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Andy Biersack: “The Entire Trajectory Of My Life And My Interests Was Shaped By Seeing KISS”

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 6 hours ago

RSpromotes: Black Veil Brides likely wouldn't even exist if not for KISS, according to Andy.

KISS are embarking on their final EVER world tour, and hanging up their make-up and platform boots for good. 

They're hitting the UK for a final time this coming July, playing five arenas across the country from July 09 - 16. Tickets are available now right here.

As it's KISS' final ever tour, we thought it only proper to honour them by speaking to one of their biggest fans. 

Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack likely wouldn't even be a rock star if not for KISS. And that's no exaggeration - it was KISS drummer Eric Singer who told a 10 year old Andy that he'd be a rock star one day.

WHAT ARE YOU EARLIEST MEMORIES OF KISS?
"They were my introduction to music. Everybody when they're a kid hears music and gets familiar with songs, and a lot of what I heard was from Batman films - so Seal and Prince and things. I didn’t have a face to those songs, though - my first introduction to the concept of an actual band was KISS.

"I was three years old and my dad, a KISS fan, thought it would be something I'd enjoy, and showed me his KISS trading cards from the '70s. I gravitated towards Gene Simmons and thought, ‘This is the greatest thing ever’. The entire trajectory of my life and my interests was shaped by seeing this band, and that informed everything else. Admittedly I didn’t know about the actual music; I liked the songs but I didn’t know what they were talking about. I had no frame of reference for the rock 'n' roll party or anything.

"When I was three, it was just: 1) this is the coolest thing I have ever seen, and 2) this is what I want to be. The first time I saw a VHS video of them playing as a kid was when I knew this is what I wanted to do. I couldn’t play guitar, and I didn’t really know if I could sing because I was only a few years past being a baby, but the first thing I thought was that I could do this.

"In terms of the rest of my life, I often say that went to the school of Paul and Gene - most specifically Paul Stanley. Intellectually and vernacularly speaking, and the way that I handle myself in interviews was directly informed by spending every day watching interviews with them, watching tapes that my dad had, drawing them and doing make up to look like them, and playing with KISS action figures pretending to be them. If I had action figures that didn’t have KISS make up on, I'd draw KISS make up on them. I would build stages in my room by stringing Christmas lights and building scaffolding out of household stuff for my action figures to play on. It was all encompassing from three years old through to 13. Around 13 was when I found The Misfits and Alkaline Trio and AFI, but the thing that put me in the position to find that stuff was my love of KISS."


THERE’S SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL ABOUT KNOWING YOU WANT TO BE AN ENTERTAINER OF THAT SCALE FROM SUCH AN EARLY AGE, ALL BECAUSE OF THIS ONE BAND.
"The era of the band that I grew up in plays into that a lot too. If you’re speaking to someone who grew up in the '70s, their view of KISS was that they were almost otherworldly, and I think that was intentional. You couldn’t see them without their make-up on, and there wasn’t as much information available. These were the characters that they went by, and people honestly believed that Ace Frehley was some sort of alien.

"By the '90s KISS had gone through the make-up era and the non-make-up era, and when I was six they had put the make-up back on and were starting the second wave, or the second coming as they called it.

"So I saw them as people. I never saw them as anything else, because I had watched these interviews of them in the early '90s when they were just these guys who were being very open and honest about their lives. While people sometimes give me credit for being a good interview and knowing what to say, I can pinpoint exactly where that comes from: it’s from watching these guys in their late 30s being hyper aware of what their band was.

"I remember when I was a kid, I had a neighbour who loved Metallica. He would bring over the Metallica tapes and he would say, ‘This is way cooler’. I had none of it, and I would put on KISS and show him what I thought was cool. That was almost the first time that I realised that not everybody thought this was the best thing ever. To me, it was like, 'If everybody found out about this, then they would think it was the best thing in the world' like I did. As I grew older, I came to love Metallica, and it became the zeitgeist of metal where it’s hard to make hard rock and not be influenced by Metallica... but at the time it was KISS or nothing for me."

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU SAW THE BAND LIKE, AND HOW DID THAT COMPARE TO THE MOST RECENT TIME THAT YOU SAW THEM?
"I can’t actually remember the first time I saw KISS, because for a five year period I feel like my Dad and I went all the time. They toured a lot in that period - they didn’t put out a lot of music but they played a lot. I saw every fucking iteration of the band, whether it be one original member, or two original members, and all the different random line-ups. It was always a fun experience, and it was always really important for the two of us because KISS were one of the first things that we properly bonded over.

