Just because it is 2014 doesn’t mean that hook-laden and well-crafted infectious hard rock is no longer applicable. If nothing else, 2014 means that the universe of rock music is more versatile and healthy than it has ever been. New bands are being formed all the time and take on their respective influences shaping songs with a new edge and incorporating the latest technology in which to reap their rewards.
The youth have not turned their backs on the Sunset Boulevard either with bands like Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe maintaining certain tides of influence over new output. The results can be heard for just such an example with Black Veil Brides, which within a relatively short time have climbed the formidable mountain of talented artists and bands to be noted in both negative view-points and positive ones.
This California-based quintet hold dear to their bosom values bestowed upon them by a varied plethora of bands; but never far from their lips you’ll hear mentions of Metallica, KISS, Mötley Crüe and other similar entities. Their image alone strikes a comparison to early ‘Crüe during their ominous Too Fast for Love and Shout at the Devil days whilst the music itself captures frantic riffs hinting at the ‘Crüe after too many caffeine fixes, and vocals that at times land in the same ball park as James Hetfield of Metallica.
The founding member of these rockin’ whippersnappers goes by the name of Andy Biersack who turns 24 years of age in December. Leaving behind names like Andy Black and Andy Six, he seems to have settled in his skin to deliver a confrontational yet accessible frontman persona which has caught the imagination of not only younger audiences which relate to his lyrics and charms, but also older audiences yearning for the glory days of their favorite rock bands.
Their last album which was unveiled in 2012 went by the title of Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones and tapped into the dizzy ambition of the concept album. Cohesive and far superior in arrangement, focus and execution, the album stood head and shoulders above their previous studio releases which had moments of magic.
From beginning to end on Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones the listener was entertained and seduced by the quick one-two of I Am Bulletproof and New Year’s Day; the slithering title track, the irresistible anthem-like qualities of We Don’t Belong, the tender Lost it All and of course the hit single In the End.
“We happened to have the luck of our song In the End off our previous record did very well on rock radio, and Bob happened to be listening to rock radio in his car. He kept hearing this song In the End on the radio and basically by virtue of that he loved the song but knew nothing about the band.” Biersack is sounding in enthusiastic form despite being on the treadmill of consecutive interviews and taking two or three bites out of a chicken breast between.
The lead vocalist, songwriter and occasional pianist was on duty to discuss their forthcoming fourth studio album Black Veil Brides IV and at this point of the conversation, was explaining how legendary producer Bob Rock became such an integral part of the song-writing process for the album and his involvement as producer.
“He told me that he loved the sound of my voice and he loved the whole idea of the guitar-driven rock idea, and it sounded like stuff he was in to and stuff he used to really enjoy producing. You also have to realise that Bob hasn’t made a hard rock record in 15 years plus, he just hasn’t been in this world.” Biersack then adds “He said himself that he felt like he had conquered that world and didn’t want to get back in to it and young bands so rarely have something to truly offer he believes.”
The youthful frontman takes a breath and elaborates further on his recollections. “Bob heard our songs and through his own kind of interests about how to contact this band, Bob doesn’t know much about the current rock climate. Admittedly he doesn’t keep up with the young bands. He likes stuff that is good basically and if he hears a good song, then he thinks it’s a good song!”
With a genuine smile, he goes with the flow of his thoughts on this collaboration. “He tracked down our manager and I got a call one morning that just said – Hey do you want to have breakfast with Bob Rock? My immediate response was – Of course yes I would love to have breakfast with Bob Rock, what is the pretense? It was Bob Rock wanting to produce our next record.”
Biersack came alive when reminiscing over their first encounter with the man who helmed production duties on two seminal rock albums around the turn of the 80’s to the 90’s – Dr. Feelgood by Mötley Crüe and the self-titled Metallica album. “There he was, he walked in. He looked exactly like he has in every Behind The Music and every documentary ever and he’s got the blonde hair, the cowboy boots, the tight jeans and leather jacket and everything and we’re like – ‘Fuck, that’s Bob Rock!’”
“Once that initial shock of meeting such a charismatic personality and such a famous personality within the rock community we started talking about the music. Our sensibilities matched up really well and it seemed like we all wanted to make the same type of record. It was just kind of a match made in heaven.” Hearing Biersack naturally ending his thoughts on that fateful meeting and imagining him tucking in to a quick bite of his chicken breast, it would be easy to think that with such a big name associated with the new album might eclipse other fundamental ingredients.
