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Kerby’s Exclusive Interview With Bullet For My Valentine Frontman Matt Tuck

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 @ 9:28 PM

"There are definitely people in this world who are only metalheads"

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To begin with, being considered a metalcore band from Wales may not be the most forgiving label a group could be harnessed with coming out of the gate. Regardless of the popularity the genre currently possesses with America’s youngsters, the tag appears a red flag to old school metalheads who prefer a more traditional approach to their rock. Even as that is the case, the band’s debut album, The Poison, actually seemed to have some crossover success and was generally considered a home run for the group—especially in Europe. Comparisons to moneymaking entities such as Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold were promptly made.

Now, the next logical step in breaking a band, especially media darlings from Bridgend, is for them to come and conquer the U.S. Garnering the opening slot on the Rob Zombie/Lacuna Coil tour appeared to be a step in the right direction. However, seventeen shows into the tour, vocalist/guitarist Matt Tuck criticized tour headliner Rob Zombie in 2006 for high merchandise prices as well as what he perceived to be general poor treatment of Bullet by the headliners. This scathing cyber rebuke caused a backlash that at first seemed both severe and final—especially when B4MV were removed from the tour the next day. Many fans immediately adopted the perception that the group simply didn’t have what it took to pay their dues in America. Even with the prevailing negative press and criticism that existed at the time, reports of the band’s imminent stateside demise turned out to be greatly exaggerated as Bullet’s follow up to The Poison--this year’s Scream Aim Fire--made them a commercial force as the record charted at #4 in the U.S.

At the time this interview was conducted, the band had recently cancelled a show in Helsinki due to illness running through their entire band and pretty much anyone else associated with the tour. Then recently, the band had to cancel five North American dates in order to fly home and support band mate Jay James as he tended to a serious situation with his daughter. Although the beginning of Bullet’s run in support of their new album has gotten off to a rough start, look for them to be back on the road determined to prove that they have the stamina and wherewithal to make an impact in this country through their brutal live performances and musicianship.

KNAC.COM: When you get sick on the road as you guys recently did, it doesn't take long for it to rip through everyone associated with the band, does it?

TUCK: Oh no, man. It ripped though our crew, the band...the support band too, actually.

KNAC.COM: When you are in the throes of something like that right after you start to promote a new record, do you just look up at the ceiling going and go, "what next?”

TUCK: Yeah, it just happens. This time we could barely get up or leave the toilet--it was very rough.

KNAC.COM: Now that you've got your legs back, how does it feel to be back out on the road again, getting interviewed and doing promotion for a record that debuted at number 4?

TUCK: Yeah man, its all great. We just finished our European leg of the tour, and we are getting ready to join Taste of Chaos that we are all fired up for--it's gonna be an amazing tour and we're all ready to go.

KNAC.COM: Was it that big of a deal to you guys whether the record charted at number one or number six…or even twenty?

TUCK: We were totally happy with the record and a high chart position is nice, but ultimately, we are here for the music, not a high chart position. It is nice to see the album do well and have it be well received, but the biggest reward was just getting the album finished and being able to tour it. That's where our heart is.

KNAC.COM: There is a perception that all music has already been written and that it is impossible for even a relatively young band to really make it in the business and have a long career based on substance rather than image or a label. What do you think it is about Bullet that has made it possible for you to be successful? Is it luck, skill...a combination?

TUCK: I think as with all things there is a certain amount of luck involved. I think it is mostly just up to good songs and people making a good connection with the music. These days it is very difficult to write something truly original because so much has been written before. I guess there’s an opening in the market for a band like us and the kids and the fans have just made a connection.

KNAC.COM: When you go to write something, are you cognizant of going "hey, i like this, but is someone going to think this sounds like the second song from a Mott the Hoople album?" Or can you just play it off ?

TUCK: Like you said, a helluva lot of it has been done before. When you listen to bands and are influenced by bands growing up, similarities are going to shine through. We don’t steal riffs--I think it was Dimebag who once said, "we share riffs".

KNAC.COM: If you were to say you were more influenced by the Maidens and the Priests of the world or the American bands of that era—who would you choose? Would it obviously be the British ones that influenced you the most?

TUCK: No, I would say it was would be a mixture of both. We were very much influenced by Metallica as well as some of the newer bands like Killswitch Engage. It’s just music to us...old or new...American or British.

