By: Robert Cavuoto
On one of the hottest summer days in NJ, the Vans Warped Tour rolled into PNC Arena on July 7th. If you’ve never been to a Warped Tour think sweaty sticky ass kicking music. Where hungry bands give their all to perform for their fans.
Where merchandise and sponsor tents scatter the hot parking lot among the seven stages selling shirts, bumper stickers, and food. A morning lottery system determines when and where each band will play their 35 minute set.
Today Black Veil Brides won the lottery and will close out the show at 8:20pm. This was an abridged set as compared to their headlining tour this past winter. Despite temperatures reaching upwards of 100 degrees, the band played with all the energy that you would expect and made it look easy.
Donning a cropped hair cut and slashed-up BVB T-shirt, gripping his red, white, & blue scarf-embellished microphone stand, lead singer, Andy Biersack whipped the crowd back from the jaws of exhaustion this evening.
The band leaped into its vibrant seven song set appearing without their trademark make-up. Every inch of the stage was worked by the members to taunt their audience into a feverous pitch. Bassist Ashley Purdy held the back end down with drummer, CC Coma, while flirting with girls in the front row and tossing out picks.
The guitar shredding team of Jake Pitts and Jinxx heated up the night showcasing their shredding skills particularly on the dual leads for “I am Bullet Proof.” When you didn’t think it could get any wilder, Jinxx pulled out his electric violin during “Shadows Die,” the crowd went crazy.
The band played a combination of songs from their three CDs including a few from their newest one, Wretch and Divine, like the title track and “In the End.” They even pulled out Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and fan favorite, “Fallen Angels” from their second CD, Set the World on Fire.
As Jake Pitts told me earlier in the day, the goal was to impress their diehard fans as well as make some new ones. I think they accomplished their mission.
Prior to the hitting the stage, I had the chance to talk to with the dynamic guitar duo of Jake Pitts and Jinxx at their tour bus and asked them to give us an update on the tour, their latest release, and well….about living the dream!
Robert Cavuoto: You recently released Wretched and Divine: Ultimate Black Box Edition. Tell us about the three new songs that appear on the album, and why they didn’t make it onto the initial release in January?
Jake Pitts: We had even more songs that didn’t make it onto Wretched and Divine. These extra songs weren’t tied to the concept and didn’t fit with the other songs. Also, they weren’t mixed and the production wasn’t completed yet. So we thought it best to wait for this Ultimate Edition.
Robert: The three songs, “Victory Call,” “Let You Down,” and “Revelation” sound like songs you would hear off Set the World on Fire rather than Wretched and Divine. They had a heavier vibe.
Jinxx: They are heavier! We had to pick and choose what was going to work with the concept. We thought it best to save these for a later release.
Robert: How is the Van’s Warped Tour going? What it’s like to leave your air conditioned homes to travel on a tour bus with 14 people during the height of the summer?
Jake Pitts: [Laughing] We’ve been touring for some time and it’s something you have to get used to. It’s really hot so you have to be prepared to battle the heat and handle all the down time. You have to find something to do with yourself.
We do some interviews, Meet & Greets, and then play for 35 minutes, but it’s still a long day. We also have on-going Xbox NCAA football tournaments; we write music and even have a recording rig out with us.
Jinxx: Honestly I’m having a blast out here. Other than the heat, on the road is where I belong. I think I actually get depressed when I’m home and not playing live every day.
Even if were only on stage for 35 minutes, it’s my drug! It puts me in good spirits and having a good time on the road. I spend a lot of time in my bunk writing while everyone is asleep, and then sleep during the day until we play.
Robert: With 14 people on the bus it must be like a reality show?
Jake Pitts: It gets cramped and we get in each other’s way, but you just have to deal with it.
Robert: The logistical aspects of the tour seem challenging considering your only playing for 35 minutes each day?
Jinxx: I sometimes like to go off and get away. Like yesterday when we were in Darien Lake and I went riding roller coasters. It’s a nice departure.
Robert: Did you get recognized?
Jinxx: [Laughing] Oh yeah, a lot!
Robert: You did a sold out headlining tour this past winter at some pretty big venues. Do you think you’ve outgrown these festival tours?
Jake Pitts: We can do headline tours, but think it’s important for a band to grow. To go out and do these festivals with bands that are bigger than us and open for them. There are so many different bands on this tour.
It puts us out in front of new people every day. I think we can turn a lot of people who have either never heard of us, or maybe heard of us but never had the chance to see us, and then turn them into fans.
Jinxx: I’ve heard firsthand accounts from other bands who heard about us but had a bad vibe because of the make-up or whatever. Then when they saw us play said, “You guys shred.” They had no idea. It’s great exposure for us.
Robert: You have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter & Facebook and can easily sell out venues in the US without the help from conventional radio and music video stations. What the secret to your success and popularity?
Jake Pitts: The music industry is a totally different place then it was 10 to 20 years ago. “In the End” is getting radio play, not just satellite radio. Fans are Tweeting us when and where they heard our song. It’s growing but it is still really tough.
I don’t pretend to understand the whole radio market thing. It sucks, but it’s a different age and time. Everybody nowadays is online with YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, which is awesome. Bands can reach kids around the world, where as 20 years ago it was a lot harder. We have an amazing fan base that sticks by us.
Robert: So it really comes down to bands being able to evolve and adjust with the times.
Jake: We have to learn how to do what works.
Jake Pitts: The old school model of success doesn’t work these days because of social media and downloading. You have to work with what’s available. There are pros and cons. It actually gives us better control to prove ourselves and get ourselves out there, to work it to our advantage.
Robert: Speaking of being a global band, are you more popular in the US or overseas?
Jake Pitts: It’s hard to tell, we’re really big in the UK. We play bigger venues than we do here and we’ll sell them out. But the UK is a lot smaller than the US, so I would have to say the UK and US are neck and neck.
We were in Australia once and it was awesome. Every time we go back to a place we see it growing and growing, but there are so many places that we have never been yet.
Jinxx: We have been together for a few years as Black Veil Brides and I still feel the same when I started, that same hunger for this band. To see our audiences grow bigger and player larger venues, it’s simply incredible.
When we return to these places it’s exciting. I can wait to go back down to Australia to see how we are doing. It blows our mind.
Robert: It sounds as if you are living your dream.
Jinxx & Jake Pitts: [Resounding] Absolutely!
Jake Pitts: The thing that made me pick up the guitar at 13 was Metallica. I knew from that point on that this is what I wanted to do.
Obviously you have to work at it and do whatever it takes. It took a lot! If you have the drive and determination to do something, anyone can do what they want.
Jinxx: It was the same thing for me with Metallica. I had a hard time growing up without a lot of friends. My guitar was my friend. It got me through some really rough times as a kid.
I would learn every Metallica riff and solo. It kept my mind busy and I said, “One day I’m going to show the world I can do something,” and now here I am.
Robert: It looks like you’re playing Schecter guitars?
Jake Pitts: Yeah, our signature guitars should be back in LA by now, and we’ll do a release for them at NAMM in January 2014.