Since debuting with 2005’s The Poison, Bullet For My Valentine occupied the highest echelons of the alternative music community. Topping charts the world over, the band had a routine, and the routine worked…it really worked. But for their brand new record Gravity, Bullet dosed this routine in petrol and set it on fire.
Gravity, by both name and nature, is the product of a period of extended and extreme pressure. With lyrical content pulled from the depths of vocalist Matt Tuck’s personal struggles and marriage breakdown, Gravity isn’t a dramatic, sexy rock and roll experience, instead Gravity is a real experience informed by real struggle. Ahead of the album’s release, we spoke to Matt about the climate that resulted in Gravity.
“It’s always a busy time for us” Matt says of the weeks leading up to the albums Friday, 29th June release date. “Lots of interviews, little trips to talk about stuff but it’s always the most exciting time; the build-up, the hype, the teasing…It’s buzzing. Everyone is really excited to just get it out. We’re like a pregnant woman who’s gone over her release date – we just want to get it out.”
Understandably, Matt and the band are stoked. But it was a rocky road for them to get there. When a vehicle as big and fast a Bullet For My Valentine decides to chuck a sharp left, it’s bound to leave some people with sore necks. As Matt explains, “We went through all the hardships that come with taking a band of our age and experience, and trying to reinvent the band, it was a demanding process. A lot of worry and anxiety comes with that, and a lot of doubt.”
Looking back on the decision to go down this rocky road, Matt confidently declares it “The best decision I’ve ever made professionally.”
“It’s made this record something very big, something very powerful. It almost feels like we’re starting again, which is great, it’s given the band a new lease on life.”
Though always personal and emotive, Gravity exposes a side of Bullet we’re yet to experience. Sans the smoke and mirrors, Gravity shows us the most human Bullet yet. They may shred, but they also feel. However, it was never Matt’s intention to create such raw content. “It wasn’t something that I deliberately wanted to do, or thought about, really.”
“This album is very personal, it’s a lot less theatrically than anything in the past.” He adds. “It’s more about me, my experiences of life in the past two years since Venom; warts and all of going through a marriage break up. It’s a very personal record and not something I wanted to indulge in at all…When I was writing about it, it was making things worse. It was making me accept things in my life; failures in my life, depression…”
“I was showing the world a side of me I’d never shown before which was a very daunting process. Now that I’ve done it, it speaks for itself. People will pick up on that more than ever…It’s more real, it’s more powerful and that makes for a better record for me.”
To call this ‘cathartic’ would be an understatement. Exploring your own breaking heart in front of hundreds of thousands of fans is something most of us will never have to deal with. Discussing the concept of healing with Matt, he reveals that the process is yet to begin, though he has hope it’s on the horizon. “That’s something that will happen once it comes out and I start to get the fan reactions and connections.”
“That’s when it will feel very real, when it helps someone in a situation”, Matt says. “That’s never the intention when you write a song but I’ve been around the block a few times now, and I’ve been told this a lot with albums in the past. Should this album connect with someone who’s in a similar situation, and it helps them through it, that’s when this album will become a healing process, when it has a positive impact on someone’s life other than my own.”
It’s important to remember that Bullet is a group effort, and for a whole album to focus mainly on one member’s personal life could be a contentious issue for many reasons. This was very much the case for Gravity, as Matt refused to budge from his intentions. “Initially it was very difficult” he admits, “I had a vision and direction I wanted to take this band in. But to have that direction and not have an example to show them, because I hadn’t written anything yet, was very weird. They understood, but they didn’t understand. They were writing their own songs, everyone was bringing ideas to the table but it all felt a little bit 2006, a little bit ‘stuff we’d tried on too many times before in the past’.
As Matt’s vision for Gravity began to take shape, his concepts became clear to his colleagues, but it was a hard-fought victory to get them onside. “I had to stick to my guns, write as much as I could” Matt recalls, “and show them examples of what I was talking about.”
“As soon as a few songs started to develop, it became clear to them that I wasn’t going to deviate from it and the stuff was coming out pretty damn good. It was more convincing them, and them putting their trust in me. It became easier once it became clear where we were going…And how good it was.”
Matt looks back on this creative tug-of-war as one of the main reasons Gravity came out the way it did. After all, great art never comes from staying in your comfort zone. Art must be stressed, struggled and argued over, all the while remaining as diplomatic as possible, which was often a struggle for Matt. “It was frustrating for me because I didn’t want to shoot ideas down and bring negativity to the studio, but the boys didn’t want to stop writing,” He says.
“It was difficult…it was quite awkward and egos got hurt along the way. The Eureka moment was having the first full playback at the end of December. Having that listening party, everyone’s shoulders just dropped, in a good way, because the pressure was off and they could step back and enjoy the hardships of writing a record…
…It was a beautiful moment.”
Bullet For My Valentine will be in Australia before the year is out.
Gravity is out Friday, 29th June.