BLACK VEIL BRIDES – “We’re Not Here To Make Ignorant People Happy”

August 13, 2011, 3 years ago

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By Aaron Small Although Set The World On Fire is actually the second album from Hollywood’s BLACK VEIL BRIDES, frontman Andy Biersack considers it to be his band’s first record. The vocalist explains why in an exclusive interview with BraveWords.com. “Our debut (We Stitch These Wounds) was a collection of things that all of us had done musically when we were younger. We certainly didn’t have any time or money to put it together. We were on a very small label (StandBy Records) with limited distribution. Going into Set The World On Fire was our first chance to work with a producer, to write an album together as a band. It was a completely new experience.”
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Not a lot of time elapsed between the two – 11 months to be exact – as We Stitch These Wounds was issued in July 2010, and Set The World On Fire saw release in June 2011. “It was one of those things where our first record came out and made a splash to people that maybe weren’t otherwise aware that the band existed. On a cult level, our fans were so ready for that album to come out; it debuted pretty strongly on the Billboard charts (at #36). It really built a buzz for the band, so much so that pretty quickly after that record came out; we started to get courted by various major labels and people who were seeing the sales figures. We were very hesitant early on to sign with a major label, just because we were a band who had done everything on our own and we knew what we wanted. So it really wasn’t until we had passed on several offers that Jason Flom at Universal really got us and wanted us to be the band we wanted to be. He didn’t want us to sign away our lives. He didn’t want to send an A&R guy into the studio to make sure we were writing the record they wanted us to write. It was full carte blanche to be Black Veil Brides. We told everyone that is the only way this band will have success.” Sticking to your guns and not jumping at the first contract placed in front of you is definitely commendable. “We’re an interesting band. It’s an interesting situation so we always try to treat it as such. We understand we’re not cut from the same cloth as a lot of the other bands that exist in the rock scene right now, but we’re trying do something very specific.” A lot of MÖTLEY CRÜE is present in Black Veil Brides, from the image to the sound to the gang mentality of all for one, one for all; it’s the band against the world. Andy readily admits BVB are big fans of the Crüe. “Certainly; particularly the first two Mötley Crüe records (Too Fast For Love and Shout At The Devil). I grew up on a lot of punk rock music and was hugely influenced by THE MISFITS and THE DAMNED. I’ve always liked the visual aspect; I’m a huge fan of W.A.S.P. and L.A. GUNS – the more theatrical ALICE COOPER idea of creating a spectacle. As much as we don’t go up on stage and do a full theatrical show, we try to give people the best show we possibly can – especially in a world where everyone’s got their arms crossed at a rock show, we try to bring some fun back.”
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Black Veil Brides spent the summer on the road as part of the Vans Warped Tour, doing a 30 minute set each day. Half an hour on stage flies by rather quickly, “but there’s benefits to that as a performer. You get to put your all into a shorter amount of time and really lay it all out there. The down side is it’s about 490 degrees every day on stage.” Given the Brides’ theatrical aspect and image, they stuck out like a sore thumb on the Warped tour as it was chock full of hardcore and alternative bands. “When you look at the other bands, we’re certainly the weird rock n’ roll kids in the corner of the lunchroom,” confesses Andy. “We weren’t openly accepted by the rest of the tour, but over time people see what we’re doing and understand that it isn’t a gimmick. We’re not trying to shock people with our image. Also, when people meet us and talk to us about what it is we’re doing, they understand a lot more. It’s a lot easier to just look at who we are and write us off via the image, and that’s fine. We’re not trying to pull everybody in. We’re not here to make the ignorant people happy. We’re here to write our music for those people that are interested in good rock n’ roll music. If they can look past the fact that I happen to wear mascara on stage – which by the way is a ridiculous thing that people have a stigma about – then we promise a good rock show.” Given the prejudice of a lot of concert-goers attending the Vans Warped Tour, were you able to win them over? “It’s never been a concern to win anybody over really. Very early on in our career, we decided that we weren’t going to be the band that was going to go on stage and say, ‘hey everybody, come over here and look at us.’ We do what we do and when people are receptive of it, we play for them. That’s not to say I’m against making new fans, but I’m not going to go out of my way to pander to someone and try to make them like me; that’s not who we are. We find ourselves playing our show every day and finding success that way. We are certainly one of the bands on tour that gets a lot of buzz so to speak; there’s certainly a lot of our fans at every single show. It’s not as if we’re fighting to find an audience, we have our audience and anybody else is definitely welcome.”
