POZ Interview: Juliet Simms + Andy Biersack
Senior Writer Jesse Richman sat down with Juliet Simms and Andy Biersack (Black Veil Brides) at Warped Tour a week or so ago for an incredibly in-depth interview. We spoke with Simms and Biersack about Warped Tour, The Voice, each of their careers in the music industry, the future for both, and so much more. Check out one of the most in-depthi interviews we’ve ever done on PropertyOfZack below!
How are you guys doing?
Andy: I’m good.
Juliet: I’m good. Definitely warped.
I caught your set this afternoon, Juliet. First of all, it sounded great and the crowd seemed to be into it. How are you feeling about these dates?
Juliet: Honestly, it was unexpected to arrive on this tour and have such an incredible response. I only came out here with a guitarist. Thankfully, Black Veil Brides have been more than accommodating and Warped Tour has been so accommodating in helping me so much. It’s been pretty crazy.
POZ: I can only imagine!
Juliet: Keep-A-Breast has been amazing too.
As you mentioned on stage, today is your and Andy’s anniversary – you met here at the Long Island Warped Tour two years ago?
Andy: We didn’t meet, but we officially started dating here. We’d been hanging out for a couple weeks at that point, but I guess we officially decided to call it what it is is here.
Juliet: Yeah, we’re in love, and he…
POZ: Was there any great romantic story to that?
Juliet: There’s a couple! We were walking through bus world, and that’s where we screamed at the sky, like, “I love Andy” and “I love Juliet.”
Andy: I was screaming that I love Andy. She was a little upset [Laughs].
Juliet: That’s where we “officiated” everything.
Is it tough, with both of you being so in the middle of big points in your careers right now, to find the time?
Andy: Yeah, but in a situation like this, it’s so nice to be on the same tour. Most of the year we don’t get to spend as much time together as we’d like to, because of tours and schedules. But actually, every tour that she’s done since The Voice I’ve been on. I just go out with her. On the last one I helped, I co-tour managed.
POZ: Do you schedule it around each other?
Andy: You can’t really. Black Veil is on tour like eight months out of the year. It’s hard, but fortunately the one time she had a long run I came out.
Juliet: He’s being too humble. He’s been incredible. Seriously, he’s been helping me a lot with management, promotion, and anything I need to do, from “what shirt should we make?” to “this song” or “that set,” and setting up things for shows. He came out and was on tour with me in a van! No laying down or anything, and just helping me with everything.
Andy: I get up every morning at the buttcrack of dawn and help her set up her merch, and…
Juliet: Even on Warped Tour, where this amazing rockstar should be sleeping in bed until 3PM, he’s getting up in the morning and carrying things, finding people with me, helping out with street teamers, and doing everything with me. It’s absolutely incredible how much he’s been helping me.
Andy: It’s not her fault, but there’s nobody stepping up to do it. She’s had a lot of mismanagement – people who have, in my opinion, not been there when needed over here career, so…
POZ: I feel like that’s been a story since going back to the Automatic Loveletter days.
Juliet: It’s an ongoing theme for sure, but the struggle, and the fight, and the working this hard is just going to make for a good story.
Initially, you were only going to do a short run on Warped Tour. But you recently announced that you’ll be doing the full tour.
Juliet: What happened was that I went and visited Andy during the California dates. And I basically just went up to Kevin [Lyman] and was like… It takes a lot of money to be on this tour, and I didn’t have the funds to be on it with a full band. So I told Kevin. Kevin has become… He’s family. Like he’s my uncle. He discovered me. He really was just like, “you’re going to be on here acoustic, you’re going to be on here for the full thing.”
You’ve done Warped as a full band tour with Automatic Loveletter. Is it strange being up there solo instead of with a band?
Absolutely not. Dave, my guitarist, has been incredible. He’s such a big help. Being up there is all about just connecting with the crowd, connecting with fans, giving your message, and it’s being received really well.
Is Automatic Loveletter still a thing?
Juliet: It’s completely not over. To be completely honest, Automatic Loveletter was me. I wrote every song. The reason that it’s Juliet Simms now is because I’m on the show [The Voice].
