Interview with Mike Fuentes, drummer of Pierce The Veil
San Diego shredders Pierce The Veil makes their way to Denver on Tuesday, June 5th, 2016 at the Summit Music Hall. At the time of publishing this interview, tickets are currently sold out.
Q: Thanks for joining us, JP. What’s new?
A: We have a new album coming out next week (insert date here.) We spent a lot of time on it. It’s kind of a celebration at this point because it’s all done and comes out in seven days…it was a long process. We’re stoked about all of the songs on it. A lot of it was my brother trying to find the lyrics to all of these songs. We didn’t want to just have random words on a piece of paper….we always loved having a true meaning behind every song that we write, so that took a little bit of traveling around and basically searching for the lyrics. Once that was done we were ready to mix and master it. It was produced by a guy named Dan Korneff. He also did our last record, Collide with the Sky. We work so well with Dan…pretty much anything we bring to him, he’ll tell us straight up if it’s good or not. With this record, we came in with eleven songs. We actually had to cut two songs because they weren’t fitting with the rest of the album, so we had to write two songs in the studio. This is rare for us as we usually come prepared with the songs finished and we just add or change stuff along the way. This was a challenge for us. We basically sat in a circle for weeks and tried everything we could bring to the table. That became the last two tracks on the record.
Q: How long did the album take to record?
A: We wrote for basically a year straight and then we were ready to head into the studio. Me, Tony and Jamie were there for two and half months just recording the songs. After that, Vic likes to get in his own little zone with the lyrics and stuff like that. After two and a half months we just let him do his thing with the lyrics. We also had tours booked that kind of got in the way. It was a blessing is disguise because we got to get out of the studio mode and actually play some shows which was awesome. I think we passed over twenty record deadlines, but we weren’t worried about that. We just wanted to make the best record we could. We always strive to make the next record better than the last.
Q: How would you say this album is different from the rest? What is the overall theme?
A: I definitely think there are some different songs on here that Pierce the Veil has never done. There is a song on the record called “Floral and Fading.” It’s something that we’ve never done before. It’s almost like Weezer meets Pierce the Veil…we wanted to try different stuff. A lot of it is Pierce the Veil with a little twist on it and I think that kids are going to enjoy it. Each song has a true meaning and that’s always been us. Our fans seems to attach to the lyrics. We didn’t want to stray away from the last record too much, but we definitely tried out some other things….you can’t write the same record twice. We had to try some different stuff and I’m so stoked with what we came up with. The album is called “Misadventures” because in the process of trying to finish this record there were so many different steps and things that got in our way. It took us to different places to write and record. We kind of just went on this misadventure. It was a wild ride but it finally came to an end.
Q: You guys are playing the Summit Music Hall next week. Do you have any previous experiences in Denver or Colorado as a whole?
A: Denver is awesome. We love Denver. This tour is actually called the Misadventures tour….we’re laying the whole album from start to finish, which a lot of bands don’t really do this soon in the record cycle, but we were so stoked when we finished the record in the studio. We were like “fuck it, let’s just play this from start to finish.” That’s a special tour for us. We’re going to be playing smaller, more intimate venues which is cool for us….especially for me being a drummer. I get to feel out the audience a little closer and get that kind of intimate vibe and see the kids faces a little more.
Q: You will be playing a few festivals this summer. What are the main differences, as an artist between the two. What do you like and what don’t you like?
A: I feel like festivals, most times, are during the day so you can’t rely on a lot of production. You can’t rely on lighting and stuff like that. A lot of times when we play festivals, it’s less talk, more rock. We keep each song moving quicker and quicker and we don’t take a lot of breaks. It’s usually more of a bigger crowd too. We just did the Reading and Leeds festival, which was probably the biggest crowd we’ve ever performed in front of. We’re excited to do more festivals. You get this audience where you’ll find that a lot of people there haven’t heard of you before. You’re exposed to so many more people. I think that with this record and with a couple of songs on the radio, the festival offers are coming in like hot cakes and we get to pick the best ones. Usually we’ll get a festival offer and our manager will inform us. Most times we already have a tour booked so we have to route it into that. We’re going to the UK, Europe, Southeast Asia.
Q: You’ll be touring with I The Mighty and Movements. What is your relationship with them like?
A: These are two bands that we haven’t actually toured with yet. We’ve tried to for so long, but the timing was never quite right. We’re fans of both bands. When we pick openers, we want to give new and upcoming bands a chance to tour. You just have to help out other bands. We always pick bands that are really hard workers.
Vic Fuentes – Vocals / Guitar
Mike Fuentes – Drums
Tony Perry – Lead Guitar
Jaime Preciado – Bass
San Diego shredders Pierce The Veil didn’t intentionally set out to write their hardest-charging album yet—and 2012’s most electrifying release—It was a surprise to even the band’s members just how far they’d take it, and the resulting third full-length,Collide With The Sky, which debuted at #12 on the Billboard Top 200, selling 27,000 in the first week, and over 240,000 sold.
“It came out a lot heavier than our past records. We didn’t plan it that way, but when we got the finished product and listened to it all the way through, we realized that this is definitely the furthest we’ve taken the rock aspect of the band,” says singer/guitarist Vic Fuentes. “We wrote this album knowing that the first thing that we were going to do was Warped Tour, so that put us in the live show mind set right off the bat. I think that idea carried on even further than we thought, because the whole record came out pretty crazy and aggressive.”
