On the Road with Rivers Monroe

There comes a time in every music fan’s life when they hear a band and become an immediate fan. That’s what happened to Hayley when she heard Rivers Monroe at the Middle East in Cambridge. She went to the “Somewhere Before Christmas”tour to hear Johnnie Guilbert, Social Repose, and SayWeCanFly, not knowing that Rivers Monroe would also be playing. Hayley enjoyed all the bands that night, but she walked out with one CD, the Rivers Monroe new release Smart Girls.

Hayley wanted to get to know them, so she approached them at the venue to ask for an interview, and they could not have been friendlier. After talking with lead vocalist Mike Monroe, keyboardist/vocalist Mat Rivers, guitarist Doc, and bassist Kirby, the wheels were put in motion. Now everyone can get to know Rivers Monroe, as Hayley caught up with Mike & Mat while they were taking a break on their tour bus to talk about things like how the band got together, their style & their musical influences, and why Doc has a second nickname.

HRU: Hi Mike & Mat! Can you see the hoodie I’m wearing? Kirby put it on me at the show!

Mike: Nice! Do you like that sweatshirt?

HRU: Yes I do! It’s my favorite sweatshirt. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. You guys were great at the Middle East. I’ve been playing Smart Girls every day since I saw you! How’s the tour going?

Mike: It’s going great! We just played Texas, and we played Orlando last night, and now we’re making our way to Atlanta. Then we have Nashville, Greensboro, and New Jersey. It’s going really great,

HRU: What’s a typical day like on your tour bus?

Mike: A lot of driving, a lot of sleeping….

Mat: A lot of Netflix….

Mike: Yeah a lot of Netflix. Although I don’t have unlimited data, these guys do (laughs), so I just sit here, but it’s ok, the scenery is nice.

HRU: Smart Girls is my favorite song right now. My favorite lyric is “she’s checking out her Twitter while she’s playing babysitter”. What that based on a real girl?

Mat: It’s based on the idea that there’s this stereotypical nerdy smart girl, and that’s the kind of girl that we’re into, so we wrote the song about that. Being a smart girl is a good thing.

Mike: It might have been inspired by a particular individual, but we’ll leave that out there as a question mark (smiles).

HRU: Did you write all the songs for your first two albums  yourselves?

Mike: Yes, so far all the songs we have written ourselves together. But we’ve talked about collaborating with other people, other artists, in the future. It’s definitely something we’re open to.

HRU: Where do you get inspiration for your songs – from real life experiences, from your imagination, or maybe both?

Mike: I would say both.

Mat: Yes, a little bit of both. The best songs come from real life experiences, but sometimes you just write about things that inspire you.

Mike: Sometimes life experience, love, relationships, that’s where it all stems from.

HRU: When did you decide you wanted to pursue music as a career?

Mike: About a week ago. (we all laugh!) No, really probably since high school, a long time. I was in a lot of sports in high school, but once I graduated I started getting into music a lot. 

Mat: I used to play snare drum in the marching band, and it was fun. But it wasn’t until I started playing piano that I really started getting into the writing part of it & feeling like “Wow I can do this!”.

HRU: Who are your biggest musical influences?

Mike: I was a big alternative fan growing up, but now I’d say Blink 182, The All-American Rejects & Fall Out Boy.

Mat: I’m a big retro fan. I like Prince, Michael Jackson, Journey…

Mike: Yeah we’re big fans of 80’s music. The name of our band was inspired by Hall & Oates, we’re big fans.

HRU: I love 80’s music! And I just saw Blink 182 with All Time Low.

Mat: We were just listening to an All Time Low CD.

HRU: Your first album was self-titled. How is Smart Girls different from your first CD?

Mat: With this one, we focused more on quality. With the first one, we just had all these songs & wanted to pick the best ones & get them out. We rushed through it a bit. The songs were all recorded at different times, and we mashed them all on to one CD. Smart Girls was way more planned out. We knew what we wanted to do. 

Mike: We knew what we wanted our sound to be, so like Mat said, it was more organized. 

Mat: We actually recorded that whole album in one studio in a few weeks. The other album was sporadically done over a few years. 

HRU: Mike, I know that you knew Mat before you teamed up with the rest of the guys. How did you two meet, and how did you connect with the other members?

Mike: Mat & I actually met at a tryout for another band in New York City years ago, and we started writing together. We tried to have a band, just the two of us, and that lasted about six months. 

Mat: We said we needed to get a band together, so we started networking to find a guitar player and a drummer.

Mike: We went through some other band members briefly, but once we met Doc & Kirby, we were solid. 

HRU: At the Middle East concert, Doc told me that his other nickname is “Marty McFly”. What’s the story behind that?

Mike: Marty McFly! (laughs) It’s because he wear the vests!

HRU: Oh haha! I get it now!

Mike: Yeah our image for the last album was more indie pop-rock & pop-punk. 

Mat: Then we went more retro.

Mike: I saw this vest one day & I told Doc “You have to dress up like Marty McFly!” So that’s his thing now.

Mat: We’re bringing the puffy vest back (laughs).

HRU: Let’s talk about Warped Tour, I know you were on it in 2015. Some people have told me it’s fun & some say it’s grueling. What was your experience?

Mike: It’s both. It’s an awesome experience but it’s also tough. It’s day after day of getting up early & working the lines, talking to people about our music.

HRU: It must be really hot out there too!

Mike: Yeah it is hot! But the great thing about Warped Tour is that it prepares you for any other tour you could ever go on. 

Mat: It was like boot camp! And it was a way to reach as many people as possible. We’d be the first ones out there early, talking to people, and by the end of the day your feet hurt so much, you can’t take another step!

HRU: Is that how you got the aRMy together?

Mike: Well when a band starts to break through, you want to get a street team together. Luckily we meet our street team leader online from Twitter, Christina Sanger, and she started up a street team. It’s been awesome. We have a few hundred people on our street team now. 

Mat: And when we had the thought that RM is in the word “army”…. we just drop the “a” & the “y”, and it’s aRMy.

HRU: That is really cool!

Mike: Yeah it has a nice ring to it.

HRU: Are there any bands that you stayed in touch with?

Mike: All Time Low. We got to play a show with them about a year and a half ago, and they were so awesome. And we just recorded two new songs with Rian Dawson down in Nashville about a month ago. And of course on this tour now – Johnnie, Braden, Richie – we’ve really been bonding with those guys. 

HRU: Tell me about the songs you did with Rian Dawson.

Mike: We have about 10-15 new songs, and we took two of them to Rian – “Monsters” and “Safe House”, which you heard at the show. We did some pre-production then went down to Nashville, and Rian really helped us out with the production & the recording process. He was great. 

HRU: I watched your Happy Thanksgiving video on YouTube when you were at Denny’s! Mike, you were wearing a Star Wars shirt, are you a big fan?

Mike: I am! The guys have a running joke that I’ve never seen it..(laughs).. but I have. I’ve seen them all, and I love Star Wars.

HRU: In the video, the first thing you said was that you were thankful for your fans. What is it like connecting with all your fans online & on tour?

Mike: It’s awesome. We wouldn’t be able to do this without them, so we try to show our fans how much we appreciate them as much as possible. 

Mat: We’re very social at shows, and we stay very active on social media. We like the fans to know that after the show, they can chit-chat with us, and we’ll follow them back on Instagram or Twitter.

Mike: We have a “follow for follow” rule. Some bands have 10,000 followers & only follow back 500, but we try to follow all of our fans back. We know how important you guys are.

HRU: Thank you! I’m a big fan, and I’m following you all & listening to all your music. I hope you come back to Boston soon! Thanks for spending this time with me today & best of luck with the rest of the tour. Can’t wait to hear what you do next!

Mike: Thank you! I’m so glad we got to meet, and that you became a fan. We’ll see you next time we’re in Boston!

Follow Rivers Monroe on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @RiversMonroe

You can also go on their website http://www.riversmonroe.com & subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Here is video for Hayley’s favorite Rivers Monroe song “Smart Girls”, the title track of their new CD. Thanks again to Mike & Mat for the great interview!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHRIS BIERSACK INTERVIEW: Loyalty, Friendship, Family

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“Having an opportunity to communicate with fans of Black Veil Brides, and Andy, is a privilege for me”. – Chris Biersack

If you go to to his Twitter page @ChrisABiersack, you’ll scroll down & see endless tweets like “Thanks for the awesome support you give to Andy & BVB!” For so many of us, Chris is our personal connection to Black Veil Brides, and now Andy Black. Though he’d probably humbly deny it, to the Army, Chris Biersack is a star in his own right. For more than half a decade now, he has been having conversation with fans, informing fans, and being a superstar Dad supporting Andy & BVB. This past Saturday, Hayley caught up with Chris immediately after he spent the morning creating a new Biersack & Barone: Right About Now podcast for the fans. His Twitter profile says LOYALTY FRIENDSHIP FAMILY, so it’s no surprise that he generously spent over an hour talking to Hayley about everything from his loyalty to the fans, Andy, BVB & Andy’s friends’ careers, to his friendship with Dave Barone, to how he went from the front of a line to the back of a line – because he was so taken with a girl.

HRU: Hi Chris! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today!

CHRIS: My pleasure! You’re one of BVB’s biggest fans! And I like your shirt.

HRU: Thanks! I got it at Hot Topic.

CHRIS: I need to get more Andy Black merch. I don’t know about you, but I need to have as much as I can get.

HRU: Oh yeah! I think I could open a merch store.

CHRIS: That’s good! I have two storage bins of old Black Veil Brides t-shirts. Can you see the one I’m wearing? Did you go to Warped Tour this year? (shows us his BVB shirt)

HRU: I did go, but that’s actually one I don’t have! How did your podcast go this morning? What’s it about?

CHRIS: Thank you for asking me that, it went very well. We talked about the new Andy Black single, and the video that will be out on Monday. Now that people are really digging the song, it will be exciting for people to see the video. And we talked about the AP award nominations yesterday & CC getting nominated for Best Drummer, which I thought was a long time coming. Andy was nominated for Best Vocalist, but this is the first time one of the musicians in the band was nominated. Now that it has occurred, it’s up to the BVB Army to make sure CC wins! I’ve talked about it on Twitter that I think Jake should be nominated for Best Guitarist… and it’s hard to separate Jake & Jinxx because they are both so talented.. but having been in a band, when you talk about a lead guitarist in Black Veil, it’s Jake. In the past 3 years, Jake being the lead guitarist of one of the biggest bands on the scene & not being nominated, it’s a shame.

HRU: I always sing along to Jake’s guitar solos!

CHRIS: That’s another thing Dave & I talk about – just how well Jake’s solos fit into the framework of the songs. Dave is a guitarist. He was the guitarist in my band & he said there’s a lot of guitarists who can play really fast, and the guitarists nominated can play very fast, but do they play memorable hooks? Here’s the thing: I’m biased. These guys (BVB) are like family to me, so I’m always going to be looking at what they do, and asking myself “Do they deserve recognition?”. And they clearly do.

HRU: Well they’re not my family, and I completely agree!

CHRIS: I appreciate that.

HRU: I’ve been really enjoying your podcasts. I loved the Juliet Simms one.

CHRIS: Well Juliet was already in town, and we planned to do one with her. I want to say we did it live, but we didn’t! We had done one live with Joe Flanders where we shared the same microphone, but we decided for it to sound better, Juliet sat in the guest bedroom & literally did her part on Skype! That was a natural. I’ve been a huge fan of Juliet’s for years. I knew about Automatic Loveletter before Andy & Juliet started dating. I told Juliet that “Hush” was the video that got me interested in the band, very innocent & quirky. And then I started to follow her career. The interview was fun, it was like “old home week”. Pretty much every interview we do is like that because we’re talking to people who are friends of Andy’s & have had experience with him, so I think it makes it more fun for the listeners.

HRU: How did you & Dave come up with the idea for the podcast?

CHRIS: It was all based on the YouTube videos that I did years ago. People kept asking me to do more. My friend Dave does radio here in Cincinnati, and I asked him if he’d like to do videos with me, and he came up with the idea for the podcast because of his knowledge & experience how to put it together. We decided to do something different than what’s being done among our age group. We wanted to do a podcast about today’s music scene, and be respectful to the bands that are out there today.

HRU: How do you know Dave Barone?

CHRIS: He was in a lot of the bands that I was in, and we’ve been friends since high school. He’s one of my oldest friends, so it’s fun to do this with him. He doesn’t participate in all the interviews, because he doesn’t know all the musicians like I do, but he does all the production on the front end & back end. When you listen to the ones we do together, you can hear how comfortable we are with each other, and how much we are friends.

HRU: Yeah you can tell how comfortable you are because it flows….

CHRIS: I enjoy all the interviews. You can hear the interview we just did with Jeff…

HRU: That’s Jeff George?

CHRIS: Yes, Jeff George from We Are Harlot. Part 2 is coming out next week. It was so much fun to do because I know him socially & have seen him on the tour buses with Black Veil. I saw him at the Wiltern for the Alive & Burning show, and he was out there in the front with Mom & Dad Biersack rooting on Andy. He’s such a good guy, just a genuinely good person, a beautiful soul & someone I’m honored to have as a friend of my son. Andy’s friends & people he’s associated with throughout the years are so much fun to talk to, because I like them. I’m not trying to figure out who they are in the interviews. And I feel like they’re as much a part of what we do as fans as we are! It’s easy for me to root for them & promote their careers too. They’re part of our family.

HRU: What’s it like to be in touch with fans on Twitter & through fan mail. How do you find the time to do it all?

CHRIS: (laughing) That’s a great question, Hayley! Thanks for asking that because it is very time consuming, and I don’t think people realize that I have a real job! I’m labor relations manager for Hamilton County, Ohio, the biggest employer in all of Cincinnati. It’s a big job. I’m in charge of all the contracts that are negotiated between the unions & the various employers. But having an opportunity to communicate with the fans of Black Veil Brides, and Andy, is a privilege for me. When my son wanted to go into the music industry, it was a dream for him to have fans. My wife & I want to be as receptive to fans as we can, so they realize they are appreciated. Amy handles all the fan mail that comes in & sends out all the responses, and the part I do for the physical mail, is I pack the envelopes, put on the return addresses. We’ve run out of the temporary tattoos that we send people, but that’s not a bad thing because it’s not what they look like anymore! (laughing) Amy tries to put a personal note in the fan mail to each & every person who sends something to us. As far as Twitter, it’s really fun for me to answer people’s question online, and to let them know that no question is a silly one. If people are interested in the band, it’s my responsibility to try & help them.

