They are young and wild and free and conquering the world. Stirring up the rock & roll waters with their previous hits “Rebel Love Song,” “Fallen Angels” and “Set The World On Fire,” Black Veil Brides
have become the youth gone wild’s inner voice. Although chided for their smudged-up early Motley Crue look, their lyrics have enabled the band to step out of idolization and into a spotlight all their own. With accolades raining down on them from the likes of Billboard, Revolver and MTV since their 2010 debut We Stitch These Wounds, the Kerrang! cover boys have wiped off some of the greasepaint to explore new territory. With Wretched & Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones, BVB have ventured into the world of concept albums, exploring a post-apocalyptic world via first single “In The End,” “I Am Bulletproof,” “Shadows Die” and classical interludes that quell listeners into a whole new realm – not only in the storyline but for the band themselves. With an accompanying film called Legion Of The Black, vocalist Andy Biersack, guitarists Jake Pitts and Jinxx, bassist Ashley Purdy and drummer Christian Coma are maturing into a band that should continue to grow alongside their millions of young fans, sharing a journey many of us have gone on with bands from our own youth.
Last month while holed up in a Pittsburgh hotel on a day off from their Church Of The Wild Ones tour [which includes the 2013 Vans Warped tour starting in June], both Jake Pitts and Jinxx took some time to talk with me about their new opus, their life before Black Veil Brides and what they really do on a day off on the road. Interview with Jake Pitts
So what do you do on your day off besides talk to people like me?
Normally, just kind of relax and take it easy. Today I needed to do laundry but the hotel doesn’t have laundry service so I’m actually doing it in the sink. Nothing too exciting (laughs).What were your first thoughts when you found out that your follow up to Set The World On Fire was going to be a concept album?
I actually thought it was a really cool idea. Andy came to me and Jinxx, we were recording a song, and we were the first ones that he talked to about it, besides our manager Blasko [who also plays bass in Ozzy Osbourne’s band], and he told us he had this idea of the whole Wild Ones characters and kind of the image that we are now. He gave us the whole rundown and I immediately thought right away that it was really cool. So I was really excited when he shared that idea with us. Then we decided to go ahead and do that.
Which songs did you have the biggest input in creating?
We all worked collectively together on everything as a whole but I’d have to say probably “Bulletproof” and “Shadows Die” were the two that I started out with. I wrote the music to that and then brought those songs to the table. I’ve done that with practically all the songs on the past records, but on this one it was kind of more starting out with writing melodies and vocal ideas and then building songs around that. But “Shadows Die” and “Bulletproof” I brought to the table and kind of built them from there.
Why did you pick “In The End” as the first single to introduce this album to your fans?
I think it was just kind of an appropriate song. It has a huge chorus, it’s still got the ripping guitars in it and solos. I’m not sure exactly why that was the first single off the album, I just think it was the best song to release right away.
Your fans have really connected with you. Do you ever feel a pressure with the new songs you write because you know the fans are going to take them so seriously, what Andy is saying in his lyrics? Do you ever start second-guessing what you’re saying when you create a song?
There is always, I would say, some things that I would kind of maybe second-guess sometimes. This album does sound very different from the other two and us being in the band you don’t want to put out the same album every time or the same songs, so it is growing and putting out different songs. Sometimes you do wonder like, well, I wonder how this is going to go over with the fans, I wonder if they’re going to like it. But you don’t really know. We just kind of write what we want to write and what comes out comes out and people connect with it. So from the start we’ve never tried writing songs for the fans that we have for that particular reason of they’ll connect with it. We write the songs about what we write them about and it just happens to be that a lot of people do connect with them. So it works out really well. I think our fans are so dedicated. Since this new record came out, I haven’t heard anything bad about it, everybody loves it, so I think we’re just growing and becoming a better band and I think being more confident in what we put out.Does it surprise you that Andy continues to come up with these amazing lyrics?
