Black Veil Brides

author PP date 08/06/11

Black Veil Brides are a band that have exploded into mainstream recognition through a combination of trendy glam / metalcore / post-hardcore and elaborate stage costumes that many consider a gimmick. They've created more controversy and internet hatred in a shorter time than Bullet For My Valentine, yet they have a loyal fan base that buys their records (they sold over 100,000 copies of their debut album) and even dresses like their idols whenever possible. But what hides behind the Kiss-inspired outfits, facial paint and predictable songwriting? Apparently an intelligent, highly self-aware and articulate band leader and vocalist Andy Biersack, whose thorough and well argued answers had me standing dumbfounded with newly gained respect for what they are doing as a band, something which I wouldn't have imagined even in the wildest of my dreams judging by their appearance and musical output. Check out the interview below to find out why.

Teenage girls chanting Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides outside in the queue

RF.net: So first of all, I have to ask what do you think about that outside?
Andy: It's awesome! It's not bad, is it? [laughs] I heard my name, I heard Black Veil Brides, I heard some words that I didn't understand. I can't complain about it can I? chuckles

RF.net: So how's the tour going?

Andy: It's great. We just came from Nuremberg, we played Rock Im Park, that was really cool. And we're ready to shred tonight. It's our first time in Copenhagen, so it should be good.

RF.net: How did Black Veil Brides start? Here I mean both how you guys got together originally, and also how you guys came up with the image?
Andy: Black Veil Brides is sort of an idea that I had when I was about fourteen years old and started writing songs and performing under that name. It wasn't until about two years ago that I met the actual band. I moved to Los Angeles when I was about eighteen, and just met the guys, and we started playing. The image was something I've always had since I was a little kid. I grew up loving Kiss and Mötley Crue, LA Guns, WASP and those kind of bands, and they always had that sort of image. I always thought it looked cool. It was never a conscious effort, like "oh we're gonna be a make up band and wear make up". We think it looks cool, and it's part of our show. If people don't like it, I don't really care. Everybody has their rituals and things that they do every day. You know, some people wake up and drink coffee in the morning and wear their favorite shirt, we just happen to wake up and put on war paint and drink a bottle of booze, and go on stage.

RF.net: What kind of topics tend to inspire your songwriting?
Andy: Just life in general. It's hard to write about something that you don't know. We really only ever write about situations or life things that we've been through. We're not religious, but we equate a lot of stories in the biblical sense. A lot of what western society is based, the sort of Christian literature and that thing, I think it's sort of an interesting dichotomy with humanity, but we just write about what we know. No grand, crazy ideas or anything, I literally just sit down and write about what I think of the world or what I think of my plate in life. That's what I write about.

RF.net: You guys get compared a lot to Bullet For My Valentine and Escape The Fate. Are these accurate comparisons in your opinion? And how are you similar and/or different?
Andy: I don't know...I'm friends with Escape The Fate, they're nice guys. Bullet For My Valentine is a cool band. I'm sure there are similarities, but it's not really an attempt. They're great bands, so I guess you could be in worse company than friends of yours in a band that you like. But we grew up listening to, like I said, bands like LA Guns and Mötley Crue, and then bands like Metallica obviously. So if our music and their music sounds similar, it's coming from the right influences.

RF.net: I don't know how much you know about the background to Bullet For My Valentine, but in England they released a really solid debut album which sold a lot of copies and blasted them into the mainstream recognition, which is in a way a bit similar to what you guys did with your debut album. So do you think you guys a following a similar career path here?

Andy: Hopefully we are just following our own career path, I mean it's never been like trying to follow the business model of another band, but I guess you could do worse than a band that has great success and plays great music, so I don't mind that comparison.

RF.net: You guys started your career on an independent label and then you signed later with Lava and Universal. How did that happen, the shift from the independent to the major?
Andy: Getting signed to the major label sort of came from whenever we put out our record, it was selling really well, and our merchandise sales and retail store sales were higher than really any major label artist in the rock business, I think there were maybe like three or four higher selling artists. I think that the movie Twilight was the only thing that was selling at the retail store Hot Topic more than us. So we just kind of got on the radar of all these major labels, and we started getting offers and stuff from different majors. We were never really interested in signing with a major unless they were going to understand what the band is and allow us to continue to be ourselves. We didn't want to sign away our band, basically, and we felt like we were doing enough on our own that we didn't need to sign away to some major just because it's cool to say you're on a major label. We wanted to go with someone who was actually going to help us and understand us, and would allow us to make our second record what we wanted it to be, and not have an A&R rep in the studio with us every day telling us "you gotta do this" or dress this way or look that way. So Jason Flom had been trying to contact us for a while and was interested in signing the band. We met with him and it just seemed perfect. We didn't have to sign any bullshit deal, he doesn't own our souls, we literally have been nothing but happy with Universal and Jason. He understands the band and lets us stay creative and do what we wanna do. No horror stories. None of that, you know, people sign with major labels and they're like "oh it's terrible". But honestly, we've had nothing but greatness.