Andy: It’s called Semi-Automatic Loveletter now. [laughs]
Juliet: What he said. [laughs]
Ok, so let’s talk about that – you were on The Voice. One thing that we’ve seen a lot of over the past few years is people from the Warped Tour scene going onto The Voice. It seems like a lot are going there to try to escape from this world, to get into more mainstream territory, more radio territory.
POZ: Well that’s what I was going to ask about! You’re back here on Warped, so that doesn’t seem to be your agenda.
Juliet: I don’t have the mentality that The Voice is bigger than Warped Tour. I think that Warped Tour is such a great tour. Who wouldn’t kill to be on it? And that’s what I’ve been doing. Every day we wake up at 7:30am and we bust our asses because, shit man, you’re reaching so many people when you’re on this tour!
Andy: It’s one of those things, you know? She went on a tour with an artist she had toured with in the past, and the tour was very poorly promoted. Most of her fans didn’t even know she was in the cities she was in. It was a poorly attended tour. This is a situation where her fans know that she’s here and she’s already at the show. They can walk up and go see their favorite singer. It’s a great situation for any band, and especially an artist that has some sort of appeal or has done something commercially.
Are you seeing folks coming out to see you at Warped who clearly know you from The Voice and have never been to Warped Tour?
Juliet: Definitely, for sure. I’ve totally seen that.
POZ: I imagine they stick out like a sore thumb.
Juliet: It’s crazy! I’ll see…
Andy: They only know “Roxanne!”
Juliet: Yeah! They start screaming when I sing “Roxanne” or “Man’s World.” I’ll see a 17 year old girl who knew me from Automatic Loveletter, but then I’ll also see people in their 50’s! Like screaming and stuff! They obviously saw me from the show. It’s crazy.
Andy: It’s an interesting dynamic to observe. So many of the stagehands and people who work on my stage all have a different perspective on her; like “oh, my wife loves you from the show.” For somebody who’s been on Warped Tour for a hundred years to now be like “I watched you at home while you were on my TV.” Television has such an interesting impact. People feel like they know you more when you’re on TV, when you’re on a highly rated television show for a year almost…
POZ: You’re in their living room every week.
Andy: There are more people that say, “My wife said to say hello.” She doesn’t fuckin’ know their wife! But everybody thinks… It’s nice, because she’s such an amicable person anyway.
Is it hard for you? Do you feel like you’re playing to two different audiences at once?
Juliet: No, I mean… Honestly, when I’m performing I’m in my own world. When I’m performing to kids, people, grownups, or whatever; everyone has been there and everybody has the same things in their minds. It’s like we’re all one. When I’m performing or doing whatever I’m doing with an audience, I kind of just feel like “we are who we are, let’s all connect and be one right now.”
Does performing feel different post-Voice than it did before?
Juliet: Definitely! I would definitely say because of The Voice I’ve found my voice. Not to say that I didn’t know who I was in previous tours, but I just feel like this is who I am now.
You’ve got your first single out from the post-Voice era called “Wild Child.” Can you talk about the song and how it came about?
Juliet: The song was very much inspired by the fact that I’d have fans come to me in person or through Facebook, Twitter, fan letters, all of that, and I’d read them. Right now it’s such a controversial time right now – there’s bullying. People are weird, there are freaks and there are dorks and there are losers and that’s fucking awesome. It makes them different. It’s about you being confident about yourself and saying “fuck you” to the world and that this is who I am and I’m going to represent myself. That’s what that song is about.
POZ: That sounds a lot like what Black Veil Brides have been singing about for a few years. Is that part of your bond?
Juliet: Definitely. Andy has inspired me so, so much. I feel like one of the reasons why we’ve connected so much is that we have a lot of the same mentality. It just worked out perfectly.
Andy: Plus I like her hair.
POZ: It’s a new look! [Simms recently chopped off her lengthy tresses in favor of a bleach-blonde pixie cut].
Juliet: It’s a new look. It’s a “I don’t give a shit! I’m going to fucking take a shower and be done with it!”
Andy: Good for Warped Tour.
On The Voice you were coached by Cee-Lo Green and you’ve continued working with him afterwards. Can you talk a bit about what you guys are up to?
