“It’s a passion project, it’s different, indulgent and I don’t have to answer to anybody…” - hmv.com talks to Andy Black
You’ll know Andy Black better as Andy Biersack, frontman of metallers Black Veil Brides, but he’s taking a break from that for a short solo run. His debut album The Shadow Side (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page) hits shelves today and we called him up to find out all about why he decided to go solo, why this is album is inspired by dark, gothic pop music and why he’s very impressed with Ben Affleck’s Batman...
Where did the idea to do a solo album come from?
“In reality I’ve been working on it for a few years, but it’s been quite disjointed. I had a conversation with John Feldmann, after we finished the Black Veil Brides’ Wretched and Divine record and I told him how much I loved bands like the Psychedelic Furs and The Lords Of The New Church, Sisters Of Mercy, Billy Idol, gothy stuff that’s more pop orientated. People think of Billy Idol as a hard rocker, but without the context and the imagery, it’s pop. So I loved the idea of all that hard rock imagery with pop music and I couldn’t do that with my band.”
“I didn’t grow up loving metal, I didn’t listen to Megadeth or Metallica, my heart was in punk rock. I met guitar players who could really shred and it turned out I like writing melodies that suit hard rock and heavy metal, so that’s what came together with Black Veil Brides. So this project was a way to do something incredibly self-indulgent and celebrate what I loved growing up. This isn’t placating anyone, this is just me laying down the things I want to and having a lot of fun doing it.”
So why now? Is the timing just right?
“I’ve been doing Black Veil Brides since I was 15 and it’s been all-encompassing, I did not want to take away from the progress of my band. We ended the cycle on the last Black Veil Brides record and I was very clear with everyone that I was going to do this now. One hasn’t taken away from the other, I was determined in that regard.”
You’ve always been very ambitious and very single minded about what you’ve done in Black Veil Brides, have you found it hard to balance both projects?
“It’s a passion project, it’s different, indulgent and I don’t have to answer to anybody, it feels less difficult to manage than Black Veil Brides. Making a record with the band now there are a lot of personalities in the room and a lot more to consider, we have to evolve, but it has to be natural and the whole band needs to go on the journey. The fun of the solo album took it away, I’m doing a new Black Veil Brides album now and it is harder work. I did put a lot of work into Andy Black, I didn’t do it for a laugh, but Black Veil Brides is much more cumbersome.”
You worked with John Feldmann on the album, who you’ve worked with before with Black Veil Brides, why did you choose him for your solo album?
“John doesn’t take credit for this, but he’s the first person who thought of me following this. He told me I needed to do it and told me that we could make a great record, without him there is no Andy Black. Both of us have good work ethics and we wrote more for this project then we’d written for anything. We wrote two songs a day, we wrote 45 songs and ended up recording 25 of them.”
You’ve got an all-star line-up of other musicians on there with you, Travis Barker, Quinn Allman from The Used...
“I didn’t have a band, so we’d be able to get people come in and help us. We had Travis Barker come in and do some drums, so many great people came in and helped us, ‘We Don’t Have To Dance’ came from Quinn, I left him alone in the studio one night messing with some effects pedals and he told me he’d send me what he did, one hour later I get this great MP3 and we built the song from there.”
You’ve got Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy on the album too, what was he like?
“He was amazing. I’d never met him before this, but he’d expressed an interest in working with me after he heard ‘They Don’t Need To Understand’. I love being in a band, but I also love collaborating with other musicians, I got invited to this label party and I went along, I never do well at those things, but he was there and we got to talking about how neither of us really fit in at those kind of events and we connected after that, a mutual feeling about struggling at social events. From that we got the lyrics for ‘We Don’t Have To Dance’, it came together super quickly after that.”
What kind of record is this lyrically? Were you writing quite a different style to how you do in Black Veil Brides?
“The intention was to write differently. I wanted to write about personal situations in a way that was less veiled, the way I write tends to be using metaphors for something else and I wanted to be a bit more literal. I wanted to show people a different side of me, something more introspective and less anthemic. I write the way I do in Black Veil Brides because that’s how hard rock makes me feel, this is a lot more low-key.”
What is your plan to take the record out live? Do you have a date for when this stops and Black Veil Brides begins again?
“I’m working on a new Black Veil Brides album and we want to have something that we’ve really polished and fine-tuned. I think we’ll benefit from that, we’ve always had to stop and hand it over to the label, so, in a way, the better this record does the longer we’ll be able to work and keep polishing it. I won’t put a date on it, but it’ll naturally wind down and I’ll return to Black Veil Brides.”
Finally we know you’re a big Batman fan, what did you think of Ben Affleck’s debut as Batman?
“I really enjoyed his performance, I think he’s the most true to the comics we’ve ever had on screen, I really liked him and I can’t wait for a solo movie. The rest of the film was a little frustrating, but he was great. I’m also really excited to see Suicide Squad, can’t wait for that.”