Celina Kenyon

The Elevated, Energized Brilliance of Pierce the Veil in 2023

If you were alternative at any point from 2012 to present day, you know the level of truly manic happiness that erupts whenever you hear the opening pluck of “King For A Day.” The strumming of that guitar, that specific lick… your reaction is bound to be that of thrill. It’s a gut instinct that kicks in, an instant emo reflex… as most things are with PTV.

Pierce the Veil are a band that has ingrained themselves so deeply in the scene that they’ve become inseparable from it. They are the leading voices of modern counterculture and the biggest advocates of mental health. This is a band you should be proud to listen to. A testament to their influence is the fact that they’re able to take a seven year gap between albums and return in 2023 bigger, stronger, and more prolific than ever before. 

The band’s fifth studio album, The Jaws of Life, is out today and is their first since 2016’s Misadventures. It improves on every aspect of the band. The music sounds more atmospheric and vulnerable than it ever has. Pierce the Veil didn’t need to take any risks on this album. They could have written a collection of the same 12 songs and fans would have preordered it. Still, we can’t help but be thankful that they instead chose to create something entirely new for themselves, musically and personally, in between their own break and the globally mandated one. With this new album, Pierce the Veil has justified their comeback and cemented their place in history. They have never made the same album twice and never will, and they will continue to push the boundaries of what they sound like, which we’re grateful for.

The Aquarian had an incredible conversation with Jaime Preciado, bassist for Pierce the Veil. We discussed everything there is to know about The Jaws of Life and their hiatus, their songwriting process and creation of complex riffs, as well as life on tour. Who knows? There may even be a headlining tour coming to the U.S. sooner than you think. 

The Jaws of Life is out on February 10. How are you feeling? What is going through your head?

Oh, man… so many great things. Me and the guys went out to dinner last night just to have a kind of quiet time right now – before the storm. We went out to dinner and just congratulated ourselves. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at what you’ve done. We’re really happy, man, to be in the spot we’re in, putting new music out, being together again, being on tour again. Lots to be thankful for! We’re super stoked. It’s a good time. We’re happy. 

That’s great to hear! Obviously, Pierce the Veil takes a lot of time between records but a seven year gap? This is the longest you’ve ever taken. 

I just keep adding a year every time I talk about it. It’s been 84 years! [Laughs] Yeah, man, totally. That’s definitely never the plan going in. Obviously, not only did we get held up, but the world got held up a little bit with the pandemic, so that was unfortunate. We tried to do it as fast as possible. I know a lot of bands during the pandemic created music, recorded from their homes, and did a bunch of virtual stuff. We just didn’t really do that. It wasn’t on purpose by any means. We just kind of felt more like we needed to have that moment with our families/our friends just to get us back on track a little bit. It wasn’t a planned thing, but looking back I would love to [have done] it a lot faster and hopefully it never happens again. I never want to take that long in between records.

Exactly, but, I’ll say something; I would much rather a band take a seven year break and drop one of the best records in their career than every two years drop a mediocre record. You know?

Totally! That is yet to be seen. We haven’t released the album yet. That is definitely the goal that people think it’s our best record yet. That is always the goal for every record, so thank you!

Of course! I totally agree. With this album you push forward, and I feel like this is the most experimental Pierce the Veil album we’ve heard to date. 

It’s something that we’re always trying to do on every record – every record we kind of go into it the same way: we want to do a little something different than the last record, saying, “Let’s not do the same exact thing.” This record I think we had the means to step outside our normal box. We’re always going to make Pierce the Veil songs. They’re always going to sound a certain way. This time we definitely experimented more. We tried adding songs that maybe wouldn’t have worked on the last record, so that is something new for us. We’re really excited to show this side of us. I think the feedback has been really cool. We released three songs already and we’re just kind of riding this wave right now of being back in work mode. We’re really excited.

As you put it best, the calm before the storm. You’re enjoying this moment before it drops to the public and takes the world by storm. 

We have a lot of stuff planned for this year and next year. We’re just really excited for everyone to hear it. It’s always a very nervous time, scary time. It’s always one of your most vulnerable moments, putting your last two years of work on display for everyone to judge. That’s always… fun. Like I said, we’re just excited. The hard part is done; now we get to enjoy and play these songs live. 

That’s the fun part: connecting with the audience. In the studio is fun, too, but that can be grueling and taxing. You’ve got to write the best song you can and make it the best album you can. When you’re playing live, that’s just second nature to you guys at this point, I’m sure.

