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INTERVIEW: ANDY BIERSACK of Black Veil Brides – November 2014

| 20 November 2014 | 3 Replies

Much like waiting for highly anticipated CD’s, there are interviews that keep me on the edge of my seat while waiting for them.  Getting another shot at Andy Biersack – my third in the last 4 years and first here on 100% Rock – is like an early Christmas present.  Discussing the new album, touring, and even getting some insight to the young man is fun for this guy who happens to be a big fan of the band and everything they have done.  The guy cares about the fans, the photographers, and the press.  I can distinctly remember running into him outside The Fillmore in Detroit after their show in October 2013 and specifically asking if I got some good shots of him and the band.  If I were a little faster on my toes, I would have grabbed a selfie with him in the parking lot.   But let’s be honest, you don’t want to read me going on and on… you came to see what Andy had to say.  So with that, I present my latest conversation with Andy.

PHOTO - BVB Publicity 1 (Jonathan Weiner)

Toddstar: Andy, how are you today?

Andy: I’m doing fine. You know, I’m a little under the weather, but got to my hotel room and planning on just relaxing today, and hopefully getting back on track. We’ve been on tour for a while now, and it’s just starting to really hit me. I’ve been pretty lucky on this tour that I haven’t really gotten sick just yet. I think this is the first wave of what I believe to be a couple days of pretty painful flu like symptoms. It’s all right. I’ll get through it. It happens every tour, especially winter tours.

Toddstar: Yeah, certainly. I’m just glad you’re not breaking ribs or anything this time out, so far.

Andy: No. No. None of that. You know, it’s been a great tour so far. The only thing I’ve done so far, in terms of injury, when we were in the UK, I was blowing through mic stands, like, every single show, because they’re so poorly made, so weak, that I would break them every show, so we had a steel worker build, essentially, what is, a giant steel pipe that’s to my exact dimensions. There’s no adjustment to it. It’s not a mic stand, really. It’s just a big pipe with a base, that we had several of, that are impossible for me to break. The problem is, I still want to carry them around and throw them, and do all that kind of stuff. They weigh about 45-50 pounds each, so I’m constantly injuring my feet and my hands, trying to life these things up and I keep forgetting that it’s going to drop on my foot. If you see me wincing during the show, it’s because I forgot how god damned heavy these mic stands are.

Toddstar: Sure. We have Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides here.  Thank you so much for taking time out. I know you’re busy. We love talking to you every time we get a chance. Thank you so much Andy for taking time out for us.

Andy: Absolutely, man.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about the new album. The self-titled album dropped last month, and this thing’s just a monster. Every time you put out a new album, I want to crank a rating up to something above 10. You just get better and better, as a group, as a writer, as a performer, as a vocalist. What kind of mindset did you guys go into with this album that was different than anything else, to produce the sound and growth that you had?

Andy: I think, first and foremost, Bob Rock being involved in the process, really changed quite a bit for us. Just within the context of him wanting to really develop the band as a group of music writers. Being people that… Obviously, we’ve done a lot of records on the fly. Given the time frame that we’re in right now, it’s very hard for a rock band to have, A, the budget or, B, the time to make a record, in the context that they used to make albums, which is, a bunch of lead time, in terms of preproduction, and a great deal of writing time. Budgets just don’t allow for that anymore. Bob’s thing was, really, that he wasn’t looking to make a million dollars off of this. He really just wanted to make a great record. He really helped us out getting us the preproduction time, and getting us all in a room, and, really showing us the parts of ourselves that maybe we hadn’t seen in a long time. Touring and spending all of your time with other people, you grow close over the years, and we’re all best friends, but, by the same token, when it comes to sitting in a room and writing songs the old school way, it’s sometimes difficult to get that done, just because 10 months of the year you’re on tour, and then it’s, OK, time to make a record. All of this different stuff to get it in, and try to do the best that you can. With this one, we really had the opportunity to sit with one another, and write, what I think, are the best songs we’ve done. I feel confident in that, just because of the time that we took with it.

Toddstar: I’d have to agree with the quality of the songs. Even the one that you guy’s put as a B-side, “Sons Of Night”. I think that is one of the stronger songs written for the disc, and one of my personal favorites.

