One of the most successful metal acts to have emerged from the U.K. in the last decade and a half, Bullet For My Valentine have sold over 5,000,000 albums since forming in 1998. Having gone through a significant line-up change in recent years, the Welsh band have taken the opportunity to redefine their sound for their just-released ‘Gravity’ opus. Back on the road to promote the album, we caught up with guitarist Michael ‘Padge’ Paget and bassist Jamie Mathias at Download Festival to talk changing times. No way out; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Guys, how are you today?
Jamie: We’re good.
Padge: Very good, man.
You’re back at Download Festival; how does it feel to be taking to that stage again?
Padge: It’s a legendary festival; it’s always a good laugh, it’s a good time here, and it’s amazing to be asked back as special guests on the main stage. We’ve played a few times; about four or five now, I think.
Padge, you’re no stranger to Download; are you teaching Jamie the ropes?
Jamie: I’m teaching him the ropes, man!
Padge: Trying to keep up with the youngsters, I am.
You’re second only to headliners Avenged Sevenfold on the bill; how does it feel to have come up to that level?
Padge: It feels really good, man, really, really good. We’re fortunate enough to be second from headlining, which is amazing for us. We’ve been in the game quite a long time; we’ve got a new record coming out, we’ve got new band members, and we’re ready to smash it, man, we really are, with everything we’ve got.
Does it feel like starting over again, in a way?
Padge: It’s a new chapter, definitely, yeah. It’s going to be interesting, but I feel the band is the tightest it’s ever been, and with a new album, and new songs, it’s really coming across live. It’s going to be awesome.
How has reaction been to the single ‘Over It’?
Jamie: It’s been great, man. It’s been out for a couple of weeks, and obviously, if you listen to it, it’s a different track for Bullet. Obviously you’re going to have people that are like; “Yeah, we want the older stuff”, but the reaction to the new generation, live as well, has been really good.
Are you going to be introducing a lot of new songs during the festival season, or is it a case of drip feeding them into the set?
Padge: We’re going to be playing a few new tracks, so it’s going to be interesting; all the ones that have been released so far. And we’re going to bring out all the big guns; fire, dwarves, dragons, midgets.
You’re gearing up for the release of ‘Gravity’; do you still get that trepidation on the eve of a new album release?
Padge: Not so much now. We’ve been playing it [live] for about two months now, and it’s going down really well. But I think, especially in these bigger festivals where you’ve got a big P.A. and massive expansive crowds, it goes down a lot better. I think that was the idea with the album; we were writing big songs for big stages and it’s been interesting to see how they’ve been going down. It’s been great, so far.
Has there been a big change in the band’s sound from ‘Venom’ to ‘Gravity’?
Padge: Oh yeah, big change, a big change. Yeah, all the technical stuff is kind of stripped away, replaced with sort of different electronic sounds, different samples, a lot sort of, simpler songs; we’re serving the song, rather than how fast we can play.
With the change in line up, and the new approach, was this a real chance to clear the decks?
Padge: Oh yeah, it was. It was very difficult writing it, but once we found a flow and we all started agreeing…
Jamie: Yeah, I think at the start, there was a lot of like, butting heads, but we soon found our groove.
What was it like for you Jamie, stepping into the band to replace a long-term member?
Jamie: To me, I’ve always wanted to be in a band, and that’s all I’ve done. In my head, I was ready, and I knew I was born to do this.
Padge: He slipped in really easily. The transition was – don’t get me wrong, like I say, there was pressure, because Jay [former bassist Jason James] was a founding member, and Bullet’s such a successful band. Obviously we’ve got to step up to the mark now, and deliver.
You worked once again with producer Carl Brown again on the new album; was an approach made to Pantera producer Terry Date?
Padge: No, that was on ‘Fever’ I believe, and ‘Venom’… ‘Temple’ maybe, I don’t know, it was way back. Yeah, we tried him out, we gave him a couple of tracks to mix and stuff, but for some reason it never came about. I mean, I would have loved to because I’m a big Deftones and Pantera fan, but it never did happen, which is a shame.
With the change in sounds and style, did the producer have a different role to play this time around?
Padge: Yeah, I think he did. He really had to step up to the mark this time, because none of us knew what this vision was. So being a producer and an engineer, he really sort of pushed the boat out on the electronics and different sounds and stuff like that. We were kind of relying on him a lot on this album to kind of influence the songs before they were written, really, to see what kind of new stuff [we could use]. Because, we’re engineers; I do a little bit of recording, but nothing on the scale of Carl. We were relying on him a lot, but he really stepped up to the mark, and he fucking nailed it.
Do you feel there are more eyes on you this time around, because of those changes?
Padge: More than likely, yeah, but with the internet and stuff, that’s just the way it is. But I’m confident in the band, confident in all the members, confident in all the songs, pretty confident in myself; we’ve been doing it a long time, and the main thing is just have fun.
With the album due, have you got any U.K. dates planned?
Padge: In November we’re doing our European run, and 10th November we’re doing Alexandra Palace in London, 11th November we’re doing the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. We’re also doing a couple of hmv in-stores after this run, in July. We’re doing four in-store signings around the U.K. with one session in Oxford Street in London. That’s all based around the release of the album. That’s pretty much all our U.K. shows this year, starting with Download.
Finally, what’s happening going into next year?
Padge: Next year is just going to be again, non-stop touring. There’s plans, but nothing’s been confirmed yet, but I’ll guarantee you’ll see more touring. One year at a time, innit?
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Bullet For My Valentine's 'Gravity' is out now, via Spinefarm Records. For a full list of live dates, visit the band's official site.