The ingredients which make the music that we know from within the beating heart of Black Veil Brides include fellow band members Jake Pitts on lead guitar, Jeremy ‘Jinxx’ Ferguson handling rhythm guitar, backing vocals and where appropriate some violin; bassist and backing vocalist Ashley Purdy plus drummer Christian ‘CC’ Coma who thrills on percussion too.
Both Biersack and Pitts were heard providing radio promotion for the Black Veil Brides IV album in the UK recently, and on a locally aired rock show called ‘Rockulus Maximus’ to a backdrop of the furious and melodic single Heart of Fire the two spoke more about their thoughts on the album. Regarding the lyrics for the first single Heart of Fire, Biersack explained “I had not written a lot of the lyrics for this song prior to going up to Vancouver to track the vocal. Most of it came right before we were about to do the song. There was something that was so close to me and I really wanted to get it right so to speak, so I spent a lot of time thinking about what the thematic elements of the song were going to be, and how I could convey that.”
As the lead guitarist sat quietly, the lead vocalist continued his explanation regarding the song. “The song to me plays a little bit into the idea of that despite the fact time and circumstance sometimes change people, the idea that you have one driving passion or fire or something you believe in, that’s intrinsic to you and will stay relevant to you for your entire life, that’s what this song kind of plays around, so that’s Heart of Fire.”
Official Music Video for Heart of Fire
Pitts then adds during this audio promotion in the UK how he feels that another song on the album called Faithless is his favorite track on Black Veil Brides IV. He mentions how the song was essentially intact as a demo for nearly two years or so before they were able to assemble it to a satisfactory point for the album. On the subject of favorite songs, Biersack then points out his at that moment in time is a track called Crown of Thorns.
With the band calling previous studio albums in such colorful word-play like We Stitch These Wounds and Set the World on Fire, why didn’t the band go for something creative like Drag Me to the Grave (a track from the new album) this time around? “We made a concept record on our last record, and it was not only a concept record but it also had a full-length film that we made for it, all of which had separate titles. The previous record was called Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones and then the movie was called the Legion of the Black, all of which tied in together.”
Biersack went further; “Going in to this record I just felt like it was unnecessary to throw out nine hundred titles. We made in our estimation, the most organic and kind of raw record we’ve ever made, and it just felt like the most symbolic nature of it was to call it by the band’s name. Bob has a great history with artists doing self-titled records, and I felt like, in a way we wanted to pay tribute to all of those bands that we loved growing up. Bands like Metallica and obviously having the self-titled nature of those records and then growing up being Led Zeppelin fans and the kind of numbered system, we just thought it would be a nice homage to the band we loved.”
Barely taking a breath, the young creative mind behind Black Veil Brides pushes onwards with his explanation and thinking behind the title of their new album. “I feel like it would have been taking away from the impact of what we believe the record to be by giving it a title like Drag Me to the Grave or Last Rites or any of these others. All of them would have been viable and totally understandable but they’re song titles. To me the whole record as a whole is just, it is, it is Black Veil Brides.”
Official Audio for the song Faithless
When Biersack was quizzed about the relevance of the inclusion of bells within the track Faithless perhaps being a subtle homage to Metallica, the frontman didn’t burst out laughing or respond with shock and dismay. “Absolutely! Absolutely. One hundred percent. The reason for that was we had Bob Rock there! We said – We have always loved those god damn bells, how can we do our own bells, know what I mean? I said many times there are definitely elements on the record; none of the songs in my opinion sound like tributes to anything, but there’s certainly elements in all of the songs that are our own tributes to the bands we loved growing up.”
With this in mind, some might expect a backlash similar to those witnessed when Avenged Sevenfold released Hail to the King last year. Not only did the release prove to be a commercial darling and the best-selling studio album of the band’s career to date, but it also brought with it some negative responses from esteemed musicians like Robb Flynn of Machine Head and others. What would be the verdict on such things possibly transpiring once the album has been digested by the masses?
“I don’t really consider that stuff. To be frank I receive so much insane derision for random causes constantly that the whole idea of being kind of like a polarizing or divisive band or whatever else, those are things I see all of the time. So if someone said we sounded too much like this or that, it would just be another thing to add to the pile of shit that I don’t care about!”