Pierce The Veil was formed in 2006 by brothers Mike and Vic Fuentes. The duo wrote and recorded PTV’s debut album, 2007’s A Flair For The Dramatic, as a two-piece, then enlisted lead guitarist Tony Perry and bass player Jaime Preciado soon after; PTV was then forged through lengthy tours, including runs with A Day to Remember, Chiodos, The Devil Wears Prada and Mayday Parade. Their first headlining tour came in fall 2008, and featured Breathe Carolina and Emarosa, before ending the record cycle with Taste of Chaos 2009. Later that year (June 2009) the band issued their sophomore release, Selfish Machines, which peaked at #1 on Billboard’s “Top Heatseekers” chart. Another massive touring cycle followed, including slots on Warped Tour and Take Action Tour, as well as and co-headliners with Escape The Fate and Miss May I, before the band finally had the opportunity to return home and begin writing anew.
Now four years later, Pierce The Veil are ready to up the ante still further. For their latest release and first for label Fearless Records, the band spent an intense three months recording the tracks, collaborating with producers Dan Korneff and Kato Khandwala at the pair’s House of Loud studio in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. Although many extensive work days ensued that ran well into the small hours, the partnership between band and producers was beyond fruitful, and Pierce The Veil emerged withCollide With The Sky, arguably their most impressive and innovative effort to date.
“I think our band has realized over the years that we can’t make records fast. Just physically, it takes longer to record our stuff, because we do a lot of layering and different sounds,” says Fuentes. “[Korneff and Khandwala] have got a crazy work ethic, kind of like I do, where each day doesn’t really end until two or three in the morning. Toward the end, we were staying up all night trying to get a lot of stuff done. It was cool to be on the same page, and not have to feel bad for wanting to work all the time. The guys were just always down.”
Key tracks sure to get listeners’ adrenaline surging include the flamenco-metalcore fusion of “Bulls In The Bronx” and the infatuating melodies of “Props & Mayhem,” while lead single “King For A Day” features a cameo by Kellin Quinn from Sleeping With Sirens, who connected with Fuentes via Twitter. “I didn’t know him at all, and we started getting tweeted together 10 or 20 times a day, just kids saying, ‘Hey, you guys should do a song together,’ so we started talking on Twitter, and that’s how we became friends,” says Fuentes. “I was like, ‘Man, this is a no-brainer: We should do a song together,’ so I put together some parts and he wrote some stuff as well. Since we’re doing Warped Tour together, we thought it would be cool if we put out the song early and performed it on stage together.”
Lyrically, Fuentes was inspired to tackle a broad range of topics on Collide With The Sky, from relationships to jaded rock stars to friends in serious peril. The album takes an especially personal and meaningful turn with the track “A Match Into Water,” inspired by the singer’s ex-girlfriend, who recently struggled—and won—a battle with breast cancer.
“It’s just been a crazy thing, seeing a friend of yours facing something that could kill them,” reflects Fuentes. “She had a particularly aggressive case and had a lot of treatment to do right away—she lost her hair, the whole deal—and the song is kind of a tribute to her for staying so strong through it all, and me just being so proud of her for getting through it.”
Another track, “Hell Above,” is an open letter to fans, urging them to find a sense of community and support from music and at shows, if nowhere else. “That song comes from a lot of talking to kids over the years—getting letters, fan mail, messages, stuff like that—and kids feeling like they don’t have anywhere to go, or they’re not getting support from their families or friends. The song touches on that feeling of emptiness,” says Fuentes. “I started announcing on stage that if you have nowhere else to go, at least tonight this is going to be our home. I think a lot of people truly need that.”
The band’s deep respect toward fans also colors the more confrontational aspects of Collide With The Sky. There are many places throughout the lyrics, where Fuentes calls out pseudo rock stars who’ve lost their way. The album minces few words when it comes to the band’s opinion on the state of the scene, and “King For A Day”, and “The First Punch” are one of several shots fired across the bow.
“It’s just that whole rock star mentality that I can’t believe sometimes; you’ve got to appreciate the things that are happening around you. Some of the songs are just kind of like a ‘fuck you’ to a lot of those ungrateful people,” says Fuentes. “We’ve worked really hard to get to this point, and I really hate when people don’t appreciate their fans and take for granted all the shit they have.”
After a hugely successful summer on the Vans Warped Tour and a #12 Billboard Top 200 Albums debut for Collide With The Sky, the band stormed into 2013 with a US headline tour, and a sold-out North American routing with All Time Low, and a massive U.S. Sold-out run with A Day To Remember.
The band released their first-ever documentary DVD This Is A Wasteland in the fall of 2013. The film gives fans an inside look at life on the road as the San Diego, CA quartet embark on their worldwide tour. The band chronicles the extraordinary life of international touring through exclusive interviews, previously unreleased live performance footage, travel experiences, and everything-in-between. Filmed throughout the band’s routing through South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and a sold-out North American headline run on the Spring Fever Tour, the 60-minute power packed film captures what the band does best; a definite fan must-see. The film went on sell to win a Golden God Award for ‘Best Film & Video.’
The band has had multiple appearances on Last Call With Carson Daly, appeared on the cover of Alternative Press’ Most Anticipated Issue 2014, and are nominated for the inaugural Alternative Press Music Awards for Artist Of The year, Artist Philanthropic Award with Keep A Breast Foundation, Best Live Band, Most Dedicated Fans, Best Vocalist (Vic Fuentes), Best Bassist (Jaime Preciado), and Best Drummer (Mike Fuentes).
“We’re definitely looking to push things a little further than we’ve ever gone,” says Fuentes. “We’re always challenging ourselves to try and do things a little more creatively, and take things a little further than what you’ve seen before.