Andy Biersack is tired of hearing that rock is dead and here’s why
The Black Veil Brides frontman casts a sharp eye toward people in power who didn’t foster the next generation of hard-rock warriors.October 22, 2020
When he was a tweener, Black Veil Brides’ Andy Biersack would frequently accompany his father for trips to their favorite record store in the Cincinnati vicinity. On one particular visit, the elder Biersack asked his son to make a choice as to which records he wanted. He held up the debut album by the Sex Pistols and the debut album by a bunch of dudes called Van Halen.
“I didn’t know how to tell him that I had no interest in the Van Halen record,” Biersack recalls. “I wound up putting the Van Halen record back into the pile on the counter. My interest in the band was so little as a kid. It just didn’t appeal to me. And then as I got older, I found out all these stories about how they were discovered. And then also finding out more about his work with people like Michael Jackson and just to see him pop up over the years. I just have a tremendous amount of respect for anybody who was that innovative. [We] just keep losing the icons, and it’s tragic.”
After Eddie Van Halen’s death, the story came out that the band were strongly considering doing another tour. That never came to fruition, though. If it had, you could certainly see the nation’s stadiums packed to the rims to see a bona fide hard-rock band. But these days, it doesn’t feel like hard rock and heavy metal could draw those kinds of legendary-sized crowds. Andy Biersack has some theories about that, and he shared them with Alternative Press.
We did an interview a few years ago discussing how the hard-rock community doesn’t seem to replenish itself. Assuming that we could have shows right now, are there any hard-rock/heavy-metal bands who can fill a stadium? Off the top of my head, all I can think of is Metallica. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of bands who would be playing huge 50,000-plus-type venues and selling them out. Why is that? Is there any kind of awareness from anybody as to how to maintain the continuum, so to speak?
ANDY BIERSACK: People want to blame the artists first and foremost. And I think that’s a big mistake. People want to say [adopts sanctimonious tone], “There’s just no new bands. There’s no icons anymore. No stars. Nobody’s even trying! Back in my day, bands tried, and there was a show” and all this shit. And it’s the most completely out-of-touch bullshit. Which by the way, we have heard forever, right? And people like Gene Simmons saying that shit all the time. I think he [asked], “Name one icon from after 1984.” And it’s complete insanity because there are plenty.
What people don’t understand is that it is primarily the fault of the labels. It goes back to the late ’80s and early ’90s where the time, money and importance were not placed on these artists to develop them. Look at the music. KISS put out more records before they had a single record that broke. They were able to just keep trying and going and trying and going. And their label went bankrupt trying to break that band. That’s obviously not something that you can replicate in today’s climate. There was just not enough importance placed on developing artists in developing the next generation.
There’s something to be said, though. We reached a critical mass culturally where things are no longer interesting to people because there’s so much of it. When many of the iconic bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s hit their stride, there were only about 10 other bands that you’re competing against at radio or anywhere else. There was a smaller sample size of people that were making music in that style. If you have the right haircut and a guitar, you were going to get a record deal, and you were going to get a shot. Today, that is not the case.
Artist development certainly feels like a thing of the past.
Now, to start a band in 2020 is a very seemingly impossible pursuit. And yet, people do it every day because they love the music. It is unsure as to whether the major touring sheds, the giant amphitheaters of the United States, are going to be filled with a new crop of bands in the next 20 years. The reality is that music is out there. It just wasn’t given the nursing that the older artists had.
And then, quite frankly, the most important thing that I would say and the reason why we’re going to have the issue we’re [going] to have in 10 years: Many of the bands who fill those sheds over the summer will be gone, right? Well, those promoters and the people who relied and subsided entirely off of the backs of 65-year-old men have no one to blame but themselves. Because they didn’t spend the time to develop the new crop of bands. So when they’re all gone and they have no one to put into their shed, I believe it’s on them for not taking the time to try and develop the artist that’s the next generation.
Why aren’t Avenged Sevenfold put out on those shed tours in that same way? Why are we not seeing the evolution of people pushing those artists? Instead, we see primarily rock promoters, rock radio, rock everything, talking about 75-year-old men only. That’s fine. I’m not saying that the younger bands have surpassed [them] in terms of talent or whatever else—the icons are the icons. But you’re going to leave a huge hole in the world of rock music if you don’t take the time to develop the next generation.
I feel that is on the labels, the promoters and on the people who didn’t pay attention to bring up the next generation. It’s not on the artists. There have been hundreds of iconic artists and bands that have come out over the last 30 years that didn’t get the shakes and didn’t get the opportunity that the bands of the previous 30 years [had].
That’s true. But then again, with the internet, things happen for people. If your video gets 27 million views on YouTube, that’s certainly something. But it doesn’t seem to have that type of continuum the way a rock band playing a stadium does. The term “rock star” doesn’t mean anything anymore because it doesn’t exist in a lot of ways.
Well, you’re a rock star if you do a good job on your report at work. You’re a rock star for any number of reasons. That is now just a term. Yeah, I think that people get hung up [on] that term. But to me, it’s like anything else. Terms and ideas change over time. Words change their meaning.
I think people like to spend a lot of time complaining about the lack of good things that they feel comfortable with existing now and not a lot of time looking into the idea that maybe they missed some shit.
They’re still blissfully ignorant, I guess, and just hung up on that tour T-shirt they bought in 1977.
I have a lot of friends in their late 40s, rock guys that I know just from existing and being in this scene. Despite the fact that they go to these festivals that they work, especially [because] they know these people, [they] say there is no new, exciting rock band. Well, that’s just insane.
I don’t mean to be the guy who blames the big bad labels. But, you know, we were on a major label for a long time, and we were treated well, but they had absolutely no idea what to do with us. They tried. But there’s not a reality within mainstream music right now. There’s not an understanding of how to develop a rock ’n’ roll band.
There are a lot of positives right now when it comes to rock music, and I just don’t believe the played-out, stupid idea that “rock is dead.” I believe that rock has never died. Which is why I get so sick of the concept of “bringing it back.” Some band comes around, and they sound like Led Zeppelin I. And then everybody says they’re “bringing rock ’n’ roll back.” It just feels like that’s something that people say who don’t realize that it’s never [gone] anywhere.