Once you cut through the thick Welsh accent, you can hear that Michael Paget
has some interesting things to say. The band's last album, The Poison
, will soon be replaced with a newer album that Padge and his band, Bullet For My Valentine
, are currently working on.
But it was still a bit early to talk about that future record, so here, the guitarist spoke about The Poison and the music he makes.
Ultimate-Guitar: The Poison was the band's first real album. You've done a lot of EPs and various recordings, but what does it feel like to have that first full-length done?
I think we had 1 or 2 maybe ideas for songs on The Poison, but we didn't have any actually going into the studio. So we kind of wrote everything in a rehearsal room. We pretty much recorded it. We did an EP before The Poison, so we recorded all those songs for the EP. We kind of ran out of songs, so we had to write all new ones for The Poison. It just came together. We worked with Colin Richardson before on the EP as well. He knew exactly what we, as a band, were after. I think we knew as a band what we were after.
What were you after musically as a band?
Just a balls-out British heavy metal band. I know we still have Iron Maiden and they're around today, but we hadn't had a good British band for a while. We kind of flew the colors really.
Do you fashion yourself after Iron Maiden?
I would definitely say they were an important influence on me. I think there are a few of the boys in the band who were definitely influenced by Maiden and love all the stuff they've done. So yeah, we're all, I think, yeah.
As you're writing the music, did you want to express a range of musical ideas?
Yeah. Me and the singer and the other guitar player, we really enjoy a lot of old school guitar work and guitar stuff. So we really wanted to touch on the old school guitar work and techniques and stuff. And also employ in the harmonies and the melodies as well. Just huge choruses and just a certain way we kind of write songs. We all kind of know what's gonna come next. Once we're at that point, we all kind of know what's going to come next. We're all kind of on a level and stuff, which is really cool and easy to work with.
How do you work up songs in terms of parts and construction?
A song is usually from a guitar idea, like a guitar part. Say, for instance, I come up with a guitar part or Matt comes up with a part, we go to the back of the bus and then we kind of arrange something so we have a verse and a chorus. Then we take it into the rehearsal room and kind of make a song of it as a band, fitting in and playing all sorts of ideas and stuff. Once we're kind of happy with it, then we go into demo it. We will just record it locally and find out what kind of has to change for the re-recording. That's pretty much it. The music, we concentrate really, really hard on the music first. Then Matt writes and puts the lyrics on later on.
How did Four Words (To Choke Upon) come about with all of the orchestrated guitars?
It definitely would start with drums first. The boys would kind of work out a tempo, then Moose will go in and track the drums. Then it will probably be main rhythms, the chunky, heavy guitars. Usually we've mixed overdubs and bass together, so everyone just gets a go every now and then. No one is waiting for any of the rehearsal. We kind of do the drums and the main brunt of the guitars, then the overdubs and solos with the bass, then vocals last.
How many tracks of guitars are on any given song?
Usually there are 2 rhythm guitars, either side of left and right. If there's a lead line, if it's harmonized, then it's 1 lead line, 1 harmony guitar.
How do you decide upon who plays lead?
Usually if I play the solo, then I play the harmony. If Matt plays a solo, you play the harmony. Whoever's solo it is, they will do whatever they do.
Do you usually work out certain parts live?
Yeah, just to make it easier for Matt because he sings and plays. So if there is a trickier harmony, then I'll take that one while he does the easier one to take the pressure off him.
You sing as well, correct?
I kind ofyeah, I kind of sing and harmonize and scream and whatever.
Do you like singing?
Not personally, no. I'd rather not. I'd rather just play guitar.
How would you describe the differences between you and Matt as guitar players?
We've kind of worked out over the last 2 years that I kind of do the more wigglier stuff, the solos and stuff. Matt's going to concentrate more on the rhythm parts and stuff. He's a really, really good rhythm player. So we're kind of finding our place in the band, which is cool.
In Tears Don't Fall, there are some great picking parts. Does that kind of part get changed around when you're in the studio?
