[Photo by: BVTV Music/YouTube]

Right now, Andy Biersack, Black Veil Brides frontman and pop alter ego Andy Black is having a blast. BVB are currently out on tour behind their fifth album, the highly ambitious VALE, and he’s still keeping up with his Patreon talk show and conceptualizing the next chapter of Andy Black.

READ MORE: 17 Warped Tour facts you probably don’t know

But there’s a streak of melancholy coming through all of his current positivity. When Kevin Lyman announced in November that the 2018 summer campaign of the Vans Warped Tour would be the final year for the travelling roadshow, Biersack bummed out. While he certainly acknowledges the influence Warped had on his career, it was the formative years of discovering the tour as a fan that made him consider the scope of what Warped meant to him.

“My dream as a kid wasn’t necessarily to be on the cover of Rolling Stone and to win a Grammy,” Biersack tells AP. “My dream was to be on the cover of AP and be on the other side of the fence at Warped Tour. When I was 14, 15 years old, I don’t think there could’ve been anything more great than waking up one day and being told, ‘You’re on one of those buses and you’re going to play on that stage.’ Every part of me that was shaped into the modern element of rock music came from that, whether it was standing watching the Phenomenauts play on egg crates in front of 10 people or the Groovy Ghoulies or any of those bands that I watched. It felt like it was this thing that was coming to Cincinnati every year, and it was my Christmas. I would walk around and feel like I was at home. Seeing the faces of people I didn’t know living in my hometown and thinking, ‘All these people that are like me live here.’ This is before social media and the ability to connect with these people in your hometown—or around the world.”

Describing the Cincy Warped stops of his youth as “an island of black nail polish and AFI T-shirts,” Biersack recalls how those early music and cultural experiences marked him not only as an individual but also how Warped’s sense of community imprinted itself upon him.

“I didn’t have a support system when it came to my love of all this stuff,” he says. “And I’d go to this parking lot 15 minutes from my house and there are a couple thousand people singing along with me to an Alkaline Trio song. For a young kid who felt completely alone in his interests to go to this fucking parking lot 15 minutes from his house one day a year and everyone around you—whether you knew them or got along with them—were enjoying the same thing as you,” his voice rising to reflect on the wonderment. “I don’t know if there has been another thing in my life that I have been able to stand in the middle of and feel more at home. I’ve never taken it for granted: I’ve never complained that it was too hot or that there were too many shows. I’ve always looked at it as ‘you have to remember how important this was to you when you were a little kid. And every day you’ve been able to be on it is the greatest day ever.’”

Biersack readily admits that on summers away from Warped where he was writing or recording or touring out of the country, he had an underlying sense of FOMO, being away from the action. On a personal level, Warped completely changed his adult life, from building strong friendships with Lyman and many other musicians, as well as significantly impacting his personal details (where do you think he met his wife, Juliet Simms?). And he’s positive there are thousands more people who had the same feeling he had at various junctures in Warped’s 23 year-history, a community where pop-punks, metal dudes and all factions in between could learn, enjoy and rock hard to the best sounds of summer. It’s not something entirely achievable by binge-watching clips on YouTube. And he hopes people will remember that this summer.

“To know that [Warped is] coming to an end is like losing a friend,” Biersack resigns. “Like losing the place that meant the most to you when you were a kid. Or watching your church get knocked down and you wonder what is going to be built in the ash and the rubble where it once stood. I’ve seen both sides of the fence now, and [Warped] means just as much to me as it did when I was 15. And I’m going to mourn it, because it’s a sad day for all of us.”