By: Robert Cavuoto
Think enormous guitar powered riffs coupled with catchy melodies. The band has managed to strike a perfect balance, showcasing their musicianship, rather than their ability to just shred through a song.
Trust me, these two powerhouse guitarists, Jake Pitts and Jinxx, could shred through a song when given the opportunity.
Wretched and Divine is an extremely cohesive sounding CD, not because of the underlying concept, but because the songs have a continuity allowing them to stand alone or as part of the complete package, not to mention that the CD is sonically better than anything they have done to date.
To find out what makes Wretched and Divine tick and how it started ticking; I met with the guitar duo of Jake Pitts and Jinxx before a sold out show at the Best Buy Theater in NYC to share their insights.
Robert: Tell me about the evolution of the band from a song writing perspective. How has it changed or grown in the last three CDs?
Jinxx: Jake and I actually played together before we joined Black Veil Brides. We really meshed well when it came to writing. We felt like we were reading each other’s minds. One of us would write a riff or have an idea for a chorus and the other one would finish it or write a bridge or a verse.
We just wrote songs together that way. I feel like we’ve grown a lot over a period of three records. We are now more conscious of melody in turn becoming better songwritJake Pitts: Definitely we’re paying more attention to the song as a whole, instead of just shredding through the song.
Giving the song more room to breathe vocally and just writing better parts; we’re always trying to outdo ourselves from what we’ve done before and trying to write smarter guitar parts.
Robert: How would you say the writing of Wretched and Divine differs from Set The World on Fire?
Jake Pitts: The writing of this CD was definitely different from the first two. Normally we would write the music first and then work with the vocal melody and a simple chord progression. We would build the song around that. Now, it’s more about more finding the melodies and then writing the rest of the song. But, for the most part, it was backwards for us.
Jinxx: The only songs we wrote the music first were “I am Bulletproof” and “Shadows Die”.
Robert: “Devil’s Choir” is my favorite song on the CD. I love the lead and the guitar fills throughout, but particularly how it helps carry the chorus. Those nuances are so important to a song and stretch beyond a good riff. What is the history behind writing that song?
Jake Pitts: That was the first song I started writing the leads to. Jinxx originally had the lead in that chorus, but we ended up changing it to what it is now. There was something about it that just didn’t sound right.
Jinxx: It sounded too happy. I didn’t like what was going on in it. It was one of the songs that we started with a melody and a chorus; we needed a lead to bring it all together. What I had there just wasn’t working and hated it. I handed it over to Jake and he made some improvisations.
Jake Pitts: The guitar solo in that song is probably impossible to play [All Laughing].
Robert: You seem like you’re really good friends. Tell me about the chemistry you guys share that helps catapults the band?
Jake Pitts: I think it’s just that we both have similar yet different styles. It’s like Jinxx said earlier, it’s like we can read each other’s minds. If one of us gets stuck and says, “I don’t know where to go with this. What do you think?” the other person will know exactly what to do. Since the day I met this guy, it’s been like that.
Jinxx: It’s like we finish each other’s sentences.
Robert: I saw you at the Vans Warp tour in 2011. You guys really played off each other extremely well live. How do you determine who’s going to take the lead in a songs?
Jinxx: Basically, whoever comes up with it first. Jake is just more of a shredder than I am and more comfortable playing rhythms or harmonies. I like it when he writes a solo because it’s definitely something I can’t play or would challenge myself to try to learn.
Jake Pitts: I can’t even play my own solos. [Laughter]
Robert: Who did all the neoclassical guitar parts in for the interludes? That’s some great playing.
Jinxx: Thank you. I did all that. I play violin, as well as guitar, and being classically trained growing up, I actually composed and recorded all the string sections. The F.E.A.R Transmissions, the interludes, and overture were all done at my house.
Robert: Tell me a little bit about your practice routine. Do you practice together, separately, and for how long?
Jake Pitts: There would be months where I would practice five hours a day, I really wanted to learn sweep picking, for example. When I first learned that, I sat in my room for five hours straight until it finally synced up and connected. I wasn’t great at it right away obviously. It’s a difficult technique that takes a lot of practice.
Now we just do pre-show warm-up, just run through some of the songs we play live. Ashley Purdy will just grab his bass, and we’ll just play through them unplugged in the dressing room before we go on and just warm up a little bit. That’s really all we have time for because it’s so busy on the road.
