To celebrate five years of Bullet For My Valentine's 'Temper Temper', we revisit a fiery interview from around its release back in 2013.
Sometimes, the finest records come from the very edge of collapse. Sharper, fresher and more urgent than anything since their debut album ‘The Poison’, Bullet For My Valentine’s fourth album ‘Temper Temper’ might be the release to send them into the rock stratosphere, but its dark overtones speak of a period that brought them to their very knees. Leaving them jaded and homesick, their time supporting 2010’s ‘Fever’ forced them to consider whether the life of a professional band was worth the sacrifice, and for one member at least, there seemed little future.
“I got to a point in touring ‘Fever’ where I doubted whether the band would carry on at all,” relates drummer and founding member Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas, as we catch up at Sony’s London offices. “For a while I didn’t want to be in the band – I didn’t want anything to do with drums. I couldn’t even put on a CD or anything. It all got to me, the grind and the repetition of it all, and dragged me through the dumps.”
“Moose took it hardest,” nods frontman Matt Tuck, “but we were all struggling in our own way. When we were on the road we’d sort of disappear into ourselves and hide in the corners of dressing rooms. We literally weren’t talking, straight up. It got to the stage that we were just doing our own thing, we couldn’t be bothered with any of the band shit.”
“You can get lost in a world of stress, and that definitely happened to me off the back of ‘Fever’, bassist Jay James chips in. “I was drinking a lot on the road, not talking to people. I think we all learnt a lot about ourselves and about this band from that album. For me, I had to quit everything for eight or something months to get through it.”
Their experiences in 2010 and ’11 forced Bullet to remind themselves why they loved playing this music in the first place, and to put some serious thought into striking a balance between the demands of the road and that of being a real part of their kids’ and partners’ lives.
“It wasn’t so difficult to deal with it all in the early days of us being a professional band,” Matt reflects. “We were so excited that we didn’t really care, we went along for the ride. As we’ve gotten older and a bit more successful we’ve matured as people – three of us have kids – it totally tilts your priorities, against your passions. It’s a tough one to deal with in a way. We want to spend time with our kids and families, but at the same time we love what we do in this band, and for that we need to get on the road. It’s this constant struggle, this tug of war between sacrificing our home lives and doing what we love. It’s lonely out there on the road, and at the end of the day that got to us.”
Taking a step back to reassess their priorities has evidently given Bullet a new lease of life. ‘Temper Temper’ might reflect the bitterness of their ‘long dark tunnel’, but it’s also the sound of a band utterly in charge of their own destiny, and with a renewed fire in their bellies. As far as they’re concerned it’s the start of a new chapter, and they’re determined not to repeat past mistakes. Moose explains how he found inspiration in an unexpected place."
“Talking to my mum about the problems in the band was the biggest turning point for me,” he explains. “She took the little issues and scaled it all up for me, helped me see the bigger picture. If I’d have left and seen someone else replace me in the band I started with my friends over a decade ago, it would have killed me.”
“If we’d given Moose an ultimatum, I don’t think he’d have walked,” adds Matt. “It was about getting perspective, which we’ve found again. If we had a bad show off the back of ‘Fever’, it felt like the end of the world, we were done. Now we know it’s about the vibe, we’re better able to deal with the shit.”
That rediscovered ambition and confidence is reflected in the dark but defiant, and brilliantly polished ‘Temper Temper.’ Describing the writing process as ‘total freedom’ they’ve emerged with a set tailored as much for Radio 1 as it is for Download Festival. They’ve never made any qualms about shooting for the stars, and this time they’re ready to go all out.
“There’s nothing wrong with having your niche of cult followers,” laughs Matt, “but we’ve always wanted to play with the big boys. This record has a style that should appeal to people who aren’t even into hard rock and metal, we’ve got something for everyone. We don’t give a fuck about being anything apart from us. If people think we’re a gateway band, fine.”
“We still get shit from the old school metal fans,” Moose comments, “and it pisses me off. People have chanted ‘your forty minutes of fame are over’ at us, even after we’ve sold hundreds of thousands of records all over the world. Well, fuck them, I don’t care anymore. We’re not doing this for them and their ‘true metal’ shit. This is for us.”
It’s fighting talk – but the big question is, how far can ‘Temper Temper’ take Bullet? Fixtures at the top end of the summer festival circuit and comfortable in the arenas they’re already a huge deal all over the planet, but are they ready to take the leap to bona fide festival headliners? Matt is quietly assured.
“We’ve only just hit thirty, so we’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” he notes. We know where we could get to in the next couple of years – if big offers come in, we’ll snatch ‘em. The best is yet to come, for sure. We’re not in the league of bands like Foo Fighters and Metallica yet, we still have work to do, but the only way to learn is to take those opportunities. I don’t think anything’s daunting anymore, it’s just a matter of whether the time’s right. It’s definitely coming – we’ve earned our way up there, we’re getting really fucking good. We went through that infancy, the massive debut record and difficult second record. Then there was the comeback... now we’ve beaten it again. We’re definitely on the right path.”
“We’re in the right frame of mind to do those things now,” smiles Moose. “Soon we’ll be topping the festivals, and that’s my finger up at the people who’ve dismissed us.”
“Four or five years ago we were the buzz band,” Matt concludes, “and we’re still sitting at the very top of our tree. No one’s really challenging us, either – we’re just chasing the tails of the greats now. We’re itching to get in their shoes, and we’ll gladly do what we need to until that happens. There will come a day when Maiden and Metallica won’t be topping bills anymore, and while that’s a sad thing for rock music, there has to be a next generation waiting in line. We’re definitely sitting at the top of that pile, waiting to do it. In fifteen years, I genuinely believe we’ll be right at the top.”