RF.net: What do you think are the main advantages or disadvantages of moving to the major label?
Andy: I don't really see any disadvantages. But advantages, just, you know, a bigger, better opportunity. We made our first record for $7000, or something small like that, with really no time, and we were recording in like a jingle studio. The people who worked on it worked their ass off to their credit, and everybody was fully supportive, but by doing the second record on a major label, we were allowed to work with a real producer, work with Josh Abraham, in a real studio, and have our time to write our songs and really craft our work. And in terms of the marketing of the record and promotion, it being really released...our first record was never really released as such in stores, it was only really released in like three or four retail stores in the states. So just the actual push of a record and getting it out there. When you work on an album you put so much of yourself into it so it's a shame to not see it everywhere that it should be. So that's what we're fortunate of having now.

RF.net: Lets talk a little bit about your image. You guys receive a lot of criticism online for your, lets say, controversial attire. Does this ultimately make the band a tighter unit?
Andy: Yeah, I think so. The thing is that it's so funny. People will say things like "oh they would be a good band if they didn't wear all that makeup". But to me it's like that wouldn't really be this band. We don't need the makeup and clothes to play our music. We'll always be the musicians that we are. My guitar player Jake spends half an hour putting on his makeup, and he spent fifteen years learning to play the guitar. Obviously there has been more time devoted to the music. It's just something we think is cool, so if people dislike or are turned off by it, I don't really care. I mean there are plenty of people who can see the image and appreciate it, and listen to the music and understand that. But I don't care. The thing is that...it definitely brings us together in the sense that we know...you know, when we play these large festivals, nobody's ever questioning who's in our band. It's like, when we walk together somewhere, it's very obvious what band we are and that we exist as a unit. So yeah, it brings us together and makes us happy and we enjoy doing it, so fuck everybody else, I don't care. I know our fans like it, and our fans dress up like us. It's a party, it's supposed to be fun. People are too stuck up, man, you don't gotta like, but at least understand that it's rock'n'roll. It's a disposable art form, it's about rebellion, anger, and aggression, and however you choose to show that. And some people just want things to be so, you know, just the way they want them and not understand that maybe someone wants something different. I happen to wanna wear black paint all over my body. Somebody else might happen to wanna wear Cargo jeans.

RF.net: So how do you deal with the haters?

Andy: I don't. I don't care. The thing is that I get equal laughs out of people who just say the most ridiculous things about how much they hate us. It's like, "well, I'm glad that we are on your radar so much, man". I've never once watched a YouTube video and disliked it and felt like: "Shit! I better sign in and then leave a comment about it...". It seems like so much effort. I see music that I dislike all the time. And maybe to a friend I'd be like "oh that sucks", but I don't go out in the world and shout from the highest rooftop that I dislike it. I don't know, maybe they have a crush on us, who knows.

RF.net: When you perform as a band, you have these outfits and you go by stage names. Are these clothes and names only for the stage or band use, or do you also use them in day-to-day life?
Andy: We obviously don't dress up in full make up every day of our lives. We play shows most days, so I guess, but when I go to bed at night, I'm not in full studs and make up. If anything, the personas on stage are just extensions of ourselves, the way we do our style. There was never like a set model, like "oh you're gonna look this way", we just do what we want, and kind of developed over time what the band was going to look like because of that.

RF.net: Would you say then that the image is an extension of your art?

Andy: Certainly, yeah. It's just us in our most raw form. What we feel like internally kind of comes out on stage. How we look and how we choose to do our war paint, it's all different, and it sort of represents us internally.

RF.net: You mentioned obviously that Mötley Crue, Kiss and that kind of bands have been your main influences. They focused heavily on their image, especially Kiss, right, so would you say that for Kiss as well the whole image thing is an extension of their art, or would you say that for them it is a promotional gimmick?
Andy: I don't see why they are mutually exclusive. To me it's like: people give so much shit to Kiss for having pinball machines and action figures and all that, but I think that stuff is cool. I don't see why you can't take your music seriously and wanna have an action figure of yourself. All the things, merchandise, I love it. The things that we have, I love. I wear our t-shirts, I like 'em. I like the way it looks. People just...there's always something to complain about. You can never have fun. Fun is never allowed. Marketing and Kiss cars and all that shit? That's awesome. And they're musicians and artists. I don't understand why it has to be mutually exclusive. But again, it comes down to personal preference, and everybody's different. Not everybody's gonna like what a person does or what a person's choice is. But that shouldn't really be up to the peanut gallery to decide the world's choices.

RF.net: Do you ever worry that people will immediately dismiss your music due to your image?
Andy: I don't worry about it. I know that people do. I don't worry about it, though. I never think about "maybe we should stop so that...", because I don't want you anyway. If you're not bright enough to look at us and listen to our music and go "well I maybe wouldn't dress that way, but I like the music", or maybe even inversely. If you're not bright enough to do that, we don't need you to come to our shows. By all means, go do whatever it is you do, we'll keep having fun with our fans and have rock'n'roll party every night.

