'The Ghost Of Ohio' is coming.
Andy Black announced the details of his upcoming solo album 'The Ghost Of Ohio' just now. After weeks of teasing it, we had a chat with Andy about what's coming, the inspiration behind 'The Ghost Of Ohio', how the album ties in with his upcoming graphic novel, and more.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY BE ABLE TO REVEAL THE DETAILS OF THIS RECORD AFTER SO MUCH TIME?
Says Andy: "You know I was speaking to John Feldmann the other day and this is the first time since September 2015 where I haven’t been working on an album. We did the first Andy Black record and wrapped that November of that year, then we started the most recent Black Veil Brides record and that wrapped maybe a year and half later. This is now the first moment where I can sit down and look at all of this music that we have made. It’s really great. I’m just so excited about this album and the comic book. This is just my favourite part about making music. Since I was young I always loved the drama and pageantry of it all and to really lean into that with this ghost story where I can live out all of the dreams I had as a kid, it’s just a lot of fun."
WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE YOU WANT TO CREATE SOMETHING OF THIS SIZE AND STATURE?
"One of my biggest influences on my songwriting throughout my life has always been Bruce Springsteen. As a kid I would listen to his lyrics and it would always be about going back to your hometown and looking around at where you grew up. I grew up on the west side of Cincinnati in a real working class, salt of the earth area. There were a lot of empty streets and factories and all of that stuff really spoke to me. I always felt that in his music. Another one of my influences was the over the top stuff that's out there.
"The Sweeney Todd soundtrack was one of the first things that I listened to when I was a kid and it’s well documented that I love things bands like KISS and The Misfits. The idea was what would it sound like if I combined all of these things that I love? What if I talk about my town that I’m from in a way that is honest and open, and the feelings that I had towards reconnecting with my youth and who I was as a child, while also viewing it through this heightened reality lens? When I started doing the research for this record I found that so many places around me were haunted and were full of these crazy ass stories. It’s stuff that adds a really fun layer to creating and building this world."
IT’S VERY EXCITING THAT SOMETHING SO VIVID THAT HAS BEEN BUILT IN YOUR HEAD HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE A REALITY. HOW DID YOU REACH THIS POINT FROM WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY?
"I think as a kid one of the things that interested me the most about rock stardom was this ability to create an alternate version of yourself. I was an only child and lacked in social skills, so I would just sit in my room and paint and draw and build things. That’s where it all started with me creating things. Then as I got older I tried that out. So I had built this other version of myself, let’s put it on display. I found that ultimately I was emotionally destroying myself by trying to be this other person. I wanted to be someone who wasn’t so anxious and worried about things. I put on this mask and said ‘I’m this crazy rock and roll guy and I’m going to be really drunk everyday’.
"It started with me thinking that if I was drinking that would mean I could be social. Then those lines between who I was and this character blurred and before I know it I’m starting fights with people in the crowd. It was getting out of control. By the end of 2015 I was feeling like shit. It was like I wasn’t myself and I was wearing this other skin and being someone else. A large part of this record is the journey that I have been on to try and reconnect with my adolescence and being that kid who wanted to build these worlds and not live a life decided to trying to be somebody else."
HOW DID YOU CHANGE THE PACE FROM ‘THE SHADOW SIDE’ TO REACH WHERE YOU ARE NOW WITHIN THE ANDY BLACK MONIKER?
"It’s like when you jump into water that’s really cold and in those first few moments you can’t help but react to how cold it is? Then eventually your body gets used to it and you feel much more comfortable with it and you’re not worrying about how cold it is anymore? I feel like the first Andy Black record was me jumping into that water. I had no choice as a writer to jump in and say ‘here’s all my shit and I’m finally talking about it’. It was a very emotional record and much darker in tone. When I’m writing those songs I’m 9-10 months sober and just starting to feel things again that I had put in the back shelf of my mind.
