Bullet For My Valentine’s Matt Tuck Says Heavy New Album Took Shape Before the Pandemic
Bullet For My Valentine's Matt Tuck was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. The vocalist and guitarist discussed the band's new self-titled record, which found them returning to a heavy and aggressive style three years removed from Gravity.
As much as the record's intensity may align well with emotions stirred by the pandemic, Tuck confirmed that the direction of Bullet For My Valentine began to take shape before the world shut down in the early stage of the worldwide outbreak. It wasn't a conscious decision to pursue this route, but one that came naturally and afforded the veteran group the opportunity to flex their technical muscle.
This year also saw live music make its long-awaited return and, in the U.K., Bullet For My Valentine were tabbed as the headliners for a pilot version of the Download Festival, with the world watching to see how the large-scale crowd situation would play out.
Read the full interview below.
The new album is something of a new beginning — a statement of new intent after six albums. What needed to be reinforced or even re-imagined about the band?
It was just finding the spark that makes you want to dig deep and prove what you made this far down the line. There was no real agenda going into the album to make it as ferocious and as heavy as it is. The time was right to let it all out. Musically, creatively and in intensity, we found our mojo again when it comes to writing very heavy music. It was a really fun experience, and it's an album that we're extremely proud of.
Bullet For My Valentine, "Knives" Music Video
Bullet For My Valentine is heavier and much more brutal than Gravity. Although you started writing beforehand, how was that aggression heightened by the pandemic?
I don't think the pandemic heightened it at all. We already had a few of the key songs and the direction of the record pre-pandemic, thankfully.
We knew it was going to be heavy and a lot more intense and technical than Gravity. As soon as we got into that mindset of writing like that and not worrying about what we think things should be, the music ran its own course. The more we did that and the more we didn't resist, it became heavier and more technical and aggressive.
It snowballed and the pandemic, for us, was a moment to have our feet on the ground and focus on making this record rather than worrying about deadlines and tours coming up and all that kind of stuff. It was just a fun record to make and not having those deadlines was something that we really embraced.
Raw emotion seems to have always been a fuel for your music. How has the way your feelings affect your songs changed as you've matured?
It's a difficult one to explain because when you're writing a record, you're just living in that pocket of time. Depending on what's going on in your life and what's influencing you musically lyrically, they're all just kind of a snapshot. Every album is a snapshot for us.
Being in that in a hard rock/metal band, it's really important to have an emotional connection in the songs, whether it's just with the music or with the vocals and the lyrics.
As I've matured over the years, I've learned to be a bit more confident and free and open with what I want to say. It's, it's a difficult one — lyrics are very kind of personal and a very tricky part of the process when you're writing a song. Sometimes you have something to say, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and just go with something, which is not the greatest thing but you always want to write about something which is heartfelt and relatable.
Growing up over the years, I've just learned how to channel emotions, whether they're negative or positive, into the song and try to make it as relatable as possible.
Bullet For My Valentine, "Parasite" Music Video
Matt, you've described the songs on this new record as very technical. Why was it important to exercise your musicality to that extent?
The time was right. When we wrote a couple of the key tracks, that opened the door to letting the album be what it is now. We came off the back of Gravity, which was not a technical record — the album was all about emotion, the story, the vocal performances and lyrical content. This time around, it became clear after we found those couple of key tracks that felt very different. It was very technical, in your face and aggressive and we just loved it.
It had that contrast and its own identity and moment in time in the band's catalog now. We hadn't kind of shown that skillset since [2015's] Venom and having starved ourselves of writing in that way, this stuff was just kind of flooding out. It was a natural thing. We just rode the wave and the more we wrote, the more technical and aggressive the songs were becoming. It put a smile on our face that we could showcase the heavier and more technical side of the band.
Bullet For My Valentine, "Shatter"
You returned to the stage at the Download pilot. What did you feel in terms of eagerness and anxiousness leading up to and during your set?
It was a wild three weeks.
We got offered to do the slot three weeks before the actual day of the performance. After the year and a half we'd had up to that point, it was kind of kinda scary. We hadn't played in a year and a half and in three weeks we were going to be headlining Download festival for a government-backed scheme with the eyes of the world on us to kind of see how it goes... there were nerves, there were debates, but overall there was pride and excitement.
There was a gremlin and the buildup to it was was pretty wild. It was a very important event for us as a band personally.
Bullet For My Valentine, "Knives" — Live at Download Pilot 2021
It was an important event for the British music industry and Europe and the world, in a way. We knew that the eyes of the worlds were on it for many different reasons and we were just honored to be part of it.
We've worked so hard for 20 years and seven albums and to get a moment like that where we could finally say that we we've headlined Download Festival. It was incredible. The show itself was it was nothing short of spectacular. There was so much joy and unity and celebration in the crowd and backstage with all the bands. It was just something that everyone needed at that point after a year and a half of live music not existing.
For us and for people who rely on music and live music as part of their routine, it was it was a hard year and a half. But that weekend that we had with those fans in that field was a euphoric experience. It was definitely a festival that we will never forget and for the right reasons.
Thanks to Matt Tuck for the interview. Follow Bullet For My Valentine on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify and get your copy of the band's new self-titled album here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.