KNAC.COM: Metallica always had this stance wherein they didn’t want to play traditional songs about boy/girl relationships, but you guys have a song like "Heart on Fire" that other groups in your genre might not aspire to do. I know it’s a matter of personal preference and what an artist feels comfortable with, but how personal is it for you when you write a song like that?

TUCK: I mean…I don’t know. It was for the record. I won’t say I don’t like the poppier edged stuff, but I’m definitely a fan of the more heavier edged stuff. I’ve always been a fan of records that had lots of variety and wasn’t just the same thing all the way through even if it’s just “in your face” thrash all the way through. It’s always nice to have different varieties and flavors, you know.

KNAC.COM: That would have to be when the sequencing is very important to—do you ever think in terms of “we have four really hard songs—we need a mid tempo and maybe a ballad to go along with it”?

TUCK: Yeah, it’s not like we don’t like 100 mile per hour “in your face” thrash records, but we all are also fans of more ballady type stuff. I’m a fan of the blues as well. Any sort of range of rock music, we are all fans of, so it’s gonna come through on record.

KNAC.COM: Who would you cite specifically as blues influences?

TUCK: ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix

KNAC.COM: That’s funny because when you talk with many metal fans, it becomes abundantly clear that all they want to listen to is metal, but when you talk to the musicians themselves, their tastes seem to vary a lot more.

TUCK: There are definitely people in this world who are only metalheads, and unfortunately that’s the way they will always be. With the broad spectrum of music throughout time and throughout the ages, why not get into these other styles and genres? It’s all great music. Why remain a fan of only one style? Whatever kind of music you can connect with can just make you feel better.

KNAC.COM: Anytime a band has some success, people tend to downplay the struggle a group may have to get successful. Some fans always just assume it was an easy journey and they just ended up on the covers of magazines because that is the way it’s supposed to be. You, of course, know that’s not true. Is there a time when you look back now that you realize that you could have easily quit because you never thought you’d get this far?

TUCK: Totally, man. There were a couple of times that happened, and the last time was when the band nearly broke up. Our bass player had left, and I was thinking about giving it up myself. You have to just stick with it. Right at the point when you’re at your wit’s end, that’s the time when you can get recognized, I guess. Never give up, is what you’d say, I guess.

KNAC.COM: I talk to a lot of bands who struggle, and many of them—in hindsight—are happy they didn’t make a splash right away because they wouldn’t have been able to deal with it…do you think the same thing is true with Bullet?

TUCK: I can definitely see that. It gives you thicker skin—it’s like a learning curve. I think we’re all glad that we didn’t give up because…it was all for this. It is amazing. All of our dreams are coming true. It was hard and we did struggle and almost break up, but now, looking back, it was all worth it.

KNAC.COM: There is no way to develop thick skin besides experience, right? Isn’t a band always at odds with someone—whether it’s the press or fans of other bands or even other musicians? Isn’t a group sort of always at siege in some respect?

TUCK: Yeah, totally. Lately, especially with the Brittish press—they have this unique way of building you up and putting you on the cover of their magazines and then, all of the sudden, they will smash you right back down again. It’s just this case where they build you up to knock you down and then, two weeks later, they might build you back up again. It’s better not to pay too much attention to it and just go about your own thing, I think.

KNAC.COM: That has to be especially frustrating when you have put so much effort into making the covers of those magazines only to be told two months later that you “sold out” or something. This is especially true in metal where fans are always trying to attach themselves to something that no one else knows about. When that happens, the fan tends to take ownership in the band and they feel betrayed when the group attains success.

TUCK: (laughs) It’s just the way that is. I’ve experienced it before with bands from home. People will like them until they go supernova or whatever, and then no one likes them anymore. It’s just…strange. (laughs)

KNAC.COM: You’re definitely better off not getting too wrapped up in what the press says or what people say on blogs, aren’t you?

TUCK: Yeah, I’ve experienced the computer, and I’ve read stuff on there. Sometimes the other boys in the band will be like “don’t read it—you’ll only depress yourself.” It’s kinda sick what people say, but if you don’t read it, you ain’t gonna know.

KNAC.COM: Do you really need to know though? I mean, even if you’re Black Sabbath, 70% of the posts are gonna be negative—doesn’t it just say more about the negativity of those who hang out on line?

TUCK: Yeah, it’s mostly just 14-year-old people at home with nothing else to do. Like you say, just go with it and try not to pay too much attention.

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