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A couple of decades back, U.K. metal acts like Iron Maiden ruled the hard-rock world. Since then, the market for British steel has gone soft — but Bullet for My Valentine lead singer/guitarist Matt Tuck sees signs of stiffening.
"It's something that we think about and are aware of — that we could be the next big British metal act," Tuck says. "There's no one else even competing with us for the moment, which is good with us."
Reaching this point hasn't been easy. As recently as four years ago, "we were getting rejected by record companies every week — but the potential was there," he allows. "Whether they were scared of it because we were a metal band, I don't know. But finally someone saw it for what it was."
Indeed, Bullet signed with a branch of the Sony empire, and the angsty "All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)," from the 2006 full-length The Poison, became a sizable hit in Europe and the States. Scream Aim Fire, just released by Jive Records, seems poised to do even better despite being targeted by doubters upset by what they see as commercially motivated compromises. Tuck denies this charge.
"The main thing we've done on this one was write songs in major keys, which automatically makes them a bit poppier," he allows. "As soon as you step into that zone, people start yelling 'Sellout!' and 'You're not a metal band anymore!' But I'm not the type of person afraid of trying something different."
Neither does he shy away from speaking his mind. Bullet's gotten the chance to share bills with some of Tuck's heroes, many of whom have lived up to expectations. He's particularly complimentary toward Metallica, which has become something of a role model for Valentine in terms of how to treat fans. But he believes Axl Rose belongs on the other end of the spectrum — and he resents criticism he's received within the metal community for voicing his views publicly.
"He won't go on stage because his lamb hasn't been cooked that night...and I get stick for saying that?" he asks. "Well, fuck you, man. We're learning from these people, and all we learned from them was how not to do it."
Although Tuck may pass these lessons on to the next generation of Brit-metal purveyors someday, he's not in any rush. "I'm sure there are potentially loads of bands following in our wake, using the formula we use," he says. "But there's not. And it's something that works to our advantage every day."
Visit Backbeat Online for more of our interview with Bullet for My Valentine's Matt Tuck.