Welsh metal-core band Bullet For My Valentine
have spent most of the past few years taking over the world with massive UK, European, U.S. and worldwide tours, sharing the stage with Guns N Roses
, and Iron Maiden
, playing the main stage at just about every rock festival on the planet, and seeing their 2006 debut album The Poison
sell more than one million copies worldwide. Their highly anticipated sophomore album - Scream Aim Fire
- and again produced by Colin Richardson
(Machine Head, Funeral For A Friend) - was released about a year ago, and has garnered the band further critical acclaim and success. The band soon winds up their world tour in support of their latest album and in late January, the band undertook an Australian jaunt as part of the annual Big Day Out festival. On one of the hottest days in Australian history, main man Matt Tuck
sat down with Joe Matera
in Melbourne to discuss touring, the direction of the band's music and his approach to guitar.
UG: You're currently in Australia for the annual Big Day Out tour festival. How has it been going for you?
Yeah the Big Day has been really good and a bit of a laugh. Though it's been hot down here, it has been very much so, stress and trouble free.
How does this Australian festival compare to some of the overseas ones you've undertaken?
Performance wise it is pretty much the same vibe. But, like I said, it is a lot hotter [weather] and a bit more, quieter in the backstage area. Over in the UK for example, we have a huge backstage area for all our guests and stuff like that. Here in Australia, because there are not as many guests backstage, there is also a lack of groupies too. And that is the only downside to it all.[laughs] And it is something that we're used to at all the other overseas festivals.
While on the topic of touring, what have been some of your most prized tour moments for you personally?
There are too many to mention. But the main thing is being able to do our headlining shows for the last four years. That has been fantastic. To tour the world and be playing to thousands of people every night on our own shows has been amazing. That is the main highlight for me.
Your November 15th, 2008 performance at Alexandra Palace in London was filmed for an upcoming live DVD.
|"I'm into the more melodic, sweeter kind of slower solos."|
Yeah we actually filmed three shows in all. We filmed one in California, that show you mentioned in London, and one in Munich. We filmed all those three shows so we could put them all together on the one DVD. So rather than have the one live show, we're going to have three of them on there. We expect the DVD to be out sometime in the coming summer.
When out on the road do you still practice and jam on things?
Sometimes but it is very much something that is a home thing, a personal life thing. But there are times when we may do the occasional jam.
Do you prefer the road of the studio?
I like both. We all respect each other but when we're off the road we like to spend it with loved ones and family. It is nice to have that peace and quiet and, not only from the boys, but also from the crowds, the people and the media. It is nice to be on your own for a couple weeks.
One of the bonus tracks on Scream Aim Fire is an acoustic tinged number titled Road To Nowhere. Does the acoustic guitar play a major part in the songwriting process?
It used to. A lot of the stuff on the EPs and The Poison came from acoustic guitar. Scream Aim Fire was written more on the electric guitar as we were on tour so we were jamming the songs in dressing rooms and the like. But I really love playing acoustic as it is so inspiring for me. I love it more so than playing the electric guitar.
So do you think maybe in future we could see an acoustic solo album from you?
I don't know, maybe. A majority of my songs do translate really well to a stripped down form and with many of the songs, we have versions of them acoustically. So who knows, but I'd love to someday.
How does your live gear differ from your studio setup?
On the first album we hired stuff out but it was the same stuff we're using now anyway. On Scream Aim Fire I actually used my actual live head but we had to go through about 12 different cabinets to eventually find a good one! As for guitars, the album has my Les Pauls and a Tube Screamer and that's it. Live, I'm using a Roland JC120 for the clean sounds and a Peavey for my dirty sounds. And I take four guitars with me out on tour; a Zakk Wylde Les Paul, two of my Jackson signature models and a Jackson Randy Rhoads model.
The band has had its share of critics, and since moving in a more accessible direction, it has made you easier targets from them. How have you learnt to deal with that side of the industry?
I've never been bothered by it. We just write music for us first and foremost and if people like it, then that is cool. And obviously millions of people do! And we're not going to change what we do because people may think it is cool or un-cool. We just write music and if we think it is good, we put it on a CD.
The decision to write more in major keys on Scream Aim Fire has made the songs sound, for want of a better word, much pop-ier. Was that a conscious decision or a natural progression?
I think it is a natural thing because if a song is in a major key, it is immediately going to be more uplifting and happier sounding. But we're not afraid to try different things and if the song is good enough in a major key, then it will be put on the album. We are focusing more towards the vocals these days because it is the most important part of the song really regardless if you're in a metal band or a jazz band or whatever. The vocal is what people sing along to and what sells records and not shredding.
How do you go about getting capturing your tones in the studio?
|"We just write music for us first and foremost and if people like it, then that is cool."|
I leave that up all to our producer Colin Richardson who is so anal about it all. He has his own certain techniques that he has used with the bands he's worked with, so he has his own formula. It is great working with him. But getting going is the hardest thing and most frustrating part because he is so anal about tone, everything from the drums to the guitars. He will spend a few weeks getting everything set up before we even start recording just to find the sweetest tone and stuff. But once that is done, it becomes easy and we just fly through the takes. He actually spent four days just getting a snare drum sound on this album! Our drum tech was loosing his mind as he had to keep changing the drum head every time as he had to have ten different snares and ten different skins per snare and per mike positions.
So it must have been a very lengthy process?
That album from start to finish took about ten months. But there were a few months break in the middle of it because I had vocal problems and stuff. But it took about eight to nine weeks if you counted the actual days we actually worked and got recording done.
Is your approach to soloing pre-planned, improvised or a little of both?
It is a bit of both. It will start off improvised. For me personally, I'm into the more melodic, sweeter kind of slower solos. And being a vocalist I think that is where I get it from. I just hear a melody more than anything else. So I leave all the shredding stuff up to Padge these days.
You have some incredible dual guitar work on the new record, particular on the track Waking The Demon. How did you and Padge work out your respective parts?
It just starts off as a piece of music and then we decide if we want to have the harmony part just to uplift it and make it more of a meal out of it. We just sit down and work it out. It is not a complicated thing really. It is always more of a major thing now. We're not into that medieval Viking harmony stuff, it is definitely more uplifting, like the Thin Lizzy, sweeter sound than anything else.
When it comes to your musical influences who are they?
It is mainly metal stuff like Metallica, Zakk Wylde, Rich Ward from Stuck Mojo, and Dimebag.
In closing, have you started working on ideas for the next album?
We've got some bits and pieces and got some good guitar stuff happening but it is still really early days. We haven't had time to even hit the studio to demo any of them. It is all in my head at the moment. But we do have some really sweet things coming
Interview by Joe Matera