Black Veil Brides Singer Andy Biersack Aims to ‘Set the World on Fire’
Black Veil Brides, the misfit troupe of rock 'n' roll missionaries, are at it again. With the release of their latest album, ‘Set the World on Fire’, the Hollywood, Calif.-based rockers offer up a collection of fist-pumping, anthemic tunes high on theatrics and mixed with a message or two.
Taking a modernized approach to an eclectic mix of punk, glam and metal, Black Veil Brides throw all of those ingredients in a pot, stir them up, and turn them into their own special brand of flashy melodic rock songs. From gang vocals to classical strings to the two-punch guitar assault of Jake Pitts and Jinxx, Black Veil Brides undoubtedly have become a force to be reckoned with in the rock 'n' roll community.
The theatrical rockers spent most of their summer out on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour, winning over new fans and pleasing their legions of loyal followers known as the Black Veil Brides Army. Sitting on his tour bus on a sunny day in Florida and applying his war paint in preparation for an early show, Black Veil Brides’ fearless leader Andy Biersack checked in with Loudwire to share his thoughts on their new album, the recording process and his old-school influences:
Congrats on your new disc, ‘Set the World on Fire.’ Now that it’s been out for a bit, do you feel like you made the album you set out to make?
It’s my favorite thing that I’ve ever been a part of. You look at making an album or anything artistically and you put so much of yourself into it, especially with this being our first complete record. All of us have said that we’ve never done anything that we’re more proud of than ‘Set the World on Fire’ and that feeling still continues. Any time that we reflect on the record, it’s something that we’re proud of and it’s certainly one of the more exciting moments of my life.
The first single, ‘Fallen Angels,’ has served as a real battle cry for your fan base and has a universal theme of unity. How important is it to you as a lyricist to incorporate a message into your songs?
More than anything I write about what I know. The experiences that I’ve had in my life and that we’ve all had collectively, that’s what we draw from. I know what it’s like to be an outcast in society, I know what it’s like to want to find strength, and more importantly I know what it’s like to find that internal strength and rise out of the pain of being just sort of a weirdo. So, I think that the most responsible thing that any of us can do as songwriters is always be genuine with what we’re saying.
The pen and the written word hold a great deal of power. If what you’re writing is genuine, regardless of whether it sounds cliché or people wouldn’t necessarily think it’s the most brilliant metaphor in the world, it’s always important to be genuine with what you’re writing, at least that’s how I feel.
When we go in to make our third record, my life will obviously be different than it was circa February of last year, similarly my life changed from the first release to our new album. The tone will always change but if the heart and soul of the music and what is being said are similar than the listener can adapt and grow with you. You don’t want to be stagnant; I wouldn’t want to write a million ‘Set the World on Fire’s, I don’t think that would be indicative of where my life is going to be. At this point in my life, my biggest experiences are the last year and a half of touring and how I’ve grown as a person to become stronger as an adult.
The rock and roll ideal – a big show, rebellion, being who you are and believing in who you are – seems to be very important to you as a band.
When you talk about things being lost or greatly written off, it is that idea of fun and basic rebellion, things that at their very core are the innate values of rock 'n' roll. To just to have fun, be yourself, and do something rebellious against the things you grew up with or the daily drudgeries of life. So, often now rock 'n' roll music has sort of been hijacked by the sad and the weak and the people that want to wallow in how tough life is. Of course, life is tough but life isn’t bad, life is what you make it. Our whole message and mission as a band has always been to bring some hope and fun to the table.
We’re aware of what our image is, we’re aware of the image we portray onstage and we try to have as much fun with it as possible. It’s not meant to be as precious as people make it. I think the songwriting process is the precious part because that’s when you’re creating something. When it comes to being onstage and conveying something for an audience, have fun. I don’t want to sit and watch somebody tell me how s--tty their life is. I’ve got enough things to worry about, I don’t need to go to a show and hear about it some more.
The concert culture, especially over the last 10 to 15 years has been nothing but people but going to shows to cross their arms and try to ‘out-cool’ the guy standing next to them. No one goes to shows to experience a fun show where you can let out your angst and anger and aggression towards whatever it is that’s going on in your world. That’s part of the whole dressing up and why our fans are so devoted to the idea of the war paint, because it is an escape, they’re becoming somebody else for a day.
