“We don’t hide what we are.”
That statement makes perfect sense to those familiar with Black Veil Brides. Yet lead singer Andy Biersack still finds himself uttering those words every now and then. Only because he is at times prodded to address their over-the-top look in various interviews. The topic came up in our chat as I alluded to all the negative comments plastered on message boards when preparing to speak with the 20 year-old who created the more-or-less theatrical rock-n-metal band six years ago. They also have their fair share of supporters as well…
“We sort of stick out like a sore thumb in most situations when it comes to rock music. And we’re certainly a band that is either love or hated; there are few people that are like ‘oh I kind of like that band’. It’s either that people seem to love what we do or are completely closed-minded.”
BVB is currently playing on the Advent Stage of the Warped Tour and are garnering attention as one of the must-see acts on this year’s installment of the uber-popular summer festival.
The band has quickly vaulted into the spotlight the last couple years; which Andy attributes to finding the right group of guys who are all on the same page. Certain platforms have noted that the band has already seen members come-and-go, which had me asking whether this was attributed to the sound or the throwback look they portray. Andy sets the record straight…
“You know, honestly more than anything I think it’s important to note that the number of members is misleading, because I have been performing under the name Black Veil Brides since I was 14. And when I started it was just myself and then sort of a rotating backing band. It wasn’t until about 2009, that I had the current band that is Black Veil Brides and we formed a real band and it was more a solidified unit. Now, you know, it’s the five of us that are Black Veil Brides instead of it just being me. So the number of members – when you look at it on Wikipedia, it looks like a staggering statistic; but when you consider solo artists all the time have tons of different band members – that’s more of what it really was. And it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I found people with the same sensibilities and wanted to do the same things that I wanted to do, that the band really came to fruition. And since then, the line-up has always been the same.”
Probably the most common question or subject matter this band tackles is their likeness to bands they’ve repetitively admitted to having been influenced by. It’s tough to avoid that (well, it is for me since we have similar tastes) but there is a way to attack it from a different angle. So I posed the scenario of Andy learning that one of his musical heroes came out and said that BVB wasn’t all that special. Would hearing that from one of his personal idols bring down his world or affect him in anyway? His always candid & respectful response…
“No, not at all. Honestly, I could care less. To me, I could give a fuck what anyone of those, you know, heroes, that I had our as people or what their personal interests are. I just know what they meant to me as a kid and what their influence meant to me as a kid. It just so happens that we’ve been fortunate in people like Alice Cooper and Sebastian Bach, have been genuinely nice people that have been very cool to us and very complimentary. And that’s a huge thrill! On the same token, we don’t seek it; we don’t go out and try to get the approval of the people that influence us, because at the end of the day, I don’t really care. I very much enjoy what this band is and I am very confident in what we do. And the rest sort of isn’t really worth a whole hell of a lot to me. If somebody wants to say something negative that influenced me, I’ll go ‘Okay, that’s fine.’ Doesn’t mean their influence is any less toward me. I can’t deny the fact – say that (negative comments from his idols) were to happen – I can’t deny the affect Motley Crue had on me. So I’m not going to say screw that band or whatever, it doesn’t really matter, everyone enjoys something different.”
He elaborated on that point saying it doesn‘t matter whether it’s someone off the street or one of his personal heroes, if someone has something negative to say, they‘re going to say it. And it’s just not worth dwelling on.
Within the first five minutes of speaking with Andy, one will learn that he’s a focused and introspective guy. Rare to find someone that is this self-aware at a young age and in the music biz no less. The vision of his band lends itself to being embraced and polarizing. While catching their set at the Warped Tour in Vinoy Park this past Sunday, one will start to realize what BVB is all about. Which is evident when the gothic-looking band is constantly smiling during their engaging performance…they’re just loving the moment…
“Oh yeah man, I get to do my favorite thing in the world. I would be sort of an idiot if I was walking around looking sad on stage. I mean, I get to prance around and look like a fool and sing with an audience. There’s really nothing negative about it. It’s nothing but a good time. So, if I’m smiling it’s genuine, I enjoy being on stage more than anything.”
From there I suggested that he venture into the Reverse Daycare tent set-up at Warped Tour so parents, who are hiding away while their teens are letting out their angst, can get a sense of what he’s like behind the make-up and the melodic-rumbling sound the band puts out. It’s not his job to open anyone’s eyes to what their doing, but BVB’s lyrics are at times about learning to open one’s mind. If anything, having Andy strut into that tent dawning all his Alice Cooper meets Nikki Sixx with a splice of Marilyn Manson circa 1994 gear on; and having him yap the ‘rents, could be a worthy lesson for the latter. At the very least, one funny Youtube video.
He did mention that they when the opportunity arises, the band will chat with parents and they usually lead to insightful conversations for both parties.
For those wondering (I was) if bands choreograph any of those classic moves consisting of head-banging or seeing guitarists going back-to-back during solos…some do. Black Veil Brides, not so much…
“We don’t choreograph anything; we do whatever feels natural on stage. Obviously over the years of playing together, there are certain things that become, I guess, routine. But it’s never planned out. It’s not like, ‘okay, this part of the song we’re all going to get together and head bang’ That’s sort of cheating a little bit, it should be organic. The show should always be exactly what you feel in your heart. And if you are performing on stage and you’re really into the song and enjoying what you are doing, you should release that via whatever angst or aggression you have in general, it should be released organically. The show for us is always about being high-energy and having fun with it, and we never contrive stage moves.
There’s enough practice that goes into dressing up like we do (laughing).”
He’s not kidding either. Outfitted in black garbs; a decent amount of make-up & body paint; and then having to perform under the baking summer sun while on the Warped Tour is a chore. Or as the usual articulate Andy succinctly summed it up…
At this juncture Andy and I did jumped into some geek talk, for I found out he is a big comic-book fan and my loyal readers know most of my time is spent writing in the movie realm. Our nerd moment (mainly instigated by me) had us yapping about The Crow reboot, as we both rank the 1994 installment as one of our favorite flicks of all-time. To which I get chastised for based on my standing in the critic empire. He mentioned that sure it’s not “Citizen Kane” but it’s still a great story. Andy would really like to see the reboot take the same approach as the recent Batman franchise and have a chronological, dedicated series of films.
Naturally, I pushed for him to try to get on the soundtrack, or hell, maybe even tackle the musical score…something he would love to do.
And the final question was intended to invoke some humor:
Joe: Who would you rather share a jail cell with? Gene Simmons or Nikki Sixx?
Andy: Gene Simmons. He could find a way to get me out of there (laughing).
Joe: You do realize that Simmons probably has the most active sex drive of all time though right?
Andy: (Laughing) Yeah, we wouldn’t have to worry about that.
(I’d avoid my Howard Stern questions, too).
After seeing their performance on Warped Tour and spending some time with Andy, this band is the real-deal. Black Veil Brides looks the part and could be set-up for a long flourishing career. And Andy promises there will be plenty more to come.
By Joe Belcastro
Photos by Stephanie Byrne