Interview with Chris Biersack!
1) How has the explosion of awareness for Black Veil Brides changed your life?
Chris: I don’t know that it’s changed our lives. Amy and I still live here in Cincinnati. We still work at the same places that we did during the entire time Andy was growing up (still part of the working middle class). Haha. I think the biggest change has been in the amount of communication we now have with the Black Veil Brides fans all across the world. The BVB Army has grown from thousands to millions in a relatively short span of time. Going back to the earliest days of Andy performing, we have always tried to reach out to the fans, as has Andy and the rest of the band members. But, as you can imagine, doing so these days is a little more time consuming. Of course, you will NEVER hear us complain about that. It’s an honor and a privilege to communicate with the people who love and support what our son does. Whether it be via the Internet or through postal mail replies, we try our best to answer your questions about BVB and Andy. It definitely takes us a lot longer to do than it did when BVB first started touring in December, 2009, but, THAT IS DEFINITELY A GOOD THING! ;)
2)What is the funniest/greatest memory you and Andy have had together?
Chris: That’s a tough one. Andy is an only child and had very few friends growing up. Our relationship was not only Father/Son, but, also best friends. Every sport he played, including hockey, I coached or helped coach his teams. His first bands, I managed. That means we have so many great memories together. BVB have had so many incredible things occur since they formed in 2009. I was their Tour Manager, roadie and merch guy on their very first tour, “On Leather Wings”, in December 2009. I’m sure their greatest moments, including Andy’s, far surpasses mine, but, for me one of the best moments was at the end of the OLW Tour when BVB returned to Los Angeles. It was the first time they had played the Whisky in Hollywood. They headlined a show on a Tuesday night just before Xmas. The openers were local bands. This was 7 months before they even released their first record, We Stitch These Wounds. However, the BVB Army in Southern California was lined up around the block when we got there to unload. By the time they opened the doors, the line stretched out to the equivalent of four city blocks long. They sold out the Whisky that night. The venue had to call in extra bartenders and Security and admitted to us that they were not prepared for the crowd. They’d really never heard about BVB aside from the Knives & Pens video on YouTube. They said they hadn’t seen a weeknight crowd like that at The Whisky since the famed Sunset Strip glory days of Motley Crue. The very next night BVB played another sold out show, this time at Chain Reaction in Anaheim. Those two nights, back to back, and the amazing support that BVB got from the SoCal fans was when I knew that something special was happening.
3) You and Amy are dedicated to being, basically, the leaders of the BVB army, how many pieces of fanmail do you both receive (on average) for the guys or for yourselves?
Chris: I appreciate the compliment, but, Andy is the leader of the BVB Army. Always has been and always will be. He busted his ass for years, devoting nearly every spare moment when he wasn’t making music, by reaching out to fans and potential fans via social network sites on the Internet. He was a counselor, a big brother, a jester, an entertainer, etc… In short, he tried to be everything and anything to the kids who were struggling with the same things he did. We only helped him to spread his message of belief in self before anything else. He was the one who was the weird kid with the dyed black hair, shoe string necklace tied tightly around his neck, spiked arm bands, etc… He was also an extremely talented and funny kid, but, very few people gave him enough of a chance while he was growing up to show them that side of him. So, he did most of his creative work at home. We have hours and hours of video converted to DVD’s of Andy recording himself singing. He would use those recordings to critique himself and try to improve. When he started fronting a rock band at the age of 15, he had already performed hundreds of times, just not to an audience of more than one or two ata a time. ;)
As far as how many pieces of fan mail we get on average for Andy and/or the rest of the band , I’d say the average is about ten a day. We send a reply to everyone who sends a letter or a package to us, as long as they include a legible and complete return address. Of course, if someone sends multiple letters to Andy or the band we can not afford to send a reply each and every time. Again, this was Andy’s idea. He used to send fan letters to his favorite bands all the time and NEVER got a reply. Not one. He didn’t want the BVB fans to feel like he did when his letters went unrecognized.