HRU: I remember years ago when I got my first letter from Amy, I wore the temporary tattoos to Warped Tour!

CHRIS: Yeah, when Andy was a kid, he used to mail things to his favorite bands & never got a response. And it’s not like getting something from a mom & dad is the be-all-end-all for a fan but when Andy’s in town, he’ll autograph stuff & occasionally we’ll slip that into the responses. Sometimes Andy & I will go to Best Buy & get a Black Veil CD or DVD, he’ll autograph it & I’ll have a contest to get that out. But it’s nice for people to know that what they sent was received & appreciated. To get that mail, it means a lot to all of us.

HRU: Ok let’s go back now – I was raised on different kinds of music, like 80’s dance music & rock. What kind of music was playing in the house when you were growing up?

CHRIS: (laughing) Probably not what you would call rock. My parents were big Marty Robbins fans (country/western). He had a big hit called “El Paso”. They knew who Elvis was, but they were too old for The Beatles. There wasn’t a lot of rock in my house. The kind of music I could listen to was more along the lines of The Jackson Five, like Motown. I had to discover rock bands on my own. The first band I was really interested in was KISS. Then I discovered punk rock, bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash & The Damned, and that opened up to a lot of 80’s synth music that I introduced Andy to, which had a big impact on the Andy Black solo record.

HRU: The bands you were in as a teenager – did you sing? Did you write your own songs? What kind of music did you play?

CHRIS: Yes, I sang in every band I was in. It was the only source of income that I had. Before that, I worked at a local amusement park, but I wasn’t a good person to have working a real job. I couldn’t work at a fast food place, the pressure just drove me nuts. My wife worked as the manager of a restaurant in our early days when we were first married, and I always felt bad for the employees running around trying to take care of all these demanding people, the stress of it. While I was in college, I always sang in bands. They always ranged from radio-friendly rock bands, playing the songs that the club owners wanted us to play, to some serious hard-core punk bands where we wrote our own material. I was fortunate enough to get to travel & tour with a number of bands, including The Edge, which was a band that opened for The Misfits. Some of the bands I idolized, I had an opportunity to share the stage with. Dave Barone was in those bands with me, so not only do we have a friendship, we have a shared history of rock & roll.

HRU: Seems like the podcast was inevitable!

CHRIS: It’s interesting, for a number of years, people would say “When are you going to get this band back together?” or “I’d like you to record an album”, but I’ve always shied away from it. I felt like my time had already passed. I was a musical theatre major at the University of Cincinnati & I sang in bands, and my voice is similar to Andy’s, but I didn’t see the point of it. When this opportunity came up to do radio, that made sense to me.

HRU: And you have a great voice for it!

CHRIS: Thank you, I appreciate that. I get to stay involved & I meet people in the industry. I feel like the podcast is relevant & that I know for a fact my son loves. I’m not trying to take Andy’s fame & turn it into something for myself. I think it’s something that Andy can listen to & say “I’m proud of my dad for doing that.” I know his friends that come on the podcast call him up & say they’re glad they did it & they’re glad I did my homework on them. So many people do interviews today & they don’t know anything about the artist going into it, so the artist is left to tell their story over & over again. It gets tedious. If you listen to their albums, ask specific questions about songs, or know tidbits about that person’s life story & ask them about it, they really appreciate that.

HRU: That’s how I started! I saw Andy kept answering the same questions over & over, and I wanted to make something different….

CHRIS: I agree, I love your interviews! They’re fresh & unique in their own way. That’s why I think people like to read them because they’re not the same old hashed out stuff people have heard before. And it’s very personal, which is a cool thing. People want that.

HRU: Thank you so much! How did you & Amy meet?

CHRIS: We met at the University of Cincinnati. I know this is hard to believe for anyone who knows me, but I was in a fraternity. Pi Kappa Alpha, Go Pikes! It was freshman orientation week & I was trying to recruit people to come to the fraternity house to pledge. Amy worked at a McDonald’s at the Tangeman University Center, and I probably went in there to get a McRib, they had those then! The lines were huge, and I saw her in line. I was almost at the front of my line, but I was so taken with her, I got out of my line & went to the back of the line she was in.

HRU: Awww, I love that!

CHRIS: She was SO good looking in a McDonald’s uniform. And in the 80’s, those uniforms were polyester & god-awful, and I thought if she looked good in a McDonald’s uniform… (laughing)… and because I was in bands & I got paid by the bar owners, I had a lot of big bills on me, so I was impressing the hell out of her by pulling out a $50, that helped me! Little did she know I would become a public servant & work for the government for years, and that wasn’t going to make me rich (smiles). So that’s how I met her, I tried to turn on the charm as best I could. That led to her accepting a date with me, and the rest is history.

HRU: Was she a big music fan too?

CHRIS: Yes, she was! Different kinds of music though. Besides being in bands, I also DJ’d all of the fraternity parties, so I had all this music that I introduced her to. She didn’t know anything about the Psychedelic Furs or The Specials, and I played that music at parties. She was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan & that’s something she brought to Andy. He’s a big Bruce fan too, and he tries to incorporate his inspiration from that into his music now. It’s hard sometimes, with all the influences Andy has, to pick out certain things, but this album is so much more broad, and you’ll hear more of Andy’s influences than you will in a Black Veil album. Black Veil is a lot of compromise for Andy because it’s hard rock. He never would have dreamed he would be in a hard rock band all the years he was preparing to be a rock star. His expectation was that he would be in the next AFI or Alkaline Trio. But he met people who had incredible talent, like Jake & Jinxx, and Black Veil became an amalgamation of Andy’s punk rock roots with a hard rock band. Then you bring in a drummer like CC – I’ve been going to Warped Tour for 20 years, I don’t just go when Andy’s on it, I went long before, and I’ve never seen a drummer like CC. He’s incredible! My hat’s off to AP because that guy deserves it.

HRU: He’s a beast! He was rocking so hard, he fell off his seat during the Boston show & he didn’t miss a beat, just kept on playing!

CHRIS: He’s so entertaining! And I talk about this in the podcast, but I don’t understand how a band that had the #1 concert DVD in the US & UK doesn’t get nominated for Best Live Band.

HRU:  I know!! It doesn’t make sense.

CHRIS: They never get nominated for their musicianship. They’ll get nominated for Best Album or Best Fans.. well, Andy got nominated for Best Vocalist, and now CC, that is musicianship – but if you’re going to tell me they’re not one of the best live acts to see… it’s hard to understand that. There’s nothing about that band, from the time they hit the stage to the time they leave, that isn’t unbelievably entertaining, and the spirit of rock & roll.

HRU: What was it like for you to be at Alive & Burning?

CHRIS: It was a crazy day because we had to fly in from Phoenix. We were at the Halloween show the night before, which was a lot of fun. Andy was dressed as Michael Graves from The Misfits, and Ronnie was a 50’s guy with a big pompadour. We flew out early to get to LA, and the venue, and then it was old-home week because all of Andy’s friends were at the show. We saw Jeff Simms, Juliet’s dad, who is a great guy. And I got to see a lot of the bands’ biggest fans. I have friends who I met because their kids are fans of the band. There’s a guy I love named Dave Gott, who’s a huge KISS fan, and if you watch the DVD you’ll see, he’s the guy dressed up like Gene Simmons. He comes to shows in the full Gene Simmons KISS Destroyer regalia, and he looks like him! His daughter, a sweet girl named Jess Gott, is a huge BVB fan, and she got to be an extra in Legion of the Black. So it’s not just people in the industry we get to meet, it’s the fans too. Some of them have been fans in Los Angeles since the band’s inception, so when I go there, I get to catch up with a lot of those people, and it’s fun for me. I appreciate & value fans who go to the shows, and people like yourself who support the band online. It’s easy in this day & age to go flitting from one band to the next. I see people trying to gain favor with the band, but they’re also doing the same with 50 other bands. And it’s ok to like 50 different bands. But the ones I see who are so loyal & dedicated, and they’re always sticking up for Black Veil, they mean a lot to me. I don’t usually talk about it, and this is probably the first time I’ve ever said it, but I notice it.

HRU: They mean so much to me!

CHRIS: I know they do, and we all appreciate it!

HRU: I asked Mark Pitts this & I have to ask you too – what are your 3 favorite BVB songs? I’m going to guess that one of them is I am Bulletproof.

CHRIS: Yes! I am Bulletproof, Set the World on Fire, and Wretched & Divine. I’d also throw in Let You Down. That’s only available on the Ultimate Edition & a lot of fans don’t own that. But people went nuts for that song when they played it at Warped Tour 2013, and that holds a really good memory for me, watching people sing it. I was surprised that many people knew it! And it has a really good message for the BVB fan base when Andy sings “I will never let you down”. Then he says “I believe in you.” Emotionally, it really hits home.

HRU: That’s what I like about it, because it feels like he’s believing in me.

CHRIS: Exactly. There are some songs that are very personal. But those three songs – I am Bulletproof, Set the World on Fire, and Wretched & Divine, I could listen to those anytime.

HRU: Great choices! Aside from Andy & BVB, what do you listen to when you’re driving in your car, or just relaxing at home?

CHRIS: I listen to Falling in Reverse a lot.

HRU: I love them!

CHRIS: Me too, and I have yet to get Ronnie Radke to agree to be on my podcast. So I’m sending this out there as a gentle reminder… to my friend Ronnie who follows me on Twitter & has not responded to my messages, I’m a huge supporter of his band & I’m also Andy’s dad… (laughing)… seriously other than Black Veil, they are probably the band I listen to the most. I think Radke is one of the most underrated clever lyricists of this generation. Andy agrees with me that his lyrics are humorous & intelligent. And he writes songs that are catchy as hell. There are so many things about him as an artist that are interesting to me. In my car, next to the Black Veil CDs, are the Falling in Reverse CDs. Radke actually makes me enjoy listening to rap. And if you can do that, it’s saying something.

HRU: And he’s such a great performer!

CHRIS: Yes! And not in the same way as Andy. As much as they are both charismatic, Ronnie is just… out there (laughing). The things he does! Andy would be a little smoother, you could say, as far as stage presence. With Ronnie, you can’t take your eye off the guy! I also love Farewell My Love. I wish they didn’t have the problems with their label, but I’m glad they will be able to be independent, and release songs & videos for their fans because it’s been a year of their life I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I listen to Get Scared a lot, I love what they do, and I like those guys. Sometimes it’s a personal connection for me. I listen to a lot of William Control. I was a big Asking Alexandria fan & I listen to them a lot because of Danny, now I’m listening to We Are Harlot. Getting to know Jeff & those guys, and becoming friendly with them has been really nice. But what it boils down to is I’m a sucker for a great song, and bands that can write great memorable songs. These people I mentioned can do that. Older stuff – I listen to Billy Idol, and recently because of the passing of David Bowie, I’ve been listening to him. So that’s the type of stuff I like. I’m not really into pop-punk. I respect how well they do for themselves, but I prefer my rock a little harder, and with more complexity.

HRU: Well now I’m going to debut some great news here with you. I’m going to be covering the Andy Black tour here in Boston & I’m extremely excited! I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say I’m proud of him. What does it mean to you seeing him go out on his own as a solo artist?

CHRIS: First of all, congratulations, I’m very happy to hear that! If I could think of anyone I’d want to have an opportunity to do that, on the top of my list would be you. Everyone in the Black Veil community, particularly Andy, knows you & what a huge fan & genuinely good person you are. We all root for you.

HRU: Thank you!!

CHRIS: As far as Andy going out on his own, I think it’s an extension of him as an artist. I wouldn’t say I’m more excited for the solo tour than I am for any Black Veil tour, so it’s a similar feeling. I didn’t see him doing a solo tour until he told me about it, because Black Veil is doing so well. As his dad, and someone who’s been with him since the beginning of his career, I know this gives him an opportunity to explore & do music he’s always been interested in. As he has said in interviews, he gets to do music without Black Veil having to acquiesce to music they are not comfortable with. Black Veil has a sound, and if Andy tried to put some of this stuff in, it might turn people off. So he’s smart about it, and he knows if he wants to do this, he has to do it as a solo project. Also there’s a lot of people that don’t like Black Veil & they might like this, and that’s fine. Any way you slice it, I’m proud that he’s doing this tour. I wish you could have already heard this album, Hayley, because even though I love “We Don’t Have to Dance”, it’s not even in my Top 5 of tracks. That’s how good this album is. From the first song to the last, every single song is potentially a radio song. So I’m excited for everyone to hear the full album, and not just hear one song & make a decision on if they like Andy Black. The reaction to this one song, though, has been overwhelmingly positive. But you know when you buy an album, and you love every single track on it? You can listen to the whole thing & not have to skip a track? I think everyone who buys this is going to feel this way. There’s no filler. Everything on it is really really good.

HRU: I can’t wait to hear it! Chris, thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it, and I know the fans will be happy to get more insight into you & your life, as well as Andy & the music. I hope to meet you in person someday but until then, I’ll be listening to your podcasts!

CHRIS: Thank you! It would be a pleasure, and a privilege, to meet you someday. I know we didn’t get the chance last time you were here…

HRU: At the APMAS, I know, I missed you!

CHRIS: Maybe next time with your family, we could all share a meal or something.

And with that, she was speechless 🙂 Thank you Chris!!

