Latest release: Temper Temper (RCA/Sony)
Welsh upstarts Bullet for My Valentine have been on an upward trajectory since winning Kerrang! magazine’s Best British Newcomer award on the back of their first album Poison in 2005. Eight year later, the band is set to return to live performance after almost a full year off, during which they recorded album number four, Temper Temper, which already looks set to become their biggest yet. As their Soundwave adventure nears, Loud spoke with bass player Jay James about Metallica, world domination and being a dad.
Hey Jay, great to talk with you today. You must be really looking forward to getting down here for our big festival.
Yeah man, it’s been quite a while since we were in Australia and I’m not just saying this because I’m on the phone to you, but I go around the world and I’ve been touring now for the last ten years and Australia’s always my favourite stop. Everyone’s really welcoming, I can get drunk in a bar and mumble and everyone still knows what I’m saying… (laughs) It’s such a cool place to go and I cannot wait to get back there. To be honest with you, we are snowed in right now. There is snow everywhere and it’s so cold the place is just frozen, man! So I can’t wait to come over and catch the end of your summer.
Looking back on the album now it’s done, what are your thoughts about it?
I think it’s a new hybrid Bullet. To sum it up in one word, I’d say it’s more mature than our previous stuff. We adopted a rule that less is more this album and give the songs just exactly what they need. It’s not crammed with so many technical things. It only needs and only has the crunching, crazy riffs where they need to be. We’ve tried to approach a wider crowd and a wider audience as well as keeping the Bullet fans. It’s a fine edge to try and grasp. I think it’s a better, bigger album. We follow the rule that you’re only as good as your last album, so I think this is going to take us to the next level. Our thirst for world domination hasn’t changed. We think we’re going to be up there with the big boys for the next twenty years with this album.
Are there maybe two or three tracks on there that you would tell fans they really have to listen to?
Well “Riot” is a really good track and it’s going really well on the radio here. People are going crazy here for it. “Temper Temper” is the most different track, I’d say, on the album. Both are pretty different songs from what Bullet usually play, so we stepped out of the comfort zone in certain areas. So definitely listen to those two. My personal favourite off the record right now is “Living Life on the Edge of a Knife” because the riff in there is just insane.
The title track’s been out for a while now. How has the reaction been towards it overall?
It’s been great, man! There’s been hype everywhere, all over the net – Twitter, MySpace, Facebook. People are going crazy. We’ve got full backing over the radio. I’m jamming with the boys in rehearsal and I’m thinking to myself, “Well, if everyone’s going so crazy off one or two tracks, and there’s much bigger tracks on the album, when they hear these ones, how big could this thing go?” So we’re hoping a #1 album in the future. That’s what we’ve got our fingers crossed for.
There mustn’t be too many big things left that you haven’t achieved. You’ve been around the world, you’ve played massive festivals. You’ve played with some of the biggest bands in the world – some of which you’ll be playing with again here at Soundwave. If there was one thing you wanted Bullet to achieve in 2013, what would that be?
A Grammy! (laughs)
Do you think that would validate what you do, or would it be just an extra bonus – something to put on your mantlepiece?
Just a bonus for the mantlepiece mate! I reckon just to be bigger and better again. If we could achieve a constant arena standard, I’d be really happy. If we can achieve the level of being in an arena whenever we play, wherever we play, flying in and out like the big boys, like Metallica, like Iron Maiden, that’s where we want to be.
You have toured with Metallica a few times now, and I always get told by bands that tour with them that they always get looked after really, really well. Is that true?
Yes mate, that’s really really true. Lars came down to our dressing room and basically said, “If there’s anything Metallica can do to make your tour experience more comfortable, let us know.” He handed us a bottle of Jager and we’ve been buddies ever since. He came to one of our aftershow parties once and we’ve partied with them once or twice since then. We really get along with those guys as well, which is a massive shock. I still can’t believe it now: my idols and my heroes are close enough to just walk up and talk to now!
You’ve been in the band now for ten years and it must be a big thing for you to be constantly recognised wherever you go. But Matt (Tuck)’s obviously the frontman and he always gets most of the attention. Does that make it easier for you to disappear incognito if you need to?
[Laughs] Well it’s normally the frontman who gets the most of it. That’s just the way it works. That’s cool. He’s the main songwriter, he’s the lyricist, he’s gonna get a lot more hype than the rest of us and I’m totally fine with that. I’m a single dad as well so right now I’ve just been in the gym… I’ve got my cleaning chores ready to do when I come home from rehearsal and my children come back. I’m a single dad now so sometimes it works out when the boys are doing press. We’ve got a lot of press tonight and I can’t do a lot of it because I’ve got my children. It just works out.
It must be really difficult sometimes to be so far away from your children.
That’s what a lot of people don’t see. They think that it’s a glamorous life touring and oh, I’m so lucky and “I’d give anything to do that”. It is quite demanding on you mentally because you have to leave your loved ones behind for long periods of time and you have to deal with things from the other side of the world. So there’s two sides to it. But the benefits outweigh the bad things. This is the best job I could ever get for my family. It’s my dream and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, so I’m never gonna stop. It all works out, but the toughest part of touring is leaving the little ones behind.
That would be hard, but as you said, you’re doing your dream job. And there would probably be a lot more time to spend with your family in between times too, which maybe a lot of people with ‘regular’ jobs wouldn’t have.
That’s the upside to it too. If you’ve got a regular job 9 to 5, you only get two hours in the night to see your children. But I’ve got blocks of maybe months off. Last year I had nearly the whole year off, and that’s the only year we’ve had off in eight years. Up until that point it was relentless: three or four months at a time away and it took six or seven years [of that] to get to this point. But now that we’ve reached this level and we’re doing the bigger shows we can have a little bit more time off in between now. Getting here has been really really tough. When we’re writing an album now we try to do most of it in Wales, around the town where we live so we can spend months doing it and we can see our families at night like a regular job!
How is the music downloading revolution affecting Bullet for My Valentine?
I don’t think it’s really effected us that much to be honest with you. For us, you can’t download a tour and you can’t download a live show, so we’re still out there. If you’ve got loyal fans, there’s always someone out there prepared to go and buy the real thing. Hopefully it’s not ready to completely die off.
You mentioned before that you love coming to Australia, so what are you looking forward to while you’re here on Soundwave?
I’ve been home for so long now stuck in the house that I can probably change a nappy quicker than I can change a string! (laughs) So just getting out there and being at a festival, in that environment and seeing everybody, seeing all the bands, all the stages – the whole thing, man. The whole package. I’m looking forward to all of it. It will be cool to tour with the big boys again and catch up with all the bands. Because we’ve toured with practically all of them over the years, so it will be cool to catch up and have a beer with them all again.
It has been a while. The fans are going to be pretty eager to catch up with you.
Yeah, it has been a while. And these sideshows are going to be really cool too. It will be a lot more intimate, and we’ve got both ends of the spectrum so maybe we can do something a little bit special for those shows maybe.
Thanks for your time Jay. Anything final you’d like to add?
Can I give my clothing line a plug? Amp-ink.co.uk. Check it out man. It’s gonna be a pretty big brand and it’s going off already. Thanks very much mate! That was an awesome interview!
Bullet for My Valentine is appearing at Soundwave and these special shows with Cancer Bats and Miss May I:
22/2: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD
27/2: HiFi Bar, Sydney NSW