Welsh outfit Bullet For My Valentine have been at the forefront of British metal music for over a decade now, and made an instant impact that resonated with the metal world in a monstrous way when their debut record ‘The Poison’ was released back in 2005.
Thirteen years later and the band are playing the final show on their European tour in support of their sixth studio full-length ‘Gravity’ at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.
Prior to the set, we sat down with guitarist and founding member Micheal “Padge” Paget to talk about the difficulties of touring, experimenting with new sounds, and how cold America can be.
DP!: Tonight is the last date of your European tour. What’s the feeling like inside the dressing room now?
P: Very happy! Tonight is the last date of the tour and the numbers, in Germany especially, were the biggest that we’ve ever had. We played Alexandra Palace in London last night and that sold really well, better than we thought actually, and we’re finishing up in Cardiff tonight which should be nice. But, we’re all fucking knackered, so it’ll be nice to get back home.
DP!: This tour is in support of your new record, ‘Gravity’. With that record having been out for around four months at this point, how do you feel the reception has been for it?
P: It’s getting better. It started off slow, I think due to the slight deviation away from heavy metal and what we did on ‘Venom’. It’s still a heavy album, but I think it took a while for people to digest it. The new songs that are in the set are going down really well and people are reacting to them, so it’s all nice, man.
DP!: Sonically, ‘Gravity’ is a very different record to the rest of your back-catalogue with a few electronic elements being pretty prominent throughout. Was that something that happened naturally, or is it something you were conscious of going into the recording process?
P: Yeah, it was. Matt (Tuck, vocalist/guitarist) wanted to try experimenting on this record and to try different sounds and things. He flew off to other countries and had meetings with different producers, like Matty Schwartz who deals with the electronic side of music. This guy can just throw a track together from one riff, and you’re standing there thinking, “What the fuck is going on here?”
When Matt came back to the studio, the first thing he said was, “Now, don’t freak out, but have a listen to this…”, so we did and we all thought it sounded a little fucked up, but once we put real instruments in and bandified it, it started to make sense and it kind of tamed it a little bit.
DP!: Was that a hard process to begin with?
P: I found it very difficult, because I’m a metal guy, you know? At the end of the day though it’s not about individuals. It’s about the band.
The term ‘anthem’ has been chucked around when people have been discussing ‘Gravity’. There’s so many arena anthems on the album. Again, was that a conscious decision to go in and think that you guys are going to make the biggest sounding record that you can?
P: Yeah, I think that was the vibe. Matt had this vision about writing for the bigger shows and the bigger stages, and putting out an album that reflected that. Looking back now, I feel like it’s all coming together, when you look at the size of the shows and the scale of the shows that we’ve been playing recently.
DP!: You changed labels recently to Spinefarm Records. What was the thinking around that, and why the change?
P: We finished up our five album deal with Sony and we had to have a new deal. There were a few options on the table, but the Spinefarm deal was by far the best. Our lawyer used the term “a million dollar contract” to describe it.
DP!: Your sound has changed so much since the last record, and it’s the biggest change in sound in your career. Did you feel like you were confined to be a certain band under Sony and have Spinefarm given you more freedom?
P: No. I feel like we’ve always written for ourselves, and the sort of music that comes out of us is for ourselves. We just wanted to try something a little bit different on ‘Gravity’ and incorporate new sounds and vibes. We needed new inspiration for writing riffs.
DP!: Now six albums deep and with a bunch of songs to choose from, how do you choose a Bullet For My Valentine setlist nowadays?
P: They kind of choose themselves. The longer sets are easier than the shorter ones, so when we do festivals in America is when it gets a little tough. Most of the time it’s relatively easy though, as loads of the songs have been in there for a long time. ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ obviously has to be in there, and a lot of our songs for the last few years have been in there. We’ve added a few more of the ‘Gravity’ ones that have slotted in there nicely too. Drum solos and guitar riffing is there too, and I think this tour’s set is eighteen songs, which is the most that we’ve ever played.
DP!: Ten years ago this year you released your sophomore album, ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’. Looking back, how do you feel about that record?
