Black Veil Brides are constantly growing, evolving and, reinventing themselves with each album. Their latest masterpiece, “The Phantom Tomorrow,” which was released October 29th, has been met with critical acclaim and no wonder because this is this is their most sonically powerful and melodically heavy release to date. Black Veil Brides consists Andy Biersack [vocals], Jake Pitts [guitars], Jinxx [guitars/violin], Lonny Eagleton [bass]and Christian “CC” Coma [drums].
The 12 songs solidify their roots in classic metal while adding a symphonic touch to create a broader and richer sounding album than ever before. Songs like “Born Again” and “Fall Eternal” jump out of the speakers with their big grooves, memorable riffs, and intriguing lyrical messages. There is a heartfelt quality to string compositions of “Spectres” and “The Phantom Tomorrow – Introduction.” At the same time, “Shadows Rise” marries the gentle touch of the violin with brutal guitar playing. This is a fresh, vibrant, and addictive album destined to be their best!
The band is at the tail end of a U.S. tour post-pandemic. It was a grueling non-stop tour that had them carrying on despite their drummer, CC, being sidelined with COVID and missing three shows. Being the creative band and not wanting to let their fans down, they continued with those shows, playing acoustically.
Correspondent Robert Cavuoto had an in-depth conversation with Jinxx about the new album and the decision to perform acoustically without CC. Listen to their chat in the links below – or read the transcript of their conversation – and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
Black Veil gets sonically bigger, more thematic, more instrumentation, and more theatrical with lyrics on every CD. Do you think the band has locked into this as your signature sound?
That’s a really good question, and the answer to that is I really don’t know. I don’t think so; we are constantly growing and evolving. This sound we have on this album is obviously different from that we had on the last album. I have to say that we have a team together, and we are doing things that I think we will continue with in the future. We are pretty much in-house, and we found one ingredient that we are enjoying working with, and that is Erik Ron [producer]. He has added an element to the band that was missing in the past. I know we always say this, but I think this is our best work yet. I have a feeling that we are definitely going to continue with him.
This album is one of my favorites. It is one of the most cohesive albums musically and sonically, with a perfect consistency of melody, tempo, and heaviness from song to song. Is that why you see this as your best work?
Yeah, definitely! It’s really hard to talk about your music, so it’s good to hear it from an outside perspective. We are always in this bubble, and hearing reactions like this from fans is great. To be honest, we have been sitting on this album for quite a while. We finished in January 2021, and we even finished Part 2 of the record. Originally, we were going to release it in June, and it got pushed back with COVID and production issues. We began working on it at the beginning of 2020 before the pandemic and before we did the Mexico shows. It’s been a long time working on this album, so it’s hard for me to give my perspective to answer your question [laughing]. I’m glad to hear your response. The other night all of us were listening to it and were like, “Oh my God!” We haven’t listened to it in months [laughing]. We have been sitting on it while we were rehearsing the old songs and getting ready for the tour, so listening to the album from start to finish, I thought, “I’m really proud of this one!”
The songs on the album are riff-based; what constitutes a good riff for you?
Just telling a story. Anything musically that tells a story and draws the listener in. It has to have a format like E-B-A-C and follows a chord progression. It’s a little catchy at first, then takes you to someplace else in the B part, then back to the A part, then here is the C part that leads you into the next part. The E-B-A format within songwriting is the familiarity, the repetition, the changes, and the dynamics. So a good riff just has to follow that which is the same format that has been followed for centuries with symphonic formulas like Mozart, and good riff follows that same pattern. I think of it as not being too complicated. It tells a story and has a groove to it. It’s simple enough that any fan can pick up a guitar and jam out to it. Any Metallica song from The Black album has a groove to it.
A perfect example of that is “Born Again,” with a solid riff and a great melody on top. It’s my favorite track.
It’s one of my favorite tracks as well. Jake came up with the bridge for that. Honestly, we are just trying to think outside of the box from our usual comfort zone. When Jake and I were writing, we were just trying to outdo ourselves with complexities and shredding. Overtime time, we were trying to write the song yet still make it heavy. For this, we started off with the vocal melody and the chugging on the guitar, then the chord progression, into the riff. It’s simple yet still heavy. That is where that some came from, and Jake came in with the riff. It’s stupid simple, but it is cool and heavy.
