This is an interview I conducted last Wednesday with Pierce The Veil before their performance on the This Is A Family Tour in San Antonio. You can also this interview at Red River Noise.
In June of this year, Pierce The Veil released their sophomore album, Selfish Machines. The album is a great example of post-hardcore at its best and features the grizzly screams of A Day To Remember’s frontman, Jeremy McKinnon, on the song “Caraphernelia.” As part of the This Is A Family Tour, Pierce the Veil played to a packed house of screaming fans and kids literally climbing over each other to reach the stage Wednesday night at The White Rabbit in San Antonio. This tour is the first intimate, club tour for the San Diego based band since releasing Selfish Machines.
What is your writing process like these days now that you have more experience together as a band?
Vic Fuentes: It’s a collaborative effort now because we have a whole band together on this record. First record we didn’t have a full band, it was just me and Mikey. So now we got all the dudes, and we were able to jam the songs before we recorded them, which was very important in the making of the album.
Jaime Preciado: Tony and I joined the band when the first record was already done. It’s cool to actually jam out the songs, and hear them as a full band.
Where did the name “Selfish Machines” come from?
Vic: It’s about how we all have a sort of selfishness inside of us. I think to some extent no matter how morally good someone could think they are, I think we all have this selfishness about us. For example, if you are in love, like I’m in love with Jaime, I want him all to myself because I’m selfish. It’s about human nature and everyone’s inner wanting to take and have things and desire things, and I think it’s a natural thing, and I think it’s awesome.
Where were you mentally and musically when you were making Selfish Machines?
Jaime: I think we wanted to write a record that was going to be fun to play live since we’ve been touring for so long. So that was our main influence. Bunch of kids, seeing them everyday. Because on the first record like we said earlier, we’d never played the songs as a band before, so playing them in front of kids, you get a different feel. You get to see what kids to react to.
Vic: Yeah, every night on this tour I’ve been thanking the crowd for their inspirations for the new record. Whether they realize it or not, they really had a big part in it. We actually picture being on stage when we’re writing, what we feel would be cool on stage for us, so that was kind of the driving forces we had on the record.
How was it collaborating with Jeremy McKinnon on the song “Caraphernelia”?
Vic: It was awesome. It was all done from long distance. I had the part for him, and it was all written, and we just sent it over to him. He was in a studio. He was producing a record at the time, so we just sent him the stuff, and he recorded it in his studio that he was at, and we just took his vocals and put them into the song. It was kind of the same way with the video. He did all his stuff from Germany when he was touring with A Day To Remember over there. So he just shot it one night over there and sent us the footage.
Mike: Broke a pay phone.
Vic: Yeah, broke a pay phone, end of story. But it was cool.
Mike: He’s got a mean scream.
Vic: Yeah, he’s got a crazy scream, and I think it really helped the song. It took it to a new level.
Mike: Hopefully one day we can tour with them and he’ll do the screams.
Did you have him in mind for the part when you first wrote the song? Was he on board as soon as you approached him about it?
Vic: Yeah, well not at the very beginning, but when I had that chorus I knew I wanted it to be a screaming part, and I didn’t think I could do it justice the way I wanted it to be done. I kept hearing his voice on it. I think it would have been really cool, so I asked him when he was at our show in San Diego, and he said he was down. It came out cool.
Selfish Machines seems to have a recurring theme of relationships that didn’t work out and the video for “Caraphernelia” shows the struggles involved with having a long distance relationship on the road. Who was the inspiration behind the song
Vic: My old girlfriend Cara was the inspiration for it. The video and a lot of the song is about something we can all relate to. Just trying to have relationships on tour. I mean Tony’s got a girlfriend, and I’m sure that’s kind of tough.
Tony Perry: It can be. I’ve had relationships that I’ve tried and have failed on tour, and so far this is going good, everything’s good. We’ve all had issues with something like that, which is cool because even though it’s written about his girlfriend, every one of us can relate to it in some way because we’ve all had the same kind of problems. The video itself was really cool because we’re able to make a visual of the things we’ve had to deal with on the road like past relationships
Vic: I met this dude the other day. He came up to me at the L.A. show, and he was like, “Dude, I’m about to tryout for some major league baseball team.” I forget which one it was, but he was like, “I’m about to make the team, but I’m kind of scared because I’ve got a girlfriend. I just want to know how it is traveling. I don’t know if I want to do it.” I just explained to him, as long as the girl’s supportive and as long as he’s super passionate about what he’s doing, you should definitely go for it. You still got to do what you love. By the end of the conversation he was super stoked.
Do you have any advice for people in that situation?
Jaime: I would say do what you love because in the end it’ll always work out.