Yeah, I don’t know how that guy does it. It started when we did the first record. He would need to come up with some lyrics and he would take a pen and paper and go outside and smoke cigarettes and then come back twenty minutes later and have these amazing lyrics. It’s kind of funny, I think it was during our first record actually when he was doing that and the engineers would be like, “What is he doing? Is he going out there and talking to an alien that is giving him all these lyrics? Like what is he doing?” But it’s just his thing. Everybody’s got their thing that they do and how they work and what’s comfortable for them so that’s what he does and, yeah, it surprises me. You know, everybody surprises me as we’re growing.Where do you get your ideas?
I constantly have music going on in my head all the time. I’ll be sitting around and I’ll just be tapping my feet or whatever. I can’t ever sit still so I always have melodies and ideas going through my head nonstop. I just think it’s when I actually pay attention and something hits me like, oh, that’s a really good idea. I have a studio at home and when I am home if an idea pops in my head I can just immediately go put it down. I’ve even done some things where a guitar riff or something popped into my head and I wasn’t at home and I just pulled my iPhone out and just hummed it out and then pulled that up later and figured out how to play it. I don’t know, sometimes I’ll be trying to write something and nothing will happen and then other times I will just pick up my guitar and start noodling around and something awesome comes out. So really it just happens when it happens. You can’t force it.
Where did you grow up and what were you like as a kid?
(laughs) Well, I was born in Boise, Idaho, so I lived there up until 2001. I didn’t have a lot of friends, I had maybe three or four friends. I went to a big school. The population of the school alone was like 2400 kids. I picked up the guitar when I was thirteen years old. Before that I wanted to join the Air Force but once I picked up the guitar it just changed everything for me and I really got into music. If it wasn’t for music and me picking up a guitar, I don’t know if I’d be here today, so I really do think music saved my life. I didn’t have the greatest childhood growing up. I went through a lot of rough times and then I moved to Minnesota to live with my mom in 2001. But I think overall I was a pretty decent kid. I didn’t really get into too much trouble. I was just kind of on my own playing my guitar.What was the first band that really blew you away and made you want to pick up the guitar?
It was Metallica. I had started listening to Metallica and my dad bought me an acoustic guitar for my tenth birthday and I kind of just messed around on it and didn’t know what I was doing so I put it in my closet. Then when I was thirteen years old I started listening to a lot of rock music and I found Metallica and I just heard the guitars. The funny thing is, being thirteen years old and not really knowing anything about it, I heard the guitar tone and how heavy it sounded and then hearing all the shredding and everything and I just knew that I wanted to do that. So I pulled my acoustic guitar out and started trying to teach myself how to play and my dad kept coming home from work and seeing me doing that and didn’t really think much of it at first. I ended up taking lessons for about four months and then my teacher, I don’t know if he got fired or quit or what, but I went to a lesson one day and he wasn’t there so I decided I had learned enough and I was going to go ahead and teach myself the rest. I told my dad I wanted to save up and buy an electric guitar and did that and then I just went from there.
Who was the first real rock star that you ever met?
I would have to say probably Sebastian Bach. We were playing Rock On The Range a few years ago and Jinxx and I, we’re friends with the guys in Asking Alexandria, and Jinxx and I were ready and had on our war paint and everything and we wanted to go over and watch them play. They had just done their EP or whatever of the Skid Row covers and Sebastian Bach was there and he was going to go out and sing “Youth Gone Wild” with them. We went up side stage and he was standing there and he just looked at us and he was like, “Wow, you guys look great, let’s get pictures” and Revolver was taking pictures of us. Then that caught his interest so he came over and watched our set and we’ve been friends with him ever since. He is a great guy.What would you say has been your most exciting memory of being in Black Veil Brides so far?
There’s probably way too many to name. I mean, I can’t complain about much. The only thing I can really complain about are when we get stuck in an airport for ten hours because a flight got delayed and we missed another one. And you’re in a country where you can’t speak their language. But there are so many great memories, all the awesome shows. I don’t know, that’s a hard question to answer (laughs)You have a big youthful audience that has connected so well with you. How do you think you are doing with the slightly older audience, those thirty and older? Do you see more of them coming to your shows?