You have some pretty brutal guitar tones on this new album, particularly on “Crimson Skies.” It’s like a buzz saw to the head. What were you using to get it?
Oh man, this is more of a question for Jake because he took everything home and re-tracked all the guitars with his home studio while I was doing all the string and production stuff in my studio. We were working out of three studios. I can say that we pretty much used plugins and dialing into the sounds. What that means is we are not going through physical amps and amp heads. We are going direct in and using a plugin amp that models our Kemper amps. It’s a copy of what we use in the studio. Technology has gotten pretty far with plugins and Kemper amps. Now it is so much easier to control and dial it in, being congruent with everything. Jake was doing a lot of quad-tracking. Usually, we would do one guitar on each side for the rhythms, then double that. Quad-tracking is when you have two guitars on each side. It takes a lot of dialed in playing trying to capture that performance right in time. You can’t edit it as it has to be performed that way. It is very time-consuming to track all that, especially for those big choruses where most of that was used.
You incorporated your violin playing in many songs like ” Spectres” and the intro to “Shadows Rise.” Is it fun to change the dynamics of the songs from brutal guitar to smooth violin?
Oh absolutely! I got to focus on that with John Feldman [producer]when we were working on Wretched and Divine. That was a really important album for all of us for many reasons. For me to finally have someone who loved what I was doing with the violin, he wanted me to incorporate it with the whole album. It was a no-brainer to revisit the idea of doing a concept record. We wanted to get some orchestral elements back into it. When we first sat down to talk about what we wanted to do for it in January 2020/pre-pandemic. We were on a new label, we had a new bass player, and we are a new band, so let’s start out with something fresh! Let’s do something we want to do, which was a new concept record. What is funny is we started with this Queen-esque intro, done in major chords, and it was really happy sounding. I was playing the piano, and within a few minutes, it turned really dark [laughing]! We can’t do happy. I guess we can here and there. We have to tell a story, and how do we tell a story? We are dark and come from a dark place! Eventually, we are uplifting with our messages and our lyrics. As soon as we started playing a C minor chord on the piano with strings behind it, it turned into “The Phantom Tomorrow Intro.” I did a full Danny Elfman thing where it builds up to “Scarlet Cross.” Andy was writing the story and drawing pictures; people were coming up with ideas, and that’s how the album started. It was from that intro! Then Jake wrote the riff for “Scarlett Cross,” and the song developed. The tour in Mexico was happening with a world tour to follow, so we thought we would come back and work on the album afterward. The pandemic hit, and we were like, “okay” we are going to do the whole album [laughing]. We had to shift gears with the tour, which we thought was postponed for a couple of months, then for six months, then a year, so we just kept writing and writing [laughing]. ” Spectres” was specifically an idea that was supposed to bridge the gap between “Blackbird” and “Torch.” It was an interlude. Andy had an idea to use on the old Gene Autry song “Blackbird” from the 1920s. I obtained an old gramophone and a record with Gene‘s version. I recorded it, diluted it, distorted it, and made it weird. Unfortunately, that version with Gene Autry didn’t make it to the final cut because of licensing issues. What eventually came took the chord progression from “Torch” with the melody of “Blackbird” over the top like an overture. Combining the two elements from both songs to bridge the gap.
Do people ever tell you they were inspired to play violin because of you?
Everyday! It just blows my mind. It is incredibly uplifting. It’s not just the violin; people say they picked up the guitar or the bass, any instrument for that matter! The fact that we are doing something that inspires anyone to pick up an instrument is great. I was influenced by Randy Rhoads and Ozzy, which made me want to pick up the guitar. I became really obsessed with him and Metallica. To be that for a new generation is an incredible feeling. I also hear from time to time, and they played violin at school, but then listened to my overture and picked it back up again. I was so glad that I could contribute to something so positive, encourage people to pick up an instrument, and do something positive in their lives. They will be the next generation to change lives as well.
It will be interesting in years to come where people take violin playing in metal from your introduction and cite you as an influence. I heard violin and strings on many songs but was wondering if it is there on all the songs, perhaps lower in the mix?
