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!!

 

 

 

 

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