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Rock Sound Classic Interviews: Matt Tuck vs Oli Sykes

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 21 March 2013 at 16.18

Bring Me The Horizon and Bullet For My Valentine are gearing up to release new albums, but five years ago, both bands were in very different places. Here’s a look back at one of our classic features to see what’s changed…

Five years ago Bullet For My Valentine and Bring Me The Horizon occupied two very different spaces in music. Bullet were the household names, touring the world and staring down arenas while the Sheffield quintet were still fighting against fierce haters who derided their every move.

Bring Me The Horizon were up against it, but they had just released an album called 'Suicide Season', and everything was beginning to shift. Bullet For My Valentine were a huge band trying to build a dynasty with the songs on 'Scream Aim Fire', a bold and ambitious task.

Rock Sound decided it would be fun to sit with Matt Tuck and Oli Sykes to take the temperature of British metal. Five years after that conversation as both bands release new records we thought it would be fun to revisit that moment. You sitting comfortably? Read on...

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Rock Sound sits alone in a room on the fourth floor of the Raw Power Management offices. It measures approximately six by eight metres. In the room there is a relatively generous window on a wall neighbouring the door, next to the door is a fridge, next to the fridge a desk, on the desk a computer. All of these details are true yet none of them matter particularly. What is of substantial interest lies behind the desk and covers the other walls from floor to ceiling. The walls are not adorned with record sales plaques or awards but with box files containing thousands of bits of paper. They look drab but they are infinitely more valuable than the aforesaid accolades, on closer inspection the files are titled with labels like ‘Bruce Dickinson’s Royalty Payments’, ‘Iron Maiden Pension Fund’, ‘World Tour Receipts’ and ‘Band Bonds’. The room is coated with hundreds of files that passively narrate the story of Iron Maiden’s worldwide dominance and the comprehensive fiscal rewards that go with the success of the British metal behemoths.

“It’s pretty impressive,” admits Bring Me The Horizon vocalist Oli Sykes as he comes in and looks at the band’s financial history laid out before him. The raucous singer is somewhat shy in his greeting, offering Rock Sound a limp and slightly moist handshake as his eyes dart round the room taking it all in. His band is the latest addition to the Raw Power roster, a company that oversees the careers of Iron Maiden and many of the UK’s new breed including Fightstar, Bullet For My Valentine, Funeral For A Friend and Gallows. Bring Me The Horizon joined the management company recently and are currently hot property; they possess a strong second record ‘Suicide Season’ and all eyes are looking across the pond as they prepare to take their burgeoning success Stateside.

Sykes and company would not go too far wrong if they achieved what Bullet For My Valentine have on the other side of the Atlantic. Vocalist Matt Tuck ambles in a few minutes later, greets Sykes and Rock Sound casually and pulls up another chair. He arrives in London three days after completing the first half of a month long US headline tour playing venues with average capacities of well over 2,000. He has just come from a meeting with the band’s accountant and looks tired yet calm, like a man who may have just found out he has made some money.

Rock Sound has gathered the Welshman and Yorkshire man as they respectively represent Britain’s biggest contemporary metal export and Britain’s brightest metal hopes. They are the leaders of a pack that has strength, depth and the potential to dominate heavy music on both sides of the Atlantic. Tuck is the leading light and Sykes is the brightest hope for the future of British metal. Can they break America and beyond? Are their bands capable of succeeding where countless others have failed?

Are these two men the heads of British metal? Rock Sound will find out…

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Bullet are well on the way to global success and you have managed to become a successful British touring act in the US when so many others have failed? What is your secret?
Says vocalist Matt Tuck: “Persistence and hard work. We just keep going over there and knocking on the door. I think it is a combination of people digging what we do and us putting the hours in. We have toured there so much in the past four years.”

How much money did you lose to get to this point?
“I couldn’t tell you because I don’t know. It is not something I cared about.”

Do you know how much touring costs you?
“I know how much it costs, I don’t know how much we lose. I’m not too business minded but I am aware of how we do financially. If I’m losing money I don’t care if I’m making money I want to know about it.”

How helpful has Raw Power Management been in your story?
“A massive help, they know how to deal with a band and how to deal with touring and production. All we have to do is turn up and play which is good and all I care about. Everything else is dealt with. It took a while to find the right people as we jumped from company to company. Before we were with people that took us on for all the wrong reasons, they had no interest in longevity and we sussed it out after we were given some information about them from people we trust and love us so we bailed.”

What information?
“I can’t divulge that.”

What was it regarding?
(pauses)“It was no interest in the band or longevity like I just said.”

Are you getting the time off during this album? It was a concern going in to this cycle for the band?
“We actually pulled a tour this year in South East Asia because that is the only time this year we will get time off. We will not spend the month doing nothing as we will be writing and in the studio but overall it was a sensible decision. It gets us back to reality for a month."

Are you rescheduling the tour for this record?
“It can wait. We are not going anywhere.”

It must be nice where you can make decisions like that, is there an unspoken confidence in the band at the moment?
“We know where we are at globally and it is a good place to be. We have to prioritise writing the next album and that is the only time we really have to do that. We are looking to record in Spring 2009 and have it out by the end of 2009, sooner rather than later this time round.”

Why is that?
“We just want to keep pounding peoples heads in and not give them time to breathe, as soon as we do stop touring there will not be a break. We will release a DVD and a new single, maybe even an EP. The Bullet machine is gonna keep rolling and rolling and rolling til people are sick of it, so sick of it they have to get onboard.”

