Watching the music videos for the new Black Veil Brides album, The Phantom Tomorrow – “Fields of Bone” and “Crimson Skies” among them – some viewers might consider The Blackbird’s vigilante character to invoke the image of the tortured protagonist in Sam Raimi’s 1990 film dark man.
Singer-lyricist Andy Biersack wholeheartedly agrees, adding that other anti-heroes were considered in the making of The Blackbird, from Todd McFarlane’s Spawn to World Championship Wrestling’s Sting to Alan’s Rorschach. Moore. watchmen. “It’s just an amalgamation of all these different characters,” he says. Billboard via Zoom video chat from a tour stop in Boise.
Beyond the Blackbird, The Phantom Tomorrow (arriving October 29 on Sumerian Records) is packed with the melodic heavy rock fans have come to expect from Black Veil Brides, albeit in a darker vein than their last album, 2018 Valley. The band always keeps their tunes in the 3:30 to 4:30 time slot, which comes from an intuitive location rather than an overt plan. He has written long songs before, but only when it feels justified.
“We just tend to be around four minutes because that’s where as a band we feel like we hit peak tone, or whatever you want to call it,” Biersack reflects. . “That’s where we have our sweet spot, so I don’t know if there’s a conscious decision. We’re so into stuff like Misfits or that kind of thing where they can sing or you can be in a rock crowd and pump your fist and sing the chorus. That’s a big thing.
The Phantom Tomorrow is the Black Veil Brides’ third concept album, preceded by 2013’s Miserable and divine: the story of the savages and his Valley prequel. The comic’s synopsis describes the story of a scientist whose world is crumbling and who seeks redemption through his vengeful actions.
The new music features accelerated riffs, radiant guitar and vocal harmonies; varied rhythms; and the passionate singing of Biersack. The album’s intro and interlude “Spectres” veer into atmospheric instrumental territory, “Crimson Skies” is more aggressive than the others, while the vocal melody of the intro to “Born Again” sounds like it could venture into EDM territory. According to Biersack, the diversity of the material comes from the expansion of the band members’ musical palettes.
“Obviously, [guitarist] James [Pitts] got into music production on a much larger scale, making EDM music alone with his wife – something he had never done before but discovered and became very good at “, he explains.
It offers an example of how placing an electronic sound under a guitar riff, like on “Torch”, might not have happened before, but now feels natural. “The goal is never to force something,” says Biersack. “We never want to be a band sitting there saying, ‘What are the kids doing now? How can we make it cool? Because if you do that, you’re immediately making hypocritical music.
The Black Veil Brides frontman notes that guitarist Jinxx is also a classically trained violinist, Christian Coma is an “absolute monster on drums”, bassist Lonny Eagleton is traditionally trained and Pitts “is fantastic at producing, in all these resources as a musician and is an incredible guitarist. It’s a group full of very talented individuals, and when we get together, we’re able to do something that we feel is representative of that.
Biersack tells the story of The Phantom Tomorrow originally came from a narrative perspective as he sat at his kitchen table sketching characters and doing research. He notes that he always finds references in different religions to link various theological and superstitious concepts to his work.
“Growing up Catholic, I love all the trappings of the Sacred Heart that appear to you,” he says. “It still influences me in one way or another. But the initial impetus was to build this story around some kind of anti-hero.
As Black Veil Brides premiered the album in 2020, social justice movements, political unrest and general divisionism engulfed the United States. The singer says all of these things drove the concept of the album to explore what he calls “avatarism.” Biersack explains that many people he knew “blew themselves entirely into another person’s personality and became a figurehead of their ideas. [They] taken away the power from themselves and their own ideology, and their own ideas and how they see the world or how they reflect their ethics in the world. And it was about this iconography of a politician or whoever – “It’s me now, and all that person is is me.” ”
It highlights the cultural obsession with creating heroes to reflect one’s own stories. “Those people we don’t know…they mean everything to us because we decided that,” he said. “It’s inherent in what you want to call fandom or whatever. We all create versions of people we look up to because it’s best to have a version in our mind that reflects our way of life. see the world. But when it becomes the totality of someone’s personality, it can be so much weirder.
“I really like the idea of creating a character who becomes a hero, who has no interest in being a hero and has no choice in the matter,” he continues. “Then ultimately it’s built to be the savior and then destroyed because it doesn’t have the things they’re supposed to have to save everyone.”
The song “Kill the Hero” invokes the concept of the anti-hero and explores a line of moral ambiguity reminiscent of stories revolving around Biersack’s favorite comic book hero, Batman. But he didn’t want musical interludes between songs to explain the story. He agrees with fans valuing individual tracks on their merits or deepening the story.
“I think it’s not the artist’s job to hit you over the head as a listener, or as a fan, with what you should believe or what you should take away from this song”, says Biersack. “It’s not the artist’s job to assume what you’re going to think of the song. At least for us, we have always tried to leave enough space for the listener to have fun [interpreting] the song.”
Leaving things up to interpretation has become a tricky gamble in America today, when it seems like people with opposing views have latched onto many rock anthems, albeit in different ways. Biersack understands this feeling. He explains that the Valley the song “Wake Up” has “oddly” become “a rallying cry for both sides of the political aisle”. Although it was written in 2017, it is now “filtered through the prism of political divide or social divide”.
In the comments online, people said of the song, “‘Wow, they really called it,’ and it’s someone leaning left. And then there’s someone on the right that says, ‘Wow, they really called it,’ Biersack says. ‘It’s very interesting to see how [it was] a song that for us was about life in general, feeling like you’re floating and feeling misinformed because people don’t tell you the truth, because maybe you can live outside the bounds of normality .
The coronavirus pandemic is included in this aforementioned division. The band has adhered to strict safety protocols while touring, which have sometimes been thwarted in areas that don’t recognize the situation as serious. The Black Veil Brides remain isolated within their touring group, and all fan interaction occurs while they are wearing masks.
Even then, Coma, who is vaccinated, contracted COVID-19 at the start of the tour, but made a full recovery. The band persevered and the singer credits the BVB tour manager, staff and bands who tour with him for keeping things going.
“It’s hard to describe when you go on stage and put on a show – you forget all the weirdness of the situation,” says Biersack. “You can’t help but be right on time playing a rock show, the same thing I’ve done almost every day of my life since I was 15…We just feel lucky to being here connecting with people and working again because 19 months of not being able to do that was the fucking worst.
At least he kept busy in other ways. Biersack didn’t take off for much time just before and during the pandemic lockdown. He starred in the Amazon Prime series city of paradise which debuted last December, in which he reprized his role as rocker Johnny Faust from the 2017 film american satan. He published his “first” memoirs, They don’t need to understand: stories of hope, fear, family, life and never giving up. Black Veil Brides released their new album and embarked on a virtual acoustic tour earlier this year. A comic book adaptation of The Phantom Tomorrow is in production with Incendium, with the first of six issues due out soon.
“I’m not someone who really views my life as anything other than a very lucky situation,” says the indefatigable Biersack. “The fact that someone comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, do you want to do this thing or do this thing?’ I always say yes, because it’s been my dream my whole life to be able to do this stuff, and I know there’s just as likely a chance that people will stop calling me and let me do this stuff. things. So, I still think I might as well still take advantage of the opportunities I have when people want me to. Sometimes I’m just running with fumes, but it’s worth it.