Originally printed in Guitar World Magazine, November 2006
For the hardest working band in thrash metal, the show must go on.
After seven years together, Welsh nu-metal band Jeff Killed John were finally ready to record their debut. But the day before they were scheduled to enter the studio, bassist Nick Crandle quit, causing the band to cancel the session. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened. Immediately, the remaining band members—guitarist and vocalist Matt Tuck, lead guitarist Michael “Padge” Padget and drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas—rethought their musical approach and reformed with new bassist Jay James as Bullet for My Valentine, a thrash band with heavy doses of melody.
Immediately, the remaining band members—guitarist and vocalist Matt Tuck, lead guitarist Michael “Padge” Padget and drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas—rethought their musical approach and reformed with new bassist Jay James as Bullet for My Valentine, a thrash band with heavy doses of melody.
“If Nick hadn’t left, I don’t think we could have become who we are today,” Tuck says in the middle of a European tour opening for Guns N’ Roses. “Back then, we were trying to give people what they wanted, but when he left we suddenly went, ‘This ain’t working, so fuck it, let’s do what we want.’ ” The result—a mix of Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden– style riffs and vocals that shift between throat shearing screams and honeydew choruses—isn’t a new recipe for metalcore, but Bullet have tastier ingredients than most similar bands. “We really elaborated on the idea of using twin-harmony guitars in this kind of music,” says Padge. “And we work hard on the melodies to make sure they’re really strong.”
The effort paid off. Bullet for My Valentine’s 2005 EP Hand of Blood blew up in England and earned the band numerous high-profile tours and the opportunity to enter the studio with industry veteran Colin Richardson. Sessions began in the summer of 2005, scheduled between shows so that the band wouldn’t lose the momentum it had gained through performing. Unfortunately, the constant see-sawing between the studio and the road took its toll on Tuck, who suffered a severe panic attack.
“It started as pins and needles in my left arm, so I just sat down and picked up a guitar,” he recalls. “I tried to get my fingers moving, but I couldn’t play. Then the sensation went straight down my leg and thighs, and to my face. I guess it was kind of a wake-up call that I needed to chill out a bit.”
The frontman took a week off, then returned to Bullet with guns blazing. These days, the idea of anyone in the band chilling out is as ridiculous as the notion of Guns N’ Roses taking the stage on time. In addition to touring with GN’R, Bullet have played with Rob Zombie and Metallica, and are presently on the Warped tour. At the same time, Tuck is writing lyrics and vocals for the 11 songs the band has already written for Bullet’s next album, which they plan to start recording in January.
“It’s all crazy, but I think we’re in a really good place right now,” says Tuck. “And we’re really excited about the new stuff, which is a lot more technical, guitarwise. It’s heavier and more uptempo, and there’s a lot of Eighties guitar work, but it sounds really modern. If I can get the vocals to sound as good as the music, it’s going to a great album.”