Back in 2011, I remember walking around the Bamboozle Festival when it was still held at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. I was there to see my favorite band on the planet, Mötley Crüe. As I walked around, I ran into this kid dressed in leather with Nikki Sixx-typed hair and a biker jacket with the name Black Veil Brides painted on the back of it. All these little girls were stopping him to take a picture with them. I just remembered telling my friend, “Look at this kid. He must be a big Mötley Crüe-wannabe.” That kid was Black Veil Bride bassist Ashley Purdy, and one month after my run-in with him, their single for “The Legacy,” off of the band’s second CD, Set The World On Fire, broke, and it broke big time all over rock radio and SiriusXM.
I finally got to see what the rest of the band looked like after hearing “The Legacy” over and over again on Octane, and all I could think was, “It looks like these kids came right out of the ‘Looks That Kill’ video!” I became an instant fan! These kids had a look that would be similar to Nikki Sixx having a baby with Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P. or Marilyn Manson, only their brand of rock was modern, anthemic and rebellious! Just the way a great rock band should be. Soon they were being endorsed by rock legends like Sebastian Bach, who was also a huge fan of the band. Glam rock was back and I loved every minute of it. “The Legacy” would be followed up by another hit off the same record in “Fallen Angels,” but the band’s breakout hit would have to be the song “In The End” off of their 2012 release, Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones. The song even won the band a Golden God Award for “Song of the Year.”
Black Veil Brides recently released their latest opus, IV, which was produced by legendary rock producer Bob Rock, who many remember from his work with Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. Their lead single “Heart Of Fire,” “Last Rites,” “Walk Away” and “Crown Of Thorns” leave you wanting more. This really is a great rock album, which makes Bob Rock the right choice.
Black Veil Brides are currently on tour with Falling In Reverse, Set It Off and Drama Club. They hit the Electric Factory in Philly on Nov. 19 (tonight), the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Nov. 21, and the Best Buy Theater in NYC on Nov. 23. Back in September, I was invited to hang out with bassist Ashley Purdy and drummer Christian “CC” Coma in their hotel room in NYC while they were promoting their then-upcoming CD, IV. Here’s how it went down:
So, you got to work with the legendary Bob Rock for the first time. Why Bob Rock?
Ashley Purdy: Why not Bob Rock? (Laughs) That’s the real question! Out of every producer that exists, he is THE guy, right? He’s the guy who makes monumental rock records with his previous stuff. I mean, he made Metallica, Metallica, and Mötley Crüe, Mötley Crüe. I don’t know if a lot of people know that. Our younger fans probably don’t know that, but you had …And Justice For All and then they broke with the Black record [produced by Bob Rock] and then the same with Girls, Girls, Girls and then they did Dr. Feelgood, which are huge classic records, and that was all Bob. He also did The Cult and all kinds of other stuff as well. He did Bon Jovi. We always referenced a lot of stuff on our previous records where we always wanted to have that sound. We can never capture that sound. That kind of arena sound that Bon Jovi or Mötley had and he’s the guy who did it, and it’s weird because working with other guys to try to achieve that sound, it’s tough because you’re kind of emulating it without doing it. So, we had the actual people who worked on those records. He brought in background singers and the keyboard player who did production stuff on the Bon Jovi records and Dr. Feelgood. He actually had that whole team from the Black record work on our record, so it actually sounds like the production we’ve been missing our entire career. So we kind of achieved what we wanted to.
With that in mind, bands like Mötley Crüe and Metallica have said that Bob Rock actually contributed to the songwriting and arrangements on those epic records. Did he do the same on IV?
Christian Coma: Absolutely! He wasn’t more of a songwriter. He was more of a conductor, so to speak. He would definitely guide us in the right way as opposed to telling us, “You have to do this! You have to do that!” He would ask us, “What if you extended this part? What if you put this riff here?” That’s more of rearrangement than actual writing, which I think on our last record was a little bit different. There was a little bit more writing than rearrangement. It was more really controlled. But we had a lot more fun. We did several months of pre-production with him, where it was just us in a rehearsal studio playing music. Like the five of us playing together and Bob was there and he was like, “Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Stop! Try doing this here!”
AP: It was very old school because you know, technology these days are quick. You just record a part on Pro Tools or a couple parts on a computer, but I mean, just as far as writing, we never really sat in a room and just riffed out or jammed out. So, when we did that, it was very old school when he came in, he was like the orchestrator. But in songwriting too, he was more like a mentor for us because he let us be us. He didn’t try to change us. He just tried to bring out the best of what Black Veil Brides is.
Would you say that the record sounds different than the previous Black Veil Brides stuff?
CC: It definitely sounds like a Black Veil Brides record. We’ve never made a record that sounds like any other one of our records. And so every one is a bit unique stylistically. Our last record was a concept album. This one is just us being us. Like Ash just said, it’s just more us with not as many bells and whistles as far as production on there. It’s just meat and potatoes, if you will. A little bit more raw. As far as our tones, we loved…well, to mention the Black album again, it’s just beefy, and everything is just really thick and we really wanted that sound.
Are you guys reading my questions? (Laughs) You keep answering my next question! Anyway, Bob Rock is known for his tones, especially for his drums and bass tones. Are you two happy with the outcome on your end?