Yeah, it’s definitely becoming more of a wide variety of people, which is awesome. Especially in the states, we’re playing bigger venues, we’re selling out these venues so we’re definitely growing. We haven’t toured the states in probably quite a while so it’s pretty awesome to see the older people coming out and it’s definitely not just little girls anymore. There’s dudes pitting all the time now and we didn’t really see much of that before, but there’s always a mosh pit going on now and we’re definitely seeing the old Motley Crue fans coming out and supporting us so it’s pretty awesome.
You’ve toned down the make-up this time.
Yeah, we’ve definitely toned it down a little bit but it’s kind of going along with the concept of the Wild Ones characters. Also, I’m not complaining about it because it does get a little tiring having to put on so much. We’re still doing our own individual things but not covering ourselves so much in the war paint now. Just kind of doing more the biker gang looking thing where we got the jackets with the Wild Ones name on it and the logo and everything.
How many of the new songs are you doing live?
Right now we’re playing, I think, five or six new songs. We’re playing an hour and a half set right now so we’re playing songs from the first record, the second record and quite a few new ones from the new album. We do plan by Warped Tour to play the whole new album all the way through, so we’ll see if that works out.
What was your first concert?
My first real concert was Slipknot. It was pretty intense (laughs). It was an awesome first concert. I was pretty young at the time but I got laid out on the floor in the mosh pit. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to get up as close as I could and then a huge mosh pit broke out and just leveled me. But I got back up and I was good, good to go and had a good time.
How do you keep from running into Jinxx when you’re on stage?
We all run into each other every now and again but I think we’ve kind of all worked out a system over the years and we kind of know when we’re going to cross sides of the stage or whatever just from doing it so many times. We play almost every night so it just becomes second nature.
Are you surprised you’ve come this far this fast?
I don’t take anything for granted. Every day I think this could all be over tomorrow. It’s been a lot of years of hard work for all of us to get where we are and I definitely appreciate everything. It is pretty amazing how fast and how far we’ve come. I guess I kind of live in a bubble cause I really don’t know what it would be like to somebody on the outside. Like an old friend or something going, “Holy crap, you guys are doing so well.” This is just what I do and it’s all I know. Like for me to go to my job, you know I’ve worked day jobs before, the 9 to 5’s and all that, and then I would go home and I would work on music until three in the morning and then have to repeat. So I’ve been through the whole day job 9 to 5 thing and I never want to ever have to do that again. So I’m very thankful for everything that we have.
Interview with Jinxx
Hi Jinxx, how are you today?
Hi Leslie, I’m a little under the weather today but it’s a day off so plenty of time to recharge. It’s a weird little stomach virus that we’ve all been kind of passing around on the bus. I actually had it yesterday and Jake had it the day before. Today it’s my turn. Woo hoo (laughs)
The guys in Slash’s band call the bus the incubator when they are all sick.
The incubator, oh man, yes. That’s pretty much what it is, a cesspool.What were your thoughts when you found out Andy wanted to make a concept-type album?
I was real excited when the idea first came to play. When we started this band, you know, our grand big plan was to take it as far as we could go and I always liked the idea of a concept album. Ever since I was a little kid the albums I listened to growing up, I was a big Metallica fan – Ride The Lightning
, Master Of Puppets
, And Justice For All
– all were kind of like concept records to me; not to the sense of like, say, The Wall or Tommy that The Who did and they made a movie to go along with it and the whole album tells a story. So when it was first presented to me that that was what we were doing, that was real exciting to me.Wasn’t this originally supposed to be just another regular album?
Originally, yes, we’d started demoing some songs with another producer and it kind of felt like we were doing the same exact thing that we had done in the previous two records and I know Andy at first was just not interested in that at all. We wanted to do something completely different this time and not just put out the same record. A lot of bands just put out the same record every time and they’re consistent but we like to change it up and explore other avenues.
What was one of the songs that you had the biggest input in creating?
I would say “Shadows Die” is kind of like a masterpiece for me.
Why do you say that?