 

 

 

 

THE CHRISTIAN COMA INTERVIEW

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“Sometimes you have to take a step back & realize that fans have been waiting a long time for that show. Maybe they saved all their birthday money to buy a ticket. I don’t take that for granted.” ~ CC

THE CHRISTIAN COMA INTERVIEW:

The third letter of the alphabet is very important to Black Veil Brides fans. Say it twice & you’ve got the drummer of their favorite band, one of the best in rock & roll today. Born Chris Mora, BVB fans know him as Christian Coma, or simply CC. On December 29, 2015, Hayley caught up with CC relaxing in his backyard with his dogs, enjoying a much-deserved break from touring. With his signature grin, his cool, laid back personality & a lot of laughs – CC generously opened up about to Hayley about everything from being on tour to his favorite thing about being a drummer, and an offer he declined in Las Vegas (good thing for BVB fans!) that would have taken his career in a very different direction.

HRU: Hi CC! How are you today?

CC: Doing awesome! How are you?

HRU: Great, thanks! And thanks for taking the time to speak with me today!

CC: No problem!

HRU: I’m really excited for the 5th album, how’s it going?

CC: It’s going great! We go back in the studio on January 11th. It’s pretty much close to being done, as far as writing goes. We may do one or two more songs, but we have enough material for an album. We’ve done three weeks of pre-production, then I’ll go back in & do the drums & they’ll re-track the guitars. But it’s almost completely written. We’ve got some pretty cool stuff!

HRU: Andy said you’re taking more time to record this album. Does it change your process? Is it better?

CC: Well we’ve worked with this producer John Feldman before, so it’s the same process, but a little bit different too. When they went in, Jake & Jinxx were doing the writing & they were slamming songs out. I think they did something like 8 songs in 3 days.

HRU: Wow!!

CC: Yeah it was crazy. I wouldn’t say the process is really different now that we have more time. But when inspiration strikes, and you have a great writing team, and we have engineers that help us out, it gets things done a lot quicker, as opposed to us having to run the software ourselves. It came together relatively quickly. But who’s to say what will happen? When we go back in on January 11th, we may have more song ideas. We’re right in the middle of it now, but currently we’re on break.

HRU: Must be nice to have a break!

CC: For sure! I got to spend some time with my dogs, and my family for the holidays.

HRU: Tell me about your dogs….

CC: I have three dogs. Unfortunately I had to put down my grandmother’s dog…

HRU: Aww, I’m sorry about that.

CC: Yeah, that was a couple weeks ago. I have Sasha & Callie, a German Shepard-Golden Retriever mix, and a Border Collie. My pug is Buddha, and he’s super-old. He’s 17 1/2 years old & he doesn’t even look like a pug anymore. He’s inside the house now. He’s slowing down. But I’ll show you one of them. “Hey Sasha, come here! Say HI!”

HRU: (Sasha pops up on the screen) Hi Sasha!!

CC: She’s such a sweetheart…

HRU: She is so cute, glad I got to meet her! When did you fall in love with rock music?

CC: I think the first band I listened to was Green Day, when I was in elementary school & learning to play drums. “Dookie” was out & I was really stoked on them, buying all their Japanese imports & live CDs. I was learning Tre` Cool’s parts & saying “I can do that!”. Then I got into more aggressive metal in middle school & high school. I went to a show at the Hollywood Palladium & it was madness. There were mosh pits everywhere & people were crowd surfing. Ever since I saw that, I was pretty hooked on it.

HRU: What was it about drums that made you want to play?

CC: From an early age, I was always banging on pots & pans. The typical drummer thing, annoying my parents & my family (laughs). And I saw the drumline in school, and instead of banging on pots, I wanted to learn what I was doing.

HRU: You’re the only member of BVB from California. What was it like for you growing up there?

CC: It was exciting. Currently I live in the same area I grew up in. I live just far enough away from the hustle of downtown, where I don’t get the congestion of the LA freeways. It’s not like I was living in Hollywood, seeing celebrities every day. It’s in the suburbs, a quiet, older neighborhood. I’m about 30-40 minutes from Hollywood with no traffic, but with traffic, it could be 3 weeks! (laughing) Ever since I could drive, I would drive myself to auditions & rehearsals, spending all my money on music gear. The good thing is that California is saturated with musicians, so there was never a time when I couldn’t be in a band. I was afraid I wouldn’t meet the right guys to make a career of music, but I’m very fortunate. I met the right guys.

HRU: I’m glad too!

CC: Thanks!

HRU: I’m completely in awe when I watch you play. What is….

CC: Hold on, Hayley! There’s a big helicopter flying over!

(they wait through the noise, laughing)

CC: Sorry! I thought it was going to land on me!

HRU: No problem! What’s the best thing about being a drummer?

CC: Definitely not hauling around the gear, that sucks! (laughing) I guess the best thing about being a drummer is having the best seat for the show, every single night. I get to see the crowd, and that’s more exciting than anything. Also I get to watch Jinxx run around like a madman onstage! That’s another one of my favorite things. He always cracks me up! Watching my friends perform, having a stationary seat, those are some of the best things. Another great thing is that I can change things up. I can do some fun things, and drummers can get away it. Guitars can’t change the melody of the song, but I can change things up & push myself to the limit. And I guess another thing is – I get to beat the crap out of stuff all day (grinning). That’s pretty fun too!

HRU: It sounds like fun!

CC: Yeah, whenever you’re having a bad day, it’s therapeutic to make a lot of noise, pound stuff until you break a sweat, then you feel a lot better afterwards.

HRU: How did you get the name Christian Coma? Where did that start?

CC: I was in a previous band where I was going by my real name, and they just started calling me Chris Coma. I don’t know why. Maybe because I love to sleep so much! (laughing) But when I got into Black Veil Brides, it just transferred over. They asked me if I wanted a stage name & I told them my friends were calling me Chris Coma. They said “How about Christian Coma?” I said “That’s fine, I’m not really into religion, why don’t I just go by CC? Make it easier”. I could imagine just signing CC on things, that would be so easy!

HRU: I never thought of that!

CC: Well I messed it up a little. I started signing Coma on things, so now every album cycle, I add something new to my signature. There’s a lot of stuff on Ebay that’s not authentic. And I feel bad because I’ll see a fan got something for Christmas, and they will think it was signed by me, and it’s not my signature. I don’t want people to get ripped off, so now my signature is the most super-extravagant of anyone’s in the band! When we do signings, everyone is waiting on me at this point. But we sign thousands of things, so I’ll add little dots or halos or something. I haven’t thought about what I’ll add this album cycle.

HRU: Maybe take something away?

CC: Yeah, that’s what I’ll do! I’ll modify it.

HRU: Mark Pitts told me you’re a great rapper. He said you make up amazing rhymes on the spot. Tell me about that!

CC: It started at an early age. I’m a fan of different styles of music – dance music, rap, metal, rock. I’ve gotten into some country, because of Ashley. And I used to get drunk & party, and I would rap. I got pretty decent. Once I was with a buddy at a convention in Las Vegas, he had a booth there, and a famous rapper came. He started rapping. I think I was 19 or 20 at the time. And I got on the microphone, and I completely destroyed this guy! I was a skinny little metal kid & he was a multi-millionaire with diamond & gold teeth, big chain around his neck. His manager offered me a record deal on the spot.

HRU: Oh my God, he did?!

CC: Yeah! He said he’d sign me for $50,000. I knew he was trying to take advantage of me. I’m like, I want to be a drummer, I don’t want to rap, so I declined. Now I do it either when I’m hammered, or I’m just bored & want to make people laugh, like when I’m bar-hopping, I’ll rap in Ubers just to crack up the drivers. But I don’t really do it too much anymore.

HRU: Can you make up a rap right now on the spot? Or do you have to be drunk?

CC: (laughing) I have to be drunk, or it has to be dark or something! It’s before lunch, I don’t have much brain fuel yet.

HRU: Haha, that’s ok! What is touring like for you? Some musicians say it’s fun, some say it’s hard….

CC: To be honest, it depends on the tour. Warped Tour is pretty grueling. It’s hot, and you’re crammed in a tour bus. But then it’s great to play for that many fans in a day. Also I make hundreds of friends. It’s like Rock & Roll Summer Camp. So there are positives & negatives to everything. This last tour to South America, I ended up getting a hand injury. It was tendonitis in my left hand, and every time I would play, my hand would get swollen. That wasn’t fun. But traveling all over the world is fun. It really depends on the tour. For example, touring in Europe or Canada or Russia in winter. You can’t spend time with the fans after the show, or you’ll get hypothermia! It’s also hard not being able to eat what you want. I’ll be in England, like “I really want some Taco Bell, or Chipotle!” (laughs). But meeting the fans is exciting. It’s an exciting lifestyle. Every single night is a big rock show. And we’ll get in a zone with our rituals… Jake & Jinxx have their rituals, I’ll start doing some stretches. We’ll get in a zone with our daily routines… but sometimes you have to take a step back & realize that fans have been waiting a long time for that show. Maybe they saved all their birthday money to buy a ticket. I don’t take that for granted. It has its ups & downs, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else but tour, and make music.

HRU: Do you ever forget where you are? Do you wake up & say “What am I in?”

CC: All the time! I’ll wake up & not even know what day it is. But then I think, it doesn’t even matter, tomorrow will be the same! I don’t take it for granted, it’s just the routine. And going back to your previous question – what’s a good thing about being a drummer? I don’t have to know! Andy has to stand up there, and say…

HRU: “Good night, Seattle!”

CC: Exactly! Andy has a great memory. He’ll remember things about the last time we were in that particular city, like if fans got engaged at a show or something.

HRU: Really? They get engaged?

CC: That happens a lot more than you would think! Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where you are, when you’re in the middle of it. But it’s easier if I have friends or family that I have to tell about a show, I’ll have to keep track so I can tell them. But I try to do my best at every show, whether it’s Omaha, Nebraska, or Houston, Texas, I want to give it my best.

HRU: We know you like to joke around & have fun. One of my favorite videos is the one with the remote-controlled toilet. Was that your idea or Jake’s?

CC: I think we were in the UK… Andy & Ashley were off doing press or something, and the rest of us were opening gifts from the fans in our dressing rooms. I got a remote-controlled toilet & I said “This is awesome!” And every day we get stuff served to us at the venues like veggie trays, and deli meats, beer, water, things like that… I said we should pour some beer in the toilet, make it look like urine, ride it around the venue. Jake said he wanted to film it, and I said yeah! The doors just opened for the venue & fans were coming in. I don’t separate myself from the fans, I’m a music fan myself. I think of myself as a regular guy, not like I’m this big rock star or anything. Then I’ll get swarmed & say “Oh shit, I forgot!!” Excuse my language. (laughing) But this time I went out, and no one paid attention. I was driving this little toilet around. People were laughing, and some said “Wait.. is that..? No it can’t be him”. By the time they realized, I was already back in the dressing room. That’s another fun thing about touring, doing stupid things to make ourselves laugh & getting a kick out of it.

HRU: I thought it was so funny that people didn’t even know it was you….

CC: Oh yeah! I was at a doctor’s appointment for my hand the other day, I was in the waiting room with a friend. The friend texted me, “There’s a Black Veil fan in the waiting room”, and she pointed – there was this kid all decked out in Black Veil stuff. I didn’t know if I should say hi or not! I didn’t end up saying anything, but the next day we were driving to a restaurant… we were taking a left & this girl on the street stopped & waved us to go. She had a Black Veil shirt on, and I said “I like your shirt”, and she got it! She was like “Oh my God!”, she started laughing.

HRU: How’s your hand doing now?

CC: It’s doing ok. I’m a little worried about touring, that it’s going to act up, but I’ve been doing stretches, putting heat on it. I haven’t had any pain in a while.

HRU: That’s good!

CC: That’s really good.

HRU: BVB4 is incredible, how did it feel to win the AP Album of the Year?

CC: I didn’t think we were going to win. I’m incredibly honored & humbled by that. I had so much fun recording that album because Bob Rock is an idol of mine. He’s a multi-platinum producer. It was an honor working with him. I have to get a bigger shelf now, I have all the Kerrang Awards, I have to fit the AP award on there…

HRU: Not a bad problem to have!

CC: Not at all! (laughing)

HRU: I knew you were going to win because every song on that album is amazing.

CC: Thank you!

HRU: What are some of your favorite things to do in your downtime?

CC: Usually annoy my dogs (laughing)! And my family – my mom & dad – I try to spend as much time with them as I can. Just take it easy. When I tour, I’m out every night & talking to people, so when I’m home I like to cook, relax & spend time with family. I like to catch up with friends, go out to dinner. I switch back into regular-person mode, as opposed to being the entertainer. I watch Netflix, and hang out with the dogs.

HRU: Jake said the same kind of thing when I asked him this question.

CC: He’s the same way as I am. I see his dogs all the time, and sometimes Jake & I go bowling, or I see Jinxx. Andy has been busy with his solo stuff, so I haven’t seen him as much, but I do hang out with the band.

HRU: CC, thanks for spending all this time with me today. I know your fans will love reading more about you. Best of luck with the new album, and I’ll see you on the next tour!

CC: Thanks so much, pleasure meeting you!

 

 

 

 

 

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL DAD: The Mark Pitts Interview

 

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Being a member of the BVB Army is a family affair. Not only do we get to follow the guys on Twitter, we also get to communicate with their moms, dads, cousins (think Joe Flanders), even their dogs and cats! A couple days before Thanksgiving, Hayley caught up with Rock & Roll Dad Mark Pitts while he was in Sacramento visiting family. Mark opened up about everything from Jake’s childhood, being on the BVB tour bus, watching “Alive and Burning”, and something about CC that made Jake say “Dad, watch THIS.”

HRU: Hi Mark! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.

MP: My pleasure!

HRU: I heard you were just visiting some wine country. How was it?

MP: It was very beautiful. We were in Sonoma in Napa Valley, and it rained a little bit. But then the sun came out, and it was beautiful.          A lot of grapes!

HRU:  Haha! Yes I’m sure there were a LOT of grapes!                         Where are you from originally?

MP: I was born and raised in California, and as a kid growing up, we started going to Idaho for family vacations. Then when I graduated from high school, I moved to Idaho and lived there for a long time. So originally from California, but I consider Idaho my home.

HRU: How did you come to live in Hawaii?