Andy: Thank you. Yeah, that one was just, unfortunately, didn’t get done in time. It was really a situation where we had intended to put it on the record, but when it came down to mixing and getting it done, we were down to the wire on getting it released. We wanted it released. We’ve always to put out a record around Halloween, and we’ve missed the deadline every single time, so it was one of those things where we had to get it done, and it wound up getting mixed by Bob, separately from us, in Vancouver, and he would send us references. That was the only one that we weren’t present for the mix of.

Toddstar: OK, good to know. Again, one of my favorite tracks. You mentioned something about how 10 months touring, 2 months writing, let’s get this album out. You’re going back to an old school train of thought, that a band that we both love, KISS, used to do. They used to do a couple albums a year, every 14 months. Black Veil’s kind of stuck to that kind of thing, where they do the album, they tour, and they get right back in. Is this what you do because it’s what you grew up with, or what you’ve grown to appreciate, or you think it’s what the fans want, or is it just, you have that much inside you you need to get out?

Andy: Probably a little bit of both. I really, obviously a big KISS fan, and I love that there was such a deep catalog of material for me. Obviously, being in the younger generation of KISS fans, to be able to go back and have an endless supply of albums, when I discovered the band, was pretty damn cool, and to know that they weren’t releasing much material when I was a kid, so it was nice to have that. As far as contemporary bands, most of the bands that I really got into and enjoyed, were the ones that consistently release material. It was always hard for me when a band that I really loved would go away for 4 years, 5 years at a time, because you know, you’re evolving your music tastes, and you’re growing, and you want to grow with the band that you love, and if they’re not present in your life, you sometimes become detached from them. With me, it’s almost, the fun of making records comes from that love of being a young rock listener and saying, “Wow. This band is always evolving and changing, and putting out new material, and they’re growing with me as I grow.” Also, we just really enjoy making music together. I’m constantly in the situation where I’m trying to come up with new ideas, and what the new direction’s going to be. It’s almost like when a record comes out, I have a two month grace period where I’m just saying, “I said what I’m going to say, and I don’t have the next record just yet.” Then, a few months later, I’m thinking, “OK, this is the new idea. This is the new concept.” I don’t know why. It’s just the way that we tend to work. We really enjoy it. In the day and time where we’re not millionaires in the rock industry. It’s not a great time, in terms of financial success, to be in a rock and roll band and stuff. We really do it for the love of the music. Nobody’s paying us millions of dollars to make these records. We really like … we enjoy the process of making these albums.


Toddstar: You hit on something very big. All of your contemporaries, that you grow with, the fan base and the fans seem to move from band to band to band so quickly, but yet, Black Veil Bride’s army, the BVB army, is so strong, these kids and the adults, I’m in my mid 40’s and I’m a proud member, will fight tooth and nail, and we don’t waver, even if we do pick up on other bands. Other bands, there fans just come and go. What do you attest that to?

Andy: In many ways, it’s attested to a great deal of luck. To have struck such a chord with people, and you’re right, the cool thing about the fan base is that, throughout the course of the career, it has evolved and grown, and now, our shows, I couldn’t possibly tell you the average age range of the people that make up our live shows anymore. It’s really gotten to the point where people of all ages are really dedicated to the band, really into the band, and it’s been really fun to see that. We’re very fortunate. Like you said, people are often fickle in their music tastes and they move on. Even if the bottom drops out and people stop loving the band today, we’ve had 5 solid years of people consistently giving us a career and that’s something, that in this day and age, with a lot of bands, that’s hard to say. I hope that continues. It would be great to continue to release music and for people to love it so much. This is our second consecutive top 10 record. That’s not easy to do, in the climate where records don’t sell what they used to. It’s hard to tell what it’s going to do, and when people are going to respond to something. We’re just very fortunate.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about the album for a minute. If you had to think back to the whole process, from the beginning of the writing to the mixing, what was both the easiest and the hardest song to complete from start to finish?

