In Ben Hosking’s recent interview with Welsh metal band Bullet for My Valentine‘s Matt Tuck for Reverb street press (Read that part of the interview HERE), we discussed a great deal more than space allowed for in print. Below is the rest of our 20-minute chat with Matt, where we discussed things like guitar gear, touring, their roots in Bridgend, influences, Matt’s possible solo recordings and much more.
BH: You formed in Bridgend in Wales in 1998. It was a pretty small place, right?
Matt Tuck: Yeah, it’s a little Welsh town. It’s pretty small.
How then did you come to pick up instruments and form a band? Was there much of a scene there?
We were just in school and got into music by watching MTV and stuff as kids; watching bands like Metallica. I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty cool” and decided I wanted to play guitar and saved up all my money until I could afford a little cheapie, crap electric and started learning how to play.
Being 14 or 15 years of age and going to school… it’s a really great age. You start discovering music and things like that. I got into a group of friends that started to do that and before we knew it we were jamming instruments together and that was what. We formed a little band and took it from there.
Were you always known as Bullet for My Valentine (BFMV), or were there other bands before this?
Our first name was ‘Jeff Killed John’, which was a name we came up with back when we were 16 or something. It was kind of a stupid name, but we were just kids messing around and playing covers. It didn’t really matter what we were called. We kept that name for quite a few years until in around 2000 or 2001 we decided we needed a fresh identity. We were starting to write songs and take it seriously and we came up with BFMV.
What kind of stuff influenced you early on?
It was mainly thrash – American thrash metal. You know, Metallica, Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth and then heavier bands like Pantera, Machine Head and Slayer. It was always really heavy American metal bands, really.
What kind of places did you play in then? Did you have to go out of town to find venues to play in?When we wanted to we’d play at local South Wales pubs and clubs that held jam nights and rock nights and stuff – get up in front of a couple of people and play; which was great. When we decided that we wanted to take it a bit more seriously, we ventured out and looked for gigs around the UK and we went to places like Bristol, Birmingham and London. You know, ‘pay for play’ stuff, but something that the majority of bands have to do to break out of the local scene.
You cited bands like Metallica as major influences. What was it like playing with your heroes on tour?
It was a very unforgettable, surreal experience. I don’t know man, it still blows our minds to this day that we got to meet those guys and play with them and hang out and get drunk and just be boys; you know what I mean? It’s been one of the highlights of my entire life and I’m very, very honoured to be part of the Metallica family now. It’s fucking amazing!
So they looked after you guys well, then?
Yeah, it helped that they were fans of the band – which just sounds weird for me to even say. We were sitting in our dressing room on the first night and there’s a knock on the door and in comes Lars saying, “Hey guys. What’s up? I just wanted to introduce myself. Welcome to the tour.”
I’m like, “Holy shit!” The next thing you know we’re talking about the making of ‘Master of Puppets’ and all this fucking crazy shit that you just don’t imagine would ever happen to you in your life; especially being the huge fans that we were.
They treated us like complete human beings; which is all you could ask for, really. They just talked to us and hung out and were really polite and respectful. It was great – an amazing experience.
Did you ever think you’d come as far as you have when you were starting out?
No. We always knew that we had the potential to do something if a label picked us up; but we never envisaged that it would become as big as it has. We’ve become a million-selling, global rock band, you know. That’s not something that we anticipated when we first started. It was certainly something that we always dreamed of. Like most bands, that’s the ultimate goal – to become a rock star, you know what I mean? To tour the world and have a laugh with your friends; which is what we do now. It’s such an amazing experience and we never take it for granted.
We work super hard to make sure we don’t lose it. It can happen at the drop of a hat and it’s something that we try really hard to keep.
What do your parents think? Were they always supportive along the way?
They were always super supportive. From an early age I’d been saying, “I want to be a rock star” and they’re like, “OK Matt. Save some money and go buy a guitar and show us what you can do.”
After a while they actually saw that I could, you know, shred a guitar within six months of picking one up and after that they’re like “OK”. From then on they’ve been super supportive. They’ve drive me to practice and buy me new equipment whenever I needed it; like upgrades to bigger and better things. They even paid for studio time so we could do demos.
They’re just amazing parents and I couldn’t have asked anything more of them. They did exactly what they needed to do because I had a dream, you know. I’ll be forever thankful for it.
