Singer/Songwriter/Musician/Actor/Novelist and founder of Black Veil Brides is ‘one of the 50 greatest rock stars in the world today’*
Music has been everything.
Everything. Like more-than-half-his-life everything. Biersack founded Brides in Cincinnati at the tender age of 14 in 2006. The past 15 years has brought much underground success for Biersack and Brides so he finds it refreshing to see new fans discover the band, as well as other underground acts. “It’s a fun thing for people to discover and find these bands and artists that maybe they didn’t know about and then you find this huge bevvy of information and history and fandom. The viability of so many bands that are my peers and artists that I came up with have such incredibly vast and you know, not just from a release perspective but who they are and the personalities and all this stuff, there’s just so much out there that people don’t know about and it’s always fun when people discover kind of our corner of the world.”
Our corner of the world. By that corner he means making something with two hands, no autotune, no special effects, no mixing. Since Biersack was a child, he was only interested in staying inside and working on making things and creating stuff. “I’ve just always been a very detail-oriented person. I like the specificity, I like breaking stuff down, I like being able to find ways to again, create–take something that resides up here and make it out there. And I think that in order to do that you have to be willing to put in that extra level of specificity and observation and create things that are detail-oriented.”
Growing up, Biersack loved movies and comic books and music and anything that had all this stuff that he could dive deep into and find out about what makes these artists tick. When we talk over Zoom, behind him are storyboards, his creativity at work, always churning and always lit up. Biersack works on a pilot light, ready at the flick of a match. “I used to obsess over the director’s commentary and all the behind-the-scenes special features on movies. It’s a terrible expression I suppose, but how the sausage is made, all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. And that has always been a huge motivating fac-tor for me to like: if I don’t know about something, to learn about it and be able to, if not master it, put my best foot forward and be involved in it.”
A first glance at BVB, I immediately thought of Motley Crue, the 1980’s Sunset Strip-based rock band from Cali that was clad in black leather and eyeliner. But Biersack has a David Bowie-like mystique about him, how he’s able to transform himself and morph with time, a compliment he takes very seriously. “When it comes to somebody who creates and is just such a prolific artist, whether it’s the Ziggy Stardust era, Thin White Duke era, there are very few things that stand the test of time like that, the art that he created.”
The journey. Biersack started so young and really started touring at 18. He was doing regional touring and on the road while the average age of everybody around him was mid-twenties to early-thirties. “I think you put on airs and you try to assimilate and you try to make yourself into something. And along that path, there’s that self-discovery where you’re figuring out, beneath all these layers and things that you’re kind of building up for yourself, who are you at your core? I’ve always considered myself extremely fortunate that through the last ten-plus years I’ve had the opportunity to kind of grow and evolve and the audience has come with me and propped me up and put me in the position to do that.
That position led Biersack to the lead role in Paradise City, an Amazon Prime series that follows the life of a rockstar and the characters he encounters. The series stars Biersack, Bella Thorne, Drea DeMatteo of Sopranos fame, the late Cameron Boyce, and others, and debuted in March. A rockstar dipping toes into acting? How cliche. But when a producer went to Ohio to do some scouting saw his unique look and told him to give acting a try and go to California. So Biersack went to LA in 2005 and booked a few things; random parts like a PSA for the Montana Meth Project, which was directed by Tony Kaye, who directed American History X; the goth kid in an AT&T commercial. After that month spent in LA, Biersack returned home with his mom to pursue music full force and put the acting on the back burner. It wasn’t until 10 years later in 2015 that director Ash Avildsen, who directs Paradise City, went to him and said he was writing a film and he had me in mind to be the lead.”
While talking with Biersack, I can tell he has a well-rounded view of the world. The way he articulates his answers and grasp on any topic thrown at him, Biersack came from a home that was always questioning things and always on top of current affairs. Although he was a high school drop-out for a music career, his sharp wit and intelligence comes through in conversation.
“I would attribute anything that I have when it comes to intellectual pursuits down to my family. My parents, both my mom and dad, are extremely intelligent people and never treated me like a little kid. Even when I was a kid, the conversations in my house were always about what was actually happening in the world and that fed an interest for me to kind of learn things and the reality was that I’m very fortunate,” insists Biersack.
“My grandmother was a chemist, my grandfather was Ivy League-educated. But the pursuit of knowledge wasn’t about traditional structured education. I always buck at the idea of the traditional schooling system. I have had arguments with friends that are teachers and I try to advocate for people. Yes, school is important, yes getting an education is important, but if you’re not interested in learning something for yourself, the things that are being parroted to you and the facts that you’re learning for a short period of time, that you are then parrot-ing back for test purposes or just getting through it, that’s not education, that’s not information, that’s just a party trick.”
But today’s youth’s pursuit of knowledge is growing at such a rapid pace the more information is readily available. In essence, the more access to that info the more accepting we are of seeing that there’s more than one way to live your life, more means of what education is acceptable and that this structure we live in has more than one way to live. “The reality is that the more informed people are, and the younger they are when they have information and access to information, the less the ridiculous kind of structure that’s in a place where there’s only one means of education, there’s only one means of viable life, there’s only one means of getting through to the next level of kind of information or enlightenment. Those things [the structure of society] start to crumble and that creates, I believe, a society where we’re all more informed, we’re all more interesting, we’re all more willing to have conversations,” says Biersack. “There’s always growing pains to any huge revolution, like an intellectual revolution where people are more able to gather data and information on a constant basis. There’s gonna be growing pains because you go through the shift in the culture but I think that anybody that doesn’t look at the reality of someone who’s extremely young having access to all these things that will make them, and give them the tools to succeed and have a viable life more early on in their life…
“Like anything, there are downsides to the level of connectivity we have and the expectation of connectivity and the expectation of perfection because people are seeing all of these kinds of overblown images of how we’re meant to be and how we should look, think and act. But I think that what we’ve seen in recent situations, as recently as last summer, where the ability of people to kind of get together and to fight for just causes and create positive world changes, so far outweighs the negative.
The future. Having just released a book in December 2020 called They Don’t Need to Understand: Stories of Hope, Fear, Family, Life, and Never Giving In (Rare Bird Books, 2020), and just wrapping up the next BVB studio album earlier this year, it’s safe to say that Biersack is living his dream. “There’s a Springsteen song called ‘Working on a Dream’ and it’s one of my anthems in my life because I feel like these dreams have levels. You go through experiential things and you get something that you think was the absolute peak and then you go well, what’s next? And so you’re always working on these dreams forever, and if you’re lucky you get to keep going to the next rung and the next rung.