“We won’t ever stop”
Ten years in and four since their last album, ‘Misadventures’ may have taken PIERCE THE VEIL a while, but the wait was worth it.
Words: Heather McDaid. Photos: Phil Smithies.
Time flies when you’re having fun. Turns out Pierce The Veil have been enjoying themselves so much of late that they didn’t even know that 2016 marks their tenth birthday as a band until others pointed it out. But now they know, and there’s all the more reason to celebrate, with new album ‘Misadventures’ marking not only a landmark for the band, but a new chapter going forward.
It’s been a long road here, and no overnight success story. From the ashes of Before Today, the Fuentes brothers persevered with writing, soon recruiting Tony Perry and Jaime Preciado, the final pieces of the PTV puzzle. They knew it would take hard work, that there would be some lows along the way, but together they’ve grafted over the years and continued a journey that sees the highs getting ever-higher.
As they sit in a London flat, the weather changing its mind at the roll of a die, one moment thunderous, the next scorching, the band consider how they’d have felt knowing the road ahead of them all those years ago. “I would have felt really happy because that was our dream, you know,” begins vocalist Vic Fuentes. “To play bigger and bigger shows – I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, I knew that we would have to play to nobody at the beginning, but I was confident that we would actually keep playing bigger shows and keep putting out more records. I think that progressing is a huge thing, and that longevity is even more important.”
“I wouldn’t have changed anything,” adds Tony, “but it definitely would have given me a lot of confidence. 2006, 2007 was a scary time. I had been working full time and I was going to quit my job and do something completely out of the way, like I’m going to go live in a band”
“I would have cut my hair shorter and taken out the bleach spots,” jokes Jaime. “For me, we talk about all of these learning curves and growing pains, and doing all the things we did – some the right way some horribly the wrong way… We became better musicians, better people, better bandmates, better whatever just from all those experiences. Like now we know the ins and outs of our band.”
“We’re still learning every day,” admits Mike Fuentes. They remain far from perfect, and Jaime notes that, “I make mistakes on the regular. We have a joke of one in ten, like one in ten I get it right!”
Part of that learning process has been knowing what’s best for the band, and in the case of ‘Misadventures’, it was taking their time. Originally pencilled in for late 2014, it gradually found itself moving through 2015, and settling on a 2016 release, and now it’s out there. “It’s like a weight’s been lifted,” admits Jaime, with Vic adding, “It’s probably the most joyous and exciting moment of our band’s career.”
After a well deserved high-five between them for the album’s release, he continues, “To have this record out, we’ve been working on it for a long time and all of our fans have been very patient, so this is like a celebration.”
It started out the same as any other Pierce The Veil record; they’d finished a string of festival dates, headed home and started writing. “We pretty much had all the music ready then we went into the studio in Long Island and started laying down everything,” explains Vic. “I didn’t have any lyrics written down yet – I thought I was going to write them all in the studio. That didn’t happen.”
Instead, they worked solely on the music, finding themselves cutting two songs and starting again. “That was another little detour for us,” notes Jaime. “We weren’t expecting to do that, but we had to start from scratch which is not normally our vibe. That was a little challenging but we got through.”
“Our whole thing when we record songs is that we explore every single option there is, pretty much,” says Mike, the sun making an appearance to give their perfectionism some more gravitas. “We don’t just record the first thing that comes to mind.”
With Vic staying longer to work on vocals, he’d been in the studio for too long and just had to get out of the room. It was becoming a case of cabin fever, and that was no way to finish an album. So they stopped. They took off on a world tour slap bang in the middle, including Warped Tour, and then decided it was time to go back – but not to that studio. “Instead of staying in one room, I decided to go and write all over the place,” says Vic. “I stayed in all different houses, in loads of Airbnbs, I worked at a couple of cool different studios. All these places gave me different inspirations and ideas and I describe it as searching for the song.”
One such place was The Village in Santa Monica, where the likes of Snoop Dogg, Ziggy Marley and Weezer popped by, just one of many backdrops to their album. “I wanted each song to have a good story behind it. I’ve never decided to just fly somewhere to write songs. I booked a flight up to Seattle and wrote the last few songs up there, after that it was just a matter of going to record.”
But what was going through the minds of the rest of Pierce The Veil at this time? “We always had a quiet confidence in Vic,” Jaime says, with everyone nodding along. “We just let him be. Obviously there is communication going on sometimes but he knows we have complete faith in him. We were just waiting in the wings for a phone call saying ‘let’s move on with the next phase’.
“Getting that call – when he called, you could tell he was smiling.”
“It was a really interesting time because you really want to call Vic to check in and talk,” adds Tony, “but at the same time you’re like, ‘Do I want to bug him?’, because what if he’s in the zone and he’s about to figure it out?”
Figure it out he did, with the results including the likes of ‘Floral & Fading’, one of a few picked out, and a favourite of all the band. “When I first got together with my girlfriend Danielle, she started getting a lot of people attacking her online and writing all this nasty stuff and threatening her. It was super unfair and weird because nobody knows us, and it really affected her. She would call me crying saying, ‘Your fans think I don’t care’. I don’t even consider them fans, I consider them internet trolls.