Juliet: I performed with him a couple weeks ago on his new single. He’s definitely taken a good role in helping me creatively and talking about me in interviews. He’s been such a huge supporter. I’m sure we’ll be doing something together in the near future.
You’ve got the one single out. What else is coming? Is there an album in the works?
Juliet: Honestly, what’s happening right now is, I’m in negotiations with Universal Records. And whether or not we do an album together, I’m going to be… if it’s a Kickstarter, or if it’s another label…
POZ: Do they have you locked into something through The Voice?
Andy: They have an option. The single was released through a contractual option. The rest of it is up to whether they want to make a record or not.
Juliet: And it doesn’t matter either way. I have so many studios, so many friends, so many musicians… I am going to get an album done this year for sure and out.
POZ: Have you been writing in the meantime?
Andy: She has, like, 100 songs.
Juliet: So much.
On The Voice, it seemed like you sang a lot of classic rock material, which is a different direction from your earlier work. Is that indicative of where the writing for the album is going?
Juliet: Yes. On the show, I wanted to do something different that people haven’t done on singing shows before. And I feel like I did that.
POZ: You definitely didn’t go the typical ballad, big singer route. You went the rock n’ roll route.
Juliet: I wanted to sing songs that inspired me throughout my career and inspired me to sing and be in a band. I feel like that connected a lot. That’s why I got so far in the competition. I feel like what’s missing today in music is that kind of sound, that kind of music, and that kind of rock star. Where are our Debbie Harrys and Joan Jetts and Fiona Apples and Janice Joplins? Where are they?
POZ: Are you concerned that maybe there’s not room for that kind of person in the musical world right now?
Juliet: Oh not at all! I think there’s totally room. I think there’s one spot available, and it’s mine! And if I do what I did on the show in my own music, I feel like that will connect with my audience, because there’s a demand for it and it’s missing. And it needs to be there.
One other thing I wanted to quickly ask you about. You have a bracelet company called Never Take It Off. Can you tell me how that came to be?
Juliet: What’s really great about the company is that it started on 2011 on Warped Tour; it started with the record I released, The Kids Will Take Their Monsters On. And it’s all about making vows and promises — to yourself, or to somebody else. If you think about a friendship bracelet, it’s kind of like that.
Andy: It’s a vow. She was talking about the concept behind her music and everything of kids fitting it, and having something they’re getting over or whatever… It’s vows. “I’m going to stop doing this thing that’s harmful to myself,” or “I’m going to be more outgoing” or “I’m going to do these things.” The bracelets all represent different vows. The kids get them and they put them on. [Points to wrist] That red one has been on me for three years. It’s a vow to yourself. Never Take It Off. I like it a lot. I got involved. I now have a line within it.
Juliet: Andy is actually the first official, like, “Never Take It Off by Andy Biersack.”
Andy: People tie things around their finger, to remember a date. It’s essentially the same concept, you know?
Juliet: He designed his line, did came up with the names of the vows and bracelets, and necklaces. It’s really cool.
So Andy, while I’ve got you here, do you mind if I ask you a couple questions?
How are Black Veil Brides doing this year? You’ve done Warped before.
Andy: It’s very different to be one of the headlining bands on the tour and to have that situation is very humbling. I went to Warped Tour every single year growing up and I got to see Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, and AFI and all my favorite bands that I’d stand and watch. I dunno, it’s cool to play on it. I say it on stage every day and I mean it: It really is an honor. All of the macho swagger of everyone being on stage, all the “get the fuck up” and shit, it’s fine. We all do it. But the one thing that should be said by every band – and I think most bands do — is that it is truly an honor for anyone to be involved in this. It’s the 19th year of this. For any of our bands that are stylistically a departure from the core of bands the tour started with, like NOFX playing in front of a lake and trees, for us to be accepted onto something like this, and to be the people that are carrying the flag on Kevin’s tour, is a huge honor. The reception to us has been insane as well. I didn’t know what to expect. Going into the last Warped Tour we did, we just put out our first major label album. Our touring numbers were solid at clubs, but we hadn’t played big stages or whatver. We did pretty well, but this year is a whole different ball game. It’s crazy to see the number of people out there.
