Remember the first time you heard Bullet? Back in the days when metalcore had well and truly broken out of the tunnels and started storming the gates, and then that sweet ‘Hand of Blood’ EP came out. It was fast, melodic, and full of hatred and bitterness, sweet nectar for us! Bullet For My Valentine are a memorable emergence for many of us. This writer was hearing their name mentioned daily, but it wasn’t until an entire weekend was spent watching K! that this writer got a real introduction. Even at that young age, ‘Hand Of Blood’ was a surge of emotional turmoil and heartbreak. And now, the opportunity to chat to the nostalgic band comes along. Bassist Jason James gives us insight on the thought process behind the new album, the stress of the set list, and what the band have planned for the future.
“We definitely came out of our comfort zones for ‘Temper Temper'” – Jason James
But first, Rule Britannia! The tour with Asking Alexandria and Young Guns begins in December, and you’ll be ecstatic if you’re headin’ out to see this, because each band puts on a hell of a show. How does Jay feel about it? “It’s really awesome. We’re sharing the road with Asking Alexandria, we’ve done a few arena shows in the past.” With four albums in the bag, and an ever growing fan base, it’s getting tricky for the metal quartet to put the set list together. “It’s gotten really hard now that we’ve got such a back-catalogue. When we started the ‘Temper Temper’ tours we could not get a set-list together because there are so many songs to choose from, so what we did was we started alternating the set, so it’s never the same set. The reason we started doing that was because there are so many songs and so many kids asking us to play this song and that song, and we’ve only got a certain time limit out there, so there’s only so many people we can please, so we figured the only way to counteract that was to alternate the set, and hopefully we can please more people that way, and play the songs we like and miss as well!” Naturally, that’s the way it goes for big bands as they get bigger. Jay describes this: “You have to keep playing as a band. When I was a kid you’d go to a Metallica or Iron Maiden show. They have those golden songs, and they have to play them, you can’t just play the new stuff. Obviously you’ve gotta pump the new record, get it to be as good as the older stuff by playing it, but you’ve always gotta play the classics and that’s what the kids are there for, to hear their favourite songs live.”
Well, there ya go! You won’t have a clue what’s gonna happen when you see them, but no matter what, you should expect the new tracks to make an appearance, and that ain’t no bad thing. While we’re on that sensitive subject, could we get away with a potentially controversial detour here? Well, it feels right so yes. This is music after all! We’re taking the high ground here and telling you, it’s a good f*cking album. The negativity is making us lose our tempers. Ha, get it? Yeah, nauseating, isn’t it? Just like the bad reviews. Just kidding, we love you all. In an officially bitter way. But anyway, the album is different to the others, and change is not a bad thing. Sure, it has a lot of simpler riffs and structures, but simplicity is an underrated skill in metal nowadays. Do things need to get faster and more complex to make them better? Jay has his own view of it: “I think it’s been quite a success. We approached it in a totally different way. We skipped the demos and just went into the studio and wrote as we went along. We put ourselves on the spot instead of spending months and months doing demos and redoing them. Then Matt locked himself away with producer Don Gilmore for the lyrics. We definitely came out of our comfort zones in a few areas and approached it in a different way to the albums previously. We’re trying to open up and hit a wider audience and still keep our Bullet edge and Bullet fans and loyal fans. And to do that is a fine line, so we experimented in fields we don’t usually go to, and at the same kept it Bullet. We’re having a good time playing it.”
Hell yeah. There’s more to the story of the release than meets the eye, too. “We were quite nervous when it first came out because we had a bit of banter with the first release, it was meant to be ‘Riot’ but our label put out ‘Temper Temper’ first. We were in the studio writing and we couldn’t do a video. Then we did it live on a Radio 1 session and that became our first single, but ‘Riot’ was meant to be the first single and there was a confusion there. People didn’t quite get it and then when they got the rest of the album and started listening to it they started to get what we were trying to do.”
Creation is a journey, be it musical, or anything else, and with that philosophy in mind, we ask Jay how Bullet’s music has changed him as a musician: “I think we’ve all bettered ourselves. We can bang a song together pretty quick. Every album’s gotta be better than the last one, and with every album we’re maturing.”
And with that the future looms. What are Bullet up to as the new year approaches? “We’ve got a couple more tours to get out of the way for this year, and then next year is mainly gonna be writing, and there’s a couple of tours next year as well, I think. We always come up with a riff on the bus or something, and if it’s good enough we’ll make a note of it or record it somehow, ready for when we go in to the studio, but we haven’t written anything or planned anything yet.”