There is no doubt, that the remainder of this year and the foreseeable months from the start of 2016, will be extremely important for the band to stand up to the hype that surrounds them.
OD – First off, lets talk about the new album and why you choose the title ‘Venom’. I know that it’s the sixth track on the album, but was it a case of when you wrote the track, you instantly knew it was going to be the title track for the album?
MATT – No not at all, it was just more that things were kind of a coincidence. You see, before we actually decided on the name of the album, that song was already written and completely finished. With this album, we actually started with the artwork first, because we have had a pain in the arse in the past with doing the artwork, as we had always left it to the last minute. So this time around, we tried to do things completely different the way we approached the design process. We knew that we wanted to have snakes on the cover and also seeing as it is out fifth album, we wanted to have the ‘V’ in there to represent the number five and then obviously the use of the ‘V’ represents ‘valentine’.
When we looked at the idea and then made the connection that we had snakes on the cover, who have venom and we also had the song Venom, it just seemed all too good to be true and had to be done, so that’s how it all came about.
OD – From a lyrical perspective, where were you drawing your influences from when writing for the album?
MATT – On this one specifically, I really wanted to write very dark lyrics, because the music that we were writing was very heavy and very aggressive, so I had to match that with the lyrics and subject matter. I didn’t want anything fictional, up-lifting or happy: not that we have done that much before, but I really wanted to turn it up a notch in the intensity levels and tap into stuff from my past that still gets me angry and fired up. I wanted to capture the feeling of all of those things that really effected my life when I was growing up, because these days I’m a grown man and happily married. So, the process for me to go right back to those periods in my life and capture the intensity really paid off.
OD – When did you start writing for the album, or are there lyrics there from years ago that you just resurrected for this album?
MATT – We started writing for the album at about July of last year and we had various ideas saved on phones and laptops etc, when we were on tour. So when we finished the Temper Temper touring cycle, around April 2014, we started going through all of the stuff we had and then started writing very seriously with the music first, then I would sit down and write the lyrics over the soundtrack. If anything needs adjusting after that, then we did it collectively or in the studio, depending on what sounded the best to us all.
OD – The album was recorded in Metropolis Studios in London, what made you choose this as a location for the recording and was there any particular album that you had heard that made you decide on this?
MATT – Not really, it was more based on the fact that we did a week’s demo session there about two years ago and had a really good experience with the place. We really liked the vibe of the studio and the people that work there, are just so cool to work with. Then we went back again in October 2013 to do Raising Hell, which incandescently, was the track that bridged the gap between our last album and this one. When it was time to then do the album, Metropolis just seemed like the perfect choice, as we had such a good relationship with everybody there and were really familiar with the layout and sound of the room. I also was very happy about the studio choice, as I know live in Kensington in West London and the studio is only two miles away from my house.
OD – The European tour starts next week, are you currently preparing the finishing touches to the live show at the moment and if so, what can we expect in terms of production?
MATT – Basically, we have been rehearsing all week and we have a day off today to get some rest in before we hit the road. We wanted to focus on the music as well as us collectively as a band, when performing. We have brought the big massive rock show production out on tour in the past and we all just felt that on this occasion, we would like to concentrate on the music. The whole concept of this tour, is to play in places that we have never reached before, or have not played in a very, very long time. We really wanted to go to regional places like Aylesbury and Reading etc, were people may not have heard of us, or seen us perform before.
The attendance in some of these venues is just not big enough to bring out a huge production and that suits us just fine, as we really just want it to be about us and get the opportunity to re-connect with our fans on a basic level. We’re kind of a victim of our own success, because we went from playing small little clubs and bars to Brixton Academy (5,000 capacity) sized venues, almost straight away and we never got to play these places before. Also, we really wanted to do something exciting and something very cool for our fans.
OD – How did all the bands get on during the Summer’s Last Stand (U.S tour with Slipknot, Lamb of God and Motionless in White), was there a good family vibe amongst all the bands and do you have any memories that you can share from that tour?
MATT – Yea, it was amazing! To be on tour with a band like Slipknot was just crazy for me, because I’ve been a fan since they started and that was about five years before everything kicked off for us. It really was in incredible experience to see how they pull off that huge show, night after night and how nine of them all work together as a unit throughout a chaotic production and touring schedule. The spectacle of their shows, night after night in massive amphitheaters, was just incredible to watch.
All the guys were just really cool to hang out with and we have history with Cory (Taylor, Slipknot vocalist) and Shawn (‘Clown’ Crahan, Slipknot percussionist), who we have known now, for a good few years and we have known Randy (Blythe, Lamb of God vocalist) and the Lamb of God guys, since about 2008, so it was just really chilled out and fantastic to be a part of. It was more of a dry tour also with no booze backstage, as a couple of the guys from the bands, don’t have that stuff around and Randy has had some issues with alcohol in the past and we have had certain things go wrong in our band from it also, so it was all just really chilled out and great fun. Actually, when I think of it now, it was like a ‘Dad Tour’ (ha ha). Everyone was just very mellow and hanging out in a very laid back atmosphere, which is probably the complete opposite to what people might think when touring with Slipknot and Lamb of God. It was a really cool experience and a total pleasure to be a part of.
