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.
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.
**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!!