It’s not necessarily prominent, but it is there. We would write everything together in the studio in North Hollywood with Erik Ron. We collectively wrote together, then Jake and I would go home to our studios. He would do guitars, and I would strings. There are strings on all the songs. There are a lot of elements that you might not necessarily hear. It is buried in the mix, but it makes it larger. If it weren’t there, you would notice that it was missing. If you cut everything away, you would hear a whole orchestra, especially in the choruses and sometimes in the verses. I was doing full orchestrated symphonic stuff; every song on the album has string somewhere.
With CC having COVID a few weeks back, was there a consideration about getting a drummer to fill in for those shows while he was quarantined?
I couldn’t say there wasn’t a consideration because if there were a situation where he was going to miss more shows, we’d have to figure something out. There is a lot of money that we are indebted to. A lot of people don’t know we don’t make a lot of money doing this. We have grantees and contracts, so it’s important. If you cancel a show, it’s a huge detriment on the business. Even doing the acoustic shows was a real bummer for us. Even though it was different and a new experience for the band. We did three of them, and we were like, “Can we just get CC back?” [Laughing] There was a passing fancy of a thought which was shot down immediately about using one of the three phenomenal drummers on our crew. We have CC‘s tech, who is a great drummer, our assistant Jeff is an amazing drummer, and our photographer Edwin is an amazing drummer. They were like, “We can pick up the slack and learn the songs!” We decided there would be nothing right about that. As depressing as it was to have CC in a hotel room in Lubbock, Texas, with COVID, it wouldn’t be right. I couldn’t do that; we are a team! We are a band; we couldn’t do that to him, ourselves, or the fans. So, we voted immediately against that.
You did some acoustic radio station promo tours. How long did it take the band to get up to speed on playing acoustically, as electric guitar parts don’t always translate to an acoustic?
Fortunately, we did do some acoustic show virtually earlier on in the year, so we were already accustomed to working out the songs acoustically in a way that would be cohesive live on acoustic instruments. However, the challenging part was, are we going to be up there clanking around on our acoustics with no back-beat or percussion? We didn’t want to be playing to a click track clanking around the stage to 2,000 people! We realized that we needed percussion tracks to play to! I was the only one with a working ProTools rig on tour in my bunk called “Studio Bunk” [laughing]. We had to play a full set for an hour and fifteen minutes in order to fulfill our obligation with the contacts. I took every song that we decided to play acoustically, and I built percussion tracks based on what I could remember CC playing at these virtual acoustic shows and radio stations. That was really difficult! [Laughing] I didn’t sleep for an entire weekend building those percussion tracks! We did one rehearsal, maybe outside of Denver, and I found a couple of songs where I was off a little bit or left out a measure, and the next day we were using it to play the Denver at a huge show to a couple of thousand people. We were all hoping it would work out [laughing]! These cheesy pre-recorded percussion tracks that I built on principles worked out. After three shows, we were done with that.
Do you think you will ever look back on those shows thinking they were cool and unique for the band and fans?
For sure. For me, that first Denver show is where I learned that my grandfather had passed away from COVID. We got into Denver and at 7:00 am, my dad texted that he had bad news that my grandfather had passed away this morning. I couldn’t believe it, not only were we dealing with losing our drummer because of COVID, which we didn’t know for how long, and now this. Coupled with the entire weekend of not sleeping to make these acoustic tracks work, my grandfather passed away. I got to dedicate “Saviour” to him, which is a song I wrote musically for a friend of mine who committed suicide. The idea of dedicating that song to him was because he loved when I played the violin, which was his favorite part of what I was doing. I knew that he is up in heaven looking down, happy that I was playing the violin. There is something special about that show that I knew he would be smiling down at. That is what I look back on and find really special.
I’m sorry to hear about your Grandfather and your friend! My condolences…. The Black Veil Brides logo with the word “Veil” on the new album is similar to Motley Crue’s logo on their first album. Was that a homage or just a happy accident?
I’m just now making that connection. That is completely a coincidence. We are not trying to mimic or copy Motley Crue in any way at this point in our career. If it makes people happy, then it’s a homage, and if it pisses people off, then sure [laughing]. We are good at pissing people off and making people happy. Whatever works!