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'Times Change, People Change, Attitudes Change And The Band Definitely Changed'

27 June 2018 | 4:17 pm | Brendan Crabb

"We were just four fucking dumb-arse kids from Wales and all of a sudden we're on the stage with Metallica and stuff."

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Perhaps inevitably, given their globe-trotting, mega-selling, award-winning success, Welsh heavy metallers Bullet For My Valentine can count several celebrities among their devotees. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Tuck name-checks MasterChef UK 2015 winner Simon Wood, World Wrestling Entertainment superstar The Miz and Australian cricketer Peter Nevill as examples.

But the most famous of all would appear to be Hollywood star Margot Robbie; the Australian actress has previously referenced being a fan of Metallica, Slipknot and Bullet For My Valentine in her youth. Earlier this year, Robbie guested on BBC Radio 1 host Nick Grimshaw's morning show. The host has interview subjects rigged up to a heart monitor while attempting to produce surprises that may get the heart pumping faster. Robbie's heart soared when shown footage of Bullet For My Valentine dedicating Tears Don't Fall to her at a show in Saskatoon, Canada.

"It was just lovely, her reaction was incredible," Tuck says. "It took her aback and she kind of looked like a 15-year-old girl again when we played it," he laughs. "It shouldn't really be a surprise that people of her profile like metal, for example, but it was just super-cute. You could see that she was into it and we peaked her heart rate. Having people of her profile as fans of our band is great. It shouldn't really be a surprise; everyone likes what they like. But she's just an incredible woman that's done very well for herself, and she's just amazing. I'd love to meet her one day."

Although also buoyed by sixth LP Gravity's creation, the aforementioned brush with an A-lister may have been a rare bright spot for the frontman in recent times. Tuck's personal life nosedived and long-time drummer Michael "Moose" Thomas was replaced by Jason Bowld (Pitchshifter, Axewound). It was the group's second line-up shift in quick succession; 2015's Venom marked their first album since the departure of long-serving bassist Jason James and subsequent addition of Jamie Mathias.

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Collectively it took a toll on Tuck. "This album is a very personal record. There's nothing really band-related as such lyrically on this record, but, having gone through a marriage break-up and stuff like that, it had a massively profound effect on my life behind the scenes. Thankfully I'm all through that now and everything's great now, but the kind of stresses emotionally that come with something like that as well as being in fucking Bullet For My Valentine and touring the world and having a lot of decisions to make, and going through the departure of Moose and stuff like that - it's been a demanding couple of years; I just channelled all of that into Gravity and it's been a very rewarding thing to do.

"It was stressful to put myself out there like I have on this record, because it's no secret. You just have to look at the titles of the songs and get the vibe of where my head's been at. It was a very challenging album to write for many reasons. But now we've come through the other end, it's done and dusted and we're embarking on getting out and touring it, it's incredible."

While bristling with the arena-sized hooks the band's renowned for, Gravity injects a sizeable dollop of electronic and industrial flourishes. "Jamie and Padge [Michael Paget, guitars] were - not struggling with the idea of that, but they were a little unsure of what I was trying to achieve," Tuck explains.

"They were a little scared because obviously the history of the band and what we've achieved has been incredible. I think that they felt that doing this would be a bad move. And it's hard to try and explain to someone what you want to do without actually playing them a song. So it was more just writing together, writing individually, bringing everything to the table, giving everything a fair listen and then just kind of taking charge of the situation, going in a direction and not having it diluted."

The frontman acknowledges that it would have placated "everyone's egos to take a song from everyone and put it on the record". "But it would have made it nonsense; the whole vision would have been pointless, it would have been diluted down. It was me kind of leading the charge so to speak and thankfully after we wrote a few of the key songs like Gravity, Letting You Go, Over It and stuff like that, it became clear then and I think it became easier for them to let go of the band's history.

"Venom, it's a very fast, thrashy, technical record. A lot of shredding, multiple solos - we just went balls to the wall with the metal elements. We just felt that Venom had taken that as far as we could. So we just wanted to obviously still make a heavy, dark, intense record, but write it and execute it in a different way [from what] we did for Venom and a lot of stuff in the past."

There's sometimes a perception that when a group reaches a certain status and then undergoes their first major line-up shifts, the initial group mentality established dissolves somewhat. Does he feel that sensibility has subsided, but been supplanted by an enhanced professionalism? "It's never a great thing, especially for us more than anyone. When you start a band, you start having all the success, you tour the world together year in, year out and make multiple albums. All of a sudden if something changes internally it has a massive effect on us. It's never something that we've anticipated happening, but times change, people change, attitudes change and the band definitely changed.

"We were just four fucking dumb-arse kids from Wales and all of a sudden we're on the stage with Metallica and stuff. It was like, 'Holy shit!' Those moments have a massively profound effect, positively and negatively, unfortunately. I think the gang mentality did kind of dwindle away, but having Jamie and Jason on board now it's very much back. They were outsiders looking in, so they know exactly what this band means to a lot of people, because they were fans. To have them come in and give their perspective of it - their input and talents - is great. It's given the band a new lease of life, for sure."