Bullet For My Valentine: "All our rock star wishlist items came true"
Senior web producer, BBC Wales
Temper Temper, the first single from Bullet For My Valentine's fourth studio album, is released this week. We spoke to Matt Tuck, frontman of the Bridgend metal band, about recording in Thailand, the pain of tattoos and his dreams of collaborating with Metallica.
What have you been up to this year?
Oh, where to begin? At the beginning of the year I was finishing off making the AxeWound record. That finished around mid-January. On 13 February I flew to Thailand with the Bullet guys, and we started writing and recording the new Bullet record. That first process took about a month, then another month back home in Wales.
We went on tour with AxeWound throughout the summer doing European festivals. Went on tour with Bullet for some festivals, then did AxeWound's UK tour. Been in the studio recently doing more Bullet tracks, so it's been back-and-forth and very busy.
The new single's out today in the UK. Can you tell us a bit about that?
It's the title track of the record. It was the last song that came about, which seems to be a pattern with Bullet that the last song we write and record always seems to be the first single. That was kind of a cool pattern that seems to keep repeating itself.
The song is about temper and anger. It's not a negative song at all - it's about a release of negative energy rather than taking out aggression negatively.
Bullet For My Valentine
The video's pretty brutal, isn't it?
It was just a bit of fun really. We didn't really have the time to be in it 'cause we were busy doing studio stuff, so the label just put together this funny little video clip. It wasn't meant to be taken seriously as such - it's kind of funny, kind of cool.
You mentioned going to Thailand to do the new album. Why did you do it there?
A couple of reasons really. One is obviously somewhere we could go and concentrate 24/7 without having to travel back and forth to the studio every day. It's one of the things you don't really think about until you've done an album really - you need to be locked down to get really good stuff done, and we could work whenever we wanted to at any time of the day, and obviously going somewhere where the sun was shining every day was a nice environment to work in.
We actually got a great deal financially. The studio owner wanted us to go there. He was looking for established acts to go there as it was a new studio. It was for his portfolio as well to get the studio buzzing. It was a really good time.
Had you recorded outside the UK before?
Yeah, we recorded Scream Aim Fire in Texas, and we did the last album Fever in Malibu in California. The only album we've actually recorded fully in the UK was the first one, The Poison. Everything else has been split between abroad and home.
You mentioned coming back to Wales to finish off the new album.
We wrote about four more songs when we got home, and recorded them in studios throughout Wales. We wanted to go somewhere to get the meat and potatoes of the album done, and be creative 24/7 rather than going to a rehearsal room and write and record.
The way we approached it was a little bit different from how we've done it in the past - we didn't go with pre-written songs or anything; we just wrote and recorded as we went along.
We stayed in Thailand for a month until we'd got the good majority of the songs done musically and knew where the album was going direction-wise. We brought it home, did all the vocals at home, and then wrote another three or four songs here as well.
In the video of you in and around Bridgend there are shots of you in a home studio setup. Was any of it recorded there?
No, it was all done in professional studios. I don't actually have a proper home studio setup right now; that's something I'm going to look into next year, so on the next album cycle I can do it at my house.
You worked again with Don Gilmore on the new album. How was it second time around?
It was definitely easier because there were no bonding or trust issues going on, as there can be when you work with someone for the first time. That was the biggest difference from the last time around.
It was still not easy sailing by any means - we still knocked heads a couple of times and had disagreements - but it was a lot more of a mellow, friendlier affair. It was a nice experience.
Would you say there's any sort of musical progression on the Temper Temper album, compared to the previous one?
Sonically everything is business as usual. It's a big, fat, hard rock sounding record, but we wanted to spice up certain areas so we worked mainly on the drumming and vocals to try to freshen things up rather than changing the formula. Because that's what we do and love and it got us where we are today. We've got no intention of changing it that way, but we do want to progress musically and want to sound fresh on every record.
Those were the two areas which we focused on to spice things up by not doing traditional things. There are almost drum and bass patterns on certain songs like Temper Temper. I'm doing shouty, almost... I dunno, it's not rap by any means, but it's not melodic singing, it's more shouty rather than screaming. But we totally kept our identity which is very important.