MP: Well my lady Cheryl’s brother, whose house I’m at right now in Sacramento, one day he said to me, “Mark, I bought this condo in Kauai, and I’m going to remodel it, and flip it.” I do construction, so he asked me if I’d like to come there and be involved with the remodeling. I said that sounded good, but I had one question. Where’s Kauai? I had NO idea where Kauai was! (laughing) I ended up spending two weeks there. When Cheryl joined me, we made an offer on another condo, and they accepted it. We lived there for 11 years.

HRU: Wow!!

MP: Then we moved back to Boise recently. Jake’s sister, Sarah, lives in the nearby area, and my grandchildren Aidan and Mika. I have brothers there, Cheryl has family there. Idaho is good!

HRU: When you were in Hawaii a few months ago, Jake came to visit you during his time off. What kinds of things did Jake do?

MP:  He likes to hike, and he went on some pretty intense hikes. He brought his drone with him and flew it around the island a lot. He’s got some YouTube videos up, I don’t know if you’ve seen them….

HRU: I’ve seen them all!

MP: There’s this one waterfall called Wailua Falls and he flew it right over the falls, it was awesome. We hung out and ate sushi a lot. One funny story: I have this acoustic guitar, and Jake was ordering strings for himself online. He asked me if I wanted any, and I said sure. About a week later, I get a box on my doorstep, and there’s 45 sets of guitar strings inside! I thought “OK this will last me a while” (laughing).

HRU: That’s a nice gift! When did you first realize that Jake had this amazing talent on the guitar?

MP: I got him an acoustic guitar for his 10th birthday. He was always around music with me and his mom. He threw it in his closet for three years. Then one day, I came home from work and he said “Dad I want to learn how to play acoustic guitar.” So I showed him some chords, and told him if he was serious about it, I would get him some lessons. He was serious from the time he was 13. I think he heard Enter Sandman from Metallica, and he hasn’t stopped yet! It wasn’t really the song, but the tone, he wanted to recreate it and get it just right. He’s still like that, when he’s recording. He’s a perfectionist. It’s never good enough for him, and that’s a good thing!

HRU: It’s a great thing! I think of his guitar as the 6th member of the band, like a singer, because I always sing along with his guitar solos.

MP: That’s really cool! Wow, I like your t-shirt, by the way. I’ve never seen that one.

HRU: Thank you! Is there any musical background with you and your family?

MP: Yes, my brother Michael is a musician, and songwriter, and he inspired me to learn guitar. Jake’s mom was a musical genius on the piano, so he’s got musical blood in him. He’s taking it to another level though, and I don’t know where it came from. It didn’t come from me!

HRU: What kind of music do you like to listen to?

MP: I like some country, not the twangy stuff, but the modern stuff. Mostly I listen to classic rock like Deep Purple, and Zeppelin. But obviously I like progressive rock bands like Nightwish from the UK, and Dream Theater. When Jake lived with me in Hawaii for about 8 months in 2008, he bought a DVD tutorial by Dream Theater’s guitarist, John Petrucci, because he’s so good. But when I’m putting on the radio, I’m going to listen mostly to hard rock.

HRU: Me too! When did you know Jake was going to be a rock star?

MP: Well JAKE knew he was going to be a rock star. He told all his friends in junior high, and they didn’t believe him. He would come home, do his homework, and practice the guitar for AT LEAST three hours. I think he still continues to practice that much, probably even more now.

HRU: You can tell that he does! What was Jake like as a kid?

MP: He was a typical kid..  quiet and mellow, kind of like he is now. He liked to be in nature, and go camping. When he was little, he collected rocks. We would go for a hike, and he’d have pounds of rocks in his pockets! When we lived in Minnesota, he started his first band, and that’s when he blossomed.

HRU: When I spoke to Jake, he told me about his aquarium, and we know he loves his dogs. Are you animal lover too?

MP: Yes, we’ve always had dogs. When I lived in Hawaii, I had 2 dogs, and one of them was Jake’s, a black lab mix named Shadow. I don’t have one now, but I’ll get another one someday.

HRU: It’s great to watch the videos of Trixy and Ernie, and see their pictures on Instagram…..

MP: He loves those dogs. They bring him such joy, and keep him company.

HRU: I got to meet Trixy on Skype, but then he got Ernie, and I want to meet Ernie. He’s a star!

MP: He’s hilarious! I’ve been to Jake’s apartment a few times since he got Ernie. I’ve walked the dogs with him, and Ernie is hilarious. They are both great dogs.

HRU: Where did you watch the APMAS? I was home, and there was a lot of screaming in my house when they won Album of the Year!

MP: I watched it online. It was fun to see the red carpet, and the interviews. I know Andy was sick that day, he wasn’t feeling well but I thought they killed it. They were awesome. And they deserved it, that’s a great record! I was very proud of all of them.

HRU: I was too! And you got to be at The Wiltern for the taping of “Alive and Burning”. I watch it at least once a week! What was that like?

MP: Well we flew in to see the show with some friends of ours from San Diego. That’s when Jake informed us that they were taping the show. I don’t even think he knew until that day! We got to hang out with everybody backstage, then we got to see sound check, and that was fun. The fire department was there to check out the pyro, make sure it wasn’t too intense, so we got to see those effects before the show, and the balloon drop, and confetti cannon. We got to experience the show with Chris and Amy Biersack, and hang out with them a little. After the show, Cheryl & I got to ride with them to their next show in San Francisco. I had never seen them twice in a row, and both venues were old, had a lot of history, and it was so cool. It was fun being on the bus, and I remember CC getting on, and munching down on anything he could find to eat! (laughing) When you get on the bus, first there is a lobby area… then through another door, there’s bunks… another door, more bunks. So I had the whole front lobby area. It’s an impressive bus, but they live on it, so they need the space.

In later months, I flew to Pomona, and rode the bus with them again to their San Diego show. I think that bus call was really late, like 3:30am. That was a fun night. After all the fans left, we went to get a drink at this little hip-hop bar. There were bartenders rapping, and CC motioned to one of them to give him the microphone, and Jake said, “Dad, watch THIS”. And CC started rapping, just making stuff up, off the cuff, and it was really really good! I wish I had videotaped it because it was a lot of fun. I heard CC won an award way back when for rapping. It was a great night, and Ashley was pretty wound up, happy to see me, and we went to the House of Blues in San Diego. I get to see them as much as I can, not as much as some people. I’ve seen people post online “This is my 30th time seeing BVB!” and I’m like “Lucky you!” (laughing)

HRU: What are your three favorite BVB songs?

MP: I only get to pick three? (smiling)

HRU: Well I WAS going to ask for your ONE favorite song, so…. (laughs)

MP: The first one… Carolyn. Next, The Legacy. And off BVB4… Walk Away. Jake sent me Walk Away before the record came out, I got a sneak preview. I know he’s really proud of that one because of the lead he came up with. He really reached deep inside to pull that one out.

HRU: His work on Walk Away is beautiful! I love it. What’s it like being in touch with BVB fans?

MP: It’s kind of surreal when people say that Jake saved their life…

HRU: I think Jake used that same word in our interview with him. Surreal.

MP. Yeah. It makes me very proud of Jake because he has obviously made a positive impact on people’s lives, and that’s important. I’m not online as much as Chris Biersack, but I love going on and seeing things that people tag me in. Photos, and amazing drawings. There’s a lot of talent out there. I’m so fortunate that I’ll get a picture in the mail, just out of the blue, I’ll get a drawing of Jake, or a nice painting. There’s a fan from Mexico, he calls himself Mini Jake Pitts. He has the long hair like Jake, and I went on his YouTube channel, he is very good on the guitar. His goal is to play onstage with BVB, and Jake, that stuff is really fun.

HRU: How can fans get their fan mail to Jake?

MP: It’s on my Twitter profile @markpittsbvbdad, so anyone can look on there, but it’s Jake Pitts c/o Mark Pitts, 1217 N. 9th Street, Boise ID 83702.

HRU: Thanks Mark! What are you and Jake doing for the holidays?

MP: I just talked to him, and he has a couple different options for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Jinxx is having something, and someone from the band that he’s producing is having something, I think he’ll probably go to both places. I’ll be here in Sacramento with Cheryl’s family, then later in December, I’m going to fly to California, and take the drive with Jake to Idaho for Christmas. We can split the driving, and the dogs can drive us both crazy! (laughing)

HRU: Happy Holidays to you, Jake, and your family! Thanks for giving us fans a little more insight into your life, as well as Jake, and BVB. We really appreciate it, and hope to talk with you again soon!

MP: It was my pleasure. I felt like I already knew you, very comfortable. Hope you have a great holiday.

HRU: Awww!!

**Postscript ~ We had technical difficulties, so thanks again to Mark for his patience and generosity. He is a true gentleman. And thanks for sharing those great home pics with us!

Also we looked up Mini Jake Pitts, his Twitter is @albertonevid and he has BVB guitar solos on his YouTube channel. Check him out by looking up Alberto Nevid.  Best of luck to our fellow Army member, Mini Jake Pitts, you rock!!

 

 

 

 

CHOOSING ALL ~ The JULIET SIMMS INTERVIEW

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On August 2, 2014, just 11 days after she flew from Boston to Cleveland to attend the very first Alternative Press Awards, HayleyRocksU sat down with Juliet Simms, who hosted the red carpet. Juliet’s kind manner and warm smiles were infectious, but in speaking with her, Hayley felt this musician’s strength and drive that has taken her through a bumpy road in the music business, only to arrive stronger for the journey.

Her loyal fans have always followed her, but Juliet was following them right back, in her decision to fan-fund a new EP, and give the Snakeys what they were waiting for. Authentic Juliet.  She was supposed to spend the whole day in the recording studio before her interview with Hayley, but as she sang in Lost It All, “We all fall down sometimes.” Juliet had the flu.

She said she tries to stay healthy by living clean – no drinking, no smoking, eating healthy, and practicing yoga – but doing it all takes its toll. She appeared on Skype with Hayley wrapped in her sweatshirt, big butterfly lashes peeking from the hood, and you would think she was just getting comfy, not looking sick in the least. Radiating warmth through the screen, Juliet gave thoughtful answers mixed with soft giggles and shrugs. She leaves you feeling like you’re her new BFF. She listens, and she shares. Her new EP is titled “All or Nothing”. Lucky for us, Juliet chooses ALL.

HRU: Hi Juliet! Thanks for taking the time for this interview!

J: You’re welcome! And you’re wearing my shirt – yay! Is your hair pink?

HRU: Yes it is! It has faded a little.

J: I don’t know if you can see, but there’s some purple/violet in mine!

HRU: I can see it, and I love it! How did it feel to host the red carpet?

J: I felt like I was doing something monumental, and being a part of history.

HRU: What was your favorite thing about being there?

J: Getting to meet Joan Jett, Slash, Joe Perry, and Laura Jane Grace from Against Me.

HRU: How did the job come about? Did someone contact you?

J: Yes, Kevin Lyman, creator of Warped Tour, he had a conversation with Mike Shea, the CEO of Alternative Press, and they contacted me.

HRU: What did you do after the show? Were there any parties?

J: There were PLENTY of parties. But unfortunately, we had to get up early in the morning. Andy had to go back to recording, and I had to fly to Nashville. But we did get together with some of our friends from The Misfits, and All Time Low.

HRU: How does it feel to be funded 100% now with “All or Nothing”?

J: Well, I always had a record deal before. I always had a label, so it was a bit scary. But I feel safe, I can breathe easy now.

HRU: It’s wonderful that you are offering your time in return for pledges. What is it like to be in touch with your fans?

J: (smiles) It feels like I’m starting one BIG family!

HRU: Where are you in the recording process?

J: We have all the drums, all the keys, and all the guitars. I’m starting vocals on Monday, then one more week and it’s finished!

HRU: How would you describe the sound of this new EP?

J: There are a lot of female rock influences, but also influences like The Rolling Stones, and 90’s bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters.

HRU: For many celebrities, being famous puts a burden on their relationships. But you and Andy Biersack seem to thrive in the public eye. How do you make it work?

J: We communicate, a LOT. We don’t keep ANY secrets, and don’t do anything we couldn’t tell the other person. There’s a lot of trust. We have our own separate lives too. We’re not perfect, but we DON’T put our private lives on social media. We keep our relationship really strong.

HRU: Now I’d like to ask about your babies – Femme and Crow. How did you get them?

J: (beaming) It was me & Andy’s second anniversary, and he asked me “What do you want?” I said I wanted a kitty! I wanted a black cat, and we went to a shelter to rescue a cat. We were looking, and I saw these two little puffballs. I couldn’t separate them, so I was like “Can I get two?” (giggling)

HRU: My favorite YouTube video is where you make them dance to Jingle Bell Rock. Will you make another one?

J: I think it’s going to have to be a tradition now.

HRU: Do you give them Christmas gifts?

J: We do! We gave them some salmon, and some milk, and catnip. Once we got them cute little outfits.

HRU: That’s so cute! Where do they stay when you and Andy travel?

J: We are lucky in that we have good friends in LA who come and feed them. They switch off taking care of them.

HRU: I’m wearing one of my favorite bracelets from Never Take It Off. How has the company evolved since you and your brother first started it?

J: (smile) Well I just started to give people some message of hope, and it turned into a whole movement! I’m seeing them all over the place. I just saw some people wearing some of the bracelets at Warped Tour, and I was so happy! It has evolved into a message of REAL hope, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

HRU: What are some of your favorite pieces?

J: My favorite pieces, hmmm. Dragonfly, Paper Airplanes… oh Coffin! I LOVE Coffin. And Take My Still Beating Heart of course (blushes)… because it’s Andy’s.

HRU: I encourage EVERYONE to check out http://www.NeverTakeItOff.com !!

J: You are so sweet!

HRU: Many people know you from The Voice, and you just hosted the red carpet on AXS-TV, do you see yourself on television again in the future?

J: Well I mean, I’m not running off to do another reality show right now, haha! But if the opportunity presents itself, and if it’s something that I want to do, it would have to be really right for where I am in my life.

HRU: I always love to see what you are wearing. How did you develop your style?

