Set the World on Fire, the second studio album from glam-rock superstars Black Veil Brides (check out our mini-review), garnered the band some of their biggest raves ever. The roof-raising anthems and a seamless blend of punk, classic hard rock and old-school metal make it the ideal sing-along record to blast out your windows all summer, and well worth checking out. I was excited to hook up some Q&A action with BVB frontman Andy Biersack and discuss the new album, the band's many creative influences, and Andy's own life-changing experience with the world of darkness and horror. Read on for the full interview...
Band photos by Direktive4
FEARnet: Set the World on Fire is getting rave reviews, but what kind of feedback have you been getting from fans and new listeners?
ANDY: It's all been pretty positive so far. The thing for us is that we're very proud of the record, and it's something that we worked very hard on. We wanted to do something that we hadn't done before, which was make more of a complete album, and working with [producers] Josh Abraham and Luke Walker was a great experience. The fact that the fans do enjoy it and seemingly the people who have listened to us prior [to this album] enjoy it, that's the most important thing. Critics and people outside of the scope of the band... it's nice when they enjoy it, but it's not really our main concern.
The new record reminded me a lot of classics like Motley Crüe's Shout at the Devil and KISS's Destroyer. There's definitely some old-school Misfits in there too. Do those bands influence your songwriting?
All those bands were hugely influential to us in creating what we are. But also for us, I think it comes down to us being influenced by, in the grand scope of things, the last 35-plus years of metal and hard rock. We're very much into metal and punk rock, and we kind of fuse all the things that meant the most to us growing up. Without the bands that you cited, obviously this band wouldn't exist or thrive the way that we have.
It feels like you absorbed the strengths of those bands and transformed them into something modern.
We like to throw in our own elements, and that's really what it winds up sounding like: when we write a song, it's a Black Veil Brides song at the end of the day. We definitely wear our influences on our sleeve and like to show the world what we are influenced by, but we also like to think that what we do is a nice modernized mashup of all those things.
You've also cultivated a memorable image to go with the music, which is also a big part of that.
I feel like in terms of the image and sound, they're not really mutually exclusive. We loved bands like Crüe and the Misfits and KISS growing up, all of us, and how the bands looked and sounded the way they did, and that's what was cool to us. To kind of bring all of those things together was something that was innately in our blood, so to speak.
This album has a real cinematic quality to it. Do you draw any creative inspiration from movies?
Certainly. Not necessarily whole films, but the idea of visualizing a song and seeing what it would look like as you're writing it. That's something that I think everybody does, or certainly I do in terms of when I'm writing lyrics. I've also been very much into comic books and more heightened fiction, those kinds of things... superheroes in particular, horror movies, things that had really cool, maybe not necessarily dark or gothic aesthetics, but certainly dark and moody. That's why I've always been hugely into Batman and the idea of a darker superhero.
Your new album art and videos do fit into that dark heroic look.
We kind of see our image as being sort of our version of the modern Mad Max or superhero, or something sort of opposed to the apocalyptic hero – to the outcast, so to speak.
Are you and the band drawn to any horror images – from stories, movies and so on?
Certainly. I think we all love horror movies.
I guarantee our readers will agree with you.
Obviously the classics like Friday the 13th, I liked the original Halloween, along with the remakes. I also like stuff like Todd McFarlane's Spawn, where you combine horror elements with a kind of more heroic element, where you've got kind of the ultimate badass hero, but it still has those horror movie qualities to it.
It feels like you bring a lot of those dark hero elements into your music.
To me, I think horror movies and rock & roll and superheroes... all those things kind of go hand-in-hand. It's not necessarily true for every band, but for us at least, the brand of music that we make... they kind of all go together.
Set the World on Fire has that theme of outsiders becoming heroes, and I think a lot of horror fans can identify with that. Do you get a lot of positive feedback from the horror community?
We don't have people reaching out to us specifically as horror fans, but I think we do hear from a lot of people that are into the idea of, like you say, an outcast or an underdog sort of rising up, which is prevalent in a lot of horror films. Also, the image of the band and our obvious Misfits influence is always there, so I think horror fans can relate to us. We don't write horror songs, but I think that the themes are pretty consistent in any film or any rock & roll idea – the idea of rebellion and rising up out of a difficult situation.
That reminds me... why did your song end up getting cut from the Scream 4 soundtrack? That came as kind of a shock.
There's actually an interesting story behind that. In the eleventh hour, Dimension and the Weinstein Company pulled all of the music from the film that wasn't already owned by them. It was sort of an attempt, I guess, to save money, but all of the music that was in Scream 4 was like library music, already owned by Dimension Films. So it kind of sucked... but that song ended up being able to debut in the new Transformers soundtrack, so I'm kind of glad it got saved for that.
If you had the opportunity to write an entire film score yourself, what type of film would be most fitting for your music?
Maybe if they ever made another Spawn movie, I'd love to work with Todd McFarlane and do something for that. That would be pretty awesome. Like I said before, I think that the idea of a dark and brooding hero, you know, I think that metal music or the kind of music we make would be very fitting.
Do you confront any personal fears through your music?
Actually, as a kid I had a pretty huge fear of the dark and anything that had to do with the night. But I think I was always fascinated by it. Like any kid, you're scared of it, but you can't look away, and so that's what immediately attracted me at such a young age to things like Gene Simmons and the Misfits and this sing-along rock music sound. It represented so much of what I was fascinated by or afraid of. Eventually it kind of consumed everything, and I was all about monsters and scary things.
That's what's great about embracing your fears... it becomes an important part of your identity.
Yeah, I think it became ultimately to me, you know, one of the biggest elements in my life. You sort of own your fears in a classic Batman fashion, and you make them who you are. So the idea of dressing up the way we do and everything... it's sort of an interesting switch for me – from when I was a very young kid to now – when I sort of took on all of the things that I was afraid of and became one with them.