You've announced four UK tour dates in March just after the album comes out.
Yeah, just a small UK tour. We've got a lot of UK and European festivals coming up, so we don't want to overplay initially. We want to play more intimate, smaller shows, do the summer run and then come back in the winter with a big arena stretch.
Are you planning to bring the tour to Wales?
Oh most definitely. We'll play a Motorpoint Arena show in Cardiff. It'll be towards the end of 2013 but we'll most definitely be coming.
The first tour after the album's release is actually Australia. There's a big festival over there called Soundwave, a big travelling rock festival. We'll be doing that, then the UK stuff, and then I think it's Europe and then America in April. Everything's starting to get pencilled in and booked up.
No time to relax then!
Yeah. Over Christmas we'll be able to put our feet up for the next four or five weeks at least, so that'll be nice. We'll totally switch off, and then as soon as January kicks in we'll be doing lots of promo and stuff like that. The next six weeks are going to be the opportunity for me to put my feet up and enjoy the holidays.
Are there any cities or countries where you always seem to do particularly well in?
Honestly, we're very honoured and grateful that we're almost at the same level everywhere we go now. The UK is obviously a great place to play because it's home and it's comfortable surroundings. We can have our family and friends to any show we want know, which is great.
Australia's always a good vibe, because they're just mentalists, so that's cool. America always has great shows, and so does most of Europe as well. Pretty much everywhere is a good time. Obviously shows do vary in craziness, but it's pretty rock 'n' roll everywhere we go these days.
Do you prefer being a live band or working in the studio?
I think it's a love-hate relationship with both of them after a certain amount of time. If you spend 10 weeks in the studio, by weeks eight, nine and 10 you're absolutely sick of it. But the positive side of it is you can be creative and you don't have to go on tour. It's an exciting time because you're making a new record.
It's the same with the touring cycle. It's a great thing because you get to go out there and play everything to your fans, but then you're away from home for eight weeks and you get homesick.
How do you keep things fresh when you're on tour for long stretches?
We just take advantage of the fact that we're in a super privileged position. We worked super hard to get where we are. It does get monotonous, and does get tiring mentally and physically, but it's a dream situation for us and we're grateful that we're in a position where we can do it. That motivates us every single day really.
Do you have any ambitions that you still want to fulfil?
There are a few. As far as a wishlist goes, from being a kid and having a dream to being here today, they've all been ticked off. All our rock star wishlist items, we'd ticked them all off by our second record really. So now the priority is to keep things going, keep motivated and make great music and do our thing.
Are there any bands, singers or producers that you'd like to collaborate with?
I'd love to do something with Metallica. They were the big reason why I got into music in the first place, let alone picking up a guitar and being in a band. They were the 100% inspiration for me being who I am today. We've toured with the guys, we've met them and hung out and had good times, but to actually co-write something and perform on their track, or them perform on ours, that would be a massive dream come true.
Yeah, I guess that's something that I haven't ticked off yet. That was never an ambition, but it's something that would be really cool to do. Maybe even not get released. Doing the AxeWound record opened my eyes to what writing with other people actually brings out of you. It brings out a new side, different techniques.
You learn off each other really. That's what I've found by working with AxeWound and Don, rather than me thinking this is the way I have to be. Being a bit more open to other people's creative suggestions.
Did you collaborate at all on the new album?
There is one collaboration on there. I co-wrote songs with Chris Jericho, who is - it sounds really weird - he's the ex WWE heavyweight wrestling champion. He's been in a band for many years called Fozzy. We got friendly last year on an American tour we did together, and stayed in touch ever since.
I was stuck on this one song on the new record, Dead To The World, and asked Chris if he'd like to help write the lyrics and melodies. He wrote a lot of the stuff, sent it to me by email, I listened to it and added my own parts. We collaborated digitally across the pond. That's cool, that with technology you can even do that these days. You don't even have to be in the same country.
And finally, have you had any new tattoos lately?
No, I actually spoke to my tattooist, Nipper, last week. I've been so busy this year, going away and stuff, I just haven't had the opportunity to get my arm finished. I've been working on quite a large arm piece for a year now. Part of the problem is the healing process and the pain, you know.