Well, I always had the idea of doing something really orchestrated or orchestral with an almost cinematic quality to it and that song showcases all of what I was trying to do. I don’t know if you paid much attention to the orchestral sections of the record but I did all of that myself. I am a classically trained violinist as well and one of my other hobbies or interests is getting into film scoring and I compose as well. So this record was a huge step in that direction for me to be able to create and basically score a film, which is what it felt like we were doing. So it was cool that we made it into a movie. So yeah, my input was largely that: all the orchestral sections, the overture, that was all me. I recorded all the violins, the cellos, all that in my home studio.Do you think you will do something like what Steve Vai has done, composing symphonies?
You know, that has always kind of interested me too. Maybe somewhere down the line it would be really cool to do something like that definitely.You mentioned playing the violin. How did you get into that? Was that something your parents had you do?
Well, no, actually my grandfather played and his father played. My parents were rockers and thought it strange that I was into classical music and wanted to play in the orchestra. I already played guitar since I was about four years old and then I was about seven when I asked my mom for a violin. I guess it was just my kind of rebellion, you could say, against my parents (laughs). As a teenager I wasn’t really into the music scene at the time and nothing I heard on the radio really interested me. I think music just kind of got boring or stale, to me anyway. I started listening to like Bach and Beethoven and was getting more into that. Then I realized there was this whole world of music out there and when I would write music on the guitar or for my band or whatever, I would try to apply what I learned from Bach on the guitar. Just kind of made a unique sound for myself, I guess.How do you and Jake create music together without stepping on each other’s toes, so to speak?
That’s a great question and it’s changed over the course of this project. When we first started on the first record, the process was Jake and I would write the music first and then Andy would come in and write a vocal melody over the music. When we started working together we knew right away, it’s almost uncanny, even though we come from kind of different influences – I’m more classical and he’s more metal influenced – we just gelled right away and it’s just weird, almost like we share a brain and finish each other’s sentences. I write a riff and he would write a riff to a verse or a chorus and he would write the next section or vice versa or write a bridge and he’d write the verse and the chorus. We just kind of put together a song like that. One would have an idea for part of it and then right away the other one would come up with the next part. It just seemed to work out so well writing that way. We did that with Set The World On Fire, the second record. With this record we decided to do things completely backwards and start with like a vocal melody first and write a structure around that. So that was kind of a challenge where we took ourselves out of our comfort zone but what we came up with was this record. Are you amazed that Andy keeps coming up with these amazing lyrics?
Andy is a freak (laughs) He is uncanny. It’s weird to me how cause it’s all the time I’ve known him. We used to joke around all the time that he would visit an alien, an alien would come down and visit him. He would always go outside and smoke to write his lyrics. He would go out there with his pad and paper and his pack of cigarettes and then fifteen minutes later he comes back in and it’s “Alright, I got it” and they’re the most brilliant, beautiful lyrics. It’s just uncanny. He’s twenty-two years old and like super-intelligent. It’s crazy working with him.
Where did you grow up?
Des Moines, Iowa. We were in the city but I did spend a lot of time out in the country. My mom always had horses and I would spend a lot of time out by myself with my thoughts and I had to be really creative as a kid. We really didn’t have a lot growing up and nothing really to do in that part of the world, you know. I just had to be really creative. I wrote a lot of poetry and that kind of fell to the wayside as music was always number one. I read a lot.
What did you like to read?
History. I was really fascinated with the American Civil War. I had some relatives who fought on both sides and that always seemed to interest me a lot.
When did you finally get into rock & roll?
Like I said, Metallica was a huge influence on me growing up. My brother, who is six years older than me, he would bring home records and I think the first record I ever got was a double vinyl of And Justice For All by Metallica
. I listened to that front to back and just sat there and learned every riff, every solo on that record, on my guitar. I think it was actually through rock music that led me to classical because I heard so many harmonies and cool little things in there that I realized was derived from classical music, even if it was indirectly. Actually Metallica in sort of a way turned me on to Bach.
What fascinates you about Bach?
It’s genius (laughs) Trying to write music like that is like doing a musical crossword puzzle. It gets my brain going. It’s conversation between voices that’s just on a level that is so much higher than our current understanding of music and putting together notes. It’s just not a way of thinking that is really around anymore. So that interests me when I hear a piece of music like that that was real thought out and well-written. It just really gets my brain going and challenges me.Who was the first real rock star that you ever met?
