I revisited some very dark places to pen new album says Matt Tuck as heavy metal band Bullet For My Valentine gear up for gig at Ipswich Regent

Bullet For My Valentine play Ipswich Corn Exchange October 22

Bullet For My Valentine play Ipswich Corn Exchange October 22 - Credit: Archant

Matt Tuck, of heavy metal outfit Bullet For My Valentine, talks to entertainment writer Wayne Savage about heading back into the darkness for their latest album.

Being happy is usually a good thing. When you’re the front man of Brigend heavy metal band Bullet For My Valentine, looking to pen your fifth studio album, it’s a problem. It wasn’t easy revisiting some very dark places to come up with lyrical content for Venom, says Tuck.

“That was the whole point, re-connecting with an angrier Bullet, an angrier me. The way things have rolled out in my life for the last 10 years I’m just so happy. To be in a metal band and try to be angry at this point in my life is hard, there’s not a lot I have to say about anything which is passionate in my life other than everything which is good.

“It was about me and the boys growing up as kids, the troubles a young guy goes through growing up; school, your adolescent years, bad relationships... Revisiting those places which weren’t such happy times but I felt was necessary to reconnect with to bring that aggression out again.

“I knew how I wanted it to sound, how I wanted the album to connect to our fans, young and old. Writing about stuff that’s happening now, normal stuff, being on tour, being at home; that’s not going to pull on anyone’s emotional heartstrings in a good or bad way - that’s just going to be boring.

“Being in a metal band is an opportunity to let everything out and in a positive way. It needs to be aggressive, people need to (be able to) relate to it, that’s the whole point in what we do.”

Once he was comfortable letting certain things out, all hell broke loose.

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“That’s why the band exploded the way it did, because the songs on our EP and our first record were all very, very angry. They were about being frustrated, about growing up in a town where nothing was really expected of you; when you had the talent or a dream it was never nurtured or taken seriously. Being picked on at school because of the way me and the boys were, with our hair and growing up listening to Nirvana and bands like that.

“It was just recapturing that anger and feistiness, channelling that into a more relevant way to me now, which was hard but you know thankfully we got there in the end.”

The band are very proud of Venom. They’ve been doing this for a while now but feel it’s almost a defining record for them. As well as more a lot more intense, Tuck confesses it feels a lot more together than anything they’ve done in the past.

“We’ve had phenomenal success with all our records. Our first, The Poison, elevated us to where we are today; it’s the album people always refer to as ‘THAT Bullet record’. I think when people hear Venom it’ll definitely be that moment again. For some reason, it just feels we’ve hit a point where it’s almost like a new start.”

That new start included the departure of long-term member Jay James.

“I think having that going on behind the scenes before we started to write the album definitely had an impact. It made us a lot more nervous. We hadn’t announced anything and we were very much aware as soon as we did people would automatically think the worst. So it was our moment to reflect on everything we’ve done in the past, to exploit our strengths and try to ignore all the weaknesses.

“We were a man down and felt we had a bit more of a point to prove. We felt it, especially on the old heart strings... The relationship with Jay goes way back before the band even started. We were four kids who grew up in the same town, went to the same schools, went through adolescence together, girls, growing up, music, the whole thing.

“To part ways with him was something that was a very very big deal for us emotionally. We were at a stage in our career, almost a kind of crossroads. We’re not a heritage act, but we’re not the new kids on the block anymore - we’re in that middle ground. We channelled that into making the album the best it could be, turned the situation into now, looking back, something positive and creative.”

Tuck says they’ve never put so much blood, sweat and tears into making a record. They lost James and found themselves rewriting some songs two or four times because they didn’t feel or sound right.

“It was this process we’d never experienced before, even this far down the road. It was a new way of doing things for us which seems bizarre but it was one of those things - it was a nightmare to get where it got to, but as soon as we got to a studio and started doing it for real it all fell into place.”

Venom’s easily the band’s most agressive record and Tuck’s sure it’ll touch a nerve. It goes back to remembering what made the band what they are. While always a heavy at their core, but they’ve always had this melodic edge which other bands can’t seem to nail. It was just a case of capitalising on that identity, a rare thing in the music business.

“Fortunately we have it. It’s always been there, this time around we just turned it up a notch in every aspect, making the heavier stuff a lot more aggressive and making the melodic stuff a lot more anthemic - rewriting the way we write songs and trying to eliminate the weaknesses. In the past we’ve written songs which almost have a pop happy edge about it, they’ve been our biggest songs but this time we just didn’t want to bother doing that,” says Tuck.

“It doesn’t really let up. There’s no frills, no excess songs. When people hear it, they’re immediately going to hear it doesn’t sound like we’re trying to be anything, it doesn’t seem like we’re trying to do anything other than what we want to do and at this point in a band’s career that’s hard because there’s a lot of outside factors trying to creep in.”

New bass player and backing singer Jamie Mathias’ transition into the band has been seamless, much to their surprise given he’s been a fan for ages and had big shoes to fill. Another surprise is them shunning big arenas to play smaller venues.

Tuck says it’d got to a stage where tours had got a bit predictable, a bit stale for everybody; the band included. This time, they wanted to do something a little bit differently.

“We came up with an idea to do a lot bigger UK tour and hit places we’ve never been before. We’re missing out places like London, Manchester, Birmingham all these major markets that we hit every tour cycle that gets spoiled. They’re always amazing shows but we always go there.”

Bullet For My Valentine will end their latest tour at the Ipswich Corn Exchange, October 22.

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