This is an excerpt from the March 2013 issue of Guitar World, which is available now at the Guitar World Online Store.
Will excess breed success? Black Veil Brides go to extremes with Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones, their massive new rock opera, complete with its own feature-length film.
“I wonder sometimes: Is it cool to hate Black Veil Brides?” asks Jake Pitts, lead guitarist for the band.
It’s a fair question. After all, the band holds pride of place as heavy metal’s Public Enemy Number One. Tarted up with face paint and eyeliner, wrapped in skintight leathers and topped with razor-chopped piles of jet-black hair, Black Veil Brides epitomize the type of glammed-up, visually over-the-top rock act that has always been a lightning rod for criticism, from Kiss and Alice Cooper to Mötley Crüe to Avenged Sevenfold.
But to the Brides—singer Andy Biersack, Pitts, co-guitarist Jinxx (née Jeremy Ferguson), bassist Ashley Purdy and drummer Christian Coma—the example set by their forebears is assurance that they can weather any critical storm that comes their way.
“Nikki Sixx is a friend of ours,” says Jinxx. “And he told us, ‘You guys get a lot of love, you get a lot of hate. But you know what? Mötley Crüe got the same hate back in the day. You’re going through exactly what we went through when we did Shout at the Devil. So just keep doing what you’re doing.’
“And he’s talking about Mötley Crüe, man! They wound up doing pretty well for themselves, you know?”
As it stands, Black Veil Brides aren’t doing too bad for themselves, either. The band’s mix of pile-driving riffs, soaring pop hooks and dual-harmony lead guitar lines has helped it bridge the chasm between vintage and new metal styles and, in the process, strike a chord both with older and, in particular, young audiences.
The Brides’ last album, 2011’s Set the World on Fire, debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and spawned two hit singles in the chest-beating, gang-vocal-laden “Fallen Angels” and the Euro-metalish “Rebel Love Song.” They played to rabid crowds on the Warped Tour and traveled the country alongside Avenged Sevenfold and Asking Alexandria. Plus, they’ve been endorsed by idols like Sebastian Bach (who has joined them onstage to sing “Fallen Angels,” as well as has had Jinxx guest on Skid Row tunes at his own shows) and Zakk Wylde (who contributed guitar to the Brides’ cover of Kiss’ “Unholy,” from their 2011 EP, Rebels).
But to give an example of just how well things have been going for the band, Pitts and Jinxx point to June 2012. In the span of a few weeks, Black Veil Brides traveled to London to pick up a Kerrang! Award for Best Single for “Rebel Love Song,” played on the same stage as Metallica at the Download Festival and, finally, wrapped up with a short European run of shows as the support for Slash and Mötley Crüe. “That was all pretty huge,” Pitts says. “Slash was super down-to-earth, and Nikki has always been a big supporter of our band. So it was great to play with those guys. And then Download!” He laughs. “We weren’t technically direct support for Metallica, but I’m going to say we opened for them. And that was a crazy feeling.”
For Jinxx, it was a feeling he never thought he’d experience. “As a kid, I was a huge Metallica fan. I grew up in Des Moines, and any time they came through town I was there. So to be on the same stage as them was always a dream of mine. I mean, I literally had dreams about it. I was that crazy of a fan. To have it actually happen is pretty big. I guess the only thing bigger would be to have them opening for us!”
Whether or not that scenario is ever realized remains to be seen. In the meantime, Black Veil Brides have more than enough big things brewing. The first order of business is their new and third full-length effort, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones. The record is a massive undertaking: a 19-track concept album with a story set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world in which a small band of rebels—the “Wild Ones,” whose ranks include Black Veil Brides—is pitted against an oppressive church/government-type conglomerate in a struggle for spiritual and personal autonomy.
The tale is also being brought to life in a feature-length film, Legion of the Black, which will be issued on DVD, shown in select theaters and telecast as a pay-per-view event. In addition, Black Veil Brides recently hit the road in support of the album on the Church of the Wild Ones extravaganza, their first full-scale headlining tour.
With all that is coming down the pike, 2013 seems like it might just be the Year of the Brides. Says Jinxx, “It feels like we’re at a big moment. We’re really proud of what we did on Set the World on Fire, and that record did really well for us. But we wanted to step it up a bit. So it was, ‘Let’s make a concept record… Nah, let’s make a rock opera. Oh, and let’s make a movie, too!’ It’s like, try and copy us now, everybody!”
But for all its accoutrements—the storyline, the film, the evocative album artwork by longtime collaborator Richard Villa—the most impressive and, perhaps, ambitious component of Wretched and Divine is its music. There is, of course, plenty of anthemic hard rock ( “In the End,” “Wretched and Divine”), but there are also orchestra-backed spoken-word pieces (the four-part “F.E.A.R” saga), industrial-tinged groove-rockers (“We Don’t Belong,” “New Year’s Day”) and epic piano ballads (“Done for You,” the children’s choir–assisted “Lost It All”).
Photo: Jeremy Danger