Wow, that is a good question. When I think of real rock stars I think of guys who were on posters on my wall as a kid. I’ve never met the guys from Metallica and it’s one of those things where I’m sure someday we will meet but meeting your idols is always scary (laughs). We had Sebastian Bach stay with me and my wife for a few weeks one summer and that was pretty interesting. I loved Skid Row when I was a kid. Nikki Sixx is another one. Motley Crue hugely influenced me growing up. I remember one year when we were first starting out and we were at the NAMM show in Anaheim and we were walking into the convention and Gene Simmons walks right up to us and compliments us on how we look and that was pretty bizarre (laughs)What would you say has been your most exciting memory about being in this band so far?
You know, there’re so many memories that are exciting. When I go back and I think about when it started, which wasn’t that long ago, it’s just been a quick ride for us. Our first tour we were traveling around in just an SUV and trailer and it was just the five of us in this car driving around the country. It’s just been such a quick ride since then that I never forget those memories of starting out and playing in small clubs and just starving basically but doing what we loved and it didn’t matter. And it’s still that way. We still have such camaraderie that we’re unfazed by any of our success. But it’s pretty cool when we hear things like, “Hey, your record just debuted number seven on the Billboard charts.” It’s like, wow, celebrate (laughs) It’s such a huge accolade. I think playing the Golden Gods was cool too and Jake and I won Best Guitarists. That was just a mindfuck (laughs)
What was your first concert?
My first concert would have been seeing Metallica at Lollapalooza, I believe it was. That was sometime in the 90s. I can’t remember the year but it was pretty huge for me because Metallica, I finally got to see them up close. I never got to go to the shows with my brother cause I was too young but it was my first real big one and that was pretty exciting for me.So how did you get started?
Like I said, I always played guitar, that was my first instrument as a kid, and I just grew up in a musical family. My brother was always playing in bands. When we first moved to Des Moines, we lived in a smaller town before that, and my brother met up with these guys, Corey Taylor from Slipknot and Stone Sour, and they had a band together all through high school - and it was the band that would eventually become Stone Sour later. But I would be like nine or ten years old and stay up and jam with those guys in the living room at my mom’s house and one day I was like, “I got to start my own band with people my age” but nobody at the age of ten knew how to play an instrument so when I would try to start a band and I was the only one that knew how to play, it made it kind of hard until I at least got into high school and things changed after that. But I had a few bands in high school and nothing ever really came of anything. Nobody was ever really as motivated as I was and it wasn’t until I moved away to the west coast, California, that I found that’s where people are that are motivated. One thing led to another, played in a few bands, toured a lot, got a lot of experience under my belt and now this band is happening.
I was talking to Jake about this earlier, about how you have come so far so fast.
It is surreal. Like I said, we were driving around in a Durango our first tour. I just remember having dreams about going overseas to England and Europe and playing shows over there and that happened in less than a year and we were there. It’s just been a constant climb for us and it’s just surreal. We kind of live in a bubble where we don’t get to see ourselves from the outside and it’s weird. It’s hard for us to gage how well we are actually doing until we do hear things like you have a top ten record. Then it’s, “Oh shit, I guess we are doing ok.” (laughs). So no more living in a crappy apartment in Hollywood. I’ve got a house now with my wife and life is pretty good. I never get to see it but … (laughs)
What are your plans for this year?
Continue to take over the world (laughs) We want to grow, always growing, and we want more people to hear our music and overcome some of the obstacles where I think we’ve been so polarized in the past, where people judged us based on our make-up or our look or whatever and always judge us before even listening to our music. We want people to hear our music now and judge us based on the music not, “Oh, you guys look like a bunch of homos and your music must suck” or “You must be untalented because of that.” So it would be nice to be played on the radio, and I hear we’re getting picked up by a lot of stations around the country, so that’s nice to hear, that more people are willing to hear our songs before judging us. We’re just going to keep growing and gaining more fans and support