4) What was your very first Black Veil Brides concert like?
Chris: First off, I have to preface this by saying that I don’t consider what Andy did in Cincinnati to be Black Veil Brides. For the most perat, that was Andy Six or Biersack. The exception to that would be Chris Stewart. He was the only musician Andy performed with in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky days who we all knew would make something of himself musically. He was even younger than Andy, but, was years ahead of everybody else that Andy had played with, both from a writing standpoint, and as a guitarist. Chris is now with Star City Meltdown on Standby records (BVB’s first label) and he will ALWAYS be part of the Black Veil Brides story as far as I’m concerned. Having said that, to me BVB’s first concert was in December 2009 at Peabody’s in Cleveland OH. That was the first time that the core of the band (Andy, Ashley, Jinxx and Jake) ever played a live show together. As I alluded to in an earlier question, I traveled with the band for this tour and was their extra set up hands/jack of all trades. That meant that during their first show I was not actually inside the small venue they were playing in, but, outside of it at their merch table. However, I could peer in from time to time and see the show. Peabody’s booked them into a 200 capacity room and over 300 kids showed up that night to see the band. They had to walk from their dressing room through the crowd to get to the stage and they got mobbed. I’m sure there were several fire codes violated that night. Kids were packed in and the fans who couldn’t get in stood in the hallway trying to get a glimpse. When their set was over the merch table was swamped. I had to recruit, on the spot, a friend of Sandra’s, to help me because the line for BVB merch was insane. Then, BVB came back out of their dressing room and signed autographs & posed for pictures with fans for over 2 hours. Peabody’s was red faced. They, too, had never heard of Black Veil Brides when they booked the show with BVB’s booking agent. They had done zero promotion for the show and told us that normally on a week night no more than 50 people come out to see a band in that venue. They have a much bigger club at the same location and, that same night, a local band was playing. You could count the number of people watching them by hand. Of course BVB returned to Peabody’s several times after that and sold out the larger venue, too. The message was clear then and has become even clearer now: Never underestimate the BVB Army!
5) Is there a moment you didn’t mange to catch on camera that you wish you had?
Chris: Sure. Tons of moments. But, sometimes witnessing it through your own eyes and replaying it using nothing but your memory can be a beautiful thing. I watched plenty of shows when Andy performed in Cincinnati/N. KY thru the lense of a video camera. Sometimes, you have to put the camera aside and take it all in. Enjoy that moment. Always nice to re-live it later on, but, a BVB show is so visual, so exciting. I love the old bands like KISS and Motley Crue, but, I have never seen a band like Black Veil Brides in my life. They combine all that is fun about a punk rock show with the amazing musicianship of a hard rock band. They are the band that I always wanted to see. Constantly moving on stage. Interacting with the crowd. Not just striking a cock rock stance, but, making real tracks. I’d bet that Jinxx, by himself, travels a couple of miles during a BVB show. It’s so incredibly physical what they are doing and it’s every single guy in the band. How can you not get pumped up for that? Plus, I’ll put Jake & Jinxx up against two guitarists in any other rock band in the world. They’re not playing chug-a-chug breakdowns. They’re playing dual solos and some insanely crazy, intricate stuff while covering that stage like no one else.
6) Best piece of advise you have ever been given? Best advise you have given?
Chris: That’s easy. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” As a parent you can get caught up in the moment and overemphasize the here and now. You have to learn to take a step back and really consider how important something actually is. In other words, don’t focus on the fact that your son or daughter wasn’t perfect at something they tried. Don’t harp on or over criticize their mistakes. Focus on their successes. Emphasize what they do well. Let them work out the relatively minor stuff on their own. More importantly, build a bond and a life long relationship with them and don’t bombard them with criticism in the misguided hope that it will make them “better.”
