"We’re having so much fun, and enjoying what we’re doing so much." - Andy Biersack.
In parting ways with longtime bassist Ashley Purdy, welcoming a new recruit into the fold, signing to a new label and rethinking the way they release music, Black Veil Brides have entered a new era. We caught up with Andy Biersack in the latest issue of Rock Sound to discover the story behind it all...
So, what was the starting point for these two new songs?
Says Andy: “We were getting together to do the re- recording of the first album, for its 10-year anniversary - which we’re still doing, and intend on putting out - but when we got together we just were just having so much fun. It felt like we should just do some new material and write some songs. We had some riffs that had been moved around over the years, that we were never able to find a way to use. They’re essentially derived from elements of songs that we have previously tried to create.”
There are definite callbacks to your older material...
“With ‘Saints Of The Blood’, the opening riff was something that predates Jake [Pitts, guitar] and Jinxx [guitar] being in Black Veil Brides. It was a riff that they had written together prior to meeting me. It’s difficult for people to understand that there are changes in people’s moods in bands, over the course of 10 or so years. It’s not like there was ever a time where we were disinterested, or not getting along, but there’s just been such a creative energy [lately] that it almost feels like 10 years ago. We’re having so much fun, and enjoying what we’re doing so much.
"Getting back in the vocal booth to cut screaming tracks, I didn’t even fucking know how to do it anymore! It’d been so long since I had done that, the first couple takes I sounded like I was falling down some stairs...”
How much of that spirit is to do with your new bassist Lonny Eagleton?
“Having the opportunity to be around somebody who’s a fan of the band helps us see how the band is seen from the fans’ perspective. It’s helped us get a better view on the music that we create and what is important to our fanbase. I think he’s really opened us up to an even closer connection with our audience. Plus he’s really fucking good, can play incredibly well and can sing amazingly. He made both of these recordings... there’s just such a new energy.”
What happened with Ashley Purdy leaving the band?
“Like anything, when you’re in a band for a long time you have to have a certain closeness with people, and it was just time for us to move in different ways. You know, there’s no animosity from either side and I think moving forward, both of us are going to be happy and successful in different ways. There’s no great story behind it. It was just a situation where it came time for us both to move in different ways.”
Was it hard losing someone from the most consistent line- up of the band?
“Honestly, the truth is that the band, as it was for the last 10 years? You can’t replace that, you’re not trying to replace that. The band in its earliest eras, particularly the Los Angeles era, is the one that fans have gravitated towards the most over the years and that was the thing that really made the band happen. In that same capacity, the contributions of people like Sandra [Alvarenga], Chris Hollywood, and many others over the years have been celebrated by the fanbase. The fans have always made sure to celebrate every era. I saw that Ashley had posted some new music and I think that the fans will get behind that.”
You teasing the new songs and Ashley teasing music happened in quite close proximity...
“This was something that had been planned and worked through, and we wanted what was best for both sides. We wanted to give everybody the opportunity to know that this was going down, and for us, and for him, to be able to put out what we were working on. In that capacity we wanted to do right by the fans, both sides did, and I think we’re going to be doing that. Black Veil will be releasing material consistently and we’ve got tours coming up. It’s a very quick and tidy way of everything coming out, but the reality is that’s just how it went down. The agreement was made, and we decided to move in different ways.”
What’s the idea behind your new ‘duology’ releases?
“Over the course of the last several years, and the last couple of Black Veil records, we’ve dedicated such a tremendous amount of time to making the material that I think we lost the spontaneity and the fun of just getting in the studio and writing together. Things got detached from the whole, ‘Five guys in a room writing a record,’ thing that Black Veil Brides has been. So, we wanted to return to that. Having to live by the now-archaic structure of, ‘Make a record for a year and a half, wait six months to release it, tour for eight months’, that whole process is done. We’ve seen such a renaissance in our ability to write, so we just thought, ‘Well, let’s come up with a new way to release this stuff’. Conceptually it’s not an idea that no one’s ever done before, particularly in the hip-hop world, so the idea was, ‘Why don’t we do this in a way that we would do it?’”
What does that look like?
“Generally speaking we are very theatrical, so we were looking around at different ideas and if there was a theatrical precedent for something like this. I looked into the concept of these duologies, which have often been joining plays, or books that were written in conjunction with one another but released separately to combine and make one full complete story. So I thought, ‘Well, that seems like what we’re doing here, so let’s start doing these’. It’ll be one of those situations where we could be doing three or four of these a year, and it should be an exciting time.”
Is there a grander concept being carved out?
“There are different names that go along with each other. What’s fun is, there are little Easter eggs in it. The artwork has a little Easter egg, and when it’s all revealed it’ll be fun for our fans. For so long we’ve done these very theatrical things that people look at to find hidden meaning. Yesterday already I was seeing people going, ‘Oh, Andy’s got the cross on his jacket that kind of looks like the star that was in ‘Perfect Weapon’ - I wonder if that will tie in again later?’ I already know conceptually what the names of the different elements are, and we’ve got song elements already pieced together.”
How does this all tie in with the re-recording you were doing?
“We’re planning to really push writing for the next batch so it’s all going to flow pretty easily for us. We’re working right now on the re-recording of the first record and that’s something that we’re doing every day. We know when we can be writing new material for the next duology, and then maybe in three months or something we’ll really push to make sure that those new songs are as good as they can be. It’s kind of a constant flow of work.”
How are you feeling about touring again?
“We can put the whole new record into the setlist! At this point, we’ve got five full- length records of material and if I’m being honest, we’ve not done a great job over the last several years - with the exception of the residency that we did here in LA at the Roxy - of spanning the whole catalogue. Admittedly it became a little stale, and the intention with this moving forward is to try to really incorporate songs that you haven’t heard live before in the history of the band, or bring back songs we’ve had for a number of years. I don’t think you’re ever going to get very far trying to please everybody. Historically, pandering is not exactly the best route to go, and it’s always been my intention that we go our own way and hope that the fans can enjoy it.”
It sounds like the passion’s been reignited for you.
“By the end of the ‘Vale’ tour there was a malaise over everything. Once we moved forward with this new era it fell right off. There’s nothing quite like doing it for as long as we have, putting out new material, and then people saying, ‘You guys killed it!’ This is a band where, 11 years ago, most people figured we didn’t stand a chance to have any longevity. We were this band that wore makeup and were known for being hated. Being around after a decade and people still being interested in what we’re doing is a really humbling feeling.”
Black Veil Brides' first duality 'The Night' is out now on Sumerian Records.