8 ways to be a brilliant metal frontman
8 ways to be a brilliant metal frontman
Matt Tuck and Gustav Wood are best known as the frontmen of their respective hard-touring heavy rock bands, Bullet For My Valentine and Young Guns.
If they haven't seen it all between them, well, they've certainly covered a large proportion. Now with a run of BFMV's neck-craningly huge UK arena shows lined up for this December (featuring support from Asking Alexandria and Young Guns), we pinned down the two vocalists and extracted the following wisdom about fronting a band in the live arena - quite literally in this case…
It doesn't matter what size the crowd is - give it your all
Gus: "We've always played every show with the exact same amount of intensity. Whether we're the supporting act on an arena show or in a dive bar with 200 people and sweat dripping off the wall, it's just as important that you connect with every person in that room.
"The toys you have to play with and the tools you use can change, but fundamentally, you just have to go out there and give it 100%. And as much as that sounds like a cliché, it's true. People can see through bullshit."
Size matters not
In some ways, the small shows are the most scary
Matt: "I've grown over the last couple of years, so that the bigger the audience, the calmer I am. That's where I feel more at home. I will be a different frontman for a club show, I won't even move, [does power pose] I'll just be giving it this!"
Gus: "I've always found myself more liberated in front of a larger audience. It's a very bizarre thing that we do and I think you have to believe in the mythology. When you're standing in front of that many people, it's that much easier to grow into that role."
Why do we fall?
It's not how you fall, it's how you get back up
Gus: "Inevitably, I'm going to fall over at some point on the tour. It's not really about what happens, but it's about how you deal with it. For me, the best way is just to laugh it off and not let it affect your confidence. If you're confident and in the moment then you can get away with a lot, but if you retreat into your shell it just kills it. This is where Matt's like, 'I've never fallen over…'"
Matt: "I haven't."
Matt: "I'm static for 60/70% of the show. I'm a target - you can move!"
Still water runs deep
Sometimes, less movement = more presence
Matt: "These days I've become a lot more of a cooler character. In the first couple of albums it was all about energy, running here, running there, but now I'll just dominate the middle of the stage and occasionally wander over and look like a badass."
Gus: "It speaks volumes, doesn't it? It's almost like having the confidence to not 'have' to cover every inch of the stage. That's something that I've really only learned over the past year and a half or so. It's almost that you can fill more space by just standing there and giving a presence off."
Be the hero
Learn from your hero - as long as it's James Hetfield
Gus: "Hetfield is more than a frontman, he's an icon."
Matt: "I've always wanted that persona for myself and my band. I wanted to be a figure that people would be like, 'That's Matt Tuck' straight away, you know? He was just there: hunched shoulders, legs wide - a rock god. And the way he conducts himself onstage, there's no drama. It's just: 'This is my world.'"
Gus: "You played some shows with them, didn't you?"
Matt: "Yeah, we played loads. We've done some tunes with them [onstage]."
Gus: "That's ridiculous. I wouldn't have been able to keep my cool…"
Matt: "It was definitely intimidating, but it's cool. That's what makes someone that kind of figure: it is intimidation to an extent. [Up close] it's a whole new intensity level."
Gus: "I think that's the ultimate lesson, no matter what kind of band you're in: it's about making it your stage."
Use your instincts
Trust your auto-pilot
Matt: "For me, it's just being comfortable and then letting your autopilot do it's job. Muscle memory kicks in nine times out of 10, but as soon as you switch on - not off - that's when problems happen. As soon as you start becoming aware of where you are and what you're doing, the first vocal line goes [from your memory]. "
Gus: "Sometimes you'll go for the first line and it just goes 'Eurgh.'"
Matt: "Or you wait for the crowd to sing it!"
Gus: "[Laughs] Yeah, then it's like, 'It's cool, I know that one!'"
Don't be put off
Don't be thrown by others' mistakes
Matt: "In the early days, for the first couple of records, it would bug me if there was a bum note, or a dropped beat. But I think, since the last album, we've all learned to say, 'OK, it's done. You've dropped a note. It's gone.'
"It used to affect us. There would be a dirty look here and there. You'd be like, 'You fucker!' But we've learned to forget about it now, because every night there will be something, but you can't live a rock 'n' roll dream and worry about a bum note!"
Relax, don't do it
Matt: "The thing I don't like is over-confidence. I'd rather see someone stumble on their words and be humble than a cocky guy, who's abusing the crowd, shouting 'Come on you fucking idiots! Fucking move!' It's like, 'Relax, man. You're not helping the situation.'"
Gus: "Confidence is so important. I found it only came with a shitload of repetition. I went in completely green and now I see people in the same place and I just think, 'Give it time mate.' You've got to go through that to make it better."