You mentioned that you guys aren’t exactly where the tour started out. One thing I’ve noticed this year is that it seems like a very fractured tour. There are a lot of little scenes, but not one overriding scene anymore. And of all those little scenes, the biggest one is metal – whether it’s metalcore, or whatever little gradations you want to put on the term. Why do you think metal has become such a strong part of what started as a punk rock thing?
Andy: You know, there are different divisions of punk rock, and people who believe “only this is punk rock” and “only this is punk rock.” And within that, bands started to tread that line. You go back even to the 80’s, when the glam rock stuff was going on, and that was “heavy metal.” These bands like GBH, all these bands that were teasing up their hair and doing glam rock albums, like TSOL that cross that line. You have these punk rock bands that crossed that line way back then.
POZ: And then you could look at a band like Crüe or early Van Halen, they were coming out of that punk tradition as much as metal.
Andy: Exactly. I think it dates back to a point even then that it’s such a crossover, that young fans don’t even know what a band like The Dead Boys or The Damned is, and they don’t know that Black Veil Brides is heavily influenced by that stuff. But they do know what Metallica is though, so they can associate with that part of our influence. A band like Bring Me The Horizon, they have a mosh-metal feeling to them. They’re very energetic on stage. There are always elements of punk rock in the whole festival, it’s just sometimes people can’t see it that way. And then the one thing that’s kept on, that I think is amazing, is ska has also had a very long history on this tour. With Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger and some smaller stage bands, there’s a lot of ska on this tour, and that hasn’t been around in a while. Maybe that’ll make a resurgence.
POZ: Maybe it’s time for the fourth wave of ska!
Andy: Yeah exactly! The new wave! Mosh ska. We’ll have kids with swoopy bands doing upstroke ska. [Laughs] I think there’s enough punk rock ethic in what metal currently is, or in what people call metal, that you’re not looking at… There’s only one band on this tour, and that’s Black Dahlia Murder, that you could probably classify as “metal” as it is. I greatly respect them. It’s not necessarily the type of music I buy and listen to, but I go by their stage and go, “Holy fuck, they’re playing guitars!” Not to dog any bands on the tour, but it’s nice to hear people playing the fucking guitar, not just hitting it over and over again while people jump.
Since you went there, I have to ask about the amp controversy. Bands have been doing fake cabs since The Who in the 70’s.
Andy: It’s as simple as this: Black Veil Brides is the band with the long hair and the body paint and the makeup. That’s the “faggy” band for that. And then Black Veil Brides stops wearing the makeup, cuts the hair, and it’s “the guy sounds like the guy from Nickelback” now. Okay, we come out and play new songs and they’re “oh, that’s different. But there has to be something!” So they go on stage and take a picture of our cabs and then say that they’re fake amplifiers. Which, by the way, is so incredibly ignorant, because cabinets are never amplifiers! You cannot play music out of a cab. Unless someone has figured out a way to plug directly into a cab! Machinehead came out last week and was defending us in a way. Robb Flynn was like, do people really think that like, Judas Priest and Slayer and all of those – the ones that are on fire in the background, that they’re working too? Do they have fucking cables going up to the ceiling?
POZ: Slayer’s upside-down cross…
Andy: Exactly! You look at pictures of Van Halen and shit, they’ve got stacks and stacks. How could they possibly maintain any amount of electricity in that venue with 9 million cabs. KISS has had cabs that shoot video out of them for years! Do they think those are working as well? So what we did was turn them around, and asked the audience “look how boring this is! See these pieces of wood? People online are saying this is a better way to do this, that we’re faking. Somehow we’re still making music, but would you prefer if we turned these around?” And of course, an audience wants to see a show. We’re Black Veil Brides; we make no bones, we’re not going out here to be the “artistic cred” band. There’s a lot of bands I have great respect for…a band like letlive. is a way different band from Black Veil Brides. We might come from similar things, and we can talk about playing VFWs and what that shit was like, but when we’re on stage, we’re the band that has the smoke bombs and the fuckin’ theatricality. So why wouldn’t we take that step on Warped Tour and have some sort of staging? That’s just part of who we are. So we’ll keep ‘em turned around; if people want it, maybe we’ll do them sideways, do a triangle of them? [Laughs] But yeah, it was silly. People always find something. I’m sure the next thing will be, like, someone in the band’ll grow a beard and then it will be “beards are gay.” I don’t know, but there will be something.