Going back to the interview which was aired locally in the UK where Pitts and Biersack were on the road discussing their new studio creation, the guitarist had some insights to share regarding the creative process leading up to the recording of Black Veil Brides IV. “It was a little bit different than what we’ve done before. Typically we go into a studio to do an album and we’re in the studio writing the songs and maybe there’s 30 ideas floating around and we narrow down what we’re going to work on. We actually wrote this record before we started recording, before we went into the studio!”
Pitts explains a little more in-depth about their approach. “So we all got into a room together and we had real pre-production on this record. Bob was there with us kind of directing us in the right direction where to go with the songs. He let us do our thing and write the songs the way we wanted them, but then he would kind of jump up and shout out his idea and direct us where to go or where not to go. Then we went into the studio and got to record the record, so basically all of it was written before we actually recorded this time.”
The band members in Black Veil Brides are all young guys, and imagining the testosterone in the air and the money they may be making during these relatively early stages of their career could give rise to some rock n’ roll debauchery; times of decadence, events of celebration and a gang-mentality as the band fall into echoes of the well-documented lifestyle of hard rockers Mötley Crüe or any of the other heralded guitar-tooting wonders of that era?
Biersack inhales before stating directly about his standpoint on the partying mentality. “I found that a lot of that wasn’t really for me. When we first started touring I was 17 years old and from 17 to 19 I tried everything I possibly could. I found it really doesn’t fit well with my sensibilities. Don’t get me wrong I still have a drink and I still go out with the guys or whatever, but for the most part it doesn’t fit well with everything that I do. I have so much on my plate with things I’m facilitating for our career and everything else; it’s not really advantageous for me to be out of my mind. I have a career to think about and I have stuff to think about and that’s just the way my brain works. I like working, I like thinking, I like being analytical, it’s served me well my whole life.”
The lead vocalist puts pay to tales of wicked temptation and stories of prior adventure and makes sure the record is straight about his current outlook and attitude to the world around him. The overall vibe becomes somewhat evident in not only his tone and comprehensive responses, but within the context of the answers for all to note; his professional focus remaining completely intact and his ambition staying firmly on the rails.
Regarding his ambition, when quizzed on whether he has several aspirations he wishes to reach Biersack thoughtfully and carefully negotiates his words. “They’re not specific goals. It’s an ultimate goal and then my thought process is how do I achieve each element towards that ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to be able to do this for my entire life and for this to be something that continuously gets to the point of success to where I can do the things I have always dreamed of. You know, being in a large arena show with all the pyro and whatever else. These are the elements of the things that everybody wants to do and these are the dreams I have as well.”
Naturally with such a thought-provoking territory, Biersack pauses and then continues his stream of thought. “I do not set goals or quickly obtainable things as I feel like it breeds complacency in a way. If I was to say – I really just want to be on a cover of a magazine, and then we’re on the cover of a magazine, every other time it’s no longer any fun for that person. But if I say – I want to have this dream and then holy shit, isn’t it cool that this publication wants me on the cover of this, or this thing happened or this song was on this radio station, to me it breeds more fun or enjoyment with the smaller elements of the larger goal.”
Confirmation if any was needed that this young man is thoroughly enjoying and revelling in his role as the frontman of a hard rock band which encompasses modern values in and amongst some classic influences. It would be fair to say that Black Veil Brides are not the only band or artist who attempt to mix these qualities as many new bands filter through to the surface after plying their trade over random durations. Some are more fortunate than others to reach such locations as commercial success and respect from their peers, whilst many find themselves victims of the many pitfalls which lay ahead of them.
Black Veil Brides are a five person team all pushing themselves further with their knowledge of the instruments they play, and as a unit creating a sound which hints at many before them but yet still has the privilege of sounding like them. The unique DNA leading up to this point is responsible for a song like Unbroken which is featured on the movie soundtrack compilation for Avengers Assemble, or perhaps their earlier track Knives and Pens which appears on both their official debut album We Stitch These Wounds (2010) and the previous U.S. only release called Sex & Hollywood (2007).
With the momentum of each of their releases gaining the band a wider and larger audience, the inclusion of Rock at the production helm of this new album and their professional aptitude, it looks highly likely that these guys aren’t going to fade away any time soon as they continue to pursue a life-long career in the music business. How can such rock music luminaries like an ill-informed Gene Simmons from KISS publicly state such crap as “Rock is dead” and maintain a sincere facial expression simultaneously? That’s a rhetorical question for people like you who enjoy keeping up to date with what is REALLY happening in the universe of rock music.