OD – There has been a fixed eye on the band basically since you released The Poison, with the press saying that you are the great future hope for British Metal. Do you get frustrated with statements like this, or does it add to the pressure when writing or recording new material?
MATT – Not really. Actually I find it to be the complete opposite, as it’s almost an honour to be held in the same breath as those amazing bands before us, who are just icons in the metal world. We just do what we do and don’t feel any pressure to carry the flame. To be honest, we never actually thought we would get this far with things and now when I look at Bullet For My Valentine today, we are five albums into our career and have been touring the world for about eleven years, which in my opinion, is already flying the flag for British metal. It’s something that we have always done as a band and will continue to do as long as we possibly can.
We don’t look at it like ‘this is our responsibility’, we have the same ambitions as any other band and really want to be the next Iron Maiden or Metallica and that is what we have always set out to do. Hopefully we can be at the top of what we do for many years to come, we just want to do the best we can and keep the quality up, which is really what we are concerned about these days, more than anything else.
OD – There are rumors flying around, that Bullet are playing Download next year, is there any truth to that?
MATT – No there is no truth as yet to those rumors and Andy (Copping, Download boss man) has not been in touch as yet. If that did happen, that would definitely be the highlight of our tour schedule if we got that opportunity. The big talking point would be, where would we be on the bill if we did get the offer? Because we were second to headliner at Download three times, we have headlined the second stage also, so I think when looking at our legacy, we are five albums deep now and it’s been ten years that we have been doing this. It’s about time that we get to prove ourselves as Download headliners. But who knows, it that opportunity arises, then we will grab it with both hands and it will be the best show we have ever done, no question! The reality of the situation is that, it’s not in our control and we will happily and patiently wait, because Andy (Copping) is a really nice guy and he knows what he’s doing.
If he (Copping) doesn’t think the time is right for us at next years Download Festival, we’ll just carry on waiting. But I don’t know if we would consider it, if it was not a headlining slot, as we feel at this stage like we’re just banging our heads against the wall. If there is an opportunity for us to do it, we would fucking love to man, but if not, then we will just crack on and do what we need to do.
OD – How important are these music festivals to the band in terms of exposure and are there any festivals that you have yet to play that you would really like to play?
MATT – Good question. I really don’t know to be honest. The amount of festivals that we have played over the last ten years, has just been mind blowing and I can’t really remember half of them. We are up for doing anything, as long as it works for us and it feels right? Then yea, we’re totally up for it. I mean, now thinking about it, I would love to play the Glastonbury Festival. That would be just amazing. With Metallica and Motörhead playing there recently, proved that metal goes down well there. I mean, we have shifted a lot of records and are a pretty big band, so I’m sure people would come and hang out to see us. I don’t know, we would do anything, but Glastonbury would be an amazing experience for us, if we ever had the chance to play there.
OD – What’s the most star stuck you have been in all the time you have been doing shows and touring?
MATT – Yea, there has been a couple of times, but the main one for all of us, was the first time we got to meet all the Metallica guys when we were playing with them. Lars coming into our dressing room and introducing himself to us, was just bizarre. We were like ‘there’s no need to introduce your self to us dude, we know who you are (ha ha)”! So that was a moment that was like ‘holy shit’!! That meant so much to us, as Metallica was the reason that we put this band together! They are the reason that I picked up a guitar and started playing. That moment was just amazing and totally blew our minds.
There’s been a couple of others along the way, I bumped into Jennifer Aniston once before also, that was a different kind of star struck, but still pretty awesome!
OD – Where did that happen? Was she at a BFMV show?
MATT – No, it was actually after the Grammys, in a hotel lobby in Beverly Hills and she was with John Mayer at the time. She came around the corner, just as I was coming the other way and we literally bumped into each other and it was a little awkward for a second before she was like, ‘oh I’m so sorry sir’! (ha ha)
OD – Finally, you will be in Ireland next week (Tuesday, September 29th), for your headlining show in Dublin’s Olympia. For someone who has yet to see the band live and has got their ticket for the show or is in two minds about going, do you have a message for them?
MATT – Just come down and check us out. The great thing about going to see a rock or metal show, is that you can release all of your negative aggression out and have a good time in the process. Your gonna leave with sore necks, pounding ears and probably tones of bruises ( ha ah )! But you know, the truth is, we are on fire at the moment, we have a great album out and have never sounded better than we do right now! This is an opportunity to see us in a low key environment and it probably won’t happen again in venues this size, so don’t miss out on it!
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Interview – Oran O’Beirne
Transcription – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Stock Images
© Bullet For My Valentine 2015 / © Sony Music 2015 / Glastonbury ©2015
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