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Bullet For My Valentine on the highs and lows that led them to ‘Gravity’

“What started off as this wave of success and this rock‘n’roll dream, actually turned into a bit of a nightmare.”

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Jeremy Saffer

Music can mean so much. However, the experience of one sound between musician and fan can be massively different.

Back in 2005, a little-known band called Bullet For My Valentine released their debut album, The Poison. A then 17-year-old girl, trying to find her way in the world, heard the dulcet tones of heavy metal and thought, ‘Yeah, this is the music for me.’ And so began her venture into all things rock. Bullet For My Valentine were very much trying to find their way at this point, too.

“Our heads were in the shed a little bit,” says vocalist Matt Tuck. “We’d been given this opportunity to do what we do and we didn’t really feel it was still a reality. We’d done the EP [Hand Of Blood, 2005], it had done its thing, got the band a lot of buzz. Then The Poison came out – we were never, ever prepared for what happened next.

“We knew there was a lot of hype – ‘next big thing’ and all this shit – but we were blown away and we went along for the ride. We thought it was the way things were, we didn’t have any expectations, any experience. Looking back, it was massively important, it was amazing.”

By the time Bullet released Scream, Aim, Fire in 2008, they were playing festivals around the world and gracing the covers of some of the world’s biggest publications. Though his band had stepped up their game, Tuck found himself in a negative space. “I was coming off the back of massive fatigue,” he says. “What started off as this wave of success and this rock‘n’roll dream, actually turned into a bit of a nightmare.

“I lost my voice, I was getting ill all the time, lost tonnes of weight, had massive anxiety and panic attacks. All this good shit came tumbling down around me and bit me in the arse big time. Going into Scream, Aim, Fire with all that on my mind was never a great thing but we were trying to capitalise on that wave,” Tuck says.

“I can’t even listen to that album anymore. I haven’t listened to it since it was made – it reminds me of something. I really wasn’t in a good place. I’m not proud of that album at all because I know how much better it could be if I wasn’t in that place.

“I have a very different outlook on that album to most of the fans,” he continues. “It was a minefield of shit but I didn’t really let anyone know about it because, again, being as young and naïve as we were, we didn’t know if it was a good or bad thing – I was rolling day to day.”

When 2010’s Fever dropped, Tuck and Bullet received a mixed bag of reception – and for that young music fan who’d followed the band loyally, Fever was very much a soundtrack for self-discovery, and indeed, the naïve mistakes we make when we’re kids. Tuck’s parallel path wasn’t quite as terrible as before.

“It was the opposite,” he says. “I’d gotten myself back into shape, got through two years of touring and got to album number three – I was 28 and I really felt the band was a thing now.

“Up until then, I didn’t feel it was real. I always felt paranoid about it coming to an end, for whatever reason. That album was a massive boys to men moment for me. My songwriting had gotten a lot better, the lyrics are far more mature and we were evolving into a heavyweight contender in the rock world – it was like, ‘Holy shit, this is the big time.’

“It was the right moment for us to get to that point. I think the band’s story has had chapters when they needed to be, so apart from Gravity, Fever is my favourite album for a lot of different reasons.”

It’s through Bullet’s new album Gravity we finally find balance and come into our own. What Bullet bring to the table in terms of exploration of new sounds, makes for a kick-arse album.

“I look forward to the future now because of what this album was like to write – it’s a massively defining album for us in my ears, it definitely signals Bullet going into the future again,” Tuck says.

“I think having the musical direction change and with how big it sounds sonically, coupled with more personal lyrics and vocal performances, the two together are such a massively heavy combination. It’s undeniable how strong this album is. I’m putting myself out there big time and it’s a decision I didn’t take lightly because I didn’t want to do it. But now I look back on it with massive pride and because of that reason, it’s turned into an absolute monster.”

Gravity is Tuck making peace with his past – opener ‘Leap Of Faith’ provides a reflective bookend before the band begin anew. “It’s about looking forward to the future, embracing the pain and success of the band’s history” he explains. “It’s about taking life, and the bull, by the horns and turning it into something new, because there’s only so many things you can do in life.”

In truth, ‘Leap Of Faith’ made this humble writer shed a tear or two on the first listen. “That’s exactly what this album does,” Tuck says. “I fucking love it, I fucking love this album, and every single day, every single song has a different effect on me and I think that’s the key to this album, it connects. It has an emotional connection with people, it’s going to be undeniable.

“It doesn’t matter how big and hard you think you are, [if you’re] a 28-year-old bad-arse rock dude, or you’re a vulnerable 17-year-old getting into music and discovering life, this album has something everybody can get into.”

As he did with The Poison all those years ago, Tuck still feels he’s on the outside looking in. “I still do get moments where I don’t get why or how it happened. I can’t remember writing most of the albums in their entirety. Before you start writing there’s a mountain to climb and it’s such a massively depressing, overwhelming feeling to do that,” he says. 

“Then all of a sudden it’s done, and I’m speaking to you and it’s making you cry and it’s like, ‘What the fuck?’ I don’t understand how and why these things happen. It’s a very weird life to have but it’s incredibly rewarding.

“There are extreme highs and extreme lows – it’s incredible and everything’s crushingly shit. It’s a difficult one to balance. You adapt, you make it what it is, but being able to do what we do is – I can’t think of anything better.”

Bullet For My Valentine’s new album Gravity is out Friday June 29 via Search And Destroy / Spinefarm Records / Caroline Australia.