Black Veil Brides reveal the big changes on ‘Re-Stitch These Wounds’
It was a what-if moment that became an epiphany. During Black Veil Brides’ 2013 tour in support of Wretched And Divine, frontman Andy Biersack and guitarist Jake Pitts had an idea. With all the gains they had made as musicians and songwriters, wouldn’t it be cool if they could revisit their 2010 debut, We Stitch These Wounds? They’d add slight rearrangements to songs. Wilder guitar solos. In some cases, atmosphere-enhancing orchestral introductions.
“We were so interested in how much better our recordings sounded through the course of our career,” Biersack says. “We’d blast these songs live, and they had such a different dynamic to them. And we would talk often about how great [it would be] to revisit that record. Not with a full record-sized budget. But just thinking, ‘Can we revisit it with what we know now?’”
And that’s how a great notion was born. Introducing Re-Stitch These Wounds, the revisitation of Black Veil Brides’ first album retooled for maximum thrall. The process began last October with Pitts overseeing the production chores at his home studio. He and co-guitarist Jinxx tracked guitars and oversaw arrangements when they weren’t recording Biersack’s new vocals. Drummer Christian Coma tracked new drum parts at the Steakhouse in Los Angeles. Biersack finalized all of the art and design for both CD and vinyl formats in the spring. When Wounds comes out into the world July 31, the BVB fandom might give themselves repetitive strain injuries from all the fist-pumping going on.
While Biersack and Pitts began that earnest discussion about the reboot seven years ago, there were a few things that needed to be addressed. They were originally going to do the project with longtime producer/confidante John Feldmann. But what really slowed Black Veil Brides down were music industry contracts.
“The label we were on at the time was not interested in a re-recorded version of their product,” the singer says. “So we had to bide our time. Thankfully for us, our Universal contract and our option to leave came around the time that it would have been 10 years. After we did Vale, we were able to leave that contract. From the perspective of getting it done, it's just been a waiting game.”
Black Veil Brides quickly found a home at Sumerian Records, the label whose founder, Ash Avildsen, was a die-hard BVB fan. (He’s also the creator of Paradise City, the show based on the film American Satan, which Biersack played the lead character.) Biersack says Avildsen tried to get the original album released on Sumerian. It’s both glorious and ironic that he finally gets to realize his intention, even with a time lag.
“We've been the honorary Sumerian Records band for the last 10 years because we were never signed to the label,” Biersack says. “But we were so heavily associated with Ash, and he did so much to try to help us. Our records were up in their offices and everything. They always thought of us as one of theirs.”
With a home for the release (and the band), Black Veil Brides went to work. Although Pitts gets the producer’s credit, all the band members had input. Everyone made significant contributions. The classically trained Jinxx made his presence felt, providing an orchestral introduction to “The Mortician’s Daughter” that heightens the song’s atmosphere. New bassist Lonny Eagleton has the distinction of being a massive fan of the band before joining late last year. And if he’s stoked, there’s no reason the rest of their fandom shouldn’t be.
“I was a fan of the band before joining,” he says. “Like some of the other fans, I grew up with these songs, and they’ve really influenced me and the style I still play in. I’m sure the fans are going to love it. It’s been a blast to make.”
Drummer Coma didn’t join BVB until midsummer that year. But he was more than familiar with original drummer Sandra Alvarenga’s parts from playing those songs live. While he brought his rhythmic ideas to the table, the project felt like a time warp to him.
“[The re-recording] was a lot of fun for me because it brought back so much nostalgia from when I first joined the band,” Coma says. “So I wasn't on the original recording, but I would perform those songs live with the guys. Not long after recording the drums, we were going through a lot of footage and stuff that we released on our Patreon account. All the hopes and dreams and ambitions and funny stories from tours. It was fun for me recording those songs because some of them were slightly different from the original versions, and some of them are pretty drastically different.”
Biersack and Pitts’ original intention to bring Wounds into the next decade was successful. Sure, the “do-over” does well to correct any errors that couldn’t be fixed in the studio due to time and budget limitations. But the singer also took this as an opportunity to significantly improve songs. He cites “Never Give In” as a track that had potential but needed more attention to make it truly shine.