Tony: I’ve had relationships that didn’t work out, but if you’re with someone that would cheat on you or something like that because you’re away, that’s not someone you should be with anyways. You got to do what you’re going to do, and you hope for the best that that person’s going to support it. If it works out, it works out. I would never change what I’m going to do for someone else because if they really care about me then this wouldn’t be an issue
Mike: I mean I haven’t had a girlfriend in like 8 million years. So obviously it’s working out perfect for me. I have my band that loves me.
I’ve read that the song “Million Dollar Houses” is dedicated to Mike and Vic’s parents and is about some of them money issues they’re going through. Tell me about writing that song.
Vic: This year our parents lost their house that me and Mike grew up in, and so we wrote the song about how they’ve been together for so long, and they never let money or things like that tear them apart, tear their relationship apart. I just thought it was such a cool thing that they’ve still been together over all these hard times that they’ve had, and especially this one. Our dad is actually a painting contractor; he’s an independent contractor, so it’s tough. We wrote the song as kind of a gift for them just talking about their relationship and how it’s so strong.
Vic: The Isles & Glaciers thing only took 10 days to record
Mike: It just came at the right time.
Vic: It’s all about timing. We had this perfect gap to do it, where we weren’t touring, we weren’t recording, so we just took the chance and did that. You guys have the Whiskey Hands stuff.
Mike: That’s a lot on the road, recording on the road.
Jaime: I make a lot of random stuff, and whenever Mike and I have time, we just sit down. I’ve been doing a lot of solo acoustic stuff too
Vic, you lent your vocals to Chiodos’ new song “Love Is A Cat From Hell.” How did that come about and what was it like working with them
Vic: It was cool. They just called me up, asked me if I would be down to sing on the song. We knew Brandon [Bolmer] for years because he was in a band called Yesterdays Rising from San Diego. So he’s an old friend, and the Chiodos guys are old friends as well. It was really easy. They sent me the song, told me the spots where they wanted vocals, and I wrote some stuff at home and sent it back to them. Jaime actually recorded them from his house. We just sent them all the vocals, and they were stoked on it. I thought the song was super cool. Long before I even sang on it, I was like, this song’s awesome, and I was super stoked to be a part of it. I think it came out really rad.
Mike and Vic, how is it being in a band with your brother? What are some of the pro and cons?
Mike: It’s a nightmare.
Jaime: They’re always measuring their biceps all the time.
Mike: I think it’s cool because me and Vic never really fought growing up as kids. We were always just looking out for each other. It’s cool that we get to play on the same stage everyday.
Vic: Yeah, we get to travel, get to see the world together. It’s cool to be with family in those times. It’s good. I love it.
Jaime: It’s funny when you [Mike and Vic] fight. They fight for a good 30 seconds, and then minute later it’s like it never happened. It’s so funny.
Mike: We’ll be arguing about a part in a song or something retarded, and we’ll just go off for maybe two minutes, and that’ll be it.
Tony: I want you guys to fight right now, just show her now.
Vic: It’s got to be natural. You can’t force these things.
Pierce the Veil did a cover of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” on “Punk Goes Classic Rock” that was released earlier this year. Why did you choose that song? Or was it given to you?
Jaime: I’m almost glad we didn’t do that because that would have been 500 tracks.
Vic: But that was my second guess, the “Reaper” song. I love that song. I think it’s such a cool, dark song with weird dark lyrics. Plus the cowbell skit with Will Ferrel’s amazing. I like all the music for that song. I like the vocals. I think they were at a good range for me to sing as well, and there’s tons of harmonies and I like doing harmonies, so that was another reason why I liked it.
Jaime: If you actually listen to the end of the track, you can actually hear me yelling at Mike to stop hitting the cowbell, and I think I threw something at you. It made it, so if you listen closely, it’s like, “Mike, we got it!”
2010 was a big year for Pierce The Veil, you played SXSW, you were on Warped Tour all summer, and you released a new album. What were some of the highlights of the year?
Mike: For me, it was some overseas stuff that we did: Australia and Japan. It was out of this world, literally. And Warped Tour was fun too.
Vic: Yeah, Warped Tour was rad because it was the first tour we did with the record. Actually this tour is kind of rad because this is the first club tour we’ve done on Selfish Machines, and it’s cool to see it a little more intimate as opposed to being outdoors on Warped. It’s cool to see kids singing and going crazy.
You have tour dates posted up until January 2011. What are your plans for the rest of 2011?
All: More tours.
Jaime: That we can’t tell you about.
Mike: Writing. We need to start writing more on the road.
Vic: Yeah, we have Silverstein coming up, and after that there’s an awesome tour that we’ll announce fairly soon. Then we’ll just be touring pretty constantly and writing in between.