J: I have been into fashion since I was really little, since I was a baby! I just posted online a baby picture of me, and I’m wearing a little beanie and some necklaces. When I was four years old, I would dress up in my grandmother’s clothing (smiles). But I think my style has been from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s… it’s all about wearing something I like with confidence.

HRU: Juliet, it’s been SO great getting to know you. Thanks again for your time, and I hope we can meet in person someday! But until then, best of luck with your EP. I can’t wait to hear it!

J: Thank you! (blows kisses)

After the interview, Juliet gave Hayley two generous gifts, the first was a Hello message from Andy (made her cry)…           The second was just one sentence. Five words. And though we’re sure they are meant for every Juliet fan, every member of the BVB Army, it was beyond special to hear them spoken directly to her.                                                                               Five words ~ “You’re in our lives now.”

Postscript: Hayley DID get to meet Juliet one year later at this summer’s 2015 Warped Tour, and thanks to Juliet for tweeting this great pic!

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STARS Down to Earth: THE BRYANSTARS INTERVIEW

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“You don’t have to fit in to be happy.”
– BryanStars

His name may be Stars, but he’s the nicest, most down-to-earth guy you’ll ever meet. And as we say in Boston, he’s “wicked FUNNY (but you probably knew that). If you’re a fan of bands like Black Veil Brides, Sleeping With Sirens, Of Mice and Men to name a few, then chances are you’re one of the millions who has watched a BryanStars YouTube video.
He’s used to being on the other side of the microphone, but on the evening of February 18th, after being up since 4am and with his dinner waiting, Bryan graciously sat down with HayleyRocksU & opened up about things like his school days, Johnny Guilbert, Andy Biersack, Warped Tour, and the one thing he can’t live without.

HRU: Hi Bryan, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with me!

BRY: Thank you for interviewing me!

HRU: How did the Jacky Vincent interview go?

BRY: It went really good! Jacky is someone that fans have been wanting me to interview. It was really cool because for a lot of people I want on the show, I have to go out and make it happen. But he came up to me at Warped Tour, and asked to be on the show. He said “Fans have been wanting me to do this interview, can we do this?” I can’t thanks fans enough for being so supportive and pursuing band members they want to be on the show. It went really well. I always try to make my next interview better than the last one. That’s tricky because I’ve done so many. My biggest fear is putting out a video that doesn’t live up to fan expectations. So far I think I’ve been able to live up to the magic.

HRU: Well I love them! I watch every one.

BRY: Thank you SO much, Hayley. That’s so sweet!

HRU: You have every rock fan’s dream job. How did you start interviewing bands and artists?

BRY: I was 18 years old and taking journalism at the University of Nebraska. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do… but I knew I wanted to be involved in television in some way. I got an internship at the local television station, and originally they had me going to these really weird events, covering Corn Festivals, things you would only do in Nebraska. Then I pitched to them, “Hey I should cover concerts! That’s something kids are into..” So I started going to concerts and I had access, so I got to interview bands like Slipknot, I did the Nickelback tour, the American Idols tour… sometimes there were five bands and I could only interview two or three, so smaller bands would  say “Can we be on the show too?” I wasn’t a name, people didn’t know who I was. So it was weird, I was this 18 year old kid, and all these bands wanted to be on the show! I started posting the videos to YouTube and early on, it was hard to get people to watch the videos, but over time I was able to build a following. Eventually I realized I wanted to go after bands that kids liked, not adults. I went after bands like Black Veil Brides, All Time Low, and Escape the Fate. I realized those bands were a lot more fun to interview! Then the ads on my videos started making enough money, I thought “This could be something!” I dropped out of college and went all out with it. The rest is history!

HRU: You were born in Japan, and moved to Nebraska. That’s quite a move! What was that like?

BRY: In Japan, I was very popular. I was there until I was eight years old. I was the American kid, and I stood out. I was very outgoing, and very social. Then I moved to America. Growing up in Japan, I didn’t know American television shows, or American culture. I didn’t know how to fit in as an American, and I became “weird”. I dressed weird, I talked weird. Because of that, I started to get bullied. From eight years old, and it continued on into high school. Then I went to college, and I became a YouTuber. I started to stand out again, and people liked that I was different. I’ve been different in some way my whole life. I never did what everyone was supposed to do. I never blended in with the crowd. You don’t have to fit in to be happy. Growing up in Japan taught me that, and it was a good lesson to learn.

HRU: Last night on Facebook you posted the interview that started it all. You first interviewed Andy Biersack when he was still Andy Sixx. Were you a Black Veil Brides fan before that interview?

BRY: I’ll be straight up, I wasn’t a Black Veil Brides fan when I interviewed them. Actually, I didn’t really know who they were! I was really listening to what fans were saying and a lot of comments requested a BVB interview. The day they were in town, another band was playing that same day. I interviewed Motionless In White that day, and they were the opener for BVB, nobody knew who they were. Black Veil Brides was playing to about 100 kids.. and Motionless In White were walking around, nobody cared! So I interviewed them, then I came back to do Black Veil Brides. I had NO idea what I was getting into (laughing), it went viral. That night I became a BVB fan. There was something about that interview with Andy… we connected. We didn’t become best friends, but there was a mutual respect. He was trying to make it. He was a good guy. And I think he saw the same thing in me – I was young, I was trying to do my thing. A friendship was born, and it grew from there.

HRU: I missed meeting you at the Alternative Press Music Awards. It was an amazing night for me! What was it like for you?

BRY: They were awesome! It was in the middle of Warped Tour and there were back to back shows. Everyone was exhausted, but it was a lot of fun. I was on the red carpet, and I interviewed about 30 bands in a row. I’ve only posted about five, I’ve been really bad with that.. (laughs).. but I interviewed Andy, I interviewed All Time Low and the audio didn’t work, that sucked, things go wrong. But the coolest part for me was seeing everyone I worked with – Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, Suicide Silence – all in one place, and I got to be sidestage. Also seeing superstars like Mark Hoppus from Blink 182, and Fall Out Boy. Literally everyone from this genre of music was there. I stood back like “I’m a part of this”. Also being five feet away from Hayley Williams (smiles). I’ve never met her, but she reblogged me once on Tumblr so I fangirled.

HRU: What was the first album you heard that made you love rock music?

BRY: People might not expect this, but I was a big Disturbed fan. When I was younger, going through that awkward phase when you try to figure out who you are, I loved Disturbed. My first concert ever was a Disturbed concert. I remember thinking “I want to know ALL their songs” so I went back and learned them all. If there was an opening act, I wanted to know all their songs too. I also loved a band called Flyleaf, not sure if you know them…

HRU: No, I’ve never heard of them…

BRY: Oh you should check them out, they’re amazing! They’re like an old-school Sleeping With Sirens-type band. This whole genre has been around for so long…

HRU: I know, I love it! How did you meet Johnnie Guilbert?

BRY: Interesting question! Johnnie was my merch guy for the last BryanStars tour I did. I followed him on Twitter, and we became friends. He was very bold. He texted me and asked me to be my merch guy, and I said “If you can get your mom to agree to it..” because he was 16 at the time, I said “Yeah you can do it.” His mom agreed, and he had to sign all these forms saying if he fell into a fire, or got hit by a truck, it wasn’t my fault. I was riding with a band called Modern Day Escape, and he was part of the family, we all watched out for him. Me, Johnnie and Sandra Alva from Black Veil Brides, we all became best friends. Basically I became his big brother. After the tour, he was living in San Jose, and he would come visit me in Nebraska, because we became so close. Six months ago, we decided to move to L.A. and do this full time… we started My Digital Escape. He’s like my little brother, but he’s probably bigger than I am now which sucks, because who wants their little brother to be bigger than them? (laughing)

HRU: How did you start the BryanStars Tours?

BRY: Late Nite Reading was a band that I interviewed. They came to my apartment, and I became friends with them. They were doing a little tour, and they asked me to go on tour with them. I guess I was like you, Hayley, watching other people and saying “Hey I want to do that”. So I said I would go, and they were like “Hey if you’re bigger than we are, why don’t we just call it the BryanStars tour?” I said “That sounds good, we should definitely name it after me!” (laughs) Then they got me hooked. They said “Well if it’s the BryanStars tour, it shouldn’t be seven days, it should be two weeks” then it turned into a month. So it started with me tagging along, then it turned into four bands, meet and greet, selling merch. We didn’t know if anyone would show up, but it wound up being massive. The second one was even bigger, and the third one was even bigger. Then I got on Warped Tour. Sometimes you have to just follow your heart, and you never know what’s going to happen.

HRU: What’s one thing you can’t live without?

BRY: One thing I can’t live without… (looks offscreen) oh wait, I ordered a pizza!

HRU: OK go ahead!

BRY: (goes to pay the pizza delivery man)

HRU: I had pizza tonight too, it’s pizza night. What kind did you get?

BRY: Pepperoni. Johnnie would have got something vegetarian, but I can’t bring myself to do it. You’re doing a great job, by the way. You’re representing the shirt well. (she’s wearing a BryanStars tee)

HRU: Thanks Bryan! So the one thing you can’t live without… pizza?

BRY: (laughs) This is going to make me sound pathetic, but I am addicted to Coke Zero. Some people love coffee, I’ve always loved Coke. When I was in middle school, I got a little chunky. My parents switched me to diet pop. I actually don’t like the taste of regular pop. I love Coke Zero, I drink it nonstop. It’s like my weird addiction.

HRU: If you had to do something else for a living, what would it be?

BRY: I feel like one of the reasons I’m successful at my job is that I’m good at connecting with young people. When I was younger, I worked at an after-school program. I feel I would have made a good teacher. I was a camp counselor when I was 14. I like working with young people. I have a fun personality, and I like to good off. I’m not a super-serious person. Obviously I couldn’t tell as many inappropriate jokes as a teacher (laughs)  but I feel I would like helping kids figure out what to do with their lives. I think kids would be excited for my class. I didn’t like most of my teachers. I had two or three who I felt really wanted to talk to me, and that’s what I would be like as a teacher if I wasn’t doing this.

HRU: What’s one of the funniest things someone said to you in an interview?

BRY: That’s a tough one. This is what I do to people, ask them on-the-spot questions. I can think of something funny that happened. One time I was interviewing Deefizzy at Disneyland. We snuck in, I don’t know how we got in. We were in the VIP area with the high-paying guests, and we didn’t even pay. We were in the lobby doing this ridiculous interview, and I was asking questions like “What’s your porn star name?”  and “What’s your favorite sexual position?” And parents with their toddlers are walking by, and security kept walking by like “Why does that guy have a camera?” and “Why is that guy humping the floor?” At one point we were playing charades, and Damon was a British heiress, and I was calling him a “fat b*&ch”. It was the weirdest situation.

HRU: We have some fan questions for you from Facebook! Maddie Knight wants to know – When will you be bringing the BryanStars tour to the UK?

BRY: I really want to visit the UK. Whether it’s with Warped Tour, the BryansStars tour, or My Digital Escape. Honestly, going overseas is so expensive, to bring a whole tour over there. But I feel like it can happen with all the connections I’ve made. One way or another, I’m determined to meet not just the UK but my whole European audience!

HRU: Alexandria Rae wants to know – What’s it like to meet all these different bands and become friends with them?

BRY: It’s amazing. I only have five or six close friends, but I have hundreds of contacts all over the world. I’m very lucky because I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people and learn from them. I feel like so many people are isolated, and I get to meet influential people from all over the world, and like you said, become friends with them! I’m such a different person from when this all started four years ago. I’m blessed because this all has helped me figure out who I am, and who I want to be. Maybe I shouldn’t say “blessed”, it sounds like a Justin Bieber quote.

HRU: Sharon O’Neal Bliss wants to know – What did you do differently with your hair? It looks very nice!

BRY: Johnnie taught me how to use his hair straightener. Normally I would cut my hair after a certain point, because it would get very frizzy, and make me look like I was 45 years old. But I’ve always wanted to have longer hair. So now that I know how to use the straightener, I’m experimenting with it. I know it’s probably not the way it should be done, but I don’t think it looks terrible…

HRU: No it looks great!

BRY: Thank you! I just needed someone to push me…

HRU: So it was Johnnie, he did it.

BRY: Yes, Johnnie did it.

HRU: And the last one, Sondra Branson wants to know – What is it like to be the most awesome Bryan of all the Stars?

BRY: My favorite thing about my life is that people are always sending me positive messages. They tell me how much they appreciate me, and I can’t tell you how much that keeps me going. I go through a lot of stuff that I can’t share publicly. I have to hide a lot of it because I’m a public figure. You can’t just go on Twitter and rant about things like everyone else does. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing like knowing you’re supported by people all over the world. I’m very grateful.

HRU: I just got my tickets for Warped Tour this summer. Is it exciting to have the scoop on the new bands and have everyone waiting for you to announce them?

BRY: Yes! To me, Warped Tour is the pinnacle of this genre. To be in the position to know the lineup and be the one announcing it is a huge honor. I respect Kevin Lyman so much, and the fact that he gave me this opportunity and believes in me, it means the world to me. And I know how many kids look forward to Warped Tour all summer, and the impact it has on kids’ lives, so there’s nothing I support more than Warped Tour. I believed in this tour way before I got involved with it.

HRU: Do you have band posters in your apartment and which ones?

BRY: I do! I have an All Time Low poster up. I used to have more, but Johnnie and I just moved into a more modern apartment, and I’m trying to figure out what to hang up. In my old apartment, I had a Black Veil Brides poster, and an Asking Alexandria poster. Maybe in the comments on this, people should tell me what I should hang up now!

HRU: If you could be stranded on a desert island with one band, who would it be?

BRY: It would probably be All Time Low because they are my favorite band. They are the one band I haven’t had a chance to “bro” down with, and the only band I kind of fangirl over. They actually get me acting  weird.. which is weird to say! If I was stranded on a desert island, I think I would be pissed off, then I’d start to be more myself and appreciate their humor. I feel like I’m more myself when I’m a little pissed off. Then my sense of humor comes out. I’m not mad at people, I’m mad at the situation. But I feel like All Time Low is really funny when they’re a little frustrated. So me and All Time Low, stranded on an island, pissed off – it would make for a funny situation.