Yeah! They go hand-in-hand. When we’re in the studio, we’re thinking about how these songs are going to feel live.

When we were in the studio in New Orleans, we rented a house and took down a lot of the artwork in the house and replaced it with photos of shows we’ve played with fans in the crowd – just to keep us thinking about why we do what we do and why we make these songs. Like you said, you’re in the studio, you’re grinding, you kind of zoom in a little bit too far and forget the bigger picture sometimes. It’s nice to take a step back and realize what you’re doing and thank the fans in a cool way for letting you write songs like that and giving you the opportunity to be in a band. It’s pretty awesome. 

Now I know there’s a lot going on in the band. Vic’s having a baby, Tony got married – there are 1,000 things happening. Is a U.S. tour on the horizon?

Yeah, that’s definitely the plan. We have so many things coming up. I’m talking within the hour things will happen. A lot of tours coming, a lot of shows happening, and a lot of traveling for the PTV boys – for sure. 

That’s so exciting! I want to switch gears a bit and get your opinion on something. 


With Pierce the Veil, I feel like the music is so technical. The first time I ever heard the bridge to “Dive In” my mind just exploded. I couldn’t comprehend it.

[Laughs] That’s awesome!

I can’t imagine playing songs like that live, because it’s just so complex. How do you get all the notes right while maintaining your energy?

That’s a great question! I think rehearsal is a big part of it. We love to get together and jam. I know a lot of bands do that right before a tour, but, for us, we make it a priority to get together and play these songs as much as possible. You think about it a little bit when you’re making the song and you’re kind of like, “This song is going to be so fun to play live.” Then you have to revisit the song and you tell yourself, “Man, why did we make it so gnarly?” That’s always a fun thing when you’re going back. This is going to be our fifth studio album so making a setlist for a show is going to be… interesting. Trying to make everyone happy and play songs from all the records? That’s going to be a very interesting situation […]. It’s a good one and we’re excited about it, but, yeah, there are days, for sure, when we’re going back to older songs and we’re like, “Why did we do it like that? Why did we record it like that? That’s almost impossible to play live!”

It’s so funny, again, even from the fan’s perspective, when I hear these songs from the studio for the first time and think, “Wow! This is the most complex, incredible thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I don’t know how they’re going to do this live!” Then you do it! You pull through!

That’s a great segway into The Jaws of Life. We actually took that mindset and tried to make these songs a little less technical if that makes sense. We tried to peel back a little bit on the layers on this new album to see if we could do that! “Yo, let’s just make a song with just a simple riff that’s really powerful and impactful.” That was almost harder than writing all the technical stuff. A song like “Pass the Nirvana” is a very – on the surface – simple song to play on guitar. It’s not that complex, but something about it makes it feel really powerful to me. That’s what we were trying to get out of this whole album. 

That’s true, especially with Pierce the Veil all this layering you do. The post-production alone is a masterpiece. Trying to strip it down and make it that raw rock sound that we get on The Jaws of Life is got to be just as challenging. 

Honestly, we thought we were doing ourselves a favor and we ended up doing no favors to us whatsoever.

I love to hear it! Now with this new album, where did this concept come from? I know the actual machine of the jaws of life, but how did you decide this is what’s going to summarize the themes of the new record? 

I think we had this title and that was the first thing we actually agreed on for the album before any music was written. It was the concept of that. I mentioned the pandemic and stuff; it was a chokehold on the world. It was such a wild time. Vic said it once in a conversation then turned it into an interview answer, but he said something along the lines of, “Sometimes the world is a vicious place. It sinks its teeth into you. This album is about finally getting out of that situation – essentially being able to breathe again and seeing the light.” That vibe overall of all the negativity but also all the positivity that can come out of it. I think we were all feeling that, especially during that time we were off. Me, personally, I had so many doubts of what live music would look like and that was a scary thought. I think that definitely changed us a little bit. It influenced us a lot. That thing of [how] something so precious to us can be taken away. That was huge for us.

I see what you mean. It’s appreciating it more after you haven’t had it for so long. 

Totally. It was more of a love and appreciation of not only the music, but the guys in the band. Those guys are my brethren. We grew up together. Not being able to see them for so long and then all of the sudden towards the tail end getting together in this house in New Orleans, like, it just made it all come full circle. It felt like we were starting a new band. That’s what it really felt like. It felt like we were hitting the ground running and starting a new project. It felt really cool. I think that leaked into the album a lot. You feel young and ready to rock!

