A ravaged dystopia is at the center of Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones, the third release from Black Veil Brides, a concept record about ruling religious extremists and a young band of rebels who choose to fight back.
The fictional government is called F.E.A.R.: For Every and All Religion.
“It’s supposed to be the Orwellian smiling face with the knife behind the back kind of thing,” said band front man Andy Biersack in a recent phone interview. “It’s a reference to a lot of the people I knew growing up in school, politically and in church who were warping the vision of positive things and using it to get people to their side, and ultimately using it for evil.”
Biersack is not anti-religious; in fact, he harbors a deep fascination for the topic.
“Religion, particularly Catholicism, is something rooted in me since I was very young — there’s never been something so important in my life,” he said. “I always wanted to find out as much about it as I possibly can, particularly the Christian religions. That being said, my interest has always been in how people use it for positivity in their life.”
Wretched and Divine is musically sweeping, bold and operatic, while maintaining the metallic sheen and youthful angst of the group’s first two albums.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the more theatrical ‘70s rock stuff … Bat Out Of Hell was a huge influence on me,” said Biersack. “But I’m also a big fan of darker themed musicals. I’m not a show tunes guy, but I was a big fan of the original cast of Sweeney Todd and Phantom of the Opera.
Green Day’s American Idiot also loomed large.
“Not in terms of the music, but for the way the songs tied together,” said Biersack.
The title track describes the gang’s attempts to rescue “the ones who don’t know they exist” from “a land where chaos reigns — global disturbia.” But the standout track “Devil’s Choir” points out that not everyone can be saved.
“With people who are self-destructive, sometimes being supportive is counterproductive,” said Biersack in an interview that’s included with deluxe packages of the disc. “It’s about wanting to help someone while teaching them to help themselves … we’ll care for you, but you have to find a way to get yourself up.”
Biersack knows that a rock opera, punctuated with narration from William Control’s Wil Francis, is both ambitious and a bit of a departure for the band — something he welcomes.
“All three of our records are certainly different, I don’t think you can listen to the first two and say that’s the same band doing the same thing,” he said. “We’ve always been interested in growing. It’s not to challenge the audience, but to keep things exciting. The bands that I love would never make the same record twice.”
The upcoming Manchester show will feature material from the album.
“A lot of bands choose not to play a lot of new songs, but we tend to give our fans a lot more credit,” said Biersack. “They’re fans of our music so let’s show them something new. They’re not coming to see the same old stuff … but we’re also playing an hour and a half set and doing tons of material from all three records.”
Black Veil Brides began while Biersack was still in high school — he’s the only original member left in the group. In a short time, BVB made a big mark on the rock scene, but Biersack doesn’t dwell on that.
“Look, it’s incremental, it’s about the fan base and how we’ve been able to grow with our audience,” he said. “There are no delusions that we’re making millions of dollars or having all the accoutrements of rock stars. The reward comes from looking out at people who are genuinely excited to be there and seeing that number grow every day.”
However, he’s had his share of happy rock star moments.
“It’s also not bad to come back to the dressing room after a sold out show and see a text message saying you have the number one record in all genres on iTunes right now over people like Rihanna,” Biersack said. “It’s been an amazing ride; I’ve grown up with this. I was 17 years old when we started touring and it’s great to be 22 and make something I’m so proud of, with my best friends in the world, and get to share it with this audience.”