Pierce The Veil: This Is A Wasteland
Formed out of the ashes of San Diego rock group Early Times, brothers Mike and Vic Fuentes conjured up Pierce The Veil, the four-piece post-hardcore outfit taking to venues near you with a vengeance. With two stellar albums under their belt and fond memories from stints on the Vans Warped Tour and Bamboozle Left, BLUNT chatted to Pierce the Veil frontman Vic Fuentes before he and the boys saddled up with Escape The Fate for a slew of shows Down Under.
You guys are heading to Australia in April with Escape the Fate. What do you love most about travelling around with fellow bands?
I think my favourite thing about travelling is seeing different cultures and the vibes of different countries. We went to Australia a while back and it was our first time there and was probably one of my favourite things we’ve ever done. The overall vibe and attitude of the people was amazing. I mean we’ve been to Japan where it’s completely different. Everyone’s more proper and a lot more reserved, so it’s crazy to see what it’s like around the world.
When did you first know that this was what you wanted to do?
The first time we ever played a show was just a backyard party in high school for one of our friends. We were playing really fast punk music then and I remember seeing all of our friends running around and going crazy while we were playing. That was the first time I ever felt such a rush playing for people, so ever since then, playing live has just been really addictive and really cool for us.
Looking at your album, Selfish Machines, you guys have a song called “Disasterology” and it makes a decent amount of references to Donnie Darko. Where do you guys get your inspiration for each song you write?
I usually write things down every day as I’m going. If I hear something cool or if I think of something, I just write it down, and I think that song for sure I was watching the movie and thinking, “Oh man, this has so many cool ideas and weird ways of thinking.” It’s such a dreamy, dreamy song, so that was definitely inspired by the kind of thinking that ‘every living thing dies alone’. I just thought it was a pretty crazy concept.
On that same album, you guys did a collaboration with Jeremy McKinnon from A Day to Remember on “Caraphernalia”. What was that like?
It was cool, I had the chorus in mind for that song and I just remember thinking that I wanted somebody with a really strong scream, and I kept hearing his voice on it. He’s a good friend of ours; we’ve known him for a long time and our bands have toured together many times, so I just called him up and he was down to do it. It was actually kind of an interesting process as we never actually met up or anything. He did it from a different studio across the country and just sent us the tracks and we put it all together and it came out pretty cool. Even for the video, when we shot it, he was in Germany and his videographer was cool enough to shoot all of his parts from there and we just put him into the video. It was crazy.
Okay, so you’ve beaten the sophomore slump and you’re planning on a new album later in the year. What can you tell us about that?
After Australia, we’re gonna take all of the summer off. We’re not gonna do the Warped Tour or anything like that, we plan on just writing the entire time and this time around, we’re trying to keep the ball rolling a little faster, as opposed to the last record. We took a long time off and it was a little scary thinking, “Hopefully our fans will still remember us”, so this time we’re trying to keep things really flowing.
Do you ever find it difficult to come up with new material?
Well the thing is, we tour for so long, like a year straight, and we get really itchy to write. We get all these ideas while we’re on tour and by the time we’re done touring, we have tonnes of ideas and direction and we’re just really excited to record.
I saw photos from the 2010 Warped Tour where a “cavalera mariachi” introduced you guys to the stage and the crowd went off. Have you ever thought about incorporating more of your Latin-American roots into your songs?
We always kind of subliminally do it, everywhere you look throughout the records, you’ll hear some sort of Spanish vibe, whether it be in the guitars or whether it be in the percussion. For example, the first song on the new record is called “Besitos” which is a Spanish word for kisses, and there’s tonnes of Spanish stuff everywhere. We really like to bring that out in the music.
Okay, so you’re in a band with your brother. I know if I was in one with my brother, we’d probably want to kill each other after about five minutes. How do you guys overcome that classic sibling rivalry?
[Laughs]. We’ve been playing together for so long and we’re actually pretty close in age, only about a year and a half apart, so I think we’re at an age now where we’re friends. We can go to bars together and hang out, so it’s not difficult for us at all. It’s actually kinda nice to have family around when you’re so far away from home all the time. When you’re in different countries, sometimes you can get a little homesick, but when you’ve got your brother around it’s pretty cool as you’re doing it together.