Jinxx: Yeah, we have such a tight touring schedule. Our day-of-show schedules are jam packed. We just try and find time. Like Jake was saying, a half-hour to an hour before the show, we’ll grab a guitar and just warm-up.
If we don’t get a warm-up in there, it makes the show kind of rough. It’s an hour-and-a-half set with all the intricacies we have going on.
Robert: Which song on your new album has the most guitar tracks or parts?
Jake Pitts: I’m trying to take my brain back into all the sessions. I know “Devil’s Choir” does have quite a few guitars.
Jinxx: “Shadows Die” has got a lot of guitar part too.
Jake Pitts: There’s just so much going on in that song. It’s got to be one of those two.
Robert: There were some since tones throughout the CD, what gear did you use to record it?
Jake Pitts: The primary guitar that I used for most of the tracking was a Schechter guitar. We’ve used it on all the albums we’ve done. It’s my studio guitar. It’s just set up perfect and sounds great, so we used that on most stuff.
I definitely use some B.C. Rich guitars in there. I think we used a Les Paul on some songs.
Jinxx: At one point we used a BC Rich Bitch that had a Sustainiac pick-up in it. We used Zephyr. The leads are experimental stuff on the album.
Jake Pitts: I also have a BC Rich Mockingbird with one of those pick-ups as well. In some of the dive bombs in “Shadows Die”, there is a Sustainiac in there.
We also used a Kemper Profiling amp. In the studio we’ll have the amps and the cabs all miked up. We have these Kemper Profiling amps and basically you can capture the exact studio tone. It captures the entire signal change through the pre-amps and through the board. I don’t know how it does that.
It’s got to be some kind of weird magic. It basically captures the exact tone in this little amp box, and then you can take those tones anywhere. So we just spent a day getting all these tones – lead tones, rhythm tones, heavy tones, soft tones, and that’s how we were able to record back at my studio. It was pretty awesome to be able to do it that way.
Jinxx: We take these Kemper Profiling amps on the road with us. That’s what we use live, so we have the exact same studio tones.
Robert: Black Veil Brides has really captured the attention of a lot of big names: Alice Cooper and Nikki Sixx for example. They’re always giving the band accolades and praise. What do you make of all that?
Jake Pitts: It’s just unreal and amazing, growing up and looking up to those people and now they’re our peers, and it’s just kind of weird. I think I live in a bubble a lot of times. I don’t really know what it’s like being on the outside anymore looking in. It’s really cool when your heroes become your peers.
Jinxx: It’s a dream come true and surreal to us. Like Jake said, we live in a bubble. It’s hard for us to have a natural understanding of where we are in the world or how we’re perceived by people –to be right up there with our idols, and them saying good things about us. They and the press are helping us out – it’s just a surreal feeling.
Robert: I’m going to put you guys on the spot now. You’ve known each other for a long time. What do you know about each other that most people don’t know about you?
Jinxx: Jake does not like pizza as much as everyone thinks he does. I think he tweeted about it one time while we were in Japan and wanted a pizza.
Ever since, fans think he’s just obsessed with pizza. they’ll draw pictures of him eating pizza. He’s not really that big a fan of pizza.
Jake Pitts: I don’t know how that got so out of control, because I’ve tweeted a million times about sushi and pictures of it, and chopsticks up my nose, but no, that doesn’t catch on. I don’t get it.
Robert: What do you know about Jinxx that most people don’t?
Jinxx: Careful Jake! [Laughing]
Jake Pitts: Gosh, I have to think about that. Ok, Jinxx is actually 140 years old.
Jinxx: That’s true.
Robert: I spoke with Andy a while ago. He said Jinxx had the dirtiest habits on tour. He said they called you the “garbage can man”.
Jinxx: I think Andy actually is by far. [Laughter] Well, it’s because I used to eat out of garbage cans.
Jake Pitts: Sometimes he goes to the garbage and finds something to eat out of there.
Jinxx: That only happened once. It got blown out of proportion.
Robert: What’s the best thing about being Black Veil Brides?
Jake Pitts: Just being in the best band ever and getting to play music.
Jinxx: This is my favorite band and like I said, “A dream come true.”