Yeah! You started Pierce the Veil in your early twenties and are now in your mid-to-late thirties, sp most of your life has been spent on this project, Your entire life’s work is Pierce the Veil.

Yeah, 100% it started with us. Obviously our family got bigger – we’re all married now, Vic’s about to have a kid. It’s such a wild time for us, personally, so it’s just such a cool feeling to be able to do all these things we want to do and also feel like we haven’t done any of it. It feels fresh and new. It feels like we want to conquer the world in a big way. That’s where we’re at right now. It’s an awesome feeling and we’re very thankful to be in this position. 

I think that goes back to what we were talking about earlier. You don’t feel the pressure to spit out an album every two years. You can take your time with it. You can really make sure every record you do is an accurate representation of who you guys are as adults in this time period.


Fearless [Records] would never do this, but if they were like, “Drop a record next year,” and you had to write a full album, you wouldn’t be proud of it. It wouldn’t be Pierce the Veil. 

I wouldn’t put it past Fearless [Laughs]. Any label itself, they want albums as fast as possible – which I get it, I totally understand!

I get it! You think about it, “King for A Day” is trending on TikTok and with this seven year gap you guys came back bigger than you ever were. It’s crazy.

That’s awesome! That’s how we’re feeling, man, for sure!

Even on this UK tour, you’re playing arenas! That’s got to be a weird headspace. “We’ve done one tour in four years and we’re doing arenas?!” 

Yeah, our first tour back in the states was such a…. We were so nervous we had no idea what to expect. That’s a lot to ask from a band to a fan. “Hey, we’ve been gone half a decade, but please still like us and pay attention to us now.” It’s a lot to ask when you’ve been gone for that long. We were just in the unknown. “How are people going to treat us?” We had no idea. We went in hopeful. I’ll tell you, the first note we hit when we walked on that stage, it was in New Jersey, and I felt a thing I hadn’t felt in so long and it was that connection you were talking about earlier. It’s something you can’t rehearse for, you can’t practice for, you can’t fake. It’s a feeling you can only get from playing a show. It felt like we never left. All of the sudden your body is used to this. It’s just all muscle memory and you’re like, “Holy shit, I’ve been doing this pretty much my entire life. I’m back in!” It was pretty awesome.

Absolutely! Jaime, can I tell you a personal story about that first show back in Asbury?


I was at that show.

Oh, shit!

It was incredible. It was amazing. I remember there was horrible traffic getting down. It on a Friday after work, so when I pulled in, I remember hearing the opening notes to “May These Notes Startle You in Your Sleep” and hauling ass – really running – through the streets of Asbury, but also I was screaming the lyrics. So as I’m running, I’m yelling, and probably looking like a madman. Finally, I get into the venue and appear right during the first chorus of “Hell Above.” It was one of the coolest concert experiences for me, personally; to walk in as the beat drops. 

Oh, man! That’s amazing! That’s what I’m talking about! That first show was incredible. Of course it had to be an outside venue and it had to be Asbury Park in Jersey. It was just such a vibe. Even from the beginning of the day I knew it was going to be a wild show when we were sound-checking earlier, and there were already people – and this is what I said – there’s no training or rehearsing for this. It’s just a vibe. So when we’re doing soundcheck I look over to my right in the parking lot and there are people standing on their cars yelling and I’m like, “Dude, I forgot about all this!” It’s just such an exciting energy [and] that feeds us. It makes us want to put on the best show ever. That’s just the bottom line. It was special and I can’t wait to continue playing in new places all over the world. 

I’ll tell you, that Jersey energy that you’re talking about, that ‘standing on cars screaming,’ it’s palpable. It’s the New Jersey experience. 

Oh, for sure! I think Vic told us a story about that. He went to go get coffee and somebody jumped out of their car, got out of their car while the car was still moving. He was just like, “What is going on?” Yeah, they go hard over there, for sure. 

Absolutely! I’m proud to live here. Another question, going back into The Jaws of Life, we’ve talked about perfecting these albums, the amount of time you spend said making this more stripped down. At what point do you know when a records done? I feel like a band like Pierce the Veil could spend 10 years on a record and keep fine tuning it. At what point do you stop yourself and go,”Ok, it’s done. It’s over. We’re putting it out there.”

