Pierce The Veil's 2010 release Selfish Machines was a phenomenally huge album for the band, placing them on tours with similar acts such as Attack Attack, Silverstein, and A Day To Remember.
The band also gained a significant boost in recognition after their 2nd summer of the Vans Warped Tour in 2010, playing alongside acts such as Breathe Carolina, Emmure, and Parkway Drive.
Now with their third album Collide With The Sky releasing July 17th, and their upcoming third summer on this year's Warped Tour (this time on Mainstage), the band is looking unstoppable. Look for them to make an even larger statement heading into the summer and beyond.
I chatted with lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Vic Fuentes about the new album, Warped Tour, the power of Twitter, etc.
So you recently just got done recording Collide With The Sky. What have you been up to since you wrapped that up and have been back?
Since recording ended, I went back to normal life for a little bit, it's been pretty awesome. I put myself through so much crazy shit while recording the album, being away from everyone for months and months at a time. I didn't hang out with friends, didn't hang out with family; I tried to go straight to a place where I could be by myself and focus on the lyrics completely, speaking from the heart. It's really the only way for me to do it.
But yeah dude, it's been a really nice change of pace being home again. Since I've been back in San Diego, I've been hanging out with my family and my friends. Daniel from The Devil Wears Prada and I even started surfing...
Oh really? How's it been?
Yeah, it's been really fun, he's one of my roommates. It's been busy at home though as well, getting ready to head out to Warped Tour and putting out our new album. So there's stuff going on every single day, but it's all productive and exciting.
You just put out a new single, "King For A Day". Can you explain the background behind the song?
Yeah, the song is about being pushed to your breaking point; over whatever it is in your life that's really weighing down on you, you know? A lot of things hit me all at once while I was writing that song; my ex-girlfriend just got done with chemotherapy for breast cancer, as well as a lot of personal ongoing issues that I was trying to deal with. Also, the pressure of making the album was starting to get to me. I've never had any sort of real breakdown or anxiety attack or anything, but for the first time, I was starting to get that shit, and trying to let all that creepy frustration out. I feel like it all came out on that song.
Kellin Quinn provided guest vocals on the track; how did that come together? I know he was pretty busy with his first kid on the way.
I didn't even know Kellin, we had never toured together or anything. We were brought together through our fans, 100%. I would get tweeted at by fans literally every day saying "@piercethevic @kellinquinn need to do a song together", and I didn't even know who the guy was. All I knew was that I could tell that he was a very gifted and naturally talented singer. I hit him up on twitter and kids started freaking out that we were even talking to each other. After that, I called up Kellin and explained to him that we were about to record a new album and that we would love to have him on it, since both of our band's fans had been asking us to do a collaboration. We started talking on the phone about it more and became really good friends. It all just came together in a really cool and original way by our fans.
Yeah man, Kellin is a really cool guy, he's up in Oregon near me.
Oh that's right. I've been talking to him for a while and he is such a genuine and positive dude.
Collide With The Sky drops in about a month. First off, what's the idea behind the album title?
The title and the album artwork and a lot of lyrical content kind of come together with the basic concept of jumping off something that is breaking beneath you; throughout the booklet, there's a bunch of paintings of people jumping off of things that are breaking. The idea is that these characters are suspended in the air, and you can't really tell if they're falling, flying, or jumping, they're just kind of suspended; so the idea is to inspire a bit of hope amidst all the crazy chaos around them. So that's kind of the idea, maybe trying to get around something that's breaking in your life, and that kind of goes deeper in the lyrical content throughout the album.
'Collide' is a action verb; would you consider this collision to be a good thing, or a bad thing?
You know, it looks like a bad thing, but it's trying to inspire more of a good thing; it's about coming from a bad place, and trying to get to a better place.
Aside from Kellin, are there any other guest vocalists on the album?
Yeah, we asked our friend Jason Butler who he plays in a band called letlive. to be on the album as well. Jason and I connected really well on the last tour we did together, and he's someone I have a lot of respect for. I personally think that him and his band are doing something different and more creative than most bands out there right now. We really bonded well on that tour, so I really wanted him on the album, and I'm super glad he's on there.
He's from the area, you know?
Oh yeah, for sure.
The other vocalist we have on the album is a girl named Lindsey Stamey, who plays in a band called Oh No Fiasco. They were actually recording at the House of Loud in New Jersey where we recored at the same time as us. We all became good friends and one day I heard her sing, and I thought she had an amazing and original sounding voice. I told her that her voice was "addicting," like I just wanted to keep hearing her sing things. There was a part in one of our songs where we needed a female vocalist, and she was down to do it, so we were very thankful to have her on the record. She sings on the last track of the album, called "Hold On Till May".
