Pierce The Veil: The edge after glory


“If I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself” is the quote that San Diego post-hardcore outfit Pierce The Veil lifted from Dazed and Confused to feature on their new record, The Jaws of Life.

The band’s frontman Vic Fuentes has never misplaced a pop culture reference in his career, which makes the sample all the more telling – Pierce The Veil had a moment over the seven years between their last album, Misadventures, and now, where they had to choose between sinking into their glory days forever or moving forward. Luckily for fans, they opted for the latter, culminating in one of their most earnest offerings to date.

“You know in the movies when you see a hand pop out of the ground, like somebody who’s been buried alive, or something like that? And they finally make their way out, they break through the ground and they start digging themselves out? That’s how I feel about this record. It’s like getting out and seeing the sun again,” Fuentes tells BLUNT. “There’s a lot of positivity about it.”

Positivity hasn’t always been the objective of Pierce The Veil in the past, although, like most artists riding the tidal wave of Warped Tour hype and beyond, they have managed to become a pillar of comfort for the audience that corrals around them. Also like the majority of their contemporaries, they did that by delving into their own pain, dancing between light and dark to write songs that make us all feel a little more united against the bleak fragility of our relationships and lives. With his 40th birthday having recently passed him by, coinciding with the birth of his first child, Fuentes has emerged more hopeful for the future.

“I think in the past, I thought that you needed to be tormented and completely miserable to write music,” he summarises. But in his newlywed bliss, Fuentes is looking through a different pane of glass. “I think a lot of artists feel that way, especially early in their careers…but time has proven that you’ll always have something to write about. There’ll always be something impacting your life in a heavy way, either positive or negative. I’ve found that it’s still natural to write about whatever’s going on in my life that’s hitting me hard. We just got married and we’ve got this baby on the way and all that stuff is high emotion. That really is what makes good writing for me, expressing that stuff. So I think that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned from time, just how long I’ve been writing songs, is you don’t have to be in some miserable place.”

“I think in the past, I thought that you needed to be tormented and completely miserable to write music."

Of course, there’s no light without dark, and no one ever stays on one side of the grayscale forever. Pierce The Veil as a collective have always taken joy in the contrast of gleeful melodies laid over lyrics that are writhing in pain (a la the perspective of the near-suicidal lover in old favourite ‘Bulletproof Love’), and on The Jaws of Life, that facet of what makes them whole has remained untouched. As the band work towards finding themselves again, the record is interrupted with an unsettling intermission titled ‘Irrational Fears’, a flight safety warning narrated by a friend.

“I love how chipper and happy this flight attendant is. She’s saying these really dark things, and I always just love the juxtaposition of happy things and dark things…A friend of ours is a voice actor and she’s British, and we had this specific thing where I wanted a British actor for this and she killed it. It was awesome. We made all the music from scratch and just created this whole thing…Jaime made airplane music,” he laughs.

Fuentes continues: “It sets up the next song, which is called ‘Shared Trauma’. It was kind of to set up a scene of a plane going down, which could be a shared trauma that you and your partner have, or whatever. That whole thing was inspired by this movie called Garden State, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. But the movie starts off with this guy on a plane that’s going down and everyone is screaming and going crazy around him, but he’s super calm, as if nothing is happening. I always loved that scene, and that was the picture I was painting with this.”

"We spend so much intense time in the studio writing that finally when it’s all done, I can breathe again."

Fuentes’ lead-in to a ballad about sharing traumatic experiences is a testament to his ongoing ability to incorporate both romance and theatrics into his writing, and it’s well accepted among critics and fans alike that what Pierce The Veil do with those two themes is in a league of their own. But part of what makes The Jaws of Life unique is that Fuentes dials back the meticulously crafted drama we’re used to hearing in his traditionally layered and harmonised vocals to make way for something less performative, inspired by the punk that he grew up with.

“I think the punk influence for this record was a little more on the lyrical side and maybe on the vocal performance side,” he explains. “Trying to make things not super pretty all the time, or too polished. Making them a little more aggressive, or I don’t know, just a little looser.” Down to his articulation, “a lot of the performances are trying to keep that stuff that I’ve learned through all my punk influences.”

It feels selfish to ask if Fuentes is continuing to write music now that The Jaws of Life is seeing the light of day, although not altogether unrealistic. The trio are headed off on tour, even hitting up some venues down under, and they’ve well and truly re-ignited the spark that will light their way into the future as a band that refuses to let themselves sit comfortably in the nostalgia evoked by their back catalogue. Fuentes confirms that he’s going to enjoy celebrating entering a new chapter while it lasts, and isn’t concerned with planning too far ahead.

“I like to enjoy the album just being out,” he concludes. “It’s sort of like the fruits of your labour, the celebration. We spend so much intense time in the studio writing that finally when it’s all done, I can breathe again. And touring feels like the reward for all of the hard work that we’ve done.”

The Jaws of Life is out now via Fearless Records.

Pierce The Veil and Beartooth Australian Tour 2023 with special guests Dayseeker

General tickets on sale Friday 3 March at 9am local time

Saturday, July 22nd
Metropolis, Fremantle
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Monday, July 24th
The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Wednesday, July 26th
The Forum, Melbourne
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Thursday, July 27th
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, July 29th
Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane
Tickets: Destroy All Lines