Jake Pitts/ Black Veil Brides
"Nothing's gonna stop us."
That's what Black Veil Brides founder Andy Biersack proclaims on "Rebel Love Song," one of the 11 tracks on the group's sophomore album, SET THE WORLD ON FIRE. He's not kidding, and there's every reason to believe that will indeed be the case as time goes on.
With its 2010 debut WE STITCH THESE WOUNDS, Black Veil Brides charged out of Los Angeles and caught both the ears and the imaginations of a legion of rock fans craving the fresh and the exciting. The album debuted in the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the magazine's Independent chart, and recently it earned the group a Best New Band nomination at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards as well as a headlining spot on the 2011 AP Tour.
Its songs, including such fan favorites as "Knives and Pens" and "Perfect Weapon," became anthems for the disaffected and the disenfranchised -- and for anybody who just likes big, bold, kick-ass rock songs. The quintet's flamboyant theatrics, meanwhile, have not only made it one of the most consistently entertaining live acts of the day but has attracted a fan base as devotedly crazed as the KISS Army, Slipknot’s Maggots or even Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters.
"The level of dedication our fans have shown over the last year and a half is constantly surprising and nice," says Biersack. "When we went over to the U.K. for the first time, I think we were all expecting it to go well but to have an entire sea of people knowing all our songs, even in a small town, was beyond what we could have imagined. Little milestones like that make you feel such a connection with your audience, and to see how we've really affected the people who listen to our music is a great thing."
Black Veil Brides now takes it to the next step with SET THE WORLD ON FIRE, a collection of songs designed to be even bigger and better, to still be the band fans know and love from the first album but with more perspective and a musical evolution honed by months on the road and a matured vision for their craft.
"The influence for SET THE WORLD ON FIRE was very much shaped by fan reaction to the first record," Biersack explains. "Ultimately the first record was a culmination of all our 20 years of experience on the Earth. We wrote about what we knew, and over the last year we've seen so much and done so much, meeting people and hearing their stories. So musically and lyrically we tried to shape our second record based off those feelings and those emotions. Everything is bigger -- more songs, more vocals, more melodies. And it all came naturally; it's not an attempt to try to outdo our first record, but we wanted to show how we had naturally grown as a band and as songwriters."
Black Veil Brides made SET THE WORLD ON FIRE in California with Josh Abraham, whose long resume includes Linkin Park, Velvet Revolver, 30 Seconds to Mars, Korn, Mastodon and so many others. Biersack says the group planned to meet with a number of producers for the album, but Abraham was the first they interviewed, and after a session that led to the writing of the title track, "Set the World on Fire," the band "canceled all our other meetings" and went for it with Abraham and his team.
"His environment and the people who work there...they understood what this band was and what we want to do. They understood our influences to the point where we were so comfortable we accidentally started making the record that first day. Two days later we were already tracking."
Abraham's influence was also important in helping Black Veil Brides make a sonic leap forward from the debut. "We didn't really have a producer as such on our first album. We sort of did it ourselves with our manager," Andy remembers. "Now, having a real producer, a real mixer, a real engineer, people that knew music well and could be there with us and help shape our songs, we could really bring the music all the way up to what we envisioned."
Black Veil Bride's growth on SET THE WORLD ON FIRE is evident throughout the album, from the blazing melodic gallop of "Rebel Love Song" and "Set the World on Fire" to the pummeling majesty of "Die For You" and the anthemic ebb and flow of "Ritual." "Fallen Angels," meanwhile, was inspired by a biblical story introduced to the band by painter Richard Villa, who created both of Black Veil Brides' album covers. "Savior," a gentle change-of-pace track built on an acoustic guitar motif, reflects that special bond the band has achieved with its fans. "I wrote that sitting on the bus while we were on tour, sort of about the line we walk as a band," Biersack says. "We try to tell people to believe in themselves, but we're also just dudes in a rock band. We're trying to send out a helping hand to the audience and help them through situations and trying our best to help someone, but it's also saying remember that we are human and occasionally we will screw up. But our intention is pure."
SET THE WORLD ON FIRE is also special because it marks the first time drummer Christian "CC" Coma has recorded with Black Veil Brides, making for what Andy considers the group's strongest and most cohesive lineup -- which also includes guitarist Jake Pitts, bassist Ashley Purdy and Jinxx on guitar and violin. "It's incredibly important," he notes. "CC's probably the best drummer I've ever met in my entire life, incredibly talented and a great writer as well, an all-around great musician. And he's just an inspiring person to be around, one of the nicest people we've ever met. Watching him play and seeing the joy he gets playing the drums inspires me to want to do my best ever, too."
"From the beginning I wanted the band to be visually and theatrically a hybrid of all those things I loved. I grew up loving punk rock music, the Dead Boys, the Damned, the Misfits -- darker, more melodic punk rock. And also there were bands like KISS and Motley Crue. I wanted to find a way to modernize that so it would be palatable to people now and still call upon our influences. That was the initial idea and what we're still trying to do."