Bullet For My Valentine's Matt Tuck talks "Venom," the upcoming tour and the state of metal
Since their debut in 2005, Bullet for My Valentine has been metal’s old reliable. Consistently releasing solid albums every two to three years, they’ve never faded too far from the forefront of the genre. With the release of their fifth studio album, “Venom,” they further solidified their status. It debuted at number one on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums Chart, their third number one debut on the chart, and number eight on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart.
While none of their albums have strayed too far from their original sound, “Venom” marks a return to their more aggressive, thrash metal roots following their previous album, “Temper, Temper,” which is considered by many to be their most commercial sounding release. “Venom” also adds another successful piece of work to their already impressive resume which now includes four top 20 albums.
They are now getting ready to kick off a massive tour that will sweep through North America starting February 2 in San Diego. From there they will come to LA, performing at The Wiltern on February 5.
In anticipation of the tour, lead singer Matt Tuck spoke to The Corsair via telephone from the UK. The discussion touched on the new album, the upcoming tour and the state of ennui that metal is in today.
Q: Did Venom, with it’s darker more personal lyrics, mean anything more to you personally than the other albums may have?
A: Yeah absolutely. It was definitely something I really went to town on on this one. It was something that I haven’t done in the past on many records really. There’s always a couple of songs which stem from personal experiences and the way I’m feeling about certain things but I thought this one was just a time when I really needed to say something which I knew was going to connect with our fans. Hopefully they can relate to what it’s like going through stuff I went through growing up as a kid with bullying and kind of coming from a shitty little town where no one really cares about you and you’re not expected to make anything of yourself and just these things that affected me growing up that I felt really strongly about. Even if it was something that wasn’t from a happy place, I thought it was good to get back to that place and write meaningful lyrics.
Q: You’ve listed your influences as ranging from Metallica and Slayer to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Do your influences change at all from album to album?
A: Not really, no. Me and the boys in the band, since the band started, we’ve kind of been stuck in a little bit of a music time warp. We haven’t really adapted well to new rock and metal bands. We kind of listen to the stuff that we’ve always listened to and there have been very few things that have come into my life that we’ve really jumped on board with and have shaped and influenced me to try certain things in our band… Our musical tastes haven’t changed so it doesn’t really affect the way that we write stuff. It’s more just knowing what we want to do before we start which is what we did on “Venom.” We had a very clear idea of how we wanted to go about it, what we wanted it to sound like before we wrote it, which made things a little more difficult because we wrote a lot of stuff that wasn’t suitable so we ended up just scrapping it but it paid off in the end. We got an album we were super happy with.
Q: You guys are embarking on a huge North American tour in a couple weeks. Do you have an idea of your set list and the ratio of songs from Venom versus the older hits?
A: Yeah, it’s probably going to be around five tracks off Venom. We obviously want to make that the focal point of the set. That’s why we’re rolling into town is to play the newer stuff. It’s going to be something we did on the UK tour which we finished in November. Its everything from “Hand of Blood,” the EP, right up to four, five tracks off of Venom and everything in between. It’s going to be about an hour and a half set and it’s going be a whole career-spanning journey of a set list. It’s great we’ve gotten to that point now where it becomes really hard to write a set list under an hour and a half and we still could put another five or six that we know people want to hear. That’s the beauty of having a back catalogue but it does make the set list a little more challenging to put together.
Q: Do you have a favorite song to play live, maybe one that gets the crowd charged up more than any other?
A: Just from the last proper tour that we did in October and November which was in the UK and Europe, I think “Battle”[You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War)] was the one that was really kicking off. Because, you know the intro part kicks in before the band like it does on the album. As soon as the crowd hears that they know what’s up and as soon as that “Here’s a war” hits, it just goes off. It’s cool.
Q: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever been thrown on stage during a performance?
A: [Laughs] Strangest, I don’t know about strangest. We had many things when we did some shows in North America with Iron Maiden way back in 2006 I think it was, we had all sorts lobbed at us. There was like tins of tuna, coins, lip balm. Anything the crowd had to hurl at us to try to cause us injury, they were launching at us. After we’d go off stage the crew would sweep off the stage and we’d all go out and eat Wendy’s or something with the amount of money that the crowd was throwing on stage at us [laughs]. Yeah it was an interesting tour but not something that we really want to experience again.
Q: What do you think of the state of metal today? Are there any new, up and coming artists that have caught your attention?
A: Well, While She Sleeps. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to bring them over. It’s their first time in America. I’m sure a lot of people that come to the shows probably haven’t even heard their name before so it’ll be a good opportunity for those guys to go out and get some people on board, you know. They’re a great band man and their new album is killer. It’s called “Brainwashed” if people want to go out there and check it out. It’s really exciting, it’s really fresh and they’ve got their own little sound going on which is good, which is kind of rare these days. Apart from that, not really man. I think metal for me at the minute is in a bit of a weird phase again. It’ll come out of it but I don’t think there’s anyone that’s really taken, that can lead the metal up by the balls again like something like we did and Killswitch [Engage] did, Revenge and stuff like that. I don’t think there’s been that moment again since, in my eyes. It will. It just feels like it’s a bit of a weird area at the minute for metal which it was in 2003 and 2004 just before we broke through. It was a bit stale and a bit weird and then all of a sudden there was this massive kind of band overdrive with the bands I just mentioned. You know that was a great year, so hopefully that will come around again soon. For the minute it is a bit boring in my eyes.
Q: Anything else you want to mention?
A: We got the US tour lined up which we’re excited to do. We’re going to embark on that within the next two or three weeks so we’re going to be just busy with touring. Hopefully as well, we’re going to do, if we get time, like a three or four track EP. We’re just going to get in the studio for a couple weeks, thrash out lots of tunes, not even think about it and just give it away at some point which will be good for the fans, just to keep content going and keep people interested and keep people engaged with us. I think it’s the way that you have to do it these days. You know the whole album cycle is great but we go every day. We don’t notice that there’s sometimes a two or three year gap between... so to bridge that gap even slightly is to keep content coming. Kind of what we’re going to try to do this year is just release as much stuff as we can and just try and bridge that gap.