Is that last track the Piano track that you've previously mentioned in other interviews?
No, the Piano track didn't actually make the record.
Really? Is that going to be a B-side?
It will be at some point, but right now I'm just sitting on it because I couldn't get the lyrics right in the studio, and I didn't want to put it out without feeling really confident about it. All the music is done, but right now I'm just letting it breathe for a while until I can write lyrics to it.
The writing and recording process seemed to be much more at your own pace, as opposed to Mike [Fuentes, drums] laying everything out in a day, and you guys kind of rushing it, you know? What other differences are there this time as opposed to when you wrote and recorded Selfish Machines?
Well when we wrote this record, the framework was much more spread out. This whole record was spread out over a couple of years, and we wrote it everywhere: all across the U.S., and even overseas. It was a super long process, but it was really cool. I traveled to some of my friends places, I did a couple of co-writes, one of them with my friend Tom Denny, who used to play in A Day To Remember, who lives in Florida. I wrote one song with my friend B South [Brian Southall], who played in that side project that we have, Isles & Glaciers, so I flew out to Detroit for that. We all wrote stuff as a band in pre-production in New Jersey as well.
I hate to ask this question, but on the subject of Isles and Glaciers, I talked to Craig [Owens] in February, and he said there's still a possibility of it happening again, atleast in some variation. Now that Jonny [Craig] is a bit more active again...
Yeah, it's a bit of a strange situation, since the band comes from so many different places, it's super hard to get us all together in one place. Honestly, I have no idea if we'll do anything.
How is Collide With The Sky similar to your past two records, but how does it also set itself apart?
Well, I guess as for similarities, there's a good amount of diversity on the record; I think that's what defines our band, we never have some set direction where every song is going to sound the same. As for differences, this record came across a lot heavier than the last record; we don't consider ourselves a heavy band, we don't do any crazy breakdowns or anything, but I think it's something naturally came about.
You described the record as 'Eclectic' in a previous interview. Can you go in depth with that a bit more?
I guess it's just because I grew up playing so many different styles of music. My brother Mike and I started playing super fast and technical punk rock growing up, that was our bread and butter. I learned from my dad, who was a Spanish jazz guitar player, so that kind of style comes out all throughout our music. One of our new songs from the record, "Bulls In The Bronx" has a full on spanish nylon acoustic break; it's going to really standout on the record, I've definitely never heard a band do that before, so we took a risk but I think it came out really awesome and interesting.
So yeah, just tons of influences growing up. I also had a band with my best friend Curtis, where we played straight rock n' roll, sort of like Pearl Jam and stuff. So that kind of style comes into our music from all different angles as well to help shape our sound.
Sticking on the subject of straight forward Rock n' Roll, one of my favorite things about Selfish Machines was when you'd take a riff and just sit on it, you know? Stuff like that jam before one of the choruses on "Caraphernelia". It was just a really riff-filled record, you know? Can we expect more of the same on Collide With The Sky?
Oh for sure, yeah. There will definitely be tons of stuff like this on the record. I guess with our band, we like to blend all sorts of rock elements, such as organs; which comes from a strong love for artists like Santana. I think we have influences that a lot of bands don't, and have never listened to, and that's what sets us apart.
Of those rock influences, which one of them would you suggest to your fans to check out, as to understand you as musicians better?
I would definitely tell them to listen to A Night At The Opera, by Queen. It basically shaped what was going to be my recording style; tons of layering, a lot of detail, a lot of vocal and guitar harmonies. There's an endless supply of ear candy and fun things going on, that make it so you can listen to these songs forever, because so much work was put into them. One of our earlier producers turned me onto that record, and it's been game over since then.
You guys grew quite a bit between A Flair For The Dramatic and Selfish Machines. How have you grown from Selfish Machines to Collide With The Sky?
From that first gap, we push ourselves to try something new every time. On this new record, I got a lot better at programming and computer recording, which I've never done before; so that was a fun experiment for me to mess with a lot of different keyboard sounds. So yeah, I pushed myself in that way. We just push each other to write better songs every time so that we kep progressing as a band.
It's a risk, and not worrying about any of the consequences of what might happen, and just saying "fuck it" and trying it. When we first started the record, I told Dan Korneff (our producer), "If there's anything you've ever wanted to try on an album, or fuck around with, try it on this album". So yeah, we tried a bunch of crazy things; we dragged an entire studio into this abandoned building and did the drums, and it came out awesome.
Yeah, I think there was one of those photos where you guys were all arranged in a circle. I think AltPress might've ran it or something awhile back or something.
