Interview: Pierce The Veil
Pierce The Veil have been on quite the ride since the release of their fourth studio album, Misadventures, which was released in 2016. Misadventures packed a fast-paced punch and rattled its way into the mainstream, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Top 200. Pierce The Veil have been touring in support of this record for the past year, and are currently on tour with Rise Against. I got to sit down with bassist Jaime Preciado (pictured above, middle right) and drummer Mike Fuentes (pictured above, left) a few hours prior to their show in Calgary to talk about the latest record, the growth of their band over the past 10 years, and the deeply personal relationship that they share with their fans.
You’re only one day into this tour, but how has it been so far?
Jaime: We’re really excited to be playing with Rise Against, I think they're on the bucket list [to tour with] of any of the bands we grew up listening to. Like you said, it’s only been one day, so we haven’t really met all the dudes yet and had a formal meeting, only in passing and stuff. I think today we’ll find some time to go in their green room and say hey. We’re that type of band that likes to surround themselves with all the bands and have some camaraderie. It’s cool for us playing for their fans. This whole year we’ve been doing a lot of headline shows, so this is a nice change of pace for us, and it makes it come back to the old style shows where we were opening and trying to win crowds and make new fans. Trying to make new fans is what it’s all about, and we’re happy about it. I’m stoked to be supporting them, and they’re a great headline act.
What’s your favourite part about touring in Canada?
Jaime: I can probably speak for everybody in that we’re super f---ing happy that it’s not winter. We were here in February, and it was COLD. We’re from San Diego, so anything under 50 degrees Fahrenheit is cold. It was freezing. We were in Montreal, and it was - 5 Fahrenheit, and with the wind chill it was -18 Fahrenheit (-27 degrees Celcius). It becomes a chore to go outside and take the trash out or something. You have to mentally prepare yourself and put like, 8 jackets on! Being on tour we walk everywhere. If a restaurant is a couple blocks away, and it’s that cold, we have to put our gloves on, face masks - it’s like you’re going out to battle! But if it’s not winter time, it’s gorgeous. The mountains are insane, the drives are awesome. The people are super friendly - the friendliest people on earth. And you guys have the Canadian accent, which is awesome. It’s very welcoming, especially when we were at the casino and everyone’s having a couple drinks and they start calling you “bud.”
I'm always glad to hear we hold up our "polite Canadian" reputation! You mentioned winning people over as you're opening for Rise Against on this tour. I hate to use the term “warm-up” act, cause there’s already a line of kids waiting outside to see Pierce The Veil in particular, but you guys have a very energetic live show. How do you keep up your energy?
Jaime: A lot of it comes from the crowd. We all feed off that. For these kinds of shows, it’s a little different, because there’s a lot of fans that have maybe never heard of us. It’s a blank canvas out there, we’re just trying to show these people who we are. I think that’s where it comes from. Even if it’s a guy in the back watching for a song or two, and then all of a sudden starts nodding his head, that’s just enough. It just becomes this mission to get everyone in the crowd open-eared and to get the vibe of our show. When you said we have fans lining up, those kids obviously keep the level high, and it’s infectious. Once people see that we’re all about having a good time, I think it spreads. That was the case for the first show, and hopefully, it’s the same for tonight - I heard it was a sold out show, so that’ll be cool. With the first show, it started out with people getting their bearings during the first song, then by the second or third song, everybody was ready to go. I think that gives us a lot of energy and gives us a lot of drive to do better.
You guys are still touring in support of Misadventures. What was the recording process for the album like, and what was different about it compared to other records?
This one was a bit trickier, because we had a plan for it, and it started to go in a different direction as far as our timing for things. It was unorthodox in terms of what went into the record and how it came together. There were tours in between the recording process, and that’s not normally what you do - you don’t record and then stop recording, go on tour, and then come back to recording. Normally you have an allotted amount of time - 2 or 3 months to write and record the record, so that’s why it was a bit unorthodox and why we named it Misadventures, cause that’s what it was all about. We’re just happy that it’s done, and that kids really enjoyed it, and we’re onto the next one - we’re already thinking about starting to write, and just get prepared mentally for a new record. I think this is our last run this year, so we’ll have some time to be home and touch the waters. We won’t go full force yet, but enough to start playing around with new tunes and stuff.