Life seems like it’s pretty crazy for you guys right now with touring and planning the new album. What do you guys do to just chill out and take a load off?
Most of the time we don’t, it’s kinda crazy. These tours just keep going and going, I mean, we’ve only had one day off on this tour and we’re almost halfway through it. It’s kinda like a full time job; it never really stops. We’re always either driving to gigs or playing gigs. Something people just don’t always realise is just how constant everything is. We never really get to chill. Like tonight, we’re in Seattle, Seattle’s one of my favourite places and we have a short drive tonight, so we’ll go out and hang out with our friends and that’ll be kinda cool to just kick back a little bit. It’s few and far and between, but it’s okay though. I think in this industry it’s so competitive you have to keep moving and working and playing shows as much as you can to keep reaching new goals and stuff like that.
How do you rate playing in-door shows with big summer festivals like the Warped Tour?
I think they’re both cool in their own ways; you have to work differently for each show. For a big festival, you know the Warped Tour was good for us as a band to learn how to control big crowds, and you can’t hide behind any lights or anything like that, it’s very much ‘everything’s in your face’, and that was kind of where we were able to bring a lot of energy to our shows. When we get back to club shows, it’s almost easier as we can control things more, but yeah I think doing the Warped Tour is almost like a good way to learn how to play live shows. I think it really helped us as a band. It’s a fucking fun tour. I love that tour.
What has been the craziest thing to happen to you guys on tour so far?
Ooh man, we thought we were all going to die not too long ago on the Warped Tour. Our bus caught on fire on the outside and we had some people run in yelling, “Your bus is on fire!” There was smoke coming through the vents and it was like a movie. I had to wake everyone up and for about give minutes, we thought everyone was gonna die, but we put it out with a fire extinguisher and it was all okay, but that was pretty scary.
The first song I heard from you guys was actually your cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. What made you guys want to cover that?
We’re big fans, I’m a huge fan, Michael Jackson is definitely a huge inspiration for me and to a lot of other musicians as well. I grew up on him as my dad was always playing him on the radio and on CDs and tapes, so it was always around the house when I was younger. He’s been a big part of our song writing and stuff like that. He’s a very inspiring person, so we wanted to do “Beat It” ‘cos it was kind of a rock song of his.
You and your brother Mike had a side project going called Isles and Glaciers that was a kind of supergroup in the alternative scene. Do you have any plans to record some more stuff together?
You know, we literally get asked that question – I’m not kidding you – every single day.
Oh, my apologies…
No, no, it’s fine, it’s cool because it means kids like it and that’s good for us, but honestly I never really have a good answer for it. It’s kinda tough because everyone’s got so much going on. It was assembled out of so many different bands that it’s a little hectic trying to get everyone in one place at one time, though with that said, hopefully we’ll be able to do it again one day. I would love to and I’ve talked to some of the guys about it and some of them are into the idea, but you never know. It’s all about timing and if we can make it happen, we’ll do it.
What are your thoughts on the whole Jonny Craig scandal at the moment? I found out that he was apparently scamming his fans for money…
Yeah, yeah, Mike [Fuentes, Vic’s brother] and I kind of consider him to be like our third brother, as we’ve all known each other so long. He’s always been really close to us and he’s close to my family, close with my mum and dad and I definitely take him there to see them. There’s a lot of love between us, but through all that he’s also just kind of a wild person and pretty carefree. He’s also having some problems with drugs and stuff like that, and you know I really hope for the best ‘cos that stuff can destroy lives. We’re hoping for good things for him ‘cos he’s such a talented person. He’s the most talented person I’ve ever met, and it’d be a shame for it to go to waste. So I’ll always love that guy and hope the best for him.
Where do you think you’d be right now if you weren’t in a band?
Honestly, I can’t even tell you. I’ve always been really into art and design and actually before we started touring full time, I was going to college for graphic design, so I’ve always been really into that and I still kind of keep it up, so I guess that would be the other thing I’d be doing. Something still artistic hopefully.