Andy: The hardest song, and only because I had such a specific direction for it, and it was kind of the opus that I really wanted to develop and we started working on it … I mean, one week into preproduction was, I want to do this song. The song, “Walk Away”, was the idea that I really wanted to do. We had done a song called, “Lost it All”, on the previous record, that had kind of hinted at the ideas of that really big, “November Rain,” Queen sounding kind of thing, if you know what I mean. I really wanted to expand on that, and almost go to a ridiculous degree, several guitar solos in the song, key changes, backup singers, everything that we could put in. It wasn’t necessarily hard, as much as, the arduous process. The time it takes to build something like that. This is me going over to Jinx’s house and us listening to different types of violin strings, and what’s going to sound the best, and where we can build up these bridge parts and everything. Can we make this song seven and a half minutes long, and have it not be boring to the listener. That’s the kind of stuff that we really took into account with that one. Then, a song like “Crown of Thorns” on the record, began it pretty easily, which is sort of funny, because the initial basis for that song came together before Wretched and Divine. That was actually a song that came out of the Set the World on Fire sessions, but it was just never right. Initially, it was a little too Bon Jovi-ish in many ways. Maybe a little too Springsteen-y. It didn’t really have the kind of vibe that I think it has now, with the way that it wound up with that very ominous, almost Sabbath-y sounding bridge section in there. I love that song a lot, but it really took this record for it to come together the right way. Once it did, it’s one of those ones that’s one of my favorites on the record, hands down.

Toddstar: I love the entire album, but with “Walk Away,” you mentioned that one, in my review, I stated that was one of the most diverse, yet best tracks you guys have recorded to date, just because of the different sounds. Then, you get to “Crown of Thorns,” like you talked about.  Again, I make reference to markings of vintage Brides, when I mention your influences and peers in modern music. The fact that you could marry that is no small feat. So many bands will try and do that, so it’s very cool that you guys get to do that. Is there something that, when you’re listening to music, whether it be newer stuff, older stuff, you’re just picking out pieces that you think, “God, I’d love to do something like this. Like you mentioned on ‘Walk Away.'”

Andy: Are you talking about listening to previous material, and saying, “I’d love to do something like that again?”

Toddstar: No. Just other music that you hear, just think, like you said, back to the whole epic Queen or something like that. Do you guys listen to other music and you’ll hear something off the cuff from somebody else that, it doesn’t matter who it is, and just think, “I want that. I can do that.”

Andy: There’s often times. A lot of it comes from the classic influences that we have. I think one of my most influential things that I came to, even the previous record, was just the insanity of where Axl Rose made Gun’s N Roses go towards the second disc of “Use Your Illusion,” where it’s just sound like a strings or something, where just the balls to do that. I think it’s more about the feeling and the balls behind doing something that’s always influenced me, more so than the specifics of a piece or a song. It’s more like, where was the writer at and how much guts did it take to do something like this, and how I’d like to be able to say that I could do the same sort of feeling in the song.

Toddstar: Well, speaking about you and your gut and everything else, you guys are out on the road, like you said, you’re not feeling well, but you’re out on the road. Before you climb in that bus, and you know you’re going to be gone for a couple months, or a few months even at times, what are the few things looking around your house, you think to yourself, “I can’t leave home without this?”

Andy: Everything. I always overpack. Without fail, 100% of the time, I overpack, and then I have to buy more suitcases while I’m on the road, because, inevitably, I realize it’s such a pain in the ass to try to pack everything into these two suitcases. Almost every tour, I’ll leave with two suitcases, and come back home with about six. Not because I’ve needed all this stuff, but because I thought I needed to pack an extra pair of sweatpants, and I definitely need that hoodie, because it’s going to be cold, and this and that. Then, ultimately, I wind up wearing the exact same clothes every day anyway, because it’s more convenient. I can’t just specify that there’s one thing that I … Because, honestly, that would make it a lot easier, but when I’m going through and packing, I go, “Man, I probably need that. I definitely need that. I should bring this.” Even down to packing granola bars or something that’s just so dumb, that there’s no reason I couldn’t just buy those on the road. I still think, “I should probably bring them with me, just in case.”

Toddstar: It’s good insight to you. If you were to leave your phone or your I-pod, or whatever device you use to listen to music, you left it behind at a venue, and one of your fans pick it up, what do you think is one of the most diverse pieces of music that they would find on there?