Best advice I’ve given? “Rock stars aren’t crapped out of the sky. They didn’t descend from the skies in Golden Chariots or have super powers that made them great musicians. They were just ordinary human beings who wanted something so badly that they’d do whatever it took and wouldn’t settle for anything else. Whatever you want to be. Be it. But, you have to be willing to do whatever’s necessary. That means that every single day for the rest of your life you have to do something more that moves you closer to your dream.”
7) Using only one sentence, describe the fanbase.
Chris: The BVB Army will go down in history as the first fan base in the 21st century to bring hard rock music back to the forefront of youth culture and popularity in the U.S. and abroad.
8) What was the very first concert you and Andy went to together?
Chris: Billy Idol at the Timberwolf Ampitheatre in Cincinnati OH. I believe Andy was 12 years old.
9) Strangest piece of fanmail that was sent to you?
Chris: Haha. Bras and underwear. They wanted BVB to sign them and for us to send them back. It wasn’t that we cared what they sent (they were clean), it was just that we can’t take items from the fans to BVB’s show to get them autographed and send them back. We either ship your letters, artwork, gifts, etc…to Andy or we bring them in sacks to the other band members when we see them on tour. We only get to see Andy, Jake, Jinxx, Ashley and CC a few times a year and we don’t like to spend that time with them requesting them to sign hundreds of items. On occasion, when Andy is in Cincinnati at our home he will sit down and sign a hundred or so pictures and we’ll have those to send to fans. But, we want to enjoy our time with the band when we do get the opportunity to see them.
10) Top 3 bands you think should tour with BVB?
Chris: In no particular order. I would love to see a BVB/AFI tour some day. BVB/Alkaline Trio would be cool for me, but, not sure how similar their fan bases are. Lots of BVB fans like Alkaline Trio, including me. Andy grew up a huge fan. But, BVB are considered a hard rock band and the punk community, for the most part, has had a difficult time embracing or accepting BVB because of the band’s theatrical rock look. Ironically, the band’s core message, their lyrics and Andy’s nightly stage banter is more “punk rock” than almost any band out there. I’ve seen BVB support Avenged Sevenfold on a tour, so, what’s left? Black Veil Brides and Aiden would be fun. Black Veil Brides w/ Modern Day Escape and Star City Meltdown would be fun, too. For me, that would be the best! Getting to see Chris Stewart of SCM, Sandra Alva of MDE and BVB all in the same show. Like old home week.
Amy and yourself are two of the most dedicated parents I have ever seen. Thank you for that. Thank you for being the rock of the fanbase, getting us to vote, answering our tweets, letting the fanmail be sent to your house, it’s incredible.
Chris: You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure. I’m the one who should be thanking you and all of the members of our BVB Army for your continued support for my son and his bandmates. No matter how much crap you get for being a BVB fan, you stand up for what you believe in and, by doing so, continue to prove them wrong. Every magazine cover that BVB appears on, every award that they win, every video with millions of views and every sold out show is a testament to you. You are the people who stopped worrying about what everyone else thought or said and who started thinking and living for yourselves. You’re not just fans of a band, you are living proof that people from all over the world, from all walk’s of life, can make a positive change in today’s world. A change to encouraging others instead of discouraging them. A change to going out of your way to include others, instead of excluding them. You embraced the ideas of a boy from Cincinnati OH and used them to inspire yourself and others to believe in the possibilities instead of dwelling on all the bull shit negativity that so many miserable people around you throw at you every day. Every day I am privileged to get messages from people who want me to know how much Andy and BVB mean to them. They say BVB inspires them. Speaking on behalf of myself and the band, I can say without any reservation that it’s reciprocal.
This interview was done on behalf of the BVB Army. Each and every one of you are amazing! As a proud BVB army member myself I can say that I truley am thankfull to be a part of it.
Thank you BVB Army for submitting your questions (All of them but 3 were yours! If yours wasn’t asked, sorry! I had to pick and choose. Next time submit it again :) )
Thank you Chris, this means a lot to so many of us!