have never indulged in and don't intend to. It's just bad news. If someone did come up to us and offer us anything, we'd tell them straight where to go. It isn't something that we condone or support. It's not good.
Do you just choose to not bother with people of that nature then?
No. People can do what they wanna do; as long as it doesn't affect what we do, then that's fine. We do have friends that indulge in certain things now and again, but as long as it doesn't get out of control and respects their personality and who they are, then whatever. Each to their own. You can do what you want. It's not for me to say what people can do, but for me personally and the rest of the boys in the band, we don't do it because we don't want to.
Lyrically speaking, what are some of 'Fever''s other tracks about?
The majority of them are just love songs; that's where the name came from, and that's what I write most about. There's a song there about getting in a relationship, it going wrong, and then just being a bit blas about it, moving on really, and not dwelling too much on stuff. "Bittersweet Memories" is a song about being addicted to a chick who you really love so much, but she's a fucking nightmare and you had to let her go. That's what we do best. That's what I like to write about.
Bullet For My Valentine filmed two music videos in late February 2010 with Paul R. Brown, which were for the tracks "The Last Fight" and "Your Betrayal".
Yeah. We flew over to L. A. and shot the two videos in two days. "Your Betrayal"'s music video is based on the seven sins; it's quite visual, and there was a lot of post-production on it. The effects look really cool. "The Last Fight"'s music video had a very simple narrative really; it's just a performance video with two guys fighting who are very evenly matched, and at the end you find out he's fighting himself. They're quite simple videos, but they look very, very cool.
Interview by Robert Gray