About 20 fans just received the surprise of their lives by your appearance during today’s listening party of the new album. What was your first thought upon entering the room and seeing the look on these die-hard fans’ faces?
I heard it was only going to be 20-25, but 25 in a little room like this looked like a lot of people. I thought “Oh there are a lot of people sitting around!” More than anything, I love our audience. I love hanging out with them. They’re so cool. Our fans have such incredible stories, and they’re such strong kids – so many of them – that deal with so much stuff, and of all ages. People come up to me and say, “I’m an older person, and I got back into metal because of you,” or “I got into hard rock because of you.” So much of our audience, these kids have incredible stories of strength and perseverance. They’re my heroes, they’re great.
Are there any stories in particular that tug on your heartstrings more than others?
Over the years, we’ve met so many incredible – and some are so young – kids that have dealt with such adversity. Things that I’ve never had to deal with. For them to say that our music helps them is really cool.
Yeah, I was talking to your manager and he was saying how unusual it is to see fans this passionate about a band, especially nowadays.
Yeah, we’re very fortunate. In a genre that’s becoming increasingly marginalized in the mainstream culture, we have a fan base that’s dedicated, that allows us to do things like make a movie and do all this stuff. Rock bands have a tough road right now. The popular landscape, in terms of top 40 music, is not friendly to metal bands right now. I just think that the resurgence of devotion for bands like ours, and a few other bands that are in existence and coming up, are kind of bringing back the importance of metal and hard rock music. And you get to see these kids that are, fuck, maybe one in every ten kids they go to school with listens to hard rock, and everyone else listens to Flo Rida or whatever else. So I’m proud of all these kids that were in here tonight, and everyone that listens to our band. I’m so fuckin’ proud because it’s harder and harder to be a rock fan in this world. You get beat over the head with all the fuckin’ homogenized hip hop, and that’s all that you ever hear. If you didn’t know any better, like if you watched the American Music Awards, you would think that rock music didn’t ever exist. So it’s cool that kids care about it.
You previously said that the idea of doing a concept album came from a desire to do something new and exciting. What inspired the actual story behind Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones?
I’ve always been really into graphic novels and comic books, and really into biblical stories – David and Goliath – and all these parable stories. So I’ve always written short stories, and illustrated things, and in my spare time done stuff like that. Literally, I wrote this short story, The Wild Ones, in my notepad on a flight back from our tour with Mötley Crüe and Slash in Europe. I was just feeling really creatively inspired and wanted to do something new. I just wrote this story, and we kind of sat on it for a while, and didn’t really apply it to the record or anything. It was just kind of an idea that I had, but it wasn’t necessarily an idea that we were making an album into.
Then it came to the point where I met with [producer] John Feldmann, and he said, “Well, what have you been writing or thinking about recently?” I said, “I wrote this short story about this dystopian, V For Vendetta-esque thing.” He said, “Well tell me about it,” and I told him about it. Through that, he and I started writing songs about this story. Then I got the band involved, and it became, “Okay we’re gonna do this now,” and it was a very natural, kind of organic shift into “let’s do this!” And the difficulty came later. The difficulty comes when we’re like, “Oh fuck, we’re making a concept record. This is a huge undertaking!” But yeah, initially it was organic, like ‘Oh yeah this is fun!’ but then everyone is at each other’s throats because of whatever changes in musical whatever.
The biggest thing that was difficult for us was that we wanted to do so many different things on this record. We wanted to have four orchestral pieces. We wanted to have all these different soundscapes, and play with music, and just sonically change the landscape of what Black Veil Brides is. We didn’t always know how. We’re very skilled at writing Black Veil Brides songs, but to say ‘Let’s break everything down, and try to rebuild what a Black Veil Brides song is. Not losing what we sound like, but enhancing it,’ proves to be a more difficult task than it seems like. So I guess that was the real difficulty in where the concept record came from, not necessarily even the story. It was more staying true to who we are as musicians, and who we are as artists and then also building.
Black Veil Brides also filmed the movie Legion Of The Black to coincide with the album. I know the band actually stars in it, but how involved were you in the filming process otherwise?
Very much involved. Patrick Fogarty, who directed it, and I have been working together since I was sixteen years old. He did my first ever music video for no money. He just kind of believed in me. When I first moved out to Los Angeles, I was a little kid. He made a video for me on no money, and it blew up, and it helped create my career. We’ve always been very close, and all on our music videos, I always work hand-in-hand with him.
And Richard Villa, who does all of our artwork, designed all the sets and stuff for our videos… like in the video we had for “Coffin,” the ornate coffin we had, and the church and everything was all built by him. In the movie, all of the shadow characters that you see, he built them all. Just having creative, awesome friends, it’s been hugely beneficial. Like I said before, we’re not Taylor Swift, we’re not some big rap band, we don’t have a million dollars to make a movie, but we do have friends that are very skilled, and we have a label that’s very supportive of us. Between those two things, we’re able to do something with relatively small amounts of money and time, but a lot of creativity.
You mentioned that you’re huge fans of all creative media. Do you think that graphic novels could be next?
Absolutely, I would love that so much because I’m an avid comic book reader. I would love that.