“I wanted to take the shackles off on this album..” – hmv.com talks to Black Veil Brides
In the last five years, there’s not been a metal or hard rock band that’s been as talked about as Black Veil Brides. Whether it’s for their rabid fanbase, their love of trailblazing ballads or their make-up smeared get-up, the band are always the subject of keyboard warriors’ praise and ire.
One thing that’s not in dispute though, is the band’s work ethic, they tour harder than any band on the planet and they make albums at a ferocious rate.
Their last effort, 2013’s Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones, was full on rock opera, which told of a futuristic battle between a gang named The Wild Ones and an evil organisation named F.E.A.R. It had interludes, it had monologues and all the trappings that a grand concept album can bring with it.
This time out, the band have gone back to basics somewhat. Their new album is self-titled, there’s no grand concept and they’ve turned to hard rock’s most iconic producer, Bob Rock, the man responsible for taking Metallica into football stadiums with his production on their 1991 game changer The Black Album.
Ahead of the album’s release we spoke to Black Veil Brides’ frontman Andy Biersack to find out about the making of the album and ditching concepts…
Your album’s out on Monday, how are you finding the build-up? Do you get nervous? Or just excited?
“This is like the countdown for Christmas for me. I can’t think about the negatives, I just enjoy the whole process, all the reactions, the countdown, I love seeing fans making cover videos, I just enjoy it all.”
What exactly are you calling this album? We’ve heard some people refer to it as Four, some as Black Veil Brides..
“It’s open to interpretation. We’re calling it Black Veil Brides, so self-titled, but it is the fourth record, so people are calling it Four. I like the ambiguity, the title on the last album, being the concept record, was so strident, there was a lot going on, this is more up to the fans interpretation. The idea is that the art speaks for itself.”
Your last record only came out last year, when did you start work on this one?
“The writing process had been going on piece by piece for the last year. We started tracking in April and we had it done by August. We had to record in several different places, we had to work around Bob’s schedule a bit, so we’d take weeks off and work on little pieces. I’ve never been afforded that opportunity before, to have time to work on things, every other record has been a mad rush, it was nice to be introspective and to take the time to be more considered. I got to spend more time on my lyrics and really fine tune everything.”
You worked with Bob Rock on this album, who’s worked on huge albums with Metallica, Motley Crue and others, was he suggested to you? Or did you approach him?
“The strange thing is that Bob Rock is a bit of a household name, we all know about Metallica’s Black Album, what it did for heavy metal, as well as all albums he made with Motley Crue and The Cult. We all know who he is and what he’s achieved, but I don’t think we ever had a conversation where we said we wanted him to produce our album. He’s sort of unobtainable, he feels out of your league, but once we sat down with him, he was an absolute pleasure to work with, he taught us so much.”
How did working with Bob Rock compare to working with John Feldmann?
“In many ways John Feldmann is a singer’s producer. I loved working with him, I still work with him, we do some of my Andy Black (Biersack’s side-project) stuff together, I text him all the time, I go to his house for family parties. I loved it, but I’m not sure if his style of production meshed with my band all that way. Bob Rock is much more old school, he’s a musician’s producer, he gels very well with the band, he meshed with us so well.”
From talking to bands, it seems like John Feldmann works you really hard, was Bob more laid back?
“We’re a hard working band, we’re the kind of band that gets there at 9am and leaves at 3am. I would be up with Feldmann until the sun comes up working on vocals. But that’s me, I’m a control freak, I would be there anyway. It’s fair to say that Feldmann is something of a taskmaster, whereas Bob’s style is much quieter. He’s not laid back and he also has a reputation for being a scary guy. With both of them, you have to work, if you think you can turn up at the studio and f**k off when you like, I don’t think that’s the right way to make a record anyway.”
What were your intentions behind the album? After making the grand concept album, were you looking for something simpler?
“I loved Wretched and Divine and I’m very proud of it, but I do feel like we overshot it in some respects. It became very apparent that I couldn’t write as I wanted to, I’d end up having to write missing bits of the story, and, while that wasn’t disingenuous, it certainly wasn’t how I was feeling. I don’t like to not write about emotions and, obviously, I’ve never experienced a great battle in a dystopian universe.”
“I wanted to take the shackles off on this album and there to be a more organic feel to how we wrote. I wasn’t worried about there being an overarching theme or a through line. I think we worked harder on this than any record in the past, but it was less stressful.”
Would you ever make another concept album?
“I don’t know. I’ve always seen our records as having themes and concepts. For Wretched, I had started down that path and I wanted to finish it. Each of our records before that I’d started with that intention and I couldn’t see it through. I can’t say I’d never make another concept record, but I don’t have as much interest in it anymore. I feel like I can express myself more completely this way.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“It’s certainly more reality-based, I hesitate to use the word personal because it sounds more pessimistic, but it’s definitely more introspective and more honest. I laugh now when I look back at how serious some of them are.”
What topics are you taking on?
“’Faithless’ is about my ongoing struggle as someone who’s an atheist, but who has a profound hatred of the religion of atheism and what it brings people to say. ‘Shattered God’ is an odd one, it’s about this person who tried to f**k me over so badly and ruin my career and I saw them out in Hollywood recently and their life has totally gone to s**t. The song is a wink and a nod and a tribute to the idea that the good guy doesn’t always lose.”
“There’s not so much of the ‘We’re going to get through this’ type songs. I feel like that’s pandering a little, I’ve always said to our audience, these songs are not written for you, they’re for me, I hope you can take something from them and apply them to your own life. When I listen to Bruce Springsteen, I never think “He wrote this song for me”, I always come at it from the perspective of that it’s amazing that he didn’t and it still connects with me so much.”
Do the lyrics come from a different place? Are you happier?
“Yeah, I think it would be silly for me with the life that I have to still be writing about the problems of being a teenager. I still have those passions within me, but circumstances do change you. I always want to try and be the best version of myself and I feel like I’m getting closer to that.”
How much touring do you have blocked out already?
“We’ve just wrapped our UK tour and we’re out in the US until Christmas. Then we have a couple of weeks off and then its full on, I expect to be touring until the end of 2015, I hope so anyway.”
Black Veil Brides’ new self-titled album is released on Monday (October 27th) and can be pre-ordered in store now.