Deadlines are a good way to do it. “We need this record done otherwise it can’t get printed on vinyl,” and “Oh, shit! Ok!” For us, I think when a song is done, you can listen to it and feel the same feeling as when it was being created. That feeling of whatever the song made you feel. That’s when I feel good about it and we can go into the mixing phase. That’s a beast in itself.

It depends on how we’re feeling. Our version of writing is we make the song and then we figure out 100 ways not to make the song. It’s all about feeling. I can’t even explain it. It’s just a feeling you get to think one is ready. It’s hard to explain. I wish it was a mathematical thing, but for us it’s a gut feeling to have no more notes! We’re pretty hands on when it comes to every aspect of the record phase and this is our fifth album so we’re definitely not new to any of that ‘just trying new things.’ No, we’re a part of it all. There’s definitely a lot going into every song. Once we can take a step back and zoom out, feel that feeling, then we call it.

I love that! It’s like a deep emotional connection to the song that you can’t really put into words, but once it’s done, you know.

Yeah! It’s one of those things because there are two different modes – there’s the emotional feeling of the song but there’s also the meat and bones of it’s structure. It’s like, “Ok, cool, we’re going from this chord to this chord.” Once the technical stuff is ironed out then we move on more to the emotion of the song and the feeling of the song. Once that feeling is there then we move on. You really have got to zoom out sometimes. You can be too focused on the bridge when you really should be focused on the intro and verse. 

You get too close to it in a way.

Exactly, yeah. It’s like, “Why are we working on this one part when the chorus stinks still?”

Fair! In 2017 Vic was on the Lead Singer Syndrome podcast and talked about how you guys typically build a song from music entirely and then add vocals. Is that still how you do it? Planning out all the instrumentation then start thinking about what Vic is going to sing?

More often than not it’s that situation where someone will come up with an idea or riff and it will catch our ears, then Vic will try to sing something on top of that. He has his mumble – the mumble singing if you’ve heard any demo in your life. You’re just singing a melody that feels cool then you replace it with lyrics later. But, yeah, every song is different and every song has a different purpose. There’s a song on the record called “Shared Trauma” that wasn’t even supposed to be a Pierce the Veil song. It was something I made on my laptop like on a plane or something. I think Vic overheard it and in a day came up with the lyrics for the song. I was like, “No way!” He showed it to me and I was like, “There’s something about this song.” There were no actual drums on the song – it was a loop thing I made, super lo-fi sounding. It was just a weird vibe. It was in a weird register for his voice but we just kept coming back to it. Finally, when we were in New Orleans, Paul Meany [producer] was like, “Yo! What is this song? This has to be on the record. It’s such a vibe.” That blew our minds. Stuff like that just kind of gets the song going and lets the song take us. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out in that same order, but, in this case… that was one of those things where it was something we couldn’t put on the last record, but this one it felt right.

This goes back to what we were talking about earlier, too, how this is the most experimental record you’ve done to date. I feel like with every record in the past, I couldn’t put any songs off of Jaws of Life on MisadventuresCollide With The Sky (2012), or Selfish Machines (2010). It has its own home here. 

It’s definitely a snapshot of what we were thinking, what we were doing, at the time, and our influences. I was listening to a lot of Deftones, Rage Against the Machine, and going back to the classic nineties rock bands. Why couldn’t we do something like that? We never have any real limits when it comes to our band, so not every song needs singing and not every song needs screaming. Whatever the song asks, we give it.

I was talking to L.S. Dunes about serving the song versus serving yourself. 


A lot of artists get caught up in that. They might want to prove, “Oh, I can play this bass riff super fast,” but if that doesn’t service the song, then it’s not going to be a good song. 

For us, it’s always about the song. Obviously there are parts we want to embellish a little bit from time to time, and, for me, this record was a lot of fun for bass and a lot of [that] going on. It’s honestly [dependent] for the song; not every song needs to sound like “Pass The Nirvana” and not every song needs to sound like “Emergency Contact.” Those are very different songs, but they’re on the same album. It’s showcasing what we like to do.

I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your day, talking to The Aquarian, talking to me. We can’t wait to support this new record and push it as much as we can.  It really is your best record to date. We’re so excited.

Aw, thank you, man! I appreciate that. We are, as well. Like I said, we feel like a brand new band. There is a feeling like this new resurgence of us, of Pierce the Veil. We’re trying to be bigger and better than we’ve ever been.