RF.net: The debut album sold extremely well in today's music industry climate. Looking back at it today, what do you think about it?
Andy: The record itself definitely represents us at that time. The fact that it was done on such a small budget and that we had to do it in such a short amount of time, it's a very raw record. And for our second record, we spent a lot more time, and definitely in terms of listening to a record, I'm far more proud of what the second album has to offer. But I'll always love the first record, I mean, it was our first baby, you know?

RF.net: That record earned you lots of awards, like Revolver Magazine's Best New Artist, Kerrang!'s Best Newcomer and Best International Newcomer, how do you feel about all that praise? Does it affect the band?
Andy: It's great, we just get excited about it. I like going to award shows. You know, drinking and scaring everybody with how we dress [laughs]. I like it. It's not an ego thing or anything because I don't think you can have bigger egos than we have already, I mean we love our band. At least we accept it, we're not douchebags. We know what we are, we know that there's always an element of tongue-in-cheek in everything. We like them, I mean how could you dislike it? Imagine if I got upset about those things. People are so fickle and they want the artistry to always remain, "I don't like mainstream success or awards". Well then, by all means, give them to us, because we have fun with it. That's the point of life anyway, the point of rock'n'roll music.

RF.net: Do you think there's a limit to image and art? Because there are obviously bands that are way more about image than you guys, lets just say like Brokencyde or something. Where do you draw the line?
Andy: I don't think that the line needs to be drawn. It's a personal distinction, I think the average music listener can...they're discerning enough to know the difference. But even if they aren't, that's great. You can't really listen to a band like that and listen to our band and think that we sound anything similar. And I'm not dogging that band, because I don't really even know their music, but I know that we're not similar bands. But there are people who will draw that similarity, and they are just ignorant. So I don't really care to try to win over people who aren't worth really winning over. It's not about winning over people. People always ask when we play festivals "are you looking to win over new fans?" That would be great. If we go on stage and new people who haven't heard of us before watch and enjoy it, then that's great. But it's not our intention to go on stage and try to pander to an audience that isn't ours.

RF.net: So you have a new album coming out called "Set The World On Fire". First of all I want to ask, the awards and sales success of the debut, did they create any sort of pressure for you guys to do well with the new album?
Andy: I think it's going to well, there's no real pressure when you feel confidence in something, you know? You can't really put it like "okay well if this doesn't do well it's the end of the world" because it's going to well and we're going to continue to do well, and we're gonna have fun with it. Failure is never something that enters my mind. And it can't be. In anything you do in life, you can't go "well....I could fuck this up", because then you're immediately going to fail. You gotta always be 100% positive.

RF.net: But when you were writing the record, did you sort of feel like you had to live up to something?

Andy: No, we just enjoyed it. Honestly, I think we surpassed anything we did on the first record, so.

RF.net: What should we then expect from the new record?
Andy: To me, we're making the record, we burn it on discs and bring it home whenever we were done. We titled it "Black Veil Brides' Greatest Hits", because to us it's like we've really stepped up our game and really made the songs that we set out to make, and we're really proud of it. I can't imagine that our fans wouldn't enjoy it. I know how proud of it we are as a band, we listen to it every day, so. To me it's the best offering Black Veil Brides can give so far. The third record will be better.

RF.net: So how is it sonically different from the first one?

Andy: Just better songwriting. I think we've all matured as songwriters. We've been through a lot in the last year in terms of touring and experience, and stuff that we hadn't really gone through going into the first record. The first record is always like the first twenty years of your life or something. And then you have a year to write your second record. And that year is always usually the craziest year of your life, because that's when things start to really pick up, and your career starts to go. For us, I think we've just matured, and taken the elements of the first album that we liked and just made them bigger.

RF.net: Is the second album still sticking to the glam/post-hardcore/metalcore hybrid sound that you've had?
Andy: I suppose so. We just think of it more as a rock record. There are definitely elements of our first record, but we didn't really set out to make...it was never a thing like "oh this doesn't sound enough like our first album". We just wrote the songs that we wrote, and how they came out is how they came out. It's obviously going to sound like us, because it's us writing the songs. So it's going to have the elements of...it's the same five guys. But I think we've definitely pushed ourselves to write different and more melodic songs. I've definitely stretched myself vocally, I did a lot of vocal training before doing the second record, just to improve my voice in terms of what I can sing and what I can do.

RF.net: Well, that's all I have. Maybe just to finish off things you could tell me what's in store for the future, other than the album release?
Andy: Yeah, well the record comes out in a few days, and then we do press for the record, go on Warped Tour in the States, and then we have a little bit of time off - very little time - and then we go to Australia, and then we're coming back to Europe for a full headlining tour. Then just touring constantly. We don't really stop touring until probably the third record will be coming out. We wanna try to keep pushing ourselves. We're still inspired to write, so we're gonna keep writing and get another record out as soon as possible. But for the time being, "Set The World On Fire" is the most important thing.

RF.net: Do you have anything to add for the fans, readers?
Andy: Just keep listening and set the world on fire.

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