HRU: Who has influenced you the most in your life?

BRY: Definitely my parents. Me and my dad talk all the time. He’s one of the kindest and wisest people I know. I really respect him a lot. When I think about the kind of person I want to be, I think of my dad. And my mom is very empathetic. Once she ran over a turtle by accident, went back to get it, and went 30 miles out of her way to take it to a veterinary hospital. I have very loving parents. Unless your parents are abusive or something.. they play a very big role in your life, and some kids take for granted that they are always looking out for you.

HRU: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a famous YouTuber?

BRY: School. I would say try to find a video editing class, or Photoshop class. Find classes that will strengthen your skills to help you be a better YouTuber. Even English class.. I have to write things all the time, and English class helped me. Kids might not realize they need that English class to help them write that email to set up that band interview. You don’t want to sound bad when you’re asking for that All Time Low interview! You have to know how to write a business email. If some kid asks me for a favor, and it sounds professional as opposed to a text message, it goes a long way. Pay attention in school.

HRU: What’s something you haven’t done in your career that you would like to do?

BRY: Well there’s the cliche answer “Interview bigger bands….” Lately I’ve been wanting to do things outside of BryanStars. I’d like to do an album, a lot of people know I can sing. I’d like to do some acting, I have acted in skits. For a while I’ve been doing what I think people want to see, but now I’m at the point where I can do what I want to do. Not that I haven’t been doing what I want, but I want to say “Maybe today I’ll do a skit” or “Maybe today I’ll sing”. It would be cool to have a TV show.

HRU: I would watch it!

BRY: Thank you! It could be something like American Idol, or a sitcom, or doing a show like Ellen. Doing a YouTube show is hard, you have to do all the editing, all the writing. It would be cool to have a team, and be around other human beings instead of doing it out of my office, by myself.

HRU: You’re usually the one asking the questions. How does it feel to be interviewed?

BRY: It’s nice, it makes you feel important. And I feel like the other person is kind of like I was, 5 or 6 years ago. I wish I could do more, I’m always balancing a bunch of projects. But I enjoy the experience and do them as often as I can. You’re doing a terrific job.

HRU: Thank you! Down to the last question, a silly one. Will you sing Turkamayne with me?

BRY: Alright! Let’s do it!

HRU & BRY: Turkamayne ain’t got no hands, so put them nubs up in the air, and turk, and turk, and turk…..

HRU: Bryan, thanks so much! Best of luck in the future, I’ll be watching!

And Bryan had to put on his interviewer hat, just for a minute…

BRY: You’re welcome, Hayley. How old are you?

HRU:  I’m 19.

BRY: Are you in college?

HRU: Next year I will be.

BRY: What are you going to major in?

HRU: Child care.

BRY: Awesome! So you’re going to do what I was maybe going to do. I can see you’d be good with kids, you have that kind, empathetic side. I see stories in the news about teachers bullying kids, we need more people like you with kids.

HRU: Thank you! You’re my favorite YouTuber of all time! I really do watch ALL your videos….

Now who’s fangirling.

THE BLASKO INTERVIEW: Music, Management & Andy’s 2 B’s – BVB & Black

A handful of rock musicians are known by one name. Ozzy. Slash. Flea.

BLASKO – Born Rob Nicholson, the name Blasko means different things to different people. To Rob Zombie fans, he was the bass guitarist. To Ozzy fans, he still is the guitarist. To BVB fans, he’s the man behind the band. The man of many hats – producer, manager, and shaper of BVB since back in the Sandra days with We Stitch These Wounds to today’s BVB4. As President & co-founder of Mercenary Management – whose roster boasts acts like Butcher Babies, Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society, and of course BVB – Blasko’s career is in full swing, and the stuff of which legends are made. In his own words, he has “earned his stripes”, and while busy managing, he still keeps in touch with his musician roots playing for Ozzy, and Zakk Sabbath, a Black Sabbath cover band consisting of Zakk Wylde, John Tempesta from The Cult, and himself. But Black Veil Brides has been very much Blasko’s focus for years, and his respect for the band and the fans, as you’ll read, will make BVB Army members proud. Hayley sat down with this super-chill, creative, articulate man just eight weeks after BVB’s new self-titled fourth album to talk about everything from Blasko’s beginning in rock music, management, that first conversation with Andy, and his 2 B’s – BVB and Black.

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HRU: Hi Blasko! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.

BLASKO:  No problem!

HRU: How did your show go on Saturday night with Zakk Sabbath?

BLASKO: It went great! There’s a bunch of friends of ours and they used to have this thing called Camp Freddy and now it’s called Royal Machines. It’s Dave Navarro, Billy Morrison from Billy Idol’s band and a few other guys – and it’s a mash-up of different singers. Fred Durst will come out and sing, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top will sing, and a bunch of different people, that’s the vibe. And they let us open up.

HRU: I saw this was the first US show. Have you done it in other countries?

BLASKO: We’ve done it all over Europe, but that’s part of a different tour. There’s the Metal All-Stars, it’s sort of the same thing. It came out of an organic thing from that. We’ve done it in South America & Europe.

HRU: How do you find time to manage & play out? Do you like to be busy?

BLASKO: Of course! But this was a Saturday night, a couple hours, it wasn’t too conflicting with everything else going on.

HRU: And you still play with Ozzy right?

BLASKO: Yes, but there was only one show this year. There are only 4 shows next year. Not a whole lot.

HRU: I looked at your roster with Mercenary, and there’s quite a lot… Butcher Babies, Zakk Wylde, Goatwhore…

BLASKO: Goatwhore, I don’t do them, my partner manages them, but I do pretty much everything else.

HRU: And BVB, the new record! It’s played in my house every day…

BLASKO: Of course!

HRU: The new videos, the tours… Heart of Fire is in the Top Ten on the Billboard rock chart. How’s it all going? It seems like it’s going great!

BLASKO: It is going great. You do all this work to put the record out, then it’s gonna do what it’s gonna do. We’re already looking to what the next play is, which is the Live DVD filmed at the LA Wiltern show. The record’s out, and now we’re focused on the DVD and doing all the marketing for that.

HRU: I can’t believe it’s only been out for eight weeks! Maybe because we play it every day, it seems like it’s been around forever…

BLASKO: And there was such a big pre-order, the anticipation was there. We released the single, it does tend to go by pretty fast!

HRU: Did you expect it to be in the Top Ten in eight weeks?

BLASKO: I had no reason to think it wouldn’t do well. It just got voted Album of the Year in Rock Sound, Album of the Year in Kerrang, that’s all exceeding expectations. Not to say we shouldn’t have gotten it, but it hasn’t happened before. It’s always nice when, four records in, you can continue to hit another level, as opposed to just tapering off.

HRU: Curious who first called you Blasko? How did that name start?

BLASKO: It derived from when I started playing with Rob Zombie. My name is Rob.. his name is Rob, it was confusing, and it was the nickname kind of era. The origin is that I’m a big Dracula & Bella Lugosi fan, and his real last name is Blasko. So that’s where that came from.

HRU: What initially drew you to heavy metal/alternative rock music?

BLASKO: It was the KISS “Destroyer” album. I made my parents buy that for me. I was younger than 10 years old, and that’s what started me down the path. I never looked back.

HRU: You’ve been a musician since high school. What made you want to play bass?

BLASKO: Out of necessity. The whole point of learning an instrument is to play in a band. When I was growing up, there were a lot of drummers and guitar players. There were no bass players. I initially wanted to be a drummer. I thought it would be fun to bash on stuff (smiles), but that became impractical, so out of necessity I picked bass so I could join a band where I lived.

HRU: You played with Rob Zombie, the Death Riders and guitarist Johnny Coffin, and manage BVB who sings songs like In The End, and Drag Me To The Grave. Why do you think death is such a big theme with heavy metal and rock?

BLASKO: It’s focused on the opposite of what’s popular. Popular music is focused on what’s happy and safe, smiles and rainbows. Heavy metal and rock is the antithesis, and focuses on darker subject matters.

HRU: Playing with Ozzy now for over 10 years, how has the Ozzy experience been different from other bands you’ve played with?

BLASKO: The Ozzy experience is the biggest situation, and that makes it different. He’s one of the biggest artists in rock, and it’s an honor to be able to play his songs. Just the general “epic-ness” of it is the difference!

HRU: Some musicians feel that being on the road is difficult, and some say it’s fun. What is your experience?

BLASKO: I’m lucky that I’m in a very large band, and our accommodations are very casual. But it didn’t start that way. I started living in a van with my friends, but I was a kid then. It was fun, you’re young and living with your friends, you’re just doing it. Now I’m 45, I don’t think I’d live in a van and sleep on floors. I’m very happy with the five-star hotels, and the private planes (laughing). But it’s not for everyone. That’s why you see bands breaking up shortly after getting together, because the perception is romantic and the reality is different for a lot of people. It’s real life. People have relationships, and house payments, and things that tie them to their foundation. It’s difficult to be living on the road and have that foundation unless what you’re doing on a tour is financially viable.

HRU: How did you first get into music management?

BLASKO: Almost ten years ago, me and my buddy John had an idea. He works for Ozzy on the business side, and we were like “hey look, we’re both playing for the boss, and someday he’s going to retire. We should start something now so we don’t have to scramble later.” It was logical, based on my experience and contacts, and it would be something fun to do. It took a couple years, you’re not going to get a huge artist right off the bat. In This Moment was one of the first bands I had, and they helped grow the company. Then I was able to find Black Veil Brides, and they helped elevate us to another level. Ten years later, here we are. It’s a business, and I don’t have to serve cheeseburgers and fries!

HRU: Does being a musician first help you to be a better manager?

BLASKO: There’s so many places to start. A lot of managers have been with record labels or promoters. Then there’s a few of us who have been musician first. Does it help a basketball coach if he was a player beforehand? Sure! But a lot of coaches weren’t. There’s something about knowing the in’s and outs of what it’s like to be in a band that’s beneficial because I can understand how the musician brain works. Musicians and artists are cut from a different cloth. The business mind and the musician mind don’t always go together. For me, it’s beneficial because I understand the business AND the musician mind.

HRU: How would you describe your style as a manager?

BLASKO: I take it seriously. Starting off in this business, it’s very competitive. Some people start managing because they think it’s easy. They don’t understand what it actually takes to do it. I had to overcome a lot of obstacles and I still struggle to be taken seriously, believe it or not. But it’s a challenge that I’m up for. Having success with the Black Veil Brides definitely helps. For instance someone will say “oh that’s cute, the bass player wants to manage bands” but I built it up. One year I had an In This Moment record, and a Black Veil Brides record debut in the Top 40, that was a good year. And I did all that while being on tour. You have to earn your stripes, just like anything else. I didn’t start playing bass in Ozzy’s band, it took me twenty years to get there!

HRU: We think your career is legendary!

BLASKO: Thank you!

HRU: When a new band is starting out in their career, what should they look for in a good manager?

BLASKO: Typically a manager finds a good band. A lot of times the mistake is that a band will think they’ve reached the point of stagnation earlier than they have. Most bands think they need a manager to elevate them, but look at Black Veil Brides. They got a manager when they absolutely needed one. They had already had millions of views on YouTube, they already made a video, they already booked shows on small tours. There was already a record deal. They already built the foundation, and then someone like me comes in to take them to another level. But a lot of bands want to bypass that initial stage, and that’s a mistake. It was Andy’s idea to make that video (Knives and Pens), and make that demo. That was all him. I didn’t tell him what video to make. That has to start from the vision of the artist. I came in when it started to move faster than they could control.

HRU: What was it about that first conversation with Andy that made you want to manage BVB?

BLASKO: I was sharing office space with a booking agency, and they said “we just booked a band, and you should meet them for management”. So that’s how the introduction happened, I called them to come in. And I believe that on his way there, Andy’s car broke down….

HRU: Yeah didn’t it catch on fire?

BLASKO: (laughing) It caught on fire, and we immediately bonded because whenever I was in a band and about to go on tour, I would drive my car somewhere and it would break down in the parking lot. Once I left my car in a bank parking lot, and I haven’t seen it since. I ended up going on tour and I was ok with it. But Andy came in first, we laughed and chatted, and told stories. Then he brought the band in a couple days later, and we just kind of rolled, right away.

HRU: What was it like producing their first studio album, We Stitch These Wounds?

BLASKO: I wanted me and Andy to maintain control. I didn’t want a third person coming in and getting their hands on the music, potentially saying they did more than they did. Instinctively, I knew this was a band that was going to be very large. I wanted to keep the foundation we built, it was out of necessity.

HRU: Good instincts! How do you think BVB has evolved over the past five years?

BLASKO: We took the approach of the bands in the 70’s who would put out a lot of music in a short amount of time. We structured ourselves that way. Keep in mind this is a band that has been around five years, and has put out four albums, an EP, a movie, a DVD on the way… but if you include the first demo, that’s eight things in five years. We wanted to roll. We wanted to make a record.. go on a world tour.. make a record.. go on a world tour. We want to continue a rhythm, and that’s what we’re doing, and it’s worked. They have made the album of their career at this point. It’s a very defining record for them, it feels good, the band is bigger than ever. We’re selling more records, and tickets, and t-shirts. When we break it down and look at the 500 million YouTube views, one million records sold, it makes everything feel good. You move so fast you don’t know how much you’re doing, then you look at it and say “wow we’ve done a lot, it feels like we’ve been around for twenty years!”.

HRU: What’s one of the best things about BVB as a band?

BLASKO: Their commitment and determination. Sometimes you get people who are half-in, and half-committed to what it takes to get there. Like I said, judging by the content of what they’ve done, they aren’t taking a break. They’re doing what it takes. That’s something you don’t see very often. I very much respect that.

HRU: We see a commitment to the fans!

BLASKO: There’s a lot of that too, and it’s reciprocated. You see all the awards we have – four Kerrangs, and three Golden Gods, countless magazine covers – and that’s because of the fans. I’ve NEVER seen a fan base like this before. It’s insane. Big bands have to be scratching their heads like “we have fans, but we don’t have fans like THIS”.