Andy: I don’t know. Again, I guess it goes back to the grandiose thing. Things like Elton John, and those kind of things that are very grand sounding material. A lot of what I listen to is probably what someone would perceive as the things I enjoy. Classic hard rock and some punk rock bands and those kind of things. I think people would maybe be surprised by some of the more … Maybe Elton John or the Beatles or those kind of things.

Toddstar: OK. If there’s one piece of music out there that you could put your stamp on and cover that you haven’t done yet, what would it be?

Andy: Oh boy. You know, I would love to do… We did one KISS tune a while ago. We did “Unholy.” I would love to do something, and we actually attempted it on this one, and then just for fun, during the preproduction process, just to see what it would sound like to kind of make the Black Veil Brides version of one of the more disco KISS songs. There’s a demo of “I Was Made for Loving You” sitting around somewhere that will probably see the light of day at one time.

Toddstar: I’d love to see the Coffin EP “hard plastic” in the form of a disc, too.

Andy: Yeah, me too. It’s one of those things, we wanted to get that done and, I don’t know that that will happen, until we’re in a position where we can maybe rerelease some material. It was done under the pretense it was going to be a digital only release. In terms of budget, it’s hard to sometimes get stuff made, especially when you’re on a major label, and there’s the politics behind that. I’d love to see that one day, as well. Maybe if we did something that was a more extensive release and more of our kind of one off releases, a lot of the soundtrack songs et cetera.

Toddstar: It was a great little collection. Good to work out to, by the way.

Andy: (Laughing) Yeah, we’ve been doing “Coffin” onstage every night on the tour. It is quite a workout.

Toddstar: Andy, I know you’re busy. I know you’re not feeling well, so I want to get you resting as soon as possible. I’ve got one more for you, if you don’t mind, before we let you go.

Andy: Yeah, no worries.

Toddstar: With everything going on with Black Veil Brides, again, you’ve got your second top 10 album, which is no small feat, to have two in a row these days. You’ve got probably the strongest rock effort to date, from you guys. Best writing. You’re on a killer tour. Everything’s going great for you guys. At this point for you, Andy, if you had to look back, what’s the meaning of life for you?

Andy: I think really the one thing that’s always been a constant for me, in terms of living or living happily, is the idea that I can try to achieve the things I’ve always wanted and to continue down that path. It’s very hard when you live a life where your years are planned out for you well in advance. I know what country I’m going to be in in February of next year. You know what I mean? Sometimes it’s hard to … I don’t know. Somebody asked me, you know, when you look back at the end of the year, you’re looking to next year, do you make New Year’s resolutions or whatever? Again, because of these touring schedules are built out so far in advance, I don’t know if people are always aware that, it’s sometimes hard to look at each individual moment and appreciate it for what it is. So, I think, really, the meaning, to me, of life, and the thing that I try my best to preserve in myself, is an appreciation of the moments that I have, and hopefully, I continue a life where I have those cool moments that really are things I can look back on, when I’m no longer able to do this, and say, “Wow. That was a great time in my life. I’m pleased to have done that.”

Toddstar: Very cool. Again, Black Veil Brides released their fourth disc, and it’s one of the best albums by one of the best and brightest out there today, so thank you guys for putting everything together, and thank you Andy, for sharing your time and your insight with us today. We really appreciate it. Rest up, get well, because there’s a lot of cities still out there waiting to see you in peak performance.

Andy: Yeah, thanks so much, man. We were looking at our laminates yesterday and realized we had just about hit the halfway point of this tour. It’s a lot more to go, but it’s going great. We’re really hitting our stride onstage and I’m really happy.

Toddstar: We will make sure, everybody knows to get out there and buy the disc and they should visit, your Facebook page, your Twitter page, and you guys each have your own individual Twitter pages, as well [links below].

Andy: Absolutely, thank so much, man.

Toddstar: Thanks, Andy. Talk to you soon.

Andy: Bye.










Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Comments (3)

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  1. Ludy Sixx says:

    Great interview! Should have filmed it though… 🙂

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