Where do you think the concert culture went wrong? When did it change so drastically?
At some point the idea of theatrics and specifically make-up became demonized. The idea of not doing those things denoted credibility. I don’t know exactly when that happened, but at some point in music it became the less you do, the more credible you are, the less you give a s--t, the more people will respect you. It’s sort of an interesting idea but not one that I’ve ever subscribed to, I think it’s boring.
Do you feel that your vocals evolved from your first album to this new one? In listening to the album from start to finish, I hear some obvious growth.
I know that just in terms of writing, I tried to challenge myself a lot more on this album. I worked on writing bigger choruses and stretching myself out vocally. I have a voice that is pretty specific and I’m in tune with that; I’m one of few people that sound like me so I guess if you’re in one of these cookie-cutter scene-ster bands, it’s not that difficult because you can just listen to your friends band that sounds exactly like yours anyway and just write the same vocal melody.
You’ve said that ‘everything is bigger’ and I can definitely feel that throughout but I wanted to get your personal take on what you meant by that?
I think in general we went into this album with the notion to build as much as we could into each song in a very Mutt Lange classic sort of way. Every song has about 40 different voices at all points. There’s different instrumentation that people don’t necessarily even pick up on. There are synths and violins. We wanted to stack things so that every song sounded like it was being played in an arena.
Your guitar duo, Jinxx and Jake Pitts, have gone on record to say that a lot of their breakdowns have been influenced by some classical works. How does that contribute to the writing process?
It’s always different -- sometimes a song is complete and we’ll add it at the end. Sometimes you find a place where something more baroque or classical could fit in. I think the whole idea of breakdowns in general is based on that anyway. We try to wear our influences on our sleeve and Jinxx is hugely influenced by classical music. So many of the guitar heroes of the '70s and'80s, a lot of what they did were based on classical scales. So, for us, sometimes we find a place where it just fits and sometimes a song is written and it just happens to be a part of it.
I wanted to ask you about the song ‘Saviour.' It’s quite beautiful and seems to hold a pretty deep meaning for the band, can you tell me about it?
It comes from the idea that you can try to save the world and you can do a damn good job at it but ultimately a lot of what you’re going to get back is being told how bad and how wrong you are for doing what you want to do. You can’t really save that which doesn’t want to be saved. A lot of our fans have expressed that they know people that don’t necessarily understand what the band is so what our standpoint in that song came from is just my frustration of trying my best from a very young age to be someone who could be helpful and also being told that I’m not doing enough.
The thing is, I never set out to try to be a role model, I don’t want to be and I don’t know how to be. What I do want to do is hopefully write some songs that can resonate to an audience and if in some way that can be a savior for someone in the audience than that’s what I can offer. However, I’m not a psychiatrist and I know very little about helping people in that regard. I think, if anything, that song was written to be a message to our fans saying ‘we’re here, we’re always going to be here’ and this song is sort of our offering to help our fans through our music.
You have often cited bands that came well before your time (KISS, W.A.S.P., the Dead Boys, L.A. Guns, Motley Crue) as being influences on your music. Being that you’re so young, how did these influences make their way into your life?
I think the interesting thing is, I was unaware of what popular music was for other kids when I was growing up. I guess in that regard I sheltered myself, but sort of on purpose. I think that’s why it’s so funny when people talk about us bringing something back because for us it never really left, all of us were stuck in the past in that regard. We saw something that we loved; I enjoyed what I enjoyed based on my dad and doing my own discovery of bands that were like the things that I had been introduced to and created my musical tastes that way.
You recently worked on a track on Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars' upcoming solo album. Motley Crue were the first band I ever had hanging on my wall! Can you tell me a little bit about the collaboration?
I can’t really talk about that very much but Mick Mars is an amazing person. He’s a hero of mine so getting to meet him and just having the opportunity to be around him has been a great experience. He’s very supportive of our band.
Watch the Black Veil Brides 'Fallen Angels' Video