The intro riff to Tears Don't Fall, that was like really old because we were a band for like 7 years before Bullet For My Valentine. The intro riff, it's been around for years, but it was in a different key.
That song was on an EP, right?
I'm not sure. I don't think it was, no.
My apologies, man.
That riff was around for ages. We kind of wrote the song and it had big choruses and stuff, and we needed like an intro riff or a verse type of riff. I just kind of transposed it down into A and it worked. Sometimes it's great because you can find the guitar parts and just piece songs together, which is great.
So this is a song that had its origins several years ago.
On the picking part and delays, are you in the studio with Colin, running through different pieces of gear?
Oh, yeah. Definitely. Colin has to play every piece of equipment before recording. That's the good thing about Colin. He really does try everything that he's got in the studio, just to get the best sound.
Talk a little about the main guitars and amps that you were using on the record.
I think the main guitar was actually an ESP Eclipse with the EMGs. I think we used a Peavey 5150 head with an Ibanez Tube Screamer. That's pretty much it, I think.
That's kind of your sound?
I would say that's the Bullet sound, yeah.
How would you describe that sound?
|"We really wanted to touch on the old school guitar work and techniques."|
I think we really wanted the guitars to sound as heavy or as close to Burn My Eyes, the Machine Head album.
So you used that album as like a sounding board?
Yeah. It was definitely mentioned. We wanted the guitars to sound as heavy as those ones.
And Colin obviously knew exactly what you were talking about?
Yeah. He gets into his guitar tones, which is totally cool with us.
Are you much of a guitar guy, trying out new guitars and new sounds?
Yeah. I don't think I've actually found my sound at the moment, but I'm constantly looking out and playing things in the link in the chain. Yeah, I guess I'm going to keep looking. You stumble across a new Ampeg or something and you've got to give it a go just to see what it sounds like.
What kind of gear have you been experimenting with?
I think we tried like a bass wah, but we tried it with guitar. It's got like different frequencies. The bass has like total different frequencies, so on certain things, it can really roar. It's kind of cool. It can only work with certain things, you know, but that was a laugh. I really want to try and get into whammy pedals and stuff.
Did you actually use the wah wah on some of the tracks?
No, we tried it on the new record, but it didn't kind of work out. It was a really cool sound, but it didn't kind of work out. We found another one that kind of beat that.
You do use a wah wah pedal, though?
Isn't there a wah solo on Tears Don't Fall? Is that you?
Is it the second solo?
I think so.
No, I do the first solo and Matt does the second first half of the solo. I think it was a wah wah on the second half.
You are actually working on a newer album?
Yeah, we've actually recorded most of the music and we've just got a few little guitar parts to put down and all the vocals.
So The Poison is an old record for you now at this point?
Pretty much, yeah!
Does the new record have a title yet?
Not at the moment. I don't think any of them have any working titles at all.
Are you working with Colin again?
Can you sense that it's a step forward for the band musically?
Definitely, yeah. I know we've only done two, but the confidence on the record really shows through as musicians obviously because it's only the music that's done so far. But yeah, we're really proud of it. We've come leaps and bounds, so it's great to see, to compare. So it's really cool. It's a lot more upbeat, up-tempo, a lot more metal songs on there. It's rockier, so hopefully it won't disappoint.
You say it's more metal and rockier than The Poison. How would you describe the music on The Poison?
I would say it was part of a progression. I think we're still growing as a band. So I think The Poison was a great record, but I think what we all know now is that I'm sure we're capable of more. It's not that we dislike The Poison.
You've toured with Guns N' Roses and Metallica. Now you're playing Wembley?
What is that going to feel like?
We could all probably retire when we get done with that show. Every time that I think about it, I get butterflies and stuff! Just walking out on Wembley Stadium, it's just crazy.
Did you listen to Metallica and what they were doing as guitar players?
Definitely, yeah. We're all huge fans of Metallica.
In your mind, what made Metallica so much more special than all the other bands?
Probably the songs. I think in my era, it was kind of the Black album. So I kind of got into Metallica with that album. But yeah, I think it was the songs and just the heaviness of it. It was just like unheard of at the time.