AP: Oh yeah! We were always missing a low end to our music. What was cool was the technique that he told us about and he said that he was able to pull that out of Metallica as well because it was more about frequency. So, he figured out where people want their parts louder that it’s not about pushing it louder. It was about finding the balance and making the frequency right. Even if you solo the bass, it might sound like shit by itself, but only because the frequency has a pocket where the guitars are here and the drums are here and we were always missing that low end of the bass, so there was this part where he just finds this pocket so that the bass just pops out in the frequency. He knows this stuff because he was a mixer before he was a producer. In fact, he wanted to be so involved that he mixed our record as well. He basically said, “I want full control of this record.” He’s been out of rock for a while, so I’m not sure if he had something to prove, but I felt that he put his heart and soul into this record.
Now, during the recording process, you guys posted some behind the scenes footage for your fans. Do you think this was a good marketing tactic to build excitement over the record release?
CC: Yeah, it can’t hurt. I don’t know if it’s to generate new fans or anything. It was just to give our current fans something extra. I mean, if we gained extra fans from it and generate a hype, then great! But I know, personally, growing up when I watched the Vulgar Videos from Pantera, those were like THE best home videos because it was like behind the scenes; they were acting like jackasses and wasted half the time. Then you see the live shows. So, any time that I got to see some of my favorite bands behind the scenes, it made me excited and almost made my heart race to a certain extent. Hopefully, with these little clips, we can give a little insight as to what goes on behind the record.
Is there a personal favorite track on IV for both of you?
AP: Well, “Heart Of Fire” is the single right now, and it’s pretty much a straightforward, balls-to-the-walls rock song, but my favorite song might be a draw between “Drag Me To The Grave,” which is a big anthemic song with lots of ‘woahs’ and all that kind of stuff. The other is a song called “Faithless,” which is one of our heavier tracks, but it’s very melodic and catchy as well.
CC: Yeah, I’d say either “Heart Of Fire”…I don’t know. There’s a couple. I think there’s three. We have some harder songs. There’s definitely a little bit of screaming on this record. On the last one I don’t think there was any. I mean, I listened to everything from Lamb Of God to dance music, so I’m all over the place. I don’t know, I’d have to say that our first single, “Heart Of Fire,” is one of my favorite songs. Another would be “Crown Of Thorns.” There’s a really cool moment on the record on that song. And then “Stolen Omen” is another one. That one is pretty aggressive as well. It’s got like a triplet feel.
Since you guys are hitting our shores in November, what songs do you guys like to perform live?
AP: I like “Fallen Angels.” I love playing that. It’s just our anthem so far, I think, out of all the stuff we have. CC just loves his drum solo (laughs).
CC: Yeah, right! While I’m back there huffing and puffing, I’m like, “Goddamn! I need a break! These assholes are taking a break while I’m still working?” But seriously, it depends on each crowd and how the crowd reacts. If they’re a little bit more aggressive and crowd surfing and stuff to some of the faster material, or if they’re more laid back, hands in the air and just rocking out, there’s “Fallen Angel” like Ash said. It kind of just depends on the crowd. I mean, half the time I’m not even looking up anyway.
Last record, you had some amazing success with “In The End.” Is there a song like that on IV?
AP: There are a lot of songs like that on this record. That’s the whole thing. It’s tough to choose on this one. We already know that we’re making three music videos because it’s hard to decide what the singles are going to be. We sent the label like five different songs for what was going to be the single and they couldn’t decide, so they picked one for now. I feel like it’s kind of like our Appetite For Destruction or something. We’ll go all out with a heavier song like “Welcome To The Jungle” then we’ll kick you in the ass with a song like “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” So, we have songs that are like that coming up. We’ll roll out with this first one that is a little bit quicker and we’re going to come back with the next single that is a little bit more pulled back. A little bit more like active rock kind of stuff, but we do have a list so…”Goodbye Agony” will be the follow-up to “Heart Of Fire,” which I think will come back and be our “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
Now, since we’re all Mötley Crüe fans and they’re coming out with a movie adaptation for their book The Dirt, has anyone approached either of you two to play one of the Mötley guys in the movie? Because Ash, I’ve seen your Nikki Sixx and you’re a dead ringer and CC, you look like a young Tommy Lee also…
AP: Yeah, I used to play Nikki Sixx in a Mötley Crüe tribute band in L.A. A quick tidbit: When I first started playing in Hollywood and it was tough forming your own band finding members who looked cool and can play well and it wasn’t really making money at that point, I knew Ralph [Mike Starr] from Steep Panther, and he was doing Atomic Punk, a Van Halen tribute band, before he was in Steel Panther, and they were making really good money. He was like, “There’s not a really good Mötley Crüe tribute band out there. You should perform that while you work on your original stuff.” So, that’s how that all came to pass. We made all of our own costumes, staging and backdrops to make our show look authentic. It was a full on tribute band and it was fun. Plus it led to all of my connections for Black Veil Brides.
CC: Yeah, I get that all the time too, man! Even Bob Rock was saying that. He was like, “Fuck! You’re like young Tommy!” I remember there was this one time on tour, this was like a couple of years ago, a fan gave Ash like a bunch of videos from the ’80s or ’90s or something. We were getting ready for the show and we’re about to walk off of our bus as these Mötley Crüe videos were playing, and I was like, “Ash, you gotta check this out,” once again a behind the scenes thing, and it was Tommy walking around pulling his pants up saying, “Hey, what’s up, dude!” and he’s wearing the same fucking thing I’m wearing, and unbeknownst to me, I was wearing the same exact tie around his neck that I was wearing, the same bandana, it was nuts! But yeah, I’ve been tweeted that I need to play Tommy Lee in the movie. I would love to do that because I feel like we’ve been living similar lifestyles anyway.
Catch Black Veil Brides at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on Nov. 19, the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Nov. 21, and the Best Buy Theater in NYC on Nov. 23. IV is available now. For more information, go to blackveilbrides.net.