With the success you have now, how long do you think it’ll be before you have a street named after you back in Bridgend?
(Laughs) I don’t know. We don’t have many of them as it is –it’s a really tiny place. But we really do need to do something back there, you know. We still live there and everything, but we haven’t been back there for a while. We need to do something like play a show or something – give our little town something back. It’s a great place to live and it’s always nice to go home.
You’ve had a very stable line-up compared to a lot of bands. By the sounds of it you were friends before forming.
Yeah, we were friends before we even had pubes! (laughs) It’s been from kids. Moose and Jason have had the longest relationship. They’ve known each other 27 years, I think – since they were two years old. I’ve known the guys since I was 11.
But yeah, we grew up as snot-nosed kids even before music entered out lives and I think that’s been a major reason why we’ve been so stable. We’ve been together from boys and into men and into professional musicians and into fatherhood – it’s been a lifelong thing.
Given that, how do you handle the stresses of being on the road so much?
We really don’t have stresses, you know. The only stress that there is, is when we start to get a little bit burned out – fatigued – and then the shows start suffering. We really like to perform at the very best of our abilities and when you start to get burned out because the schedule is so hectic and the shows suffer – that’s the only time I really start to stress.
We never argue of have fights or anything. From that point of view, we’re always super happy and we’re always laughing and always mucking about with each other and it very rarely gets very weird on tour.
Are there any recurring lyrical themes running through ‘Fever’?
It’s just kind of standard BFMV lyrics, you know. That’s where the name comes from. Ultimately the songs are love songs, but they’re taken from a different point of view; a darker side. And we delve into other things that are a bit darker and more serious like suicide, alcohol abuse and drug addiction. They’re things that you normally don’t come across a lot with what we do, but we have our fair share of seeing stupid shit in this business and it does spark lyrical themes.
What gear did you use during the recording process?
Guitar wise, it was pretty much the same thing we’ve always used which is the Peavey 6505 amp heads, going through one Mesa Boogie 4x12in cabinet. We used my Les Paul Zakk Wylde signature series guitar with an Ibanez Tube Screamer and that’s it. It’s very, very simple – no digital crap going on. It’s just a very basic setup and it sounded amazing. I’ve used the same rig live for the last five or six years.
You still using your signature Jackson?
Yes, I still use my Jackson signature guitars live; but in the studio you really need something with a bit more of a body because you can hear the difference. That’s why we tend to use a couple of Les Pauls in the studio.
It must have been a buzz getting your first signature guitar?
Again, it’s one of those benchmark moments where you don’t think something like that would ever happen and they approached me. I was an endorsee already, using the Rhoads models and they saw our records exploding everywhere, so they said they wanted to help me out and offered me a signature series. I was like, ‘Fuck yes! Of course I do’.
So, we sat down together and took the basic Randy Rhoads guitar and made it mine. I love them. They’re very sexy guitars and they sound great.
Was there a turning point that helped you click over from caring about that kind of thing, to not?
I think it was just age, really. I turned 30 in January. After ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’ came out I kind of gave up giving a fuck. I was like, ‘Well, people are going to say whatever they want about me personally who don’t know me. They’re going to say what they want about the band, whether they like us or not; so it doesn’t matter’.
At the end of the day, me and my best friends do what we do and have made a successful career out of it and things are still progressing to a huge level; so why should I give a shit? People will write what they want and say what they want to say; but we’ll just continue to do what we want and we’ll love it. That’s all there is to say.
Do you have any grand plans in the pipeline?
Not really. Just to continue touring. We’re at the start of a very long touring cycle; so the biggest thing for us is to get through this one alive – that’s always the plan.
Do you find yourself coming up with song ideas that don’t fit the BFMV style?
I have loads! I’ve kind of been thinking about doing something for a while that’s not Bullet… related or suitable that I’d like to do something with one day. But right now it’s just too busy. It’s not the right time. Maybe in the future I’d like to do something unrelated – that’d be kind of cool.
What kind of stuff have you been coming up with?
It’s very mellow, acoustic… dark, mellow acoustic stuff. That’s as far as it goes right now until I can get into a studio and develop the ideas. I don’t really know what it would evolve into. I always write on a 12-string acoustic – it’s one of the most beautiful sounding instruments on the planet – it’s not Bullet… suitable; but I think the songs will be good enough to be heard one day.
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