Love them or hate them, Black Veil Brides have made a mark for themselves in the world of music. In a recent interview with vocalist Andy Biersack, he made it clear that he didn’t care what people thought of them. If anything, they are true rock stars who play music for the love of their art, and nothing more. The band has gained notoriety for their signature look which is influenced by rock legends such as KISS and Motley Crue. And in true KISS form, Black Veil Brides has gained a very large following of fans who call themselves the BVB Army.
Music has been a very large part of Biersack’s life for as long as he can remember. He found his passion for music at an extremely young age, as his earliest musical memory came about at the age of 3 when he found his dad’s collection of rock music memorabilia. “When I was really young, I was into comic books and Batman, and when I was about three or four years old, I was in the basement of my house and found my dad’s collection of KISS, Aerosmith and Motley Crue memorabilia,” he said. From a very young age, he found himself immersed in classic rock n’ roll music, which was unusual for a kid his age. When it comes to arena rock from the ‘70s and ‘80s, he said, “I was particularly into the larger than life aspect of it.” His musical influences can be seen and heard in Black Veil Brides.
Biersack can’t remember a time when music wasn’t in his life in some form or another, saying, “I can’t think of one point in my life where I wasn’t involved or interested in music. My whole life has revolved around it.” As he got a little older, his musical interests started to turn to punk rock music. By the age of 13, he had started playing in bands, which were initially punk rock bands. “I was heavily influenced by The Misfits and The Damned,” Biersack said. Anyone who listens to the music of Black Veil Brides can hear and see the combined influences of classic rock and punk rock music. He was only 16 years old when he formed Black Veil Brides, and little did he know where the band would be today. In Los Angeles, Biersack eventually met the rest of the guys in the band and the rest is musical history.
The Los Angeles-based band formed in 2006 and released their first album, We Stitch These Wounds, in 2009. At that time, they embarked on their first U.S. tour. The world really started to take notice when they released their second album, Set the World on Fire, in the summer of 2011. The album gained critical acclaim from both critics and fans and debuted at Number 17 on the Billboard Top 200. Their two biggest hits off the album, Rebel Love Song, and Fallen Angels, helped push the band to the next level. The band finally saw their hard work and love for the music pay off.
Black Veil Brides released their third full-length album, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (LAVA Records/Republic Records), at the beginning of this year. Before even going into the recording studio, they made a conscious decision to break new ground with this new album. “I was going through a bit of darkness artistically,” admits Biersack. “We couldn’t just take a logical step from Set the World on Fire, and I knew that. We had to make a giant leap. I wanted to find a fresh way of expressing what our band was both lyrically and creatively.” Biersack gives a lot of credit to producer John Feldman (The Used, Neon Trees, Panic! At the Disco) for helping the band break new ground with their latest release. “He was able to take our ideas and mold them into something really incredible…he pushed us to reach the next level,” Biersack said. The band also had a great amount of help from artistic collaborator Richard Villa III. The making of this album took the band on an adventure where they had never gone before.
This new album is nothing like Black Veil Brides have ever done before. Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones is a concept album that tells a story which runs parallel to their own lives. How did they get the idea to go this direction for their new album? Biersack gives a lot of credit to Feldman, in addition to his own initial idea. “I’ve always been into comic books, short stories and literature, as well as drawing characters,” he said. In fact, when Biersack’s not writing songs, he spends a lot of his spare time writing short stories. While touring, he spends a lot of time writing on buses and planes. “I was on a flight back from Germany when I started writing about this dystopian society story…kind of a new world order kind of thing…I wrote these characters into it that is pretty much parallel to us as a band and didn’t really do anything with it. I was just excited about having this little story that I wrote. I even started drawing character designs for it,” he explained. Shortly after writing the story, he met producer Feldman and they started to write songs together. Biersack said, “He asked what had been going on in my life and what I was interested in. I told him about the story I had written. We started writing songs that were themed around the story and a couple of months later we decided to make a record into the concept. At that point, we started rewriting the story to make it work for the concept of the album.”
Biersack has always been into these types of post-apocalyptic dramas, and they have always fascinated him. “I’ve always been into the new world order idea where the government is the church,” he explained. His story is based around the main fact that the government has removed science and creativity. Further explaining, he said, “It’s about removing the fun parts of society and making it about just existing every day…that kind of every day drudgery. I’ve always really enjoyed those types of stories. It’s always fascinated me about how far people will go and how much people will put up with just for the sake of staying alive.”
So, this is the primary basis of their latest album: it is a concept album that tells the story of dystopian future where a unified church government is devouring society through taking away science and creativity. This despotic regime drugs the youth into becoming drones, but refugees named The Wild Ones – the band’s fictional alter ego – inspires the kids to be themselves and revolt. “In essence, it’s the origin story of the band and the BVB army, “Biersack explained. This is one of the most personal albums the band has released. It not only details the lives of their alter ego, but, as Biersack describes, “It’s the soundtrack to our lives and the lives of The Wild Ones. It’s got elements of everything we’ve done, but it’s different. It’s high-concept, but it’s also personal.” He also added, “At the same time, it’s not a musical. You can listen to any track as a standalone Black Veil Brides song. If you choose to go on the ride, there’s a story.”