We did all of our pre-production in a big circle surrounding my brother Mike's drums. And you know, when I'm talking about recording the drums, it sounds really geeky...but there's no reverb on any of the drums, it's all real room sound. So when the drums sounds really big and crazy, it's all because of this big abandoned building we were in.
One thing I want to know, is what does Jaime [Preciado, bass] bring to the table on this album? Are there a lot of isolated bass riffs?
You know, Jaime is a machine. Bass is always about timing and being in the pocket, being on with the drums and the click. The producer who was working with him, Kato, was blown away and would look at the computer screen and see that his bass would be freakishly on with the click. Jaime's bass playing is very impressive, and he's also a producer so he brings a lot of great ideas to the table as well.
Let's talk about the pre-orders for the record. You have a lot of cool stuff, but you have hot sauce as part of the pre-order goods! The Chariot has done it before, Bring Me The Horizon has done it before...
Bring Me The Horizon did BBQ sauce, I'm pretty sure
Oh that's right, yeah!
I know you're really proud of your heritage, was that important to reflect on this new merch?
Yeah, we've been talking about doing this stuff for years. My mom makes this insane hot sauce that we've been eating since we were kids, and all my friends love it, and we wanted to bottle it...but we couldn't figure out how to do it according to FDA regulations, you know? So we'll probably do that someday.
We just wanted to do a bunch of special things for the pre-orders. We have custom made Pierce The Veil rosaries, hot sauce, even a lyric book, which is really important to us - I saved all of my lyrics while I was recording, so the book contains all of the real stuff that I was using in the studio, all handwritten papers that I'd use to sing to and write lyrics on. I can't wait to show our fans, it's gonna be really cool.
Yeah it is!
Have you tried the hot sauce? What does it taste like?
Honestly, I haven't tried it yet, but we were assured by our record label that it's good with Carne Asada burritos and tacos.
We might have to mess around with that stuff later on...
I'm so excited, man.
Make sure you bring a few bottles with you, and we'll mess around with it later on.
Warped Tour this summer, you're on Mainstage as you were finally able to announce awhile back. What are your thoughts on being back on the tour?
Oh dude, this is probably going to be the most fun tour of our entire careers so far. The more bands we've toured with, the more friends we've made, and just the combination of being on the main stage, which is something you never think you're ever going to get. When I was a kid, main stage bands were the biggest things there was.
Oh dude, main stage is stacked this year. New Found Glory, Yellowcard, The Used, and so on...
Yeah man, we're super excited. Just the fact that a lot of out friends are on main stage, all over the place on different stages on this tour. I'd say we have toured with about 75% of the line-up at some point.
Who's the one band to check out on this tour?
I'm going to go with an obscure one, that I'm real excited about. There's this band called Funeral Party. I had discovered them by watching a performance on Conan O' Brien one night. The second the vocalist started singing, I downloaded their album on iTunes; I become obsessed with that band, and they're on Warped Tour, so I'm excited to see them.
I think out of all the experiences I've had with you guys, one of my favorites was the last time you were on Warped in 2010. You guys had so much energy, you were really just on it. Looking through some of the photos from that year, you guys just looked like you were having the time of your lives. Can we expect the same level of intensity, going from one fast song to another?
Yeah, we're definitely going to bring the intensity. We're going to bring new songs, definitely including our current single "King For A Day". It's cool because we have three albums to draw from, and make a really cool set. We're currently doing rehearsals right now for Warped, and our crew is here and they'll be here until Warped. We're practicing everyday, and it's going to be intense, can't wait.
What can we expect after Warped in the fall? Can we expect a U.S. headliner in support of the new album?
Yeah, absolutely. We'll be touring the states like crazy, we'll be doing a headliner right away. After Warped we'll be going to the U.K. on our first headliner run over there, super excited to finally do that. Yeah, that's as far as our plans go right now.
We're about mid-way through the year so far. What have been some of your favorite records so far?
I don't know how long these albums have been out, but I love that letlive. album, that Funeral Party for sure, and I've heard some of that new Sleeping With Sirens acoustic album, I think that's going to be huge.
Wrapping up, other than music, what's the one thing you're most proud of and why?
I think it's something that goes along with our music, but being able to be there for so many kids who connect us on such a level higher than music. When a kid tells us that the music has stopped them from cutting themselves or wanting to kill themselves, that's the stuff that makes me want to continue making music and gives me lots of inspiration. I think that's one of the proudest moments I've ever had, is when kids find shelter in the music.
Go pick up the album July 17th, the pre-order bundles are up on MerchNow. Also, go check out the non-profits we support: the Keep A Breast foundation, Invisible Children. We also just started supporting Project 143, who aim to bringing kids who are in the hospital with cancer together with their favorite musicians, and even possibly bring music into the hospitals. That's it for now.