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There’s an undeniable confidence attached to Black Veil Brides. “To do what we do, especially in terms of an aesthetic level, you have to have – for lack of a better term – pretty big balls, and know exactly who you are. We walk around, the five of us; we’re proud of who we are. We go up in our paint and makeup and leather; we’re there to drink whiskey, sing songs and have fun with our audience. I guess it seems as if there would be something more behind that, but there really isn’t. On a base level, it’s exactly what we want to be doing.” Playing the Warped Tour meant having a different stage time in every city, which bands wouldn’t learn of until just prior to doors opening. “It’s certainly an interesting situation, but we kind of adapted to it. The first couple of days it was like – what the hell is this? Cause you’re not used to it. But I woke up at 10am every morning and asked my drum tech what time we’re playing? Sometimes it could be noon; sometimes it could be 8:30 at night.” In this day and age, music videos are made almost exclusively for YouTube as neither MTV nor Much Music play them anymore. However BVB have two amazing videos in ‘The Legacy’ and ‘Fallen Angels’ – both are big budget productions. “In terms of us being a visual band, we have to convey that in some way. In a climate where there’s really nowhere to put music videos, the Internet is just as viable as anything else. People spend so much time on their computer. Obviously everybody wishes for the time when people bought records, but we live in what we live in and you have to make do. Our success and our career has definitely been based on an old school model, but using new technologies. Social media can really make things big; we go overseas – anywhere from Japan to Germany – and there’s already an audience there that’s ready to hear us play and knows our songs, simply because of the ability to communicate on the Internet. And you can make videos the way you want to make them – there’s no concern of TV won’t air this; we’re fortunate enough to be on a label that gives us the budget to do those things.”
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‘The Legacy’ contains a line that really hits home: “We came from nothing, but promise one thing, we’ll change the world with these guitars.” According to Andy, “it’s something we’ve always said. You’ve got to understand, when we first started especially, being a young band that plays two and a half minute guitar solos and looks like Alice Cooper – we felt we were going to bring something back or change the way music is seen, especially heavy metal music. Bands that play real heavy metal are more niche bands; you don’t see that in the popular mainstream much. That whole song is based on our mission statement; it’s about having a dream. We’re kids who grew up in various areas in the Midwest and South and moved to Los Angeles – we were all homeless at one point. We all happened to meet each other and we all had one goal in mind. If anything, that song is just meant to be our little autobiography, how we would like to leave a legacy in this world. Anything you do should always leave a mark.” Fans can really identify with Andy’s lyrics, regardless of their age, as a positive message mixed with rebellion is often expressed. “It’s just general rock ‘n roll. From the beginning of rock ‘n roll it’s always been about something that was for you that other people didn’t understand. Obviously things like ‘taking down the man,’ that just comes with general rebellion. But on a basic level, rock ‘n roll is a release, an escape, a way of finding something – in a world where we’re constantly questioning ourselves – music’s always been my release. Especially writing, I’ve written since I was very young. Finding a way of conveying how I felt via words; I’m obsessed with the English language in ways that I can use different metaphors to describe how I feel. It comes down to me wanting to convey my feelings. That’s the line you walk in song writing, you want to convey your own emotion, while still maintaining something that’s palatable to the listener, something they can relate to.” As far as the origin of the name Black Veil Brides goes… “When I was very young – I still am to this day – I was always very obsessed with religion in particular, but Catholicism and the imagery behind it. I myself am not religious, but I’ve always had a great respect for the idea of without faith there’s no hope, so without hope there’s no reason to go on. People need something to believe in. I just decided very early on in my life that I wanted to believe more so in myself, than give my undying something to a deity. That name comes from devotion in the Catholic Church, when a nun becomes a nun, they have a ceremony and she actually marries God and wears a black veil. She basically gives up all the joys of life to devote herself to her calling. To me, I always thought what we do in rock ‘n roll music is the same. There’s a great level of devotion if you want to do this, you have to give your all to it. We see ourselves as that.”
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Black Veil Brides had their song ‘Set The World On Fire’ included on the soundtrack to Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, giving the group incredible exposure. “Yes, which is awesome. Those things are always pretty basic. Someone who was the music supervisor for a film will hear a band or like a song and contact us that way. We are Transformers fans so it was exciting when we got word of it; very little work with a great pay-off.” Speaking of movies, Andy has the Batman logo tattooed on his right forearm. “Yeah, I have several Batman tattoos. Batman is… that was my… I’ve always considered what my stage presence is and why I created the band to be my version of Batman. It’s funny that you mention that because literally I’m sitting here in my hotel room, doodling pictures of Batman on sketch pads, as I’ve done every day of my life since I was four years old. I relate to symbolism; it’s a regular man who had a fear of something and overcame that fear and used his fear to mask himself and do something that’s good for humanity. When I was very young, I was frightened, horrified of the dark and dark things – but also fascinated by them at the same time. I would always push myself to watch horror movies and then have nightmares. That’s why I love Gene Simmons and KISS ‘cause they always seemed like heroes. So the idea of embracing darkness and creating something positive out of it was something I associated with to a great degree.”

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