HRU: When I spoke with Andy, we talked about his project as Andy Black. He said his goal is to make a solo album. What are your goals for Andy Black?

BLASKO: That started as something fun. We thought we could fragment and try different things, go back and forth. There’s a lot of examples of that, certainly from bands I’ve played in. Danzig was spawned out of The Misfits. Ozzy Osbourne was spawned out of Black Sabbath. For me, it was a logical suggestion of something to try. We didn’t have any expectations. Andy is a musician, sometimes the music is appropriate for Black Veil Brides, sometimes it isn’t. So we had him write a couple songs, and we made a video. The label liked it, the fans liked it. It was our experiment, and now we plan on making a full record. But right now we’re very focused on Black Veil Brides, and the DVD, and the 2015 year of touring. When that settles down, we’ll focus on him making a record, and we’ll roll into that. But we want both things to co-exist. Black Veil Brides has a busy year coming up, a lot of festivals. We just announced Monsters of Rock. That’s a cool thing because that will be the first time I’ll be on a show with them (with Ozzy), on the same stage, on the same day in South America.

HRU: Andy Black is more pop, do you listen to any pop music?

BLASKO: Not on purpose (laughter)! Pop music tends to get into everyone’s lives, whether they want it to or not. But I do like the Black Eyed Peas. I’ll put something on a playlist, and I’ll just laugh when it pops up, it’s funny because I’ll go from a Black Sabbath song, to a Slayer song, to Fergie. I certainly respect the music, but I’m more of a guitar-driven guy in terms of what I listen to.

HRU: Who is the newest band that you’ve recently started listening to?

BLASKO: There’s a band called The Shrine. They’re out of Venice, California and they’ve been around for a little bit. But they just put up a video that’s pretty funny, I think I saw it on one of the metal blogs, not sure. So I watched the video, and I was like “how did I miss the boat on these guys?” and I found the record on Spotify. And that just happened like last week, it’s very recent. So The Shrine, from Venice California.

HRU: It has been a pleasure listening to you today, Blasko. Thanks for letting us into your world. Best of luck and continued success, and I hope we can meet again in the future. With so much on the horizon, I know you’ll have plenty of great things to talk about!

Past, Present & Future ~ THE ANDY BIERSACK INTERVIEW

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She knew she was going to talk with him, and that was enough. But when he said he was giving her an exclusive from the studio, she was overwhelmed. No one has interviewed a member of BVB in the midst of a recording session. Her heart was already fluttering, but her hands started to as well. Tears came but then,

“Don’t cry, Hayley,” he said. And that voice she has heard so many times, it calmed her. She wiped her eyes, steadied her hands, and began her questions.

As BVBMomRobin, I usually preface these interviews with a backstory. But this man with the boyish grin needs no introduction. If you’re reading this, you just know. He began by calling his band Biersack. And though the Black Veil Brides would not be the amazing band it is today without Ashley, Jake, Jinxx and CC… Today it’s all about Andy. 

HRU: Hi Andy! I know you’re really busy so I appreciate you taking the time for this interview.

AB: Of course! I’m very happy to be here!

HRU:  At the AP Awards, I was very happy to see you win the Most Dedicated Fans Award. With the 4th album, the new tour, and your Andy Black solo project, how do you plan to keep that close connection with your fans?

AB: You know it’s always difficult to determine how much contact you’ll have with every single fan, especially the bigger your band gets. That’s one of the Catch-22s of being in a band. You rely on your fans for any kind of success, but ultimately the more success you get, the more difficult it becomes to have a personal relationship with all your fans. We try our best to be as available as possible. We’re not any kind of special gods or anything (laughs) We have a responsibility to give our audience a good show, to be rested, so that every single night we give each audience the same level of energy and give our best. Moving forward, we will do what we’ve always done, and that’s to be open and honest with our fan base. We owe them so much for the success we have in the first place. Continuing a level of appreciation for our fans is the most important thing.

HRU: You & I have something in common. We both have parents who support our interest in rock & roll. I see kids on Twitter saying their parents won’t let them go to concerts. What is your advice to someone who doesn’t have that support from their parents?

AB: Well I don’t know if I could necessarily give advice to a young kid… but if they don’t have support, I wouldn’t question the kids, I would question the parents. I don’t have children, but I would assume that a good parent would teach their child to understand the difference between show business and reality. That rock & roll has been around for a long time, and that it’s about fun, and childhood rebellion, and things that are innate within everyone. I think that if you’re scared that rock & roll is going to make your kid a bad kid… you’re probably not doing a good job as a parent. 

HRU: You worked with legendary producer Bob Rock on your 4th album. How has working with Bob Rock changed the way you will do things musically in the future?

AB: We did things differently with this album in that we wrote all the songs months and months in advance. We really fine-tuned everything. And I hate to use the term “old school” but it was, where we all sat around in a room and wrote songs. So there wasn’t as much of the more computer-based stuff like on the other albums, it was more analog, so to speak. I think it made us a better band and in the following records, we will continue that path.

HRU: I really love your song and video “They Don’t Need To Understand”. What are your goals for your Andy Black solo project?

AB: First, thank you very much! I don’t really have any goals except to make a record for it. It was initially done as a passion project, and something I just enjoyed doing. Fortunately the response has been so positive, it looks like we’re going to make an album. So probably next year, we’ll head into the studio and make a full length album. I’ve already got 9-10 songs for it, so at this point it’s just fine-tuning it and releasing it.

HRU: We will buy it!

AB: (laughing) At least I know one person will!

HRU: You’ll be making over 40 stops on this upcoming tour. What is traveling like for you?

AB: Well in the US, we take a bus from show to show. I’m 6’2″ so there’s nowhere in the bus that’s really comfortable for me. They don’t tell you this when you’re a little kid (smiles) “If you want to be on a tour bus, don’t be tall! There won’t be any bunks big enough for you!” I sleep with my knees scrunched up all the time, and I’m always getting out of the bus in the morning to stretch. People tease me that I look miserable in the morning, but I tell them I’ve slept an accumulated 8 hours in 2 weeks! Being taller is difficult with everything because of course we fly to shows in Europe, and being a rock band, we don’t make an exceptional amount of money. So we don’t fly First Class, we fly Coach.. and again, being tall, not so great! 14-15 hour flights with my knees up to my face (laughs & demonstrates). I’m not complaining, I get to do this for a living.. But maybe one day we can have our own plane, and I’ll get a LONG plane.

HRU: How is traveling now different from when you first started?

AB: There are more conveniences now. As much as I was teasing about me being tall and not being able to sleep… We first started touring in Ashley’s 4-passenger Durango with about 7 people. Again, me being too tall to sleep in the back seat, I would stick my feet out the window. I would wrap my legs in 6-7 pairs of socks! This was when Sandra was in the band… and Sandra and I would sleep facing each other in the back seat. Her legs were tiny, so they would only go up to my hips, but mine would go over her head, and out the window (we are all in hysterics now). Then we upgraded to a 15-passenger van, and that would allow me to sit in the front seat and put my feet up on the windshield. This is horribly dangerous, if we even got in a minor fender-bender, my legs would have gone through the windshield! But you make do with what you have.

Now here’s something not a lot of people know. When we first toured in Europe, we toured in something called a Sprinter Van. A Sprinter Van is an elongated van that’s tall and has bench seats facing each other. So we’re in the back, and there are only windows in the front. It’s windowless unless you’re in the front, so if a driver or passenger rolls their window up, you get completely deprived of oxygen. So we’d be in the middle of speaking with each other… and just PASS OUT. We would pass out for 3-4 minutes, and wake up completely confused like “Uh what happened?” But we would just pick our conversation back up, and I always sat next to CC, so I would just pass out in his lap. Things are better now. 

HRU (trying to stop laughing, this man is too funny when he tells a story): Do you get to do any sightseeing?

AB: Rarely. I mean, I’ve been around the world but I really haven’t seen anything. I saw The Eiffel Tower, but from the window of a plane. I’ve been everywhere, and seen almost nothing. It’s hard to explain to people that it’s not like vacationing. You get off the plane, get taken to a venue, then after the show you get picked up by the promoter’s bus and get taken to the next venue. Like when I go to Italy, I see the back of a venue, the same bag of chips, the same fruit spread… It’s like Groundhog Day every day. Touring isn’t that glamorous. Except for the shows. And that’s essentially why I think people do it. If you were asked the question, “Would you like to every day be slightly more inconvenienced than you normally are?” You’d say no. But if you were asked “Would you like to be slightly more inconvenienced but then at the end of the day, everyone claps for you?” You’d probably say “Yeah that would be awesome!” I might be slightly more inconvenienced but I get to travel the world, and play onstage, and meet this community of people who I respect. And that’s why we do it.

HRU: How do you keep your energy up on tour? How do you keep your voice from giving out?

AB: Well… I don’t (laughs). Everyone gets sick sometimes. Everyone has to cancel a show at some point because they can’t go onstage.  Personally I try to give it everything I can, obviously we’ve had to cancel shows, but I’ve also gone onstage with broken ribs, and a broken nose.

HRU: I know all about that… did you get the Band-Aids I sent (in his birthday/Christmas package)?

AB: The Batman Band-Aids? Oh yes, I got everything.

HRU: Good! Now what was one of your funniest moments on tour?

AB: Oh God… so many… usually provided by CC…..

HRU: I knew it!

AB: Yeah as you can imagine, he’s a pretty silly guy, and a lot of fun. But what most people don’t necessarily know about CC is that he’s the sweetest guy in the world, and so kind and genuine. You forget that to the rest of the world he’s seen as some kind of cartoon character. I couldn’t even say what’s the funniest moment because there’s something every day… but just yesterday CC ate an egg sandwich and the eggs spilled all over his pants (smiling) His pants were all crusted with egg, and he went around explaining to everyone “No it’s not vomit! It’s eggs!”

HRU: The lineup for Black Mass was recently announced. How do you feel about playing with Falling In Reverse, Set It Off, and Drama Club?

AB: We’re so excited. First of all, playing with Falling in Reverse has been a long time coming. Ronnie & I always said it would be awesome to tour together. It’s great that it’s finally happening. I found out about Set It Off during Warped Tour 2013. There’s a lot of great bands on Warped Tour, but very rarely do I find a band that I watch their sets repeatedly, and get to know the members of the band. And for that year, they were the band for me. I watched them every day, and Cody, the lead singer, would come watch us play every day. He would learn about stage production and theatricality, we would talk about Batman, our mutual interests. We hit it off so well, when it came time for this tour, they were an obvious choice for me. It’s really important that you’re around people that you like. They’re not an obvious choice for us in terms of musical style, but they’re such nice people, we thought it would be fun to have them around. And they are great live, they’re great performers. For Drama Club, we wanted to give our audiences something fun and interesting, and not have it be just one type of music, but have it be an event. I think they will mix it up, and it will be a great show. 

HRU: Which bands/artists are inspiring you now? Who are you listening to?

AB: I tend not to listen to a lot of other rock music while we are making a record. I’m so invested in what we are doing and don’t want any outside influences. But I do listen to Elton John, and a lot of 70’s pop music, just not rock music. 

HRU: Your dream came true of playing with The Misfits. What is your next dream?

AB: (smiles) Honestly my dream is to continue to have a career. It’s easier said than done in this musical climate. We have been a band that has grown in success every year for 5 years now, and amassed a large fan base. That’s a big feat, a lot of bands don’t make it to that. I feel very blessed and excited that we get the opportunity to make a 4th record, that we’ve been around for half a decade and people still seem to be really into it. That’s my biggest dream in life – to continue to have a career and  make music for people. 

HRU: MY dream is to be on Average Joe!

AB: I think Joe’s going to do another season, I’m not sure. I’ll be on tour for the next 5 months, but we’ll see if we can make that happen. No promises but I’ll put in a good word for you!

HRU: Thanks! Andy, I’m so glad you took this time with me. I have VIP tickets in November and can’t wait to see the show. Best of luck on tour, with the new album, and with Andy Black!

AB: Thank you Hayley, for all your support. I’m happy that you got the studio exclusive! Can’t wait to see you at the show. 

 

Andy Biersack, everyone.

You’re welcome 🙂

 

 

 

 

Rockin’ Ready for the APMAS: THE HayleyRocksU INTERVIEW

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HayleyRocksU doesn’t always smile for pictures.
To smile is to be happy, and there’s not one phony bone in her body.
If you want her to smile, you better give her something to smile about.
That’s easy, though.  I just ask,
“Think Andy will like the new pink hair?” Andy, as in Biersack.
Then she beams. Click.

The freshly pink hair is done, next the red pedicure designed with gold blingy-glitter to match the red dress with gold sandals for the show.
But there will be no manicure.
Her fingernails are bitten down to the nubs in anticipation.
She interviewed Jake Pitts back in February, and it was difficult then to morph from
Hayley the Huge BVB Fan into HayleyRocksU the Journalist.
It was exciting, to say the least, and made that much easier by Jake’s easy-going nature, but this is different.
She only has one hat to wear. The one that will leave her hoarse from screaming all night. She can throw composure to the wind.

Going to a red-carpet awards show would be exciting for any teenager.
Now add in that it’s the first-ever Alternative Press Awards, from her favorite magazine, one that’s dedicated to her favorite alt rock/metal music.
THEN add in that ALL her idols will be there, some of them performing.
Finish it off with a VIP pass that gets access to the front of the stage…
It’s a dream, but it’s real. And it’s happening in 24 hours.

My Twitter and Instagram followers know me as BVBMomRobin,
and I can’t say I sat down with Hayley for this interview. She was too jittery.
So she stood and walked around a bit, as I sat and we talked about the big event.
The one called the APMAS.

MOM: What’s the most exciting thing about going to the APMAS?

HRU: Well I’ve never been to Cleveland, and I’ve never been to an awards show, so I’m really excited. But the MOST exciting thing will be seeing Andy win Best Vocalist.

MOM: We all know you’re a huge BVB fan. Can you admit to liking other bands?

HRU: Yes! I like All Time Low, Motionless in White….. Asking Alexandria, Danny is amazing. And Sleeping with Sirens because I LOVE Kellin.

