San Diego quartet Pierce The Veil stood dormant under fans’ watchful eyes last year, but amidst the little activity in the end of 2014, the multifaceted metalcore pop-punk band was gearing itself up for a musical eruption in 2015.
Pierce The Veil exploded onto the scene back in 2012 with their outstanding album Collide With The Sky, which musically packs both emotional ferocity and fragility, highlighted by the vivid portrayal of relationship anguish and rock star realities.
After constant touring in 2013, lyricist, vocalist and guitarist Vic Fuentes, his younger brother and drummer Mike Fuentes, lead guitarist Tony Perry and bassist Jaime Preciado took nearly all of 2014 to spend time working on their new album, due out later in 2015.
Just a few months ago in November, Pierce The Veil rocked the area during the first leg of the Rockstar sponsored World Tour, co-headlined by their counterpart of similar sound and stature, Sleeping with Sirens, who have a new album due out in March.
Now, the band is back around to electrify the area a second time with Sirens, bringing a new set, stage and new supporting acts, before they start the craze and the countdown to the new Pierce The Veil record when they finally decide to release new music.
While stopped over in Seattle during the beginning of the second leg, I spoke with Preciado about the World Tour’s progress and success, the recording process on the upcoming album, inspirations from fans, and the joys of performing live.
Pierce The Veil just finished up the first leg of their World Tour. It’s been a short break, but are there any highlights looking back?
It’s pretty tough because we just finished it, and we’re right back on the second leg, so it’s not so much that it’s finished for us. We got to tour with some amazing bands.
On the first leg we took out Beartooth and This Wild Life, so we were really stoked on having them then, and on this second leg we have Mallory Knox from the UK, which is their first time in the U.S., and then we have a band called PVRIS.
It’s really been a nonstop, crazy awesome time. All those bands have been great with us, and being out again with Sleeping With Sirens is just like having a camp that you’re a part of, where you get to see your friends for a long time. It’s pretty cool.
The tour so far has looked pretty electrifying, from the recent photo and video updates.
Just in general, both bands are at really good spots in each career and it’s been really cool to make this tour happen, just to be a part of it.
When you had the chance to spend some time at home for the holidays between concert dates, what were you busy doing?
Well we were obviously getting ready for the second leg. We try to do every single tour a little bit different than the last, so we’re adding a couple things for the show, but other than that, just enjoying the time off. We all kind of do our own little things, and we’ll get together. We enjoy being home because we know we’re not going to be there for a while.
What sort of things do you guys try to switch up in your live performances? Is it just different songs in the setlist, or other elements like stage props?
We like to keep everything kind of different, just to make kids want to come back every time. I think that’s our main goal, to keep things exciting so that fans can really look forward to seeing us again.
It’s not the same show over and over again, so we’ll dabble with adding different songs, even production parts, whether it is confetti or changing set looks. We try to do whatever we possibly can to make things a little bit different than the time before.
If you saw a show on the first leg, this show is almost completely different, maybe not 100 percent, but we definitely try to switch it up a good amount. We try and switch it up not just for the kids, but also for us personally, too. We’re playing every single night, so we want to look forward to doing that, and we do, but having that kind of theatrical aspect really helps.
You and the rest of the band really stay active on most social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, connecting with fans on a constant basis. How hard is it for you to stay up to date on all platforms, and what sort of inspiration does that communication provide?
Honestly, it goes back to when we started the band, all these things were happening. A couple years ago, Instagram wasn’t a thing, Twitter wasn’t a thing; all that stuff kind of happened when we were growing up as band. We kind of learned as we went along.
I always kind of joke around about if we started the band today, how hard it would be to keep up, because there’s so many outlets, so we were really fortunate to have that learning curve. Plus, we have always tried to just be honest and not post things as like a different person. We really just try to be us, and I think that’s helped fans look into our lives a little bit more and see us as four regular dudes as opposed to this untouchable celebrity.
Back in the day you just didn’t know what these musicians were doing, and at the end of the day they were probably just sitting on the bus, waiting to play a show and do a couple interviews here and there. Now, kids need that feedback, and we enjoy it because we grew up doing that stuff.
Speaking of your social media activity, the band has provided an inside look into much of the recording process for the upcoming album, posting photos of the Long Island studio and the band rehearsals. How has this approach to songwriting and recording differed from Collide With The Sky or Selfish Machines?
This is actually the first time we’ve kept the same producer going into a record. On Selfish Machines we recorded with Mike Green [The Color Morale, All Time Low], and on Collide With The Sky we went with Dan Korneff [A Day To Remember, Chiodos, Sleeping With Sirens].
On this next record, we went back with Dan, because we loved working with him on Collide so much. So that awkward first meeting was gone; we were already comfortable with him, he knew what we could do, he knows what we like, what we don’t like, so we were able to hit the ground running.
It was similar to the way we did Collide. He used to be in New Jersey but now he has a studio in Long Island, which was where we were. We just set up in a warehouse studio that he built, and we set up first day in a big circle, and kind of just hashed out every single new song that we had. We completely broke each song down all the way to the bare bones, and just kept building it up, almost exhausting every possibility for each song, just to see what the song could become. We were really lucky to be able to do that, because a lot of bands don’t have that kind of time.