Are you confident everyone will continue to get onboard?
“As long as we can keep our shit together there is no reason why it cannot happen. I say that but we are all still super hungry, we are all on the same page and we all want to be rock royalty and up with the big boys in the next two decades. It would be nice to be mentioned in the same breath as Maiden and Metallica.”

How do your rate Bring Me The Horizon’s chances of following in your footsteps?
“They have as good a chance as anyone and that is where hunger and drive come in. In the real world it will be hard for them to get to a level where they never have to work again. That is not me dissing them, but there are certain bands that play a certain type of music that will never get to a big level. As long as they love what they do and they are doing it for the right reasons then that is all that matters. I hope a band like Bring Me The Horizon never changes.”

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Despite your rising profile not everyone backs your band, were you Pepper Sprayed at a recent show?
Says vocalist Oli Sykes: “Yeah, I didn’t know what was happening when we were playing, suddenly I started choking and my face was burning. I didn’t think to look at the rest of the band so I carried on screaming and coughing. I thought something had happened to me and I was going to die. Our tour manager was keeling over and both guitarists were in a mess and we were all telling our drummer to stop. He thought we were asking if he was alright and he was refusing to stop cos he was fine. It were mental. I jumped in crowd and ran to the back of the room.”

Did it frighten you?
“No, but that show definitely felt like it was going too well.” (laughs)

Do you think you encourage that sort of thing in a way? You are an antagonistic band, you even wrote a song (‘No Need For Introductions…’ off ‘Suicide Season’) directed at the girl who tried to take you to court last year?
“I have never really said much on that subject. Every time someone asked I have never really justified myself and I guess it is 30 seconds of pure anger aimed at her as I have never had my say.”

Have you ever spoken to her after that night?
“I never even spoke to her on that night. It was a fucked up situation. I never heard anything from her the charges just got dropped.”

Do you think the charges being dropped altered what people think of you?
“No, people want to believe what they want. If I weren’t me I would think ‘yeah, he did it’. If you hate someone you will think the worst no matter what.”

There are a lot or rumours out there about you, I heard one that said you stencilled pentagrams onto your producer’s (Fredrik Nordstrom) car while you were recording ‘Suicide Season’ in Sweden? Is that true?
“It’s true. Someone in the band lied to him and told him that they were a really good graffiti artist and well good at stencilling and bodywork. He had a shit car and he wanted it resprayed, he said he would buy the paint and asked if we redo the paint on it for him. So we got all this paint and ended up spraying it black and plastered it with dicks and pentagrams. I think it said Hail Satan on the back. We had to take that off. I think he were pretty happy with the paint job in the end. It says ‘The Car Of Heavy Metal’ on the front of it.”

I heard another rumour that you own a flat that overlooks the River Thames in London. True?
“No. I own a flat in Sheffield.”

The story went that you made your first million from Drop Dead and you bought a flat in London.
“I wish that were true. So many things are wrong about that statement. I don’t have a million.”

I also heard you bought girlfriend a boob job with part of this million?
“I don’t have a girlfriend but I wish that were true. It sounds like a good time to me.”

I need to change my source. What was the reason behind the vocal and music departure on album two?
“I think every album we ever do will be different. We have come a bit further as songwriters, we knew when we started writing we cannot do the same thing again and we did not even listen to music like that anymore so it did not make any sense to do that again. I don’t think anyone wants to hear another Count Your Blessings, people say they do but I cannot imagine why.”

Why do you think that? What do you think of that record now?
“It weren’t the best album in the world. We were pretty happy when we wrote it but the production is so bad on that CD.”

How was Warped Tour?
“Amazing. Best tour ever. First day we were on first, we got there and we were setting up and there was nobody there. We set up and two minutes before we were due to start there were a couple of thousand kids there. We played and it went mental, all the stage crew were ringing other stages up and all the crew from other stages came round to watch. We are used to being that band that everyone fucking hates and everyone slags off and never gives the time of day to, it was so weird as everyone was being so nice to us on that tour. So many bands came to watch us on that tour.”

Who came?
“Travis the singer from Gym Class Heroes proper loved us. He came up and sang with us. It was fucking mental. He would come and watch us every day and he was singing along. Reel Big Fish came to watch a lot too.”

Are you doing the tour next year?
“No, Kevin (Lyman, Warped Tour founder) offered us US leg of the Taste Of Chaos tour instead. He came and saw us on the second day. The day after that he offered us the tour, he bought us on his bus and gave us $500 for fuel, he was proper cool.”

Did you make a lot of money selling merch on that tour?
“We made so much money. We did signings every day and we would be there for two hours at least. When we go to America we usually come back with nothing as we spend it all. We spend all the last tour’s money on renting a speedboat and a tyre and going to Disneyworld and stuff like that.”

Do you want to break America?
“Yeah, it felt so good being the band that people are buzzing about on that tour. No one ever tells us we did a good job and no other bands ever come and say how good our set was. Brett Gurewitz from Epitaph said we was the best band he has seen in 15 years of Warped Tour. He came to last day on LA show and he watched at side of stage, afterwards he came and told us he had never seen anything like that in his life.”

Do you think that your band will be made or broken by how you play live?
“Definitely, you can be the best band in the world on record but music is about the performance too, if kids come out and see you and it is not a good show then you are fucked.”

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