Welsh metal band Bullet for My Valentine broke a 14-month performing dry spell when it headlined the United Kingdom’s Camden Rocks Festival on May 30. While the group is now preparing to return to the road in July to support upcoming album Venom (Aug. 14, RCA), the trip is also going to serve another meaningful purpose. As Bullet for My Valentine travels through the United States, Europe and South America, its gear will include some very precious cargo: the ashes of two of its fans.
“It’s never been asked of us before,” says singer-guitarist Matt Tuck, who spoke exclusively to Billboard. “But it’s such a beautiful gesture, it makes you feel a bit funny inside.”
According to the Mirror.co.uk, BFMV fans Corran “Coz” Powell, 21, and James Simmons, 18, died from injuries sustained in a car accident in December 2014. Tuck says the pair were students at a U.K. music college, and when the school asked the band if it would send its condolences to their families, the act complied. Later, the group received the request to take some of Powell and Simmons’ remains on tour with them.
Says Tuck, “It’ll make the family a little bit happy in a shitty situation. I can’t even imagine [dealing with that], so anything we can do to help, it’s not even a question.” While the Daily Mirror reported that the band will wear necklaces that contain the ashes, Tuck says guitarist Michael “Padge” Paget volunteered to take responsibility for transporting the remains. “Padge has actually got them at his house. I haven’t seen anything yet.”
Tuck’s band has made its appreciation to fans known long before this gesture. BFMV’s 2008 album Scream Aim Fire contained the song “Forever and Always,” which was a thank-you to its audience for sticking with them through hard times like the vocal problems Tuck experienced during that album cycle. (“I had a tonsillectomy,” he recalls. “There was a period of about nine months where I couldn’t sing a note.”) He pays his respects again on Venom with the rousing “Army of Noise,” a song about the camaraderie people share at live concerts.
“It’s a metaphor for our fans being at a live show,” he explains. “Just kind of putting into words a scene of going to a heavy metal show when I was a kid, you know? The feeling of anticipation and being blown to pieces by the PA system and seeing your friends and having a good time.”
However, Tuck says that the essential goal of Venom was to visit “a lot darker place” lyrically than albums like 2013’s Temper Temper and 2010’s Fever. He wanted to capture something “that was very reminiscent of the early days of the band, about being frustrated with life and really being able to feel like there was any way of making something of myself.” For example, the lyrics to first single “No Way Out” are “about being trapped and having the desire to want to succeed and do something special with yourself, but never really being given the opportunity to do so.”
The motivation to create more bellicose music partially came from hearing that fans wanted to hear “a more angry, aggressive” sound from BFMV. “People were wanting a pissed-off band, and it’s hard to write stuff like that when I don’t feel like that on a personal level,” explains Tuck. “So it was more visiting these places and writing this style of song which I did before the band got signed, which ultimately got us where we are today. It was just taking that onboard and making a conscious effort to do something that wasn’t very nice.
“Some of the most horrible, nasty lyrics are some of the [band’s] most popular songs,” continues Tuck with a laugh. He cites “Tears Don’t Fall,” “All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)” and “Four Words (To Choke Upon)” as some of those tracks. “It’s weird how people have such a strong reaction and a positive reaction to songs or lyrics which aren’t very nice at all, but I guess that’s why people love our band in the first place.”
Another Venom song “You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War)” is about a topic Tuck previously visited on the Scream Aim Fire track “Waking the Demon”: being bullied. He recalls being picked on a lot while at school and “was not a really cool kid. I was into heavy metal music and had long hair.”
Tuck wanted to tell fans that bullying “happens to everybody, and it’s not a nice place to be when that happens. It took me a long time to actually pluck up the courage mentally and physically to stand up for myself, so it was kind of momentous moment for me. I had lost all these battles in my young life, and all of a sudden I was growing into a young man. I was able to stand up for myself and defend myself, and the band actually became something big and special and just like the biggest ‘fuck you’ to everyone. That’s what that song’s about, really. It’s about going through hard times and coming through the other side.”