“For most of the material, it's kept true to what it originally is,” he says. “It’s just been made a little bit tighter. Some things were an opportunity for us to reexamine what we saw as errors or issues with the songs. ‘Never Give In’ is a song that, from a lyrical and vocal standpoint, was pretty lazily written. I know the concept and the lyrical ideas were there, and it's something that's really resonated with the audience. But the song itself on that record, we all agreed it was somewhat of a skip-over track. We always felt that way because the chorus never really goes anywhere. And there were improvements that could be made where it’s still the same song and we kept the same melodic ideas. But we made those little changes where they were necessary to make the songs feel like they were better. There are little frequent changes throughout.
“It’s just better,” he says about the whole undertaking. “I think a song like ‘Carolyn’ deserves to be big and dramatic. On the original record, we just didn't have the resources to do that. Whereas now Jake was able to make it something that was just massive and feels like the big, epic ballad that it should be.”
On Black Veil Brides’ last album, 2018’s Vale, Pitts had a bigger hand in the production realm. When asked if revisiting Wounds was a massive headache in contrast, his response is thoughtful and honest. He funneled through all of his bandmates’ ideas and achieved a result that was more than stentorian.
“Because I was editing, mixing and literally doing all of that stuff,” he begins, “I wouldn't really say it's a headache. It's a process. I go through the same process, especially when mixing. I'll be mixing a song, and that can be a headache at first. I'll just start ripping my hair out, second-guessing myself. ‘This sounds like crap. I don't know how to mix. What am I doing?’ And I'll walk away for 15 minutes, and I'll come back and just keep tweaking stuff, and then it'll start to come together. I guess that's part of my process.
“So it wasn’t really like anything was super-difficult,” he resigns. “It was just a lot of work. Some of it's not that fun. But you’ve got to do it. Otherwise, it’s not going to sound massive. You get to hear the final product and be proud of it.”
While Pitts’ technical skills were perfect for the reconstruction of Wounds, the experience revealed greater context. He was obviously there for the genesis of those songs and knew how to convey their resonance. The greater byproduct was the sense of camaraderie that was fostered revisiting the work in the first place. There were times when being in the band was anything but great. When Black Veil Brides came together to see this project through, it was going to be through the eyes (and ears) of one of their own.
“We pretty much had complete control over what we were doing,” Biersack says. “The trust was given to Jake completely because he knows these songs. All of us know the songs on the back of our hands. Jake and Jinxx worked on these songs. The song ‘We Stitch These Wounds’: That's a song that the melody and lyrics were written by me and my friend Chris in northern Kentucky. Jake had a completely separate song, and magically we thought, ‘Oh, this could work.’ I just sang my song over their song. And it was mind-blowing. But I think from the perspective of all of us, who better knows this material over the last decade than one of us?”
“We all had our individual input,” Pitts says. “I was just the one in charge of hopefully making sure it sounds good.”
“I think the camaraderie is a big part of it, too,” Biersack says quickly about the project’s psychic rewards. “We would go to Jake's house every single day during the process of this. The drums are being tracked in a separate studio, and everyone in the band is there the whole time. That’s what happens at the beginning of a band. As you grow and progress, you show up less for things that aren't yours. That's just what happens to a lot of bands. Once we finished the re-record, there really was no interest from any of us to stop.”
By immersing themselves in the past, Black Veil Brides invested in their future. When Re-Stitch was complete (and new guy Eagleton was broken in), work immediately began on writing the two songs that made up The Night duology (“Saints Of The Blood” and “The Vengeance”). Recharged once again, Biersack says the Re-Stitch experience has gone far to keep the band on track and stoked.
“The next step is to continue the evolution that has been taking place for the last 10 years,” Biersack says. “We're obviously a more mature band now than we were 10 years ago. But I still think that the elements of fun in that kind of fantasy and the larger-than-life elements are what we are. It still finds itself pretty prevalent in our music. We're very much in the vein of what I think people love about the band. It’s certainly what we've loved the most about it.”
Preorder Re-Stitch These Wounds here.