by Wade Millward
Despite their newfound success, the members of Pierce the Veil remain down-to-earth in their attitude and personality. The fun-loving, easy-going nature of the band is embodied in their frontman, Vic Fuentes. Fuentes founded the group alongside his brother Mike, the drummer for Pierce the Veil. The group is completed by bassist Jaime Preciado and guitarist Tony Perry.
The group received a lot of exposure this year on the Warped Tour, known for showcasing new talent in punk, ska, and rock. The group has become a staple on the hardcore travelling festival circuit, having previously performed on the 2008 Warped Tour and the 2009 Taste of Chaos tour.
At the time of this interview, Warped Tour had just finished playing in Wisconsin.
“Oh, Milwaukee was great man” says Fuentes. “It was a great show, awesome weather, the best weather of the whole tour. As for technical difficulties, every day one thing goes wrong, but it’s never a big deal.”
The band is hoping for further exposure when the music video for the first single off Selfish Machines, Caraphernelia, is made ready for television and internet. Fuentes is enthusiastic about the video and about working with director Robby Starbuck.
“It was cool; I was very surprised by the amount of production that went into the video. We shot it on a little set, and there was a crew and some pyro guys and we were like, ‘Wow this is crazy!” he says. “…It was really cool. Jeremy McKinnon, who did a cameo in the song, we wanted him in video but he was in Europe. So they actually shot his stuff overseas, the parts with him in it were done in Europe!”
Along with festival shows, Pierce the Veil has become well known through their extensive touring schedule. Playing festivals and headling tours, especially for a band still making their name, is a contrast.
“They’re so different, it’s hard to say. We love club tours; we are huge on playing live. The good thing with playing venues like Warped Tour is that it is an outdoor festival with tons of people and a larger stage,” says Fuentes. “Playing an outdoor festival as opposed to a club definitely changes it up. You have to treat each venue differently.”
Like most musicians lucky enough to have both experiences Fuentes cannot pick one over the other.
“I can’t really say. I don’t prefer either venue, I mean Warped Tours are just so crazy; so many people come out. We just love playing, so any gig we get is fun.” he says.
“Our whole record was based off of that, that raw emotion and experience [of touring],” he says. “We toured for three years before we started recording, so the emotion that is such a big part of the record comes from inspiration from the fans.”
As much as touring another major inspiration of Pierce the Veil is their home town.
“San Diego is a huge part of Pierce the Veil. We all grew up on SoCal punk, we looked up to those guys,” says Fuentes. “That whole scene was so influential to us as a band.”
Regardless of influences Fuentes says the focus of the band is squarely on their fans.
“We always try to do a full-on show for the kids, so we put lot of effort into our shows,” he says. “We take time to decide what songs we’ll be playing, you know, what covers; make sure to include some sing-a-longs for the fans.”
Pierce the Veil is also known for an eclectic selection of cover songs. Showcasing their experimental nature at a recent concert in Pittsburgh, the group played a hard rock rendition of Michael Jackson’s 1982 pop classic, Beat It.
“It was fun, I love doing that stuff,” says Fuentes. “It’s hard to take an old style and reconstruct it; you have to see how they originally did it and how they recorded it. This helps us as a band though, it really expands our style. It was fun to play it live; I mean everyone knows Beat It. We recently played ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ in a similar style, and the crowd loved it.”
Selfish Machines, made a 400% sales increase over its predecessor. The album also marks a change in the state of the band, in that all the members were actually present.
“The recording process for Selfish Machines was a lot different from the process for A Flair for the Dramatic. The first album was just me and my brother playing, but luckily Tony and Jaime were in the group this time around. It’s cool to have the band with us,” says Fuentes.
Even though they’re newcomers, the other members of Pierce the Veil have become acclimated with the band.
“The other members are totally integrated into the band. We’ve toured so much and grown super close. We’re like family; they’re like brothers to me. They are a huge help to the band, especially when we play in preproduction. They are huge to the process, and they are really good as musicians.”
“Also, we were actually able to record in LA this time around, as opposed to Seattle where we recorded our debut. Sure, there was too much industry and people around, but the finished product came out really good,” says Fuentes. “It’s a progression from album to album, and hopefully we get better as we go. We really like the new record; both reflect different periods of our lives and our set goals at the time.”
Despite now being, themselves, part of a musical trend, they were never followers.
"People need to try not to go with trends; you need to go with what you want. You need to try and be happy with your band, you know,” says Fuentes. “You should try not to write about break-ups just because it’s what’s popular. I’d rather do my own thing than sound like everyone else.”
But it isn’t all wine and roses; Fuentes has some apprehension over the current state of the music business.
“The industry right now is confusing. It’s been around long time, and I still don’t understand it. I don’t like the business part of music, I don’t like dealing with it. I much prefer to write songs and play guitar. Dealing with the business end, it’s scary,” says Fuentes. “A lot of bands really get fucked over because of it. You have just got to find someone you can trust to take care of that aspect.”
Fuentes is known for his very emotional, personal lyrics that deal with such topics as loss, break-up, and heartache. Wouldn’t a frontman associated with the heavy hardcore music scene be worried of becoming too vulnerable to his fans?
“Not really, I’m not too concerned about revealing stuff to the fans. I have no problem writing about revealing stuff. It gets tricky when you’re writing songs about particular people and when they know it’s about them. Our song Caraphernelia is about my ex-girlfriend named Cara, and I had to actually talk about the song to her.” he says. “But it has to be real, songwriting can’t be fake. I hate bands that clearly made up the lyrics to their songs on the spot without putting any emotion into it.”
And there is a personal benefit to this, beyond just a heart wrenching song.
“..The therapeutic factor is definitely why we play music; it’s what we love to do. Our studio in San Diego is my favorite place in the world; it’s huge for me. I especially love playing with my brother; it’s great to do this with family.” he says.
And how about playing with your brother in a rock band? That could be a dream or a nightmare.
“It’s amazing. We’ve played together since we were little kids, so there’s, like, this higher sense of connection that we have. It’s like, there’s a point where I can sense what he will do before he does it,” says Fuentes. “Our connection makes the writing process easier. I admire my brother, he’s a fantastic drummer and he’s very talented.”
Fuentes concluded the interview, in typical, Pierce the Veil fashion, with a shout-out to his fans; “We love you and always enjoy seeing you at our shows!”