P: Is it really ten years?! That’s mad! I feel like every record has done great for us, no matter what has been said about them. They’ve done what they did, and stood up and got us to the next record.
DP!: Is there anything in the pipeline for a 10-year anniversary tour like you did for ‘The Poison’?
P: No, man. Nothing planned. We’re all so beat from tour that we just wanna go home, drive our own cars, and shit in our own toilets, you know? Haha.
DP!: This tour started way back in January supporting Avenged Sevenfold over in the United States. Now you have three weeks off and then you’re heading over to Australia for a few shows. That’s a hell of a tour!
P: Yeah, man. It’s been crazy. We had nine weeks in America at the start of the year, and it was -20°C and stuff. It was bastard freezing. We did that, came back for three weeks, and then we went back out for the Trivium tour and some radio festivals. Then we came back into Europe, back to America, back to Europe, and back to the UK with Japan thrown in there too. I’ve got a couple of weeks off now, and I’ve got a little holiday booked for that time. Right now we’re looking forward to finishing tonight on a high. Then I’m going away with my girlfriend and my friends, and coming back and smashing Australia.
How difficult is it to be on a tour of this magnitude, especially now that the band are older and have other commitments outside of the band such as wives and children?
P: It’s very hard, and I really feel for the guys when they miss their kids. It’s hard for everyone too, though. Not just the band, but the crew too. When you play the shows it makes up slightly for it. I mean, that’s what we signed our names away for at the end of the day. Travelling between shows in America is a nightmare too. The distance is huge, and the buses are so loud and really hard to sleep in.
DP!: Your first show in South Wales as Bullet For My Valentine was at Clwb Ifor Bach, but then again you’ve pretty much played every venue in Cardiff, Newport, and Bridgend now. With that in mind, what is your favourite venue to play?
P: It’s got to be this one, the Motorpoint Arena. It’s a statement venue for us. It’s the biggest indoor venue in Wales, and it’s just really nice for us. We never thought that we’d ever play here in the beginning, but then again I don’t know what I thought at the beginning. I just wanted to play my guitar.
DP!: We’ve had a couple of questions from fans online, so I thought we’d do a couple of quick fire questions for you.
What’s the last song you learnt on guitar that wasn’t your own?
P: ‘Domination’ by Pantera. I was meant to play it at the Vinnie Paul tribute show in Kentucky, but the festival got cancelled. It sucked, man. I bust my balls trying to get that song up to speed.
DP!: What is the country that you guys haven’t played in yet that you’d like to?
P: Iceland and Portugal. We did play Greece a while back with The Big 4 at an open air theatre in Athens on top of a mountain, which was amazing. We were on before Megadeth, which is mental in itself. The backstage area was mental too. You had Megadeth over there, Matt talking to James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich from Metallica in the corner, me in Anthrax’s dressing room, and I think Stone Sour played too. Such a good memory.
DP!: Your favourite song that you rarely play live?
P: ‘Cries In Vein’. We haven’t played that song properly since ‘The Poison’ shows a few years back.
DP!: The last record that you bought or streamed?
P: SHVPES. They’re on first tonight and they’re an awesome band, great guys, and I just think their music is bloody awesome.
DP!: 2018 marks twenty years since you and Matt started Jeff Killed John, which would then become Bullet for My Valentine. A twenty year career in music doesn’t happen to many people, but it also doesn’t happen by chance. What would you credit for the continued success of the band?
P: Just our hunger for success. Even though we’re playing big venues now, we’re still hungry and we want to be the biggest band in the world. I’m sure that almost every band does, but we’re hungry and we’re focused, and we just want it.
DP!: What does the future hold for you guys? Six albums in, a new label, and a fresh sound; things are looking pretty good for Bullet For My Valentine, right?
P: Yeah, man. With ‘Gravity’ now we can continue with this kind of vibe, or go back to a more heavy metal sound. Who knows? It’s going be a new album at least because it’s a two album deal that we’ve signed with Spinefarm, and with that comes a load more touring and maybe another four or five years at least. I’m sure it’ll be another fifteen, though.
The band’s sixth full-length album, ‘Gravity’, is out now through Spinefarm Records.