You brought up KISS earlier. You guys lost a lot of the makeup and longhair that made your reputation in the beginning.
Andy: We were described as the Walmart KISS, the shitty KISS. “Stole everything from KISS”
POZ: So is this your KISS late-80’s/early-90’s “Unmasked” era?
Andy: You become a caricature of yourself over time. We never sat down and said, “Hey, let’s all stop wearing makeup.” Over the years, you look in the mirror and you don’t want to do the thing as much, because the thing is becoming… You can’t dress up as the same thing for Halloween every year and not get bored of it. We love the theatricality and going on stage and having that presentation, but for the time being we’re enjoying a more raw, natural look. We’re still guys in fucking leather jackets and everything else. That’s still part of us. But I don’t think the band needs to go out there like that. And by the way, if you want to see a band that’s head to toe in paint and makeup, there’s about 30 bands that have come out in the last year and a half that are doing that.
So the stripped-down look – is this a more “authentic” you, or is it another character that’s just the “stripped-down character” instead of the “makeup character?”
Andy: I like to think that it’s just what Black Veil Brides currently is. And I don’t know if in six months we’ll be wearing gas masks and clown wigs. Who knows what the next thing is, what we’re going to feel? I don’t think that’s going to happen, but right now as it is we’re not sitting around going “man, I wish we were still wearing makeup” or “it’s great that we’re not doing this.” We’re just wanna go out there and perform. I think we’re a better band than we’ve ever been. The look fits well with that.
Like you said, you don’t know what you’ll be in six months, but do you know where you’ll be? What’s coming after Warped Tour for BVB?
Andy: We’re doing a co-headlining tour with Bullet From My Valentine in the States for the Monster Outbreak Tour.
POZ: That’s an interesting older band / newer band mix.
Andy: Yeah, it’s gonna be fun. They’re closing each night. A lot of the venues we’re playing are venues we just headlined. It’ll be cool to see not only our fans, but theirs.
It’s funny, because I feel like Bullet For My Valentine started out in this Warped Tour scene when they were getting going, but now they almost seem like the furthest thing from it. They’re in a very different world.
Andy: Same thing with Avenged Sevenfold. People forget that Avenged Sevenfold did Warped Tour in tents for years and years. Then they worked their way up to second stage, and main stage…
POZ: I remember people saying that M. Shadows singing would never work!
Andy: Exactly, yeah! I remember, I saw them in like 2004 at Warped Tour. They were on the second main stage. He sang all the fucking songs – this is before they released the singing record. So he comes out and sings the songs and I’m like “whoa! This is more up my alley!” On Waking The Fallen, I think everyone knew they were going to skyrocket. And thank god they’re nice guys. We toured with them last year and they were wonderful people. And obviously an influence on us. We try to look at that and take it a step further. We wanted to be that band where, if we’re going to be on Warped Tour, we want to give them a cool show.
POZ: Is it your goal to have one foot in this Warped world and another in the mainstream rock world?
Andy: Maybe. I would never want to abandon something that has been so kind to us. So many bands get too big for their britches, they’re like “oh, we’re too big for Warped Tour,” blah blah blah. Assumably we probably won’t do it again next year just because that’s the nature of the tour, but I think if Kevin invited us again, we would definitely do it.
Juliet: I’ll always do it.
Andy: She’ll always be here. They actually put her in one of the production trucks at the end of the tour. [Laughs]
POZ: Just keep her ‘til next year! [Laughs].
Juliet; This tour has been so incredible. Today is our anniversary, and today they let me and Andy plan the whole menu for catering.
POZ: What’s on the menu?
Andy: At lunch we had chicken wings, this corn that I really love, and BLTs. For dinner we’re doing ribs and mac n’ cheese. We’re going to go get that right now!
by Jesse Richman
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