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Black Veil Brides ready to put on a show

He equates it all to Santana face.

Andy Biersack, frontman for Revlon-abetted, glam-goth rockers Black Veil Brides, is defending his right to wear a studded codpiece onstage and still be taken seriously.

Yeah, he knows you’re laughing.

Hear him out.

Biersack’s point: Just because the Brides rock stilettos and look as if they were waterboarded in mascara doesn’t mean they can’t play.

It’s just part of the show, and to underscore his argument, he likens the band’s image to the goofy, rubber-lipped facial ticks that many six-stringers employ when ripping out a tasty lead.

“There is no reason why a guitar player makes the guitar-playing faces,” Biersack says. “It doesn’t help you play guitar. You’ve not improved your skills. It’s because you’re up onstage, and the natural inclination is to put on a show. The rock guy faces are just as much of a front or a show as us wearing crazy makeup. It’s just a different scale.”

For Biersack, 22, this outlook all began when he was a little kid who happened upon his dad’s stash of Kiss trading cards in the basement one day.

The sight of those dudes, smothered in satin and grease paint, looking like rock ‘n’ roll extraterrestrials, was the lit match that ignited his passion for rock at its most flamboyant.

“I remember thinking, ‘Holy (crap), this is the coolest looking thing I’ve ever seen,’ ” Biersack recalls. “I didn’t understand what the hell it was, but was just thinking, aesthetically, it was so interesting and so cool, I became obsessed with it immediately. There was never a time when I wasn’t making guitars out of cardboard or dressing up like the Misfits. Every Christmas, all I ever wanted was Playskool instruments. It was my entire life. And then by the time I was 6 or 7 years old, it became, ‘Now I’m going to force my entire family to watch me perform all these rock songs.’ ”

Still, growing up in a small town in southern Ohio, Biersack seemed like something of an anachronism, out of tune with what all the other kids were into, his tastes more aligned with those of their dads.

And so when he got the Black Veil Brides together, it was only natural that they would do so while clad in what could pass for Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” hand-me-downs.

“We never sat down and said, ‘Hey, do you want to be a band that wears makeup and dresses up in costumes and stuff?’ ” Biersack says. “It was just like, ‘This is what rock bands do and we think it looks awesome.’ Then, we get out there, and people are like, ‘Oh, you (gay slur).’ It was like, ‘I didn’t anticipate this reaction, but OK.’ ”

On the eve of the release of their third record, “Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones,” which comes out on Tuesday, the Brides have toned down their image a bit.

Biersack no longer teases his hair up to the tree tops, now favoring a more closed-cropped ‘do, and the group has abandoned the high heels and leather-shop look, for the most part.

Instead, the Brides have ground their fondness for excess and extravagance into the music itself.

“Wretched and Divine” is a dystopian rock opera, an Orwellian concept album that revolves around a group of rebels battling the conformist-minded powers that be.

The band is even releasing a full-length film adaptation of the album’s storyline.

Sonically, everything is outsize: Biersack sings in the full-throated, rousing tones of a field commander attempting to get his troops ready for battle, while his band follows suit, always working from one crescendo to the next.

It’s an ostentatious sound with a decidedly less glamorous origin: Biersack dropped out of high school and moved to L.A. at age 17 to pursue his dream of becoming a rock star, his hunger for success rivaled by the hunger in his belly.

“I was homeless for almost a year and a half, just living in my car or bouncing around peoples’ houses, going to 7-Eleven at the end of the day and asking them for the taquitos that they were going to throw out because I hadn’t eaten in two days,” he recalls.

And so Biersack created his own world, one posited on larger-than-life rock ‘n’ roll, to escape the one he then inhabited.

It worked.

“Wretched and Divine” will most likely debut in the top 10 of the Billboard album chart, and the band has become a solid tour headliner.

They like to put on a show, and to do so without dressing up seems counterintuitive to Biersack.

He frames it in terms of consumer value, treating denim with disdain.

“Sometimes bands act as if the audience has paid to come bask in their artistry and all they need to do is stand there in a T-shirt and jeans and aren’t they wonderful?” he says. “But we want to go out onstage and show you the greatest thing that you can see for the money that you’ve paid. It just boils down to that.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@
reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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