"Now I look on those moments with less of an immediate anxiety. I can look at them and reflect on them in a way where I can actually build them out and put them into this bigger story and to be able to create things that reflect the emotions I’m feeling now. Let’s take ‘Westwood Road’ for example which is about being so fucking miserable while sitting in a hotel room and absolutely hating where I am now. It’s thinking ‘this doesn’t represent me at all, this is not who I am’ and thinking of going back to being a kid and enjoying going to football games with my dad and all that sort of stuff. Now as an adult I actually do all that stuff. So now when I want to write about that I can write it from the perspective of having fun with it and knowing that I was this miserable person but it is possible to reconnect with all of this stuff. I feel much less weight when it comes to trying to reclaim who I was."
SOME PEOPLE NEVER REACH THAT POINT WHERE THEY FEEL THE CONFIDENCE TO REFLECT ON THEIR PAST IN SUCH A HONEST WAY AND NOT BEING ASHAMED OF THE THINGS THAT YOU DID WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER. HOW DOES IT FEEL KNOWING THAT PEOPLE ARE FINDING THEIR OWN SOLACE IN YOUR VERY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES?
"When you start as young as I did, everything is about the stuff that you’re feeling. I used to feel something, write about it and put it out there and that to me is the catharsis of being a writer. I’ve never sat down and tried to write a song for somebody else. It’s always been my biggest objective to write about what I know or what I want to know and not what about you know. Then I’m pandering to someone else’s emotions. For example Bruce Springsteen and me are years apart in age. Yet I could listen to his songs in my shitty car driving to school and go ‘fuck yeah I’m born to run’. That’s the beauty of music."
WHAT WAS IT THAT FORMED THE BASIS OF THE STORY OF ‘THE GHOST OF OHIO’ THEN?
"Around 2013 I became obsessed with the idea that there is no real revenge. I always assumed that there would be moment of absolution from all of the meanness that I faced as a kid and that I would be this big rock star and everybody would be ‘oh my god we are so sorry’. I started to romanticise my hometown and going back home and how I went back surely all the girls who didn’t like me and the guys who threw stuff at me would have seen me on the cover of a magazine and thought I was the best. Though in reality, that is illogical. People have their own lives and have got their own shit going on.
"I didn’t feel sadness that something like that didn’t happen but how I had made so much of my drive on ‘I’ll show you one day’. The only way you can get that is by living a life that is enjoyable. So when I started going back home more and seeing all of these people living their quaint little lives. That was when I started thinking of this character who is wrongfully killed and then has to haunt this place forever and being stuck within this sameness forever. What would you do? How would you react with people? What if you couldn’t really connect with people even if you wanted to? So it started snowballing from there. Then I started to get into all of this folklore and wondered what it would be like to form my own. Tell a story that feels like an old time story when actually it is more of this new age fiction."
HOW DID YOU START TO BRING TOGETHER THE COMIC BOOK AND THE ALBUM INTO THE SAME CONCEPT?
"In many ways the comic book is a more stylised and heightened version of these stories because it has to be. When I went to the company who is printing it I asked them if they could help me shape all of this into a way where it would make sense. I have written concept albums before but this is my first time putting together a graphic novel. Then the record went from there really."
WHAT DO YOU WANT ‘THE GHOST OF OHIO’ TO REPRESENT FOR YOU WITHIN THE BIGGER PICTURE, EVEN AWAY FROM MUSIC?
"One of the most beautiful things I found about music when I was a kid was being able to get lost in this world of imagination. I want to give people a fun, enjoyable experience. At the end of the day I’m writing about my emotions and trying to convey the world around me. That’s already there in the record. Then there is the other stuff that I can build around it are the things that people listening can get lost in. It’s a way of giving them a way to escape from the drudgery of every day life. We all want to feel like we can connect with something in purely an entertainment form. I’m just having fun with all of this. I just hope that people enjoy it in the same way that I enjoyed making it."
'The Ghost Of Ohio' is set for release April 12.