“I wrote that song for her, saying we could be alone – we live on another planet and none of it matters.”
“I’ve never felt more confident in every single song as on this record,” continues Mike, reinforcing why they’ve opted for the Misadventures Tour where they play it in its entirety. “Records in the past, there has always been that song or two that you are unsure if you should have made some changes here or there. But this record, front to back is just my favourite stuff we have ever done. I don’t have a favourite song. When I play this record I love playing every single song, we want to show our fans what we have been working on for so long.”
It’s fair to want to show it off to fans – by all accounts ‘Misadventures’ is the boldest statement of where the band are musically, their biggest album so far. There was a growing pressure from the court of social media during the process; they tried to avoid paying attention and focus on the job at hand, but comments would spring up all over. Tony would post pictures of his dog on Instagram (@imdougthedog, for those looking to brighten up their feed), and get a, ‘Can I come play with your dog? Where’s the album at?’
“When people are asking for a record it’s better than not asking for a record because they want new music,” says Vic. “That keeps us actually excited that fans want to hear stuff.”
“The best thing about it was that for all the fans who were asking about the record, there was just as many like, ‘They are obviously putting their time into it’,” adds Tony. “There were so many fans sticking up for us.”
It’s been some road from 2012’s ‘Collide With The Sky’, and one that’s tested both the band and fans, in a sense. What have they learned about themselves through the process? “I think from writing two songs in the studio we learned a lot about our band,” muses Vic. “That we are not the kind of band that sits around in a circle and writes a song on the spot. That was a big thing I think we found out about ourselves – it will definitely speed up the process of knowing how we write together.”
For Jaime, it’s the next step in understanding the band and continuing onwards. “I think with every record, it’s like a growing up phase; you learn from all the mistakes you made from the last record and things you wanted to do. With this record we did a lot of things we wouldn’t have been able to do on other ones. We were in a place where we had a little bit of success with ‘Collide’ so we took more chances, we took some stuff that we would have been hesitant to put out.”
“We know that we are in charge now,” continues Mike, on how they now understand what’s most important in the creative process. “No one is really going to mess up what our goal is. People can try and get in our way, but the bottom line is we are not going to put something out because there is a deadline.”
“At the end of the day, if you’re making a painting or writing a poem or doing anything like that there are no rules,” continues Vic, recalling how they were often told to just get on with it. “It just happens when it happens and that’s the beauty of where our band is right now. The creative process and the destiny of our band is completely in our hands. That’s a really nice feeling to have that advantage and that power over what you are trying to do.”
The four year wait seems nothing compared to some other art forms (try being a fan of the Game of Thrones book series, if you fancy a real wait time), but at the end of the day dates only matter to people when in anticipation, not in their enjoyment. “You take someone like [George RR Martin] or any band that you actually love,” begins Jaime, “I couldn’t tell you when their album came out, I can just tell you it came out and I loved it and I still love it. All that deadline stuff, obviously you need that to keep yourself on track, but at the end of the day we are going to be ready when we are ready and that was a huge lesson for us.”
Well, ‘Misadventures’ is here, the band have laid themselves bare, and it’s over to the fans. It is Pierce The Veil, pure and simple. “That’s what I think is the most important thing,” Vic says. “That it’s real to your own life. That’s the first thing you can tell about a horrible song or a horrible band, you can tell right off the bat that some of those lyrics don’t mean anything. You can tell – that’s what I think the important things are for us.”
It’s something they, and all music fans, can understand – that connection that someone out there in the world has experienced something that you have, comfort in a musical package. Beyond the lyrics, it also comes down to the performance. For Mike, he chooses a lot of bands off of their live show. “When you see a band and they don’t want to be there it’s the worst thing in the world but when you see a band putting their heart and soul into it, I’ll watch that band forever.”
That sticking around forever is something that goes hand in hand with Pierce The Veil fandom; they visibly love what they do, and put time and care into what they create. A decade in, they have never seemed happier as a band than they do now. If this is where ten years has taken them, and the ‘Misadventures’ story is just beginning, where do they see themselves another ten years down the line?
Beside being lowered in from the ceiling and motorised, hover-type transport systems onstage, Jaime adds that they want what “every band wants – that long run. They want to keep making music. I think we won’t ever stop making music, it’s just a matter of people still wanting to hear it.”
“The best bands are the ones you hear about still playing shows,” says Vic. “To have that longevity and have dedicated fans for that long is the goal, which I think we are starting to move towards. We have been a band for ten years now and I’m starting to get people coming up to me saying, ‘You were my band in school and now I’m graduating college and having kids’.”
“I think our fans know that we work so hard on each album,” continues Mike. “We are trying to beat the album before that we just did, and as long as we keep doing that, they are going to keep listening because each album will progress and it changes every time.”
Seems that this is just the start of a new chapter for Pierce The Veil, so is there any parting thoughts, a footer for this page that they’d like to add? Well, we’ll leave that to Jaime: “We did this entire interview in the nude.”