BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE Bassist: 'We Went From Nothing To Being On MTV And Covers Of Magazines'

New Zealand's NZRock recently conducted an interview with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE bassist/backing vocalist Jason "Jay" James. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow.

NZRock: Has there ever been a time when the band has been stricken with writer's block?

Jason: If we're in a writing rehearsal scheduled back home and in the practice rooms and we'll be like, "Right, we have to write some songs and we've a certain riff," and it's just like, What can we put next?" We'll just jam it out to that point see what happens. It'll be like an hour where we're just all together and it's just chaos we don't try so hard on that then, we'll leave that song and start on it fresh a couple of months later when we think we've got something that'll fit it. We dont just try and push a song for the sake of it. As far as lyrics go, yeah, Matt [Tuck] had kind of a block with lyrics last year and we all came together to help him out with that one. He was depressed because he thought he was going to lose his voice because he had all the operation stuff, but he turned that into productive content, he wrote a song about that as well. I actually sat down with him when he had this block and I myself write lots of lyrics, so we brought up all my lyrics and all his lyrics and we got the songs together and sang through the songs. We just made up lyrics and what we thought the songs needed. Everyone gets writing blocks but I think the reason for it is that you're trying too hard on that one particular part of the song or lyric. You've just got to leave it, try something else and come back fresh.

NZRock: After Matt had surgery, did you guys have fears that he wouldn't be able to stay with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE?

Jason: Yeah, it was a very very stressful time for us all. From the day that we got signed it was like things happened so fast for us. We went from like nothing to being on MTV and the front cover of magazines. It was like, "Oh my God, we just shot to the top," and our feet didn't touch the floor. So, as you can imagine, we were like touring, touring, touring, and we didn't even have time to think, "Wow, this is happening to us, this is the level that we're at, look how big we're getting," until we started seeing shows that were just getting bigger and bigger and then we were seeing ourselves on TV. So it wasn't until we had to stop for Matt to go into hospital and then when he came into practice and he couldn't sing that we all sat down and thought, "We've just stopped." We stopped and we had to recap. It all dawned on us then: what we had, what we'd accomplished and what we might've lost. It was a big kick in the teeth for us. So we helped him, tried to get him through it, because I didn't want to see him put himself down and stuff. We even talked about getting someone else in to actually sing and Matt just play guitar. None of us wanted that and the label didn't want that. So we all helped him through it. I physically made him stay in his house. I went round to his house and made him get his guitar out and sing the songs he was having trouble with, over and over again until he was pissed off. [Laughs] I would not give up on him, man. And then one day he had it again. Basically he had some of his throat actually taken away from him. He had to re-learn how to sing and do it properly. So he had to get coaches in from all over the world helping him and thank God, we actually got through it. We did actually think at one point that we were going to lose him.

NZRock: Has that whole experience brought you guys together even more as a band?

Jason: Yeah, it definitely has. We're a lot stronger unit now. We've been friends since we were like four years old, so we're tight anyway as mates. We're like brothers, or family, you could call us. But as far as our spirit on the road, it's definitely got stronger since that situation.

NZRock: When you were doing "The Poison" album, you first recorded the whole album with Canadian producer Garth "GGGarth" Richardson then scrapped those recordings and re-recorded it with Colin Richardson. What went wrong with GGGarth's set of recordings?

Jason: I think it was a label idea. With Colin Richardson, he's very particular sonically about his music and everything. He won't rest until every single tom, every string, everything is sounding the best it can sound. He only releases an album if it's better than his last sound. So he'll take as long as it takes to produce this amazing new magnificant sound right. So he was taking a little long and crunch time was coming so the label was like, "Why don't we try this guy from Canada, Garth?" He's supposed to be this really big producer. So they were like, "Do you want to go over and give it a go?" And we were like, "No, we don't." And they said, "But that's all you've known is Colin Richardson. Why dont you give somebody else a go?" So we were like, "OK, if that's what you want." They said they'd pay for it and everything, so we went over and did like four songs or something, and we didn't have any input into the songs. He just took them, changed them all around, took all the parts out and made them sound completely different. We didn't even get a playback until he was finished, so when we listened to the CD on the way to the airport. We were nearly in tears, it was horrible, it was absolutely horrible. The end of "The Poison", the song, at the end, if you listened to what he'd done to it, it was just unbelievably weird. It was like the middle-eight was at the end and stuff and some parts were taken out and our voices were put in different places. It was like woah, this doesnt even make sense. I think just because of his name he was just trying to do something you know. With Colin Richardson we'd take a preproduced song to him and he'd be like, "There's nothing that I really want to do with the structure, that's done," but he would add a little harmony here and now, little bass notes here and there, little drum fills in places that we've already put them, to make them sound bigger, but he has never had to mess with the structure of our songs and he's just such a cool guy with the sound and everything. So yeah, Garth Richardson was a really bad experience for us and I don't think we'll ever work with him ever again. Honest to God, he wasn't even turning up to our recording sessions, it was just all his technicians. He'd turn up with a Coke, look at everyone and then just walk out. And we'd be like, "Aren't you going to come and listen to what we're putting down?" It just didn't work for us at all.

Read the entire interview at NZRock.

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