Besides Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones being a concept album, it’s also much more musically different than anything they’ve ever created. “We tried our best to do something new and to really rework the way we do things and the way we write songs. We took the time to craft the songs to make sure they are the best possible thing we can put out,” Biersack said. “It was the first time we really worked with a hands on producer. He [Feldman] was very instrumental in helping me in particular with my vocals and really pushing me to sound the best that I possibly can and to write the best I can.” The album features nineteen songs that tell a compelling story which fans everywhere will love. Biersack proudly said, “It was definitely a difficult task to get it all together, but it’s something that we’re definitely proud of.”
Not only do fans have a new album to enjoy, but Black Veil Brides have pushed it a step further. They have released a film to go along with the album which is titled Legion of the Black in which the band members perform chosen songs as well as act. This idea has definitely pushed them into a new musical dimension. “It’s a 50-minute short film that features eight songs from the record. It essentially tells the story of the record. It’s a visual representation of the beginning half of the record leading up to the big battle…it will be very helpful for people to understand the record if they see the movie,” Biersack explained. Basically, the film is a visual of the concept album. The film follows a group of rebels known as “The Wild Ones” as they defend their hearts, minds and bodies against F.E.A.R. The film was released in Los Angeles right before the holidays, as well as recently released on Facebook. If you missed the showings, the film will be released on DVD later this year.
The Black Veil Brides get their songwriting inspiration from their true life experiences, whether it is something that happened before the band came to be or something more current in their life. Biersack explained, “We’ve always spoken a lot about being an outcast as a kid, or being different.” Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones is meant to be a parallel to what their lives were like while they were growing up. Biersack talked about what it was like growing up as an outcast and how kids will use their imagination to get through hard times. “A lot of people look at their bosses, principals or parents as the big bad guy sometimes…this album is a parable, or story, based on all that stuff,” he continued. This is one of the reasons why the band has such a large following of fans, and their fans have been very vocal about the band helping them get through tough times, such as being bullied or being an outcast in general. Because of this, they have a large following of teens and pre-teens.
We try to decide what the best idea is and combine it all into one thing
The band members all work together very well when it comes to songwriting. “Every song is different. Sometimes I’ll have a vocal melody idea, or sometimes it’s as simple as Jinxx having a guitar riff and writing melodies over it. Then we’ll come up with a title or a line and I’ll kind of go off from there. I don’t think there’s ever a formula for how we write the songs. We try to decide what the best idea is and combine it all into one thing,” Biersack explained.
The first single off the new album is In the End. The song has an especially personal meaning to Biersack and is very close to his heart. “My grandfather passed away shortly before the song was written. I grew up in a religious home, but I, myself, am not religious. I’m not necessarily an atheist or a Christian…I guess I just don’t know and I guess that’s always been my standpoint. I personally can’t justify someone going up and living in the clouds,” he said. When his grandfather passed away, it was a very hard thing to deal with because they were so close. “With someone so close to me dying I remember wishing that there was a heaven and that he was in such a wonderful place. The more I started thinking about it, I came to the realization that if there is a heaven it’s not for the dead but for the living and the people who continue to speak about you and carry on your legacy,” he reflected.
Dealing with this great loss in his life, it reminded Biersack about what’s important in the long run. “The most important thing to do in your life is to live every day with the goal of doing something substantial…something that will leave a mark on the world,” he said. “The song In the End is about knowing that when you are dying – or a relationship, a project, something in your life ends – that you’re able to know that you’ll be thought of positively which isn’t always possible. You can’t control the way people perceive you, but knowing you did your best is the most important thing.”
Where there is great success, there are also critics, and Black Veil Brides are no strangers to their critics. “I don’t particularly pay that much attention to the critics. To me it’s always more important what a fan says. If someone who is reviewing the record says that they don’t like something then that’s fine, and I appreciate that they reviewed the record and listened to it, but if a fan comes up to me and says they didn’t like a certain song better than another song, it’s going to mean a lot more to me coming from someone who’s personally invested,” Biersack said. “I don’t look too much at what critics say. Fortunately, our reviews have been pretty positive, but at the end of the day it’s what the audience thinks of it.” The band certainly has their priorities straight when it comes to dealing with their critics; however, their fans are their primary audience and that is who they are concerned with.
The Black Veil Brides do everything for the love of their fans, and for the love of the music and their artistry. “This is the album we always wanted to make,” said Biersack. “I hope our fans can be inspired to create and make their own art from hearing this. I want this to give them freedom.”
Biersack has great plans in store both personally and within the band. “We’re always trying to evolve and improve ourselves. I don’t want to ever be complacent,” he says. “Everyone can always improve. I don’t think I’m the best possible person in the world, but I know that I’m proud of what I’ve done so far in my life.”
Black Veil Brides are: Andy Biersack (vocals), Ashley Purdy (bass), Jinxx (guitar), Jake Pitts (guitar) and Christian Coma (drums
Legion of the Black Movie Trailer:
Live Photos by: Jo Jackson