Have you had a chance to sit and talk with any of the guys in Metallica?
Yeah, Lars came into our dressing room on the first Metallica show back last year and introduced himself and kind of had a chat with us all. He was a really cool guy, a nice person. We also saw him in Holland. No! Denmark, it was. He came straight down to us and he was really cool again.
Have you met any of Iron Maiden?
Yeah. They took us out on tour. Yeah, they would pop in by the dressing room regularly. They were really cool guys also.
Did you get to talk guitars or music with them?
We were all probably shaking in our boots at the time because it was Iron Maiden! It was all just like dribbling and stuff!
That has to be pretty meaningful, to play with your heroes.
Yeah. There's not really words for it, is there? It's just a total dream come true. How many kids want this dream, you know? I would never disrespect it.
There is something about British and Welsh bands about their approach to music that's different than the American approach. Do you have any idea why?
I couldn't put my finger on the exact thing. It's got to have something to do with the culture and you know what I mean. They listen to the same music, but it's different ways of life. That's my only explanation really. They're drinking different beer! Different brand of beer.
Were you a Judas Priest fan?
No. Moose was more of the Judas Priest. I was more of the Iron Maiden.
In your mind, what made those 2 bands so different?
Honestly, only in the last couple of years I've actually started listening to Priest. I never really heard or knew much about them until then. Yeah, it was a really weird thing. It's quite strange. It's really baffled me. I never had known much about them.
Did Sabbath, Purple, or Zeppelin do anything for you?
No. It was a bit before my time. Probably more now than anything I appreciate the music back then. I'm getting back into the old stuff. But not at the time. No, I think it was well before my time. That was more like my dad's stuff.
Are you part of a movement of music that may have the same impact that Maiden did?
I hope so. I don't want to blow our own trumpets.
Are there any new bands that you've heard or been touring with that intrigue you?
Everything seems to have been done in the music industry. It's really hard to find something that's original these days. So I don't know. I wouldn't say there is much out there at the moment.
My favorite song on the record is All Things I Hate. The acoustic guitar is incredible. I do like it when Matt does the clean vocal - it sounds more musical to me and shows me how proficient you guys are as players and songwriters.
We're just aiming to write classic songs, songs in general that stand out. So we're always bearing that in mind when we're writing them.
So the fact that a song has an acoustic guitar is cool.
|"We've recorded most of the music for a new album and we've just got a few little guitar parts to put down and all the vocals."|
Yeah. Whatever serves a song, you know?
Is that you playing the acoustic guitar?
No, not on All These Things.
On Room 409, you can hear that you're de-tuned. Is that a part of what you do?
Yes. On The Poison, I think we used drop tuning on most of it. On all of the songs, I think. I think that's going to change on the new album. It has changed, definitely.
Are you dropped to a D-tuning?
Yeah. We're going to be in standard D on the new record.
The last song on the record has a lot of clean guitars. How did you create those?
I think it was just a Boss chorus. It was available and it was right at the end of the session, so we changed studios as well. It might be a Roland JazzI'm really not sure. We had to fiddle about and we got a nice tone. I can't really remember what we used.
Will you be bringing some new guitars to the new record?
Yeah, I think we used ESP on parts. For the majority, it was a Gibson Les Paul Raw Power. We also used Gibson 25th Anniversary 335, which is really, really cool.
What's that like playing a hollow body versus the ESPs and stuff?
Well, we actually used the clean tones and stuff. It worked out really, really well and it was an awesome tone. Really nice.
Did you use to play a Flying V?
Yeah, I still do. It's an ESP DV8 Flying V.
Have you always played a V?
Yeah. I've always felt comfortable with a V. I just like metal-looking guitars.
Was there anyone you saw using a V specifically?
I don't recall. I just generally like them ever since I started playing guitar.
What are the plans for the band this year? You're finishing up the record?
No, we're about to start a 2-month tour of America. We have our last day of rehearsal today. After that, we go back to the UK to finish what goes on the album.
2007 Steven Rosen