MOM: With Andy being first, who would you place second for Best Vocalist.

HRU: Kellin. I love his song “Alone” because Machine Gun Kelly is on it.
I’m excited to see him too.

MOM: Joan Jett is being honored. Her music was big when I was growing up.
Have you listened to her at all?

HRU: I LOVE two of her songs. “I Love Rock and Roll” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You”.

MOM: How did you react when you found out you were being taken to the APMAS as a birthday present?

HRU: Very very excited! I thought I would be watching them on TV because I live so far away, but now I hope to get on TV!!

MOM: Do you think that’s a possibility?

HRU: Yes because we got a VIP package that gives you access to the front of the stage.

MOM: Will anyone be watching at home?

HRU: Yes, my dad, my grandmother, and my sister Grace will be watching it and taping it.

MOM: Think you’ll get any swag?

HRU: Well as a VIP we get a t-shirt, poster, and we’ll have access to a photobooth.

MOM: Cool! Who else are you excited to see at the APMAS?

HRU: Chris & Amy.

MOM: Who are they?

HRU: Andy Biersack’s parents. Chris said on Twitter he would be there with Amy to meet BVB fans. They have helped me a lot. Amy sent me letters and BVB tattoos.
Chris tweets for the BVB Army a lot. I feel like I know them already!

MOM: How long have you been a fan of rock music?

HRU: Almost a year now. It’s something I can relate to. I feel a connection. I don’t really relate to pop music. And BVB is my favorite band because their message is pretty straightforward – Be yourself.

MOM: How long do you think you’ll be a fan of rock music?

HRU: Forever!!

**The APMAS air on AXS-TV Mon 7/21 at 8pm, check your local cable guide for listings.
They will also keep rock music fans update online via sites like YouTube**

 

 

 

 

THE JAKE PITTS INTERVIEW: How He Met Jinxx, How He Met Ella, and How He Deals With Naughty Fish

Saying Hello
Saying Hello
Telling the fish story!
Telling the fish story!
Trixie says HI
Trixy says HI
Showing his Golden God award
Showing his Golden God award
Almost 2 hours flew by
Almost 2 hours flew by
Decked out in BVB style
Decked out in BVB style

On February 10, 2014, HayleyRocksU was the envy of teenage girls all over the world, and they didn’t even know it. She got to sit down and talk for hours with one of her idols, Jake Pitts from the Black Veil Brides. But she would never keep that good fortune to herself. Hayley has watched every BVB interview & video there is to be had hundreds of times. Every fact memorized. Every lyric sung by heart. New information HAS to be shared with what is called – and the true meaning only known to the members of – THE BVB ARMY. 

Tragically Jake lost his dear beloved Mom, Carolyn, shortly before this interview. Though Hayley didn’t want this to be a focus, she did give her condolences. And Jake admitted that music, and talking about music, is not only a good distraction, but a great healing tool for a grieving heart.

“Picking up a guitar is probably what saved my life.” ~ Jake Pitts

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HRU:  I’m honored to be here with Jake Pitts from the Black Veil Brides. Jake is the lead guitarist & one of the songwriters of the band. Jake, thanks for sitting down with me today.

JAKE:  No problem!

HRU:  First I want to say Congratulations on winning the Alternative Press award for Guitarist of the Year. How did that feel?

JAKE:  To be honest, it wasn’t something that I really expected to get. Jacky Vincent (guitarist, Falling in Reverse), I’ve become friends with him recently, incredible guitar player, super nice guy, I thought for sure he was going to get the number one spot. And I didn’t really promote it that much. But it just kind of goes to show – the whole BVB army, the fans, how powerful they really are. It wasn’t something I was looking to win, but it happened because of our fans. They’re incredible. And it’s really cool to win something like that and be recognized. Another one that really meant a lot to me was this one (holds up Revolver Golden God award) for Best New Band. We were up against Avenged Sevenfold. Again I’m friends with those guys. I thought for sure they would take it. They don’t go on social media and promote stuff, their fans do all the work. So I thought for sure they would win that one. I guess it just goes to show our fan base is growing, and you can’t mess with them!

HRU: Things are going well. You just got back from Germany, and next  you’re going to Australia and Singapore. How does it feel to reach fans all over the world?

JAKE:  That’s a good question! I don’t really know how to explain it. I kind of feel like I live in a bubble. Obviously to me, I’m just me. There was a point in time when I didn’t have fans all over the world, that was my dream. It was a goal I was shooting for. To me, I’m just me, I’m just another human being. I play music, I like to do it, I think I have a talent for it & clearly other people enjoy what we do. The best way to explain it – it’s just kind of surreal, unreal, unbelievable. It’s really a weird thing to go from being on tour where every night we’re going in front of thousands of screaming fans playing our music and hearing them sing along, having that rush of adrenaline & when that last show is over, and you go back to regular life, it’s a weird transition period. I used to be that kid in the crowd watching the shows. Then I became the person on the stage. I was a kid with a dream, and I was determined to make it a reality.

HRU:  Do you get to do any sightseeing, or is it just hotels and venues?

JAKE:  That’s another part of it. Sometimes… not really. A lot of people will think “Being in a band on tour, it’s got to be this crazy glamorous big party all the time”. It’s not. It’s a lot of hard work. There are a lot of fun moments, but a lot of time it’s just exhausting and it really takes a toll on you. But I got to do some sightseeing, obviously a lot more than I would if I wasn’t touring. I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower three times. No, twice…. I can’t remember (laughs). A lot of times you wake up,  you don’t know where you are. You’re inside a dressing room, or on a bus. There’s just a lot of what I call “hurry up and wait”. On this recent tour, we’ve been doing a lot of “meet and greets”. So there’s a schedule & there’s three things we look for – sound check, meet & greet, and showtime. Then you’ve got this 2-hour period between sound check and meet & greet. It’s your opportunity to shower, if there is  a shower. Sometimes showering is more of a hassle than not showering. What’s the point? You’re going to get sweaty & dirty later anyway, right? Being on tour you get used to being a gross human (laughs). You learn about wet wipes and dry shampoo.

HRU:  You joined the band in 2010. How do you think the band has changed in the past few years.

JAKE:  Andy had Black Veil Brides, and Knives and Pens was a video. I remember watching it and thinking “Ok it sounds like my style of things that I do”. In late 2009, I met Andy, and I had my own thing going on. I had known Jinxx and had been playing guitar with him. I’ve known CC longer than anyone in the band. CC was drumming with me. We had a project we were working on, which became a lot of the songs on the Set the World on Fire album. Really since I moved to LA in 2006, everything just aligned and formed. It was being in previous bands, and meeting so-and-so who knows so-and-so, and this person introduced me to that person. That’s how I met Jinxx, from an old friend who was in a band. He said “You guys would be scary together” (laughs). So literally that night I played him (Jinxx) two demos I had, the music for “Love Isn’t Always Fair” and “New Religion”. Jinxx was bored in what he was doing musically, and I found him at the right time. Long story short: We met Andy & Ashley through people. Basically what I thought was just going to be helping write an album….

HRU:  You got more involved with it.

JAKE: Yeah, and it happened really quick! The first song that I did was “Beautiful Remains”. I heard a demo Jinxx had & there was an idea there. The way I work, my mind explodes with imagination. I picked up my guitar and the riffs just started coming.

HRU:  What is your favorite thing about playing guitar?

JAKE:  It’s such a versatile instrument. You can do so many different things with it. It’s fun. It makes me happy. It was a thing in my life that I needed, otherwise, I don’t know if I’d be here. A lot of people say that without us, they don’t know if they’d be here. People say we save lives. Well, I believe it  because music does save lives. It saved mine. Picking up a guitar is probably what saved my life.  I didn’t have the best childhood. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t come from a wealthy family. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I still go through a lot. My favorite thing about guitar is it gives me an opportunity to express myself.

HRU:  Who is on your Ipod right now?

JAKE:  (grabbing his phone) I don’t have anything… This phone’s kind of new….

HRU:  Who are you listening to?

JAKE:  Well I’ll tell you the short list that’s on this phone. Billy Idol, Black Veil Brides, Kiss, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Within the Ruins. I know the Sir Mix-a-Lot is weird. In our live rig during our sound check, it’s something with levels for our sound guy. You know which song it is, I’m sure (laughs). I’ve been listening to a lot of crazy technical metal stuff. This band Within the Ruins, a lot of death metal, progressive, not sure what you call it, very heavy. I’ve been listening a lot for production ideas. It blows my mind how awesome it sounds.

HRU:  You’re engaged to your beautiful fiancee, Ella. And by the way, I love her name! How did you meet her?

JAKE: Again I have to give credit to my career. I met her in London. We were staying at the same hotel. Black Veil Brides was playing a show, headlining tour, sold-out. We had  been in Europe. I think that was the tour where Andy broke his nose.

HRU:  I saw pictures of that!

JAKE:  I don’t know how he ends up doing some of these things. It’s really funny… I know it’s horrible… but if you YouTube “Andy Biersack” or “Andy Sixx falls offstage”, you’ll see some amazing videos that are hilarious.

HRU:  Yeah I sent him Band-Aids for his birthday. Batman Band-Aids.

JAKE: (laughing): He seems to be a little bit better now with not hurting himself. He’ll still fall down and whatnot. I don’t know what he did. He somehow slipped and fell and smashed his face on the drum riser, and broke his nose. I remember that show in London, he had two black eyes, his face was black and blue. He came out and said “I’m just gonna go for it!” I can’t imagine that felt good singing. But the band and she was in the same hotel. I guess it’s what you called “love at first sight”. I was a creepy stalker. I wouldn’t leave her alone and tried to convince her to like me.

HRU:  It worked!

JAKE: Apparently it did!

HRU:  Is it hard to balance being married and touring with a band?

JAKE: Not right now. If I had kids, maybe. I do want to have kids someday. Not in the too late future, but not in the too near future. I don’t know when I’ll be ready for that. I’m a very independent person, and I do like my personal time. What I call my “man cave” is my studio, and I spend a lot of time in there. I talk to myself a lot. I’m a weird person. And it takes being with somebody who understands that, and is just as weird. And that’s Ella! We’re very opposite, but there are things where we are very similar. We’re back and forth between London and LA all the time. Right now, she’s in London but she’ll be coming over to LA when I get back from Australia. It sounds crazy. It is crazy. It doesn’t work for everybody, but somehow we make it work. It doesn’t seem to be very hard. It comes natural. You find something that works and if it works, (he knocks on wood). If something doesn’t work, you change it. Whatever we’re doing, it’s working.

HRU: Now a question about another member of your family, your dog Trixy. Is she a rescue dog?

JAKE:  She’s actually right here, I’ll grab her. Come here, you little punk! (holds up her up) Here’s Trixy.

HRU:  Hi Trixy!!

JAKE: She gets so confused, I Skype Ella all the time. Trixy adores Ella, and absolutely goes nuts. I think she thinks that Ella is hers! She hears her on the TV and gets confused, but she’s a dog, she doesn’t get it (laughs). I guess she’s kind of a rescue. Basically I got her from a family in Santa Ana. She was tiny and covered in fleas. She was maybe five weeks old. I remember the first night sitting there picking those fleas out of her and burning them with a lighter to kill them. It took hours until I picked every single one out and gave her a bath. I like to think I saved her life because being that young and infested with fleas, who knows what would’ve happened if she ended up in someone else’s hands.

HRU: You just posted your aquarium on Twitter. Have you always had fish? What kind of fish do you have?

JAKE:  I’m a big animal person. I love cats, I love dogs, I love fish. That probably comes from my dad’s side. My dad loves scuba diving and I really want a saltwater tank. But that’s probably down the road, I’m still trying to figure out this freshwater thing. I’m learning a lot of things I didn’t know about. It’s like building an ecosystem in this tiny environment. I’ve always liked fish. I had one tank before and I have a pretty funny story. When I lived in Minneapolis, I had a couple of fish called oscars. I didn’t know what I was doing at all. A guy sold me a tank, I set it up. I had what is called a Jack Dempsey and they’re very aggressive fish. This fish kept bullying my other fish. It was fin-nipping and attacking my other fish. The fins were shredded off the fish and they were upside down still alive swimming around! So I tried an obviously stupid method that isn’t going to teach a fish how to do something. I caught him. He was really hard to catch. I put him in a cup of water and stuck him in my freezer.

HRU:  Wait… the fish was in the freezer?!

JAKE:  Don’t worry, it gets even worse! I didn’t kill him… yet. I tried to teach him a lesson. I took him out of the freezer, I thought he was dead. But he was just kind of stuck there. I put him back in the tank and he… thawed out.  What do you know, he came back to life! I thought “ok maybe he’ll get it now and leave my fish alone” but he kept attacking them. So I got fed up. I caught him and chucked him out the window.

HRU:  So basically you gave him a “time out”?

JAKE: That’s what I tried to do. I put him in time out. I didn’t like this fish that was bullying and killing all my other fish. But now I have two angel fish, a couple dwarf frogs, clown loaches, and a couple roseline sharks.

HRU:  I heard you are getting your tonsils out in March. Is it true? Have you ever had surgery before? Are you nervous?

JAKE:  Well I plan to get my tonsils out in March. I’ve had my wisdom teeth out, that’s the only surgery I’ve really gone through. I was put under, they gave me the option of laughing gas or put under. I said knock me out! For some reason my tonsils have been giving me trouble. I don’t know what triggers it, if it’s stress, or what. I don’t get a sore throat like normal people, I get tonsillitis where they need to get drained. It’s a nightmare, I need to get rid of them. Yeah I’m nervous, nobody wants to get pieces cut out of them. But I need them out, I know it will be good for me in the long run.

HRU:  Well I’ll be thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery.

JAKE:  Thank you!

HRU: Thanks again Jake for speaking with me. Best of luck with the band, I saw you play at Warped Tour last summer and you were incredible. Hope to see you play again soon!

JAKE:  Awesome, thank you. I hope you can see us play again too!

Postscript ~“Now nobody will call me a liar about the fish story” ~ Ella

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