On Bullet For My Valentine’s new, self-titled record they wanted to do three things. “We wanted shock, awe and to show off,” frontman Matt Tuck tells NME. “We wanted to show people what this band is really capable of.”
It’s something the band more than managed on their seventh album. Released earlier this month, ‘Bullet For My Valentine’ is the heaviest and most ferocious thing the band have ever put their name to, and acts as the start of a new chapter for the metal titans.
It’s a stark change to the group’s 2018 release ‘Gravity’, which saw Bullet For My Valentine toy with pop choruses, electronic flourishes and cleaner vocals. It was a record that, as you might expect, divided their fanbase. “I just didn’t have the energy and the appetite for writing technical metal music at that point in my life,” vocalist Matt Tuck tells NME over Zoom. “We did try, but the more we forced it, the more I got pissed off with it and the more I rejected it. We could have written another metal record, but doing anything like that for the wrong reasons is just bullshit, isn’t it?”
He explains that ‘Bullet For My Valentine’ isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to the reception. “This is where my head was at as a songwriter,” Tuck says. “They [the two albums] couldn’t be more different, but ‘Bullet For My Valentine’ wouldn’t be what it is without ‘Gravity’.”
In the latest edition of NME’s In Conversation series, Tuck discusses Bullet For My Valentine’s late-career rebirth, wanting to headline Download Festival, mental health in metal and why there’ll always be a place for more traditional heavy acts. Here’s what we learned.
‘Bullet For My Valentine’ feels like the start of a new era
It’s rare for a band to release a self-titled album 23 years into their career; but for Bullet For My Valentine, this record just felt like the start of something new. “Creatively, the band is just on another level right now,” says Tuck. “During the touring cycle of ‘Gravity’, we felt that we were becoming quite a formidable live act, which is something we’re extremely proud of,” he explains, and this confidence carried over into the creation of their seventh album.
“The writing process for the new record was relentless. Having that creative flow is something you crave when writing a song, let alone writing an album and we couldn’t stop. The quality of the songwriting is phenomenal on this record, they’re brave, they’re fierce, they’re confident. Everything just fell into place. It feels like the start of something very special.”
The band couldn’t help but get political
With Bullet For My Valentine writing their self-titled record during the height of the pandemic, it was hard for politics not to creep into the lyrics. “’Bastards’ was obviously influenced by the times we were living in,” starts Tuck. The furious thrash song is more political than anything he’s written before, “but I didn’t want it to be a song that came across that way because I’ve never been that kind of lyricist. We’ve never been that kind of band,” he says.
“The concept was born from what was going on in this country and having to see how badly things were being taken care of on a day to day basis. It’s a dig but I tried to make it as lyrical and creative as possible, rather than just like a pointy finger ‘Fuck you’.”
There’s more music on the way
The band were in such a good place writing ‘Bullet For My Valentine’ that they kept creating once the album was done. “We’ve got six other songs plus the B-sides that we want to do something with next year,” Tuck reveals. The new, unreleased songs were part of the same writing and recording process as the album “but they’re different and unique,” he adds.
The band wanted the record to be “a really solid, cohesive body of work from front to back”, so to keep the record focussed, they kept the more outlandish tracks back; but are hoping to release them as standalone singles or an EP in the future. “I want them to see the light of day because they’re heavy, they’re interesting and they push boundaries,” says Tuck.
Bullet For My Valentine want to headline Download Festival
Earlier this year, Bullet For My Valentine played the closing set at the Download Pilot – a reduced capacity test event organised as part of the Government’s Event Research Programme to gather data to help the reopening of large-scale events. According to Tuck, being asked to take part in the pilot was “an honour.”
“We’ve been part of that festival since 2004 and it’s something that’s always been in my heart and soul as a metal musician. It’s the holy ground of what we do. Yes, it wasn’t the all-singing, all-dancing full capacity version but it still meant the world.”
Now though, Tuck wants Bullet For My Valentine to go back and headline Download properly. “We’ve got a taste of it and we know we’re capable of it. I think just being patient is the key to that though because there’s no way that certain bands are going anywhere, anytime soon. There’s no way that we would be above them on the lineup either,” says Tuck, referencing Download Festival staples like Metallica or Slipknot. “For us, it’s just about delivering the best version of the band every single tour we do, and just staying hungry and motivated to beat the band that is at the top of those posters.”
Bullet For My Valentine care more about listeners than streaming numbers
Bullet For My Valentine recently broke one billion Spotify streams in America, which is an absolutely huge achievement for a metal band from Bridgend. For Tuck, it means the band have a future as well as a legacy.
“It’s good to know that the band is still relevant and important to a lot of people. That is what’s exciting for me. That’s what I really strive for. I think it’s important that there’s still an appetite for the band, regardless of the historical successes.”
“We’re focused on the future and I think there’s better to come,” says Tuck. “I don’t think we’re anywhere near our peak as a live band and as songwriters. As long as we feel that way, we’re going to be around for a long, long time.”
-‘Bullet For My Valentine’ is out now