As late afternoon drifts into early evening, there’s a comforting hush blanketing the empty Black Cherry Lounge.
Footsteps, though, echo, as the absence of partying crowds amplify the slightest sound. And if you listen closely, there’s a low, but continual, rumble. Somewhere just on the horizon of consciousness.
A moment later, the penny drops. Up above, on the streets outside, like rolling thunder, the excited buzz of hundreds of chattering kids can be heard, even down here.
Moments earlier, Black Veil Brides, in all their made-up glory, bedecked in their on-stage finery, swept past the hordes of euphoric fans, in the most incongruous of vehicles; a D & G taxi.
The new generation’s rock royalty, with a bored Indian driver at the wheel, with roll-up secured jauntily behind his ear, have arrived.
A youthful, but harassed, Chris Smyth of La Digit PR also arrives. Taut, wired and on it. “Harry, OK, look; CC and Jake will be through in a minute. Twenty minutes enough for you?”
I figure it will be. After all, what am I gonna hear? The usual bullshit, right? Bored, complacent rock stars, programmed to dutifully trot out the management line; Album rocks, man! Tour’s great, man! Everything’s great! Man.
At forty four, I’m old enough to be the father of the Brides and in this business you get older quicker. Bullshit does that. Wearily hopping aboard the PR merry-go-round for another blast of déjà vu dizziness, another ticket to ride the yeah-yeah-whatever carousel. But, like the optimist taking delivery of a trailer full of horse-shit for his birthday, who breaks out the shovel and starts digging, looking for the horse, I always think this time, maybe, it’ll be different…
Jake, fifty per cent of BVB’s six-string artillery and CC, the band’s tub-thumper, arrive in a flurry of Max Factor, ten-to-the-dozen wise-cracks and face-splitting grins.
The usual intros, the obligatory photo shoot with the standard rock star-issue bottle of Jack the lad and we’re ready to roll.
“The UK’s great” offers Jake, “All the shows have been sold out and we’re just having a blast, playing the new songs and having a great time”
“This city, in particular, seems to be really good for us” says Jake, thoughtfully. “Last time when we were here, with the Murder Dolls, in February, it was sold out and to get this kinda welcome is great. Feels good. Real good”
“Sure, sure” agrees CC. “Last time, this city was my favourite gig of the whole tour and it seems each time we come back to a place, the shows are a little bigger and then a little bit bigger still, and it keeps on growing and, man, it’s just so great!”
Both musicians are genuinely stunned to learn the queue for the gig started at 10.00am and, at the time of our talking, stretched nearly half a mile back up the street and out of town.
“Holy shit” whispers a visibly shaken Jake as the hugely excitable CC exclaims, “Oh, man, we just got back from a signing and there were kids chasing the van and when we pulled in here, we were like, ‘they’re here for us?’ “
Right now, at this stage in their life and career, these two kids are genuinely thrilled to be where they are. Hugely likeable, genuine and humbled and as far from complacent as one could imagine, they feel privileged to have achieved this much.
“We were shooting a video before we started the tour” explains CC “and my buddy called my cell and I’m like, ‘hey man, can’t talk right now I’m at work’ and then I realised, hey, this is my work! This is my job, man! Hell, I’d pay them to let me do this shit. It’s just the greatest feeling in the world!”
They make an interesting contrast. Jake, slightly more reflective and considered, CC the archetypal drummer; all hyper energy and restless body language.
Jake, though, while no less thrilled with the band’s success reasonably considers it just reward for slog and hard graft. “I know the bands that hate on us, and we got a lot of them, think all this just happened but, man, we’ve worked hard to get where we are. I’d do the day job, get home and for six hours straight, I’d sit in my room just practicing. Over and over. Every day. We’ve paid our dues. We all have. We all had the shitty day-jobs and we worked for this”
Jake has plenty to say about the support of his mother and family, his musical heroes and where he sees the Brides going next. CC expounds on his and the band’s influences and suddenly it dawns on me; this is the one that’s different. Finally I’m off the bullshit express. These kids are actually for real. Christ, who knew? No flannel, just straight-up, full-on love of rock ‘n’ roll.
Maybe somewhere down the path that the Great Architect has marked out for Black Veil Brides, rehab, fall-out, crash-and-burn excess and the traditional rock ‘n’ roll demise awaits but, for now, they’re living the dream and grateful for every thrill-filled second.
There’s more to come, too. A lot more. Come back next time and if you put a little whiskey in my jar, I’ll tell you all about it…