With the release of their 2010 debut album, We Stitch These Wounds, Black Veil Brides immediately resonated with thousands of fans worldwide.
Perhaps it’s their hard yet melodic approach to rock and roll, which lends itself to the theatrical, anthemic arena rock of the 1980s — the era that influences them — or the underlying theme in their lyrics — individuality, survival, overcoming the dark moments — that connects with listeners. Likely, it’s both.
We Stitch These Wounds debuted in the Billboard Top 40 and at No. 1 on the magazine’s independent charts. It set the groundwork for their sophomore album, Set The World On Fire, their first label release, produced by Josh Abraham (Linkin Park, Velvet Revolver, Korn, Mastodon).
Black Veil Brides is vocalist Andy Biersack, bassist Ashley Purdy, drummer Christian Coma and guitarists Jake Pitts and Jinxx, whose double leads and harmonies are integral to the band’s sound.
During the recent Buried Alive tour, with Hollywood Undead, Asking Alexandria and Avenged Sevenfold, Pitts and Jinxx shared some thoughts about two-guitar bands, the dynamic of BVB and why the band has touched such a nerve.
How are your styles similar and different, and how do you make those elements work to your advantage in this band?
JAKE: We use a lot of different styles and techniques. Jinxx is more classically influenced, and I guess I’m more straight up. I’ve been in many bands, but when I first played with him, he was the only guitar player who could keep up with me and play the same things I can play. We both like to shred on solos, so it was a perfect match.
JINXX: We both grew up loving the same bands, listening to Metallica, Motley Crue, bands that came out in the ’80s. We were born in an age when MTV was prevalent, videos were popular, and we wanted to do that. That’s where it all stems from, and the influence of our parents being musicians. The first album I owned was And Justice For All. I’d been playing guitar for a couple of years before that, and I started learning every track on that record from start to finish. Jake did the same thing with similar albums, coming from the metal and hard rock background.
Where we differ — Jake was more influenced by metal and Paul Gilbert, and I went to a more classical route, heavily influenced by Randy Rhoads. The first riff I ever learned was “Crazy Train.” I picked up the violin and started taking private lessons, and I realized there’s a whole world of music out there. Taking pieces I learned on the violin and trying to learn them on guitar created a new world of techniques for me that I never even knew existed. During the ’90s, when guitar solos weren’t popular anymore, it wasn’t cool to be a guitar guy and it was kind of boring in the music world. I didn’t hear anything I wanted to learn. So Jake and I are different that way, but we complement each other very nicely.
What are some tips for making a guitar team work successfully?
JAKE: You’ve got to pick your notes wisely. I like to play fast and play complicated things, but it’s about the melody. On our new record, there’s everything from insane riffs and solos to straight rock that’s more laid back and not as heavy. It’s whatever makes the song good. It’s picking the right notes on the guitar, structuring the drums, making sure the vocals have room to breathe and structuring the songs as a whole. I always preferred bands with two guitar players. I love the dual harmonies and dual solos and switching back and forth.
JINXX: In classical music, with string quartets, you have the two main violins carrying out the higher harmonies and the cello and viola as the rhythm section. The two violins are having the conversation with each other and it’s brilliant. Two guitars can work out dual leads and beautiful harmonies. A lot of times, in a two-guitar band, one guitar player does all the leads and the other does all the rhythm, but I think it’s more interesting when they both play lead and have that conversation.
What is it about Black Veil Brides that has connected with so many people?
JAKE: Everyone in this band was bullied in school and beaten up and picked on. It’s something we’ve all gone through in our lives, and I think a lot of kids connect to that. You hear about all these kids who want to end it all, who think about suicide. Picking up a guitar saved me. I had no friends. I was very quiet, and I would go home and practice.
People would pick on me and ask me, “What are you going to do with your life?” I’d say, “I’m going to be a rock star,” and they’d laugh at me. It fueled the fire even more to prove all those people wrong. I think that's probably the biggest connection, and giving them that hope that everything will be better, you will get through it and don’t put up with anyone’s bullshit.
JINXX: Everything. People have been looking for this band for years. I know I have. It has all the elements of a real rock band that’s been missing for so many years. We grew up with the height of the theatrical display of rock, the rock stars, and it was lost in the ’90s. Still now, people get onstage like they just got off work and are onstage in their street clothes. Being in this band, creating this persona, this character, you’re projecting something in yourself that you can’t do every day.
People say “keep it modest,” but that not what rock and roll’s about. It’s about being able to project your feelings, your soul. It’s something greater than yourself, and that’s what true art really is: it’s mimicking the works of something greater than yourself. You’ve got to be bigger than life and give people a fantasy that they can escape to. I think we reach so many people because that’s been lacking, and also because of the message that we have. A lot of people haven’t had it so great, with the awkwardness of growing up.
Even in adulthood, we all have our dark moments and dark pasts. We speak to kids who are having rough times. We don’t have answers, but we have something they can relate to that helps them get through and know that they’re not alone.
— Alison Richter
Alison Richter interviews artists, producers, engineers and other music industry professionals for print and online publications. Read more of her interviews right here.
Photo: Paul Harries