"Between that and sports, KISS has always been our thing - so the first time I saw them was most likely on the ‘Psycho Circus’ tour. I didn’t see them on the reunion tour because I was five and my mum was not cool with me going. Then the most recent time I saw them was at Monsters Of Rock Festival in South America. Obviously that was a very different experience because we were watching from the artist area - it was different, but just as enjoyable. Over the years I've become friendly with Eric [Singer, drums], and the first time that he said something complimentary about Black Veil Brides I just thought about what a fucking full circle moment that was."

WHAT IS YOUR MOST VIVID MEMORY FROM SEEING KISS LIVE?
"I think it was the Rock The Nation tour. It wasn’t even particularly because of the show - it was in an amphitheatre in Cincinnati and my dad and I went. I was maybe about 12 or 13 years old, and it rained cats and dogs the whole show, and we had lawn seats so we weren’t even under cover. We just had the best time though, singing at the top of our lungs, laughing, joking. It’s one of the best concert memories I have. It was pure joy and such a cool moment for us to share. I think it was actually the last KISS show we saw together, because they kind of went underground for a few years. By the time I was 17 I was back and forth to L.A. and then fully moved out at 18, so it’s one of the last times my dad and I spent an evening watching KISS and just having a blast."

HOW MUCH OF AN EFFECT DID KISS HAVE ON THAT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DAD AS THE YEARS PASSED BY?
"I think our mutual relationship when it came to music really did start there, and then as I progressed in my interests I would show him bands. People always talk about how my dad is such a big fan of mine, and it stems from the fact that we both like all of the same shit when it comes to music. It’s always just been a part of who we are.

"I’ll tell you what; my dad did take me to a KISS expo when I was 10 years old. They had this karaoke contest that was being judged by Eric Singer and I went up and did ‘Deuce’ with all of the Gene moves. When I was done, Eric said to me that I’m going to be a rockstar one day. My heart swelled up, and to be able to share that story with him years later was a very cool thing for me. I wouldn’t have had that moment if it weren’t for my dad’s devotion to me. I think in many ways KISS ultimately represents my family, and my relationship with my dad."

WHAT SETS KISS APART FROM EVERYONE ELSE WHEN IT COMES TO PLAYING LIVE FOR YOU?
"There was just this power that they harnessed, and they created a feeling that they were untouchable. When you watch them at their peak in 1977, there's just this power. I don’t think there are many bands in the history of popular music who have reached that level live, and it’s not just the fireworks and the flames; it’s the power of them as performers. They're older men now and can’t run around in the same way, but they still manage to put on a show that's visually stunning. It’s almost evolved into a different sort of show now really. In the early days it was a bunch of young guys running around like nutcases with a few fireworks, and now it’s a bunch of older men with more fireworks than you have ever seen. They’ve always found a way to evolve their show in a way that fits in with where they are in their career."

HOW HAS THAT LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE INFLUENCED YOU WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR LIVE SHOW?
"I mean, I would love to be able to have a show on the scale of KISS. Anybody who has come to see Black Veil Brides knows that we try our best to build up our scale with things like pyro and big screens in the vein of KISS. Obviously at the end of the day I would love to have the biggest stage in the world, and we are working to that. Maybe on the next Black Veil Brides tour..."

WHY DO YOU FEEL IT'S IMPORTANT FOR YOUNGER GENRATIONS OF PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT BE AS FAMILIAR WITH KISS TO SEE THEM AND HONOUR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE FOR MUSIC?
"It’s a bummer to know that KISS will be done, but I’ve had an entire life of seeing them. For some people it will be 50 years of seeing this band! Put simply, I think it's important for you as a fan of rock music to see this spectacle."

You know what Andy Biersack would do - he'd go and see KISS on their farewell tour. You should too. Check out the full list of UK tour dates below, and pick up tickets here.

JULY

09 - BIRMINGHAM Birmingham Arena
11 - LONDON O2 Arena
12 - MANCHESTER Manchester Arena
14 - NEWCASTLE Utilita Arena
16 - GLASGOW The SSE Hydro

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