What was the most difficult song on the album to write and what was the easiest?
Jaime: There were two songs [“Sambuka,” “A Song for Isabelle”] that we had to write from scratch in the studio, and I think they were the hardest and easiest at the same time. The two songs came from thin air - we had a riff that we just built off of, and Mike had a drum beat to start one of the songs that kind of inspired the whole thing. One that was easy was one of the songs ["Sambuka"] was the shortest we’d ever written, so we were trying to add parts to it, and we thought we were just overthinking it. The song was there, but it was like 2 minutes long which is not normally our style. We have 5 minute long songs for some reason, that’s just always been what we do. It was a nice relief to go, “I think the song is done.” It’s such a hard call to know when the song is done.
Mike: It’s pretty hard for us to complete songs because we never feel like they’re done.
Jaime: We’re the kind of band that exhausts every wrong way to find the right way, just to find the right way just to make the song work. We’ll try this, we’ll try that, we’ll take this part out, we’ll add a bridge, we’ll add a breakdown, take it out, just to see if it works. That takes up a little bit of time sometimes, but then we know when it’s all said and done. We’ve tried everything that didn’t work, so we can sleep happy and move on to the next one. Those two songs were a pain in the ass, but really fun to make.
Mike: We learned that being in a studio for too long in a studio is not a good thing. Vic (lead vocals, guitar) works really well traveling to different places and cities by just experiencing the cities and getting a vibe from them. Even just walking around, he’ll write lyrics walking through Seattle or wherever. We need to keep that in mind for the next record - stay away from the cabin fever, and get out there.
How have the relationships in the band grown over the 10 years you’ve been together?
Jamie: We’re like a family, man! Being on tour with these guys since day one - we started on the right note. We all talked and agreed that this would be what we wanted to do. There was no one being like, “I kinda want to do this, but if it doesn’t work out...” We all put all our chips in one basket - did I get it right?
Mike: Eggs in one basket.
Jaime: Dammit. I’m so bad with sayings. But pretty much we were like, we’re gonna do this band, we have to go full force and put our entire lives into this band, and that’s what we all agreed on. Right out of the gate, we knew where it could go. After getting that out of the way, it’s a natural growth. You become like family - you know the quirks, the do’s and do not’s. All the things that are negative are about it is that we’re trying to make the show better or make the music better. We might kind of butt heads, but it’s always for the better of the band. It’s always to improve - egos are far away from us in this place. Knock on wood, hopefully to another 10 years - we’ll be old and gray, and rockin’ and rollin'.
You guys have a lot of personal songs. Of all the bands I’ve listened to and grown up listening to, Pierce The Veil seems to be one of the bands that the lyrics just really hit home. A lot of people really connect to that, and you’re one of those bands that kids say saved their lives. How do you keep up that relationship with your fans?
I think it just comes down to us being real - not putting on a front, not trying to be someone you’re not - we’re very much like the fans because we were the fans going to shows, waiting in lines, buying merch. We look up to other bands that in our eyes, did it the right way. Being personable with fans is giving them the respect they deserve - they’re the reason why you’re doing it - whether it’s stopping to take a photo, or just saying hi.
Mike: I remember being a kid going to shows and if I saw a band member, I would be kind of starstruck, but if I talked to them and they were actually kind to me, it was shocking. Some bands didn’t even give you the time of day, they were kind of like “f--k you.” I never really got that. We all know not to do that - these kids are supporting us.
Jaime: It’s never been in our personalities, we’re not the kind of people that are like that anyway, so that’s another good quality that I’d say we all have. If someone says “hey, I really like what you do,” a simple “thank you,” is easy, just be polite and respectful. I think that’s also the best advice for newer or bands just starting out. Know where you stand with your fans, they’re the reason you get to do what you do - you get to travel the world and play music with your friends. It blows your mind when you think about it - the least I can do is say hi.
What’s next for Pierce The Veil?
Jaime: Obviously writing is on the agenda. We have some stuff planned for next year, a couple festivals here and there. At the end of this year we’re doing a festival in Tuscon and then we’re doing Self Help Fest in Detroit. We’re gonna be busy, we’re gonna be laying low for the rest of the year but that does not mean we’re not working on stuff - we’re always workin’.