This is Six Pack, our mini compendium of the informative or the quirkier aspects of rock music. This week, it’s Andy Biersack’s turn to reflect on life’s bigger questions…
ON CRITICISM “I do get sick of being criticised. Wouldn’t you be sick of people criticising you for doing the thing you love the most, and which doesn’t hurt anybody? Wouldn’t you be sick of people booing you when you walk into a room? Wouldn’t that get a little annoying? Whenever I read about what an asshole I am, I feel I have to explain this. Say I was doing a pottery class, and I made a pot that five other people in the class like so much they put it in the front window so other people can see it. I’d be really proud of that. But then imagine the next day that you walk into the class and someone else yells ‘Hey, your fucking pot sucks – how dare you put that in the window?’ You’d explain – ‘No, other people put that there’. But still those critics say ‘Fuck you for doing that’.
“I made a record that other people enjoyed, and people put it out. How is it anyone else’s job to explain to me how much they hate that every time I go somewhere? Of course that gets frustrating. I am doing something I really enjoy, that is really important to me, and which people obviously enjoy because I have an audience. Why is it necessary for other people to express their disdain for that? It’s not needed – but it comes with the territory. But I don’t lose sleep over it, though. It’s silly and stupid but I assume it will carry on forever. And it gives me fuel to carry on making music for my audience and so I wouldn’t trade it in. I wouldn’t want to be someone who is lukewarm, I don’t want anyone to be alright with me.”
**ON GROWING UP **“I grew up defending myself, that’s in my nature. Some people don’t understand what it’s like to grow up in a small town and be the social pariah, to be the person whose home was vandalised on a daily basis because of the way he looks or the bands he listens to. I grew up having fights. I grew up having to tell people ‘This is who I am and this is why I am this way’. It comes as second nature to me. I defend myself when I feel I’m being threatened or challenged and when I put all of myself into something – like my music or performance – then of course I’m going to be the first person to defend it, because who else will? If you won’t stand up for yourself, who else will? “I always remember what my dad would do when kids vandalised our house – he would make sure we cleaned it up immediately. My dad always said ‘Let’s not give them the satisfaction of getting to see this’. They’d do it in the night, and we’d wake up with toilet paper thrown all over the house or ‘punk’ or ‘goth’ written on the side of the house in ketchup that was supposed to be blood. So we would always clean it up and I think that was influential to me: you don’t take it lying down. You don’t say ‘Woe is me, the house has been destroyed’. You take care of it and deprive them of the chance to show their friends.”
Andy with his parents, Amy and Chris
ON MAKING BLACK VEIL BRIDES INCLUSIVE “When I was a kid, I would go to shows of bands that I was really into and it was rare that I felt part of a community. Punk rock bands had a community but I wasn’t allowed in it. I didn’t have the right shoes or the right haircut or something. I just never felt there was something that was inclusive enough. So initially, this band was just a chance for other people who felt like me to come and join in something – warts and all. I’m not the best singer in the world, or the best songwriter but I write songs about how I feel and I hope you feel the same way – if you do, come join me. That base idea is where everything springboarded from.”
**ON FEELING LIKE THE WORLD IS AGAINST HIM **“On the first few European tours we did, I was going up onstage and having people throw bags of human shit at me. I realised at that point that what I was doing was not something that was going to be accepted worldwide. There was a moment onstage a couple of years ago. We were headlining a show and it was a big venue. I looked back at the side of stage and my tour manager, who I’ve been with for years, was laughing. I asked him why and he said: ‘I can see you looking for a fight – you’re looking for the thing you’re going to fight against. But the thing is, everyone here loves you’. He was laughing that there was a sold out audience, here for me, and there I was prowling around looking for a fight. He said, ‘These are your people’. He didn’t mean it to be a big thing, but it was a transcendent moment for me.”
ON OUTCASTS “I want to rally the audience behind us and to do something that is involved and important to people. But I don’t want to do something disingenuous like sell t-shirts to people that say ‘I’m an outcast’. Every band in the world is selling a $22 t-shirt that’s trying to celebrate the lonely kid. That’s marginalising people. It’s making people feel they have to tell people they’re an outcast. That’s never been us. To me, you can’t be an outcast if you feel good about yourself. Being an outcast is not about being a weirdo, it’s about being the person that you are – and if somebody else doesn’t like that, then that’s their issue. But more and more, I see younger bands whose MO [modus operandi] is to sell people the option of being a weirdo. That doesn’t feel genuine to me and it’s upsetting.”
ON SWITCHING OFF “What happens onstage is unmatchable. When I was younger, I really had nothing else to fill the other time or match the electricity. So I was going on tour then coming home to a dingy apartment with no money, so I’d drink my way to the next tour because I didn’t know what else to do. Now, I get that electricity onstage but when the tour is over I get to go home, write songs, have fun and be around the woman I love. It’s allowed me to become a better frontman, singer and performer.
“You can see visually expressive people everywhere – a lot of our fans are those people. They look as if they’re dressed to go onstage just to go to school and that’s because there isn’t a stage for them. Once you get that opportunity to go onstage though, then you get that platform to say, do and feel all these things you’ve felt your entire life. That can go two ways: you can either grasp the opportunity, be dramatic and theatrical and leave it up there. Or you can get offstage and not know what to do. That’s when you become a sad wreck, a drunk or a drug addict. I think there’s a better way and it’s what I’ve been searching for and what I think I’ve found. I say what I want to say onstage, and then I come off and it no longer has to be a performance all the time.”