"We're just a hard rock band with metal influences" - Bullet for my Valentine's Michael 'Moose' Thomas

Pies. Beer. And tours...so many tours...

Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas is on the phone, speaking in his delightful Welsh accent. The Bullet For My Valentine drummer is getting ready to fly to Australia to kick off their tour with some Soundwave appearances before the band scoots back to Europe and the US for a whole bunch of gigs, finishing up in Romania and Russia around August. That’s a long time to be on the road but luckily Michael loves his job and the whole recording/touring process.

With the new album Temper Temper due for release this month, what were some of the highlights for you? His answer is simple and succinct: “I’m just happy we’ve recorded another album – we’re all loving it – and we get to go on tour again. The highlight for me is doing it all again.”

When I ask about the difference between the new album and previous releases, Michael says “There are two tracks on the album, Temper Temper and Riot, that are different to what we’ve done before but the rest of the album is really ‘business as usual’…” There’s been some division between fans over the sound of these new tracks (Temper Temper was the first single and Riot the second); what’s your view on how they’ve been received? “It’s weird, it’s like all the old hard-core Bullet fans hate it and then on the flip side of that, we’ve got a bunch of new fans which we never thought would have been into the band – which is cool. I like to hear the views of the old fans and hear what they’ve got to say but we’ve also got these new fans [to consider] which is awesome.”

Don Gilmour produced Temper Temper and he also produced Fever (2010); the band must enjoy working with him? For Michael, it was an easy choice, “We felt he did a cool job on Fever, and we kind of knew after Fever was finished that we’d want to work with Don again. He’s become more of a friend than a co-worker now so it was an obvious choice for us to work with Don again.”

While Bullet had Benji Webbe (Skindred) guesting on Scream Aim Fire (2008), Michael tells me that this time around there are no guests; “It’s a 100% Bullet on Temper Temper.”, though he does add that “Benji’s awesome – we’ve been friends with him for a long time…”

I ask if the band went with Benji because he’s a Welshman like the rest of the band and Michael explains that “Matt (Tuck) was doing the vocals for Scream Aim Fire in a local studio in Newport and Benji was there…”, the pair got talking and the rest is metal history. Speaking of which, are Bullet a metal, metal-core or melodic metal-core band?  For Michael, it’s simple: “We’re just a hard rock band with metal influences – there’s nothing core or otherwise about it ,” and he adds “I hate the labels as well…” Too right, matey.

Getting back to touring, do you find that because you’re constantly switching countries that everything just blurs into a ‘Spinal Tap/Hello Cleveland’ moment? “You always kind of know where you are but I do that in America – America all looks the same to me so I don’t know what state I’m in or where it is geographically – but other than that I know where I am. If something memorable happens then I’ll know where I was [when it happened].” And just to further ingratiate himself with the Aussie fans he adds “though Australia is one of - if not the - favourite tour we love to do…”

At least Michael will have the chance to get away from the crappy weather, as he tells me “We’ve had shitty snow. I’m not a big snow fan. It’s ludicrous, every time we have snow, the whole country stops. It pisses me off. I wanted to go to work because I love my job and everyone else stayed home so I can’t go to work because of the stupid snow.”

Is there anyone on the Soundwave bill that you’re particularly looking forward to seeing? “Definitely Metallica; Slayer obviously, and Vision of Disorder who I’ve loved since I was 14 or 15 years old.” And playing the Download Festival in the UK in June, is that a big thing for you? “Yeah, it is. Being a British band at a British Festival; it’s always nice to be asked if we want to do it so we were very proud to do it, just chill out after the tour and play Download…yeah, we love it.” He still sounds slightly awed to be playing such an event.

You’ve got two children, is it hard to be apart during tours? “It is horrible but that’s all I’ve done since they were born so I’m used to it and they’re kind of used to it now. As they get older, I’m sure they’ll come out for a couple of shows with me one day.” I should just point out that no matter how cool you are, there will come a point when your children think you’re not cool but for now Michael is enjoying the adoration. Do your children take an interest in your music? “Yeah, my son has – he plays my drums. He’s definitely showing signs of wanting to learn instruments and play music. I wouldn’t want to push it on him but for me, it’s the best thing he could do with his life, as far as I’ve done with mine, but whatever he chooses is his own choice.”

I ask why the nick-name ‘Moose’ and he explains “It’s just something my father called me when I was kid and all my mates would hear my dad call me ‘Moose’ and it’s just stuck…” - lucky he didn’t call you ‘Little Git” or “Bum-Face” then…

So vocalist Matt Tuck and Liam Cormier (Cancer Bats) have their side project Axewound; do you have anything in the pipeline? “Nothing really – though I did start a clothing line with my tattooist friend, which is called InkBred, that’s about it. It’s doing really well and it’s been taking some up some time since last year.” Fashion, eh? Well, it certainly makes a change from musical side-projects.

You originally started on guitar, what prompted the change to drums? “I really wanted to be a guitarist, that was always my thing, but as soon as I put on a CD or a cassette (Google it, young-tards) back in the day, all I could hear were the drums, and there were a bunch of us playing instruments with everyone playing guitar and we were wanting to start a band but there were no drummers and I just started playing drums from there. If it wasn’t for Dave Grohl of Nirvana, I wouldn’t have become a drummer, and from there I got into the more technical things like Dave Lombardo of Slayer and that got me into double-kick work and stuff like that…”

Michael still lives in Wales, as he points out “To be honest, I love living in Wales because I travel the world so much it’s always nice to come back to a place where you come from; it’s a place called Bridgend which is about 15 or 20 miles from Cardiff.”

A quiet, sleepy town? “Yeah, nothing much happens really, which is nice to come home to…”

I ask if he has trouble winding down after a long tour but he assures me “No, I kind of lock myself in and my friends come over and we just get really drunk…”

He tells me the band used to go ape-shit every night but now “we’ve calmed it down and then we come home, that’s when we go mental…” although he does miss British food when he’s on the road. Talking of food gets Michael excited about a pie he had in Sydney Harbour, and he starts laughing when I point out that’s it’s an odd thing to recall from a world tour; a pie, in Sydney. But he does point out that particular pie was ‘awesome’…

And finally from food to beverages; what are you looking forward to in Australia? “Beer. It’s always nice to come down and drink beer, the fans are always awesome down there and it’s a chance to play with some really cool bands…”