Dan’s such a smart dude and a risk taker. We told him in the beginning when we doing Collide and with this new record that we’re the band that likes to experiment; I mean, obviously not do anything too crazy, but tastefully experiment with different things. We basically were saying to him if there was anything that he wanted to ever do on a record, that this was the record to do it on. Anything from different sounds, different techniques, different whatever. We’re really open to that, and I think our music kind of lends itself to that. We don’t play just one style of music, so we were really lucky to all have that mentality going into recording, and Dan really helped us out a ton.
You recently made comments about how this new album is more collaborative amongst the guys in the group. Each member in Pierce The Veil has their own distinct musical influences, whether it is Tony’s metal background or your pop and hip-hop production experience. How did each member play off each other when crafting these new songs?
We built up a ton of different ideas, whether they originated off a riff or a part or we kind of liked, and just stemmed from there to become songs. For us, like I said earlier, we’re not just one style of music, so not every song calls for a heavy part, or a cool pop part, it really depends on the song.
We try to make a complete record, and we joke around and say, “Oh, it’s the newest PTV record!” and, “It’s the newest version of us!” I mean, there’s always going to be the fast, punk stuff, the heavier stuff, the more sing-along parts. That’s kind of how we looked at it.
Musically, is there any sort of singular inspiration for the album, or any particular songs?
Every record we stress on getting better, musically, as songwriters, musicians and people. That’s what I think the goal in life is, you want to be a better version of you.
We had a ton of different songs, and some songs obviously didn’t make it, and some did, because at the moment that was the vibe we were trying to put out and work on and spend time with.
Being on tour so much as well, you hear different styles of music, you experience different things, and we try to make it as real as possible on the record.
The sort of collaboration is something recognizable since you and Tony worked on an album beginning with Selfish Machines, and is produced well both on record and on stage. Are you writing songs to incorporate different genres, or is it more naturally a testament to each musician’s individuality and skill?
I think individually every person takes pride in what they’re doing. They know not everyone can be shredding all the time. We understand that when people hear the band, they hear the entire band; it’s not just one person shredding the entire time. We realized that at an earlier age.
We make it a point to complement each other on certain parts. I think that’s always been our mentality and the way we’ve done things. I really enjoy being in a band like that, and look up to bands that had overall solid musicians. Bands where it wasn’t just like one guy doing everything. Bands where everyone carried their own weight and were good at what they were doing. I think it keeps balance when someone’s not taking over all the time.
What would you say was the most difficult thing for you to achieve on the upcoming album?
I think it was difficult to fill up the record with songs, because we ended up deciding to cut a few songs, which made us have to write new ones. It got down to the wire, with us having to physically write brand new stuff in the studio, which we’ve never done before, but it turned out awesome.
That kind of pressure forced us to be creative. It was kind of crazy and if you asked me again, I probably wouldn’t do it again in that scenario, but it was a lot of fun, and I think we learned what we could do.
Just a few weeks ago, you began the second leg of the tour in your hometown San Diego at the Viejas Arena. What was the reaction like?
It was great, man. Definitely a breath of fresh air, because hometown shows are always crazy stressful. You’re trying to get all your family and friends in, that they’re taken care of and not lost in some tunnel. It was pretty crazy. Once you go through that tunnel and on stage, though, you immediately know how awesome it is to play your hometown. There are no words to describe it. Every time we play San Diego, it shows us how lucky we are to be part of such an amazing city that’s really taken us in. It’s gotten to the point where we feel like we’re San Diego’s dudes.
Pierce The Veil is known for an exhilarating live show, showcasing the band jumping off the walls with as much intensity as the audience. Is there anything difficult about playing with that much energy?
There’s nothing really hard about it. We try to take it pretty seriously and put on the most exciting show we can. We really want kids after the show to just be like, “Wow!” We’ll do anything we can on stage to in crowds.
I think that really comes from us being the underdog for so long. We used to be opening band, go on tours with bigger bands, and you kind of get shoved off or tossed around, so being in that position where we know the hard work has paid off for us, we have to continue playing that way. We can’t just half-ass anything anymore.
That’s how bands were that I saw when I was younger. I was the kid in the crowd going, “This band is doing it! They’re killing themselves on stage for the entertainment of these kids,” and I was that kid. You can’t fake that kind of stuff. People will come up to me and ask me, “Is that a real smile on stage? Or are you faking that?” and there’s no way I could fake that smile.
What are you most excited for looking ahead to the upcoming World Tour dates?
For us, we were in the studio for such a long time, writing nearly all of 2014 and recording the last couple months, so we’re excited to be out on tour. It was kind of a tease to do the first leg, because it was over and done so fast, and we went home for the holidays for like three or four weeks.
I think we’re always in this cycle of wanting to be on tour, and then touring for almost two years straight and thinking maybe we need a break. Then you want to start writing songs, and it’s just this crazy cycle that we’re in, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. This is what we love to do, and we’re excited people are along for the ride.
Pierce The Veil are planning to release a new album this year, their first new music in three years. What sort of growth does the record represent for the band?
I think it’s a natural one. We respect bands more that grow up with each and every record. We’re not trying to put out another Collide, but we’re not trying to completely rewrite the book on our band.
We’re taking it slow, and in my opinion the best bands did that, and did it right. They grew with every record, and every one was different, because they changed and became who they are now.
While you’re on the road, are there any plans to release new music?
There are always talks about it, and we have to figure out the main plan for how we’re going to do it all, but yeah, new music is coming soon.
Pierce The Veil will perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on Feb. 14 and 15, and the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC on Feb. 17. The band’s unannounced album will release later in 2015. For more information, go to piercetheveil.net.