When San Diego pop-punk group Before Today dissolved in 2006, guitarist-vocalist Vic Fuentes and drummer Mike Fuentes barely took a breather before founding Pierce the Veil. In the ensuing decade, the Fuentes brothers, guitarist Tony Perry and bassist Jaime Preciado have pushed their hyperactive, progressive post-hardcore sound in new directions. Pierce the Veil’s fourth album, Misadventures, features some of their most accessible work to date; the single “Circles,” inspired by last year’s Paris terrorist attacks, fuses chugging metalcore riffs, sweeping arena-rock melodies and sugary pop-punk vocals. The track premiered in late April and racked up half a million streams in less than a week.
Those kinds of stats aren’t new to Pierce the Veil. The group’s previous album, 2012’s ambitious Collide With the Sky, peaked at Number 12 on the Billboard 200. Part of Pierce the Veil’s success can be attributed to their relentless work ethic, which kept the band on the road for much of the past four years; in 2015, they juggled a worldwide tour and a two-month stint on Warped Tour while wrapping up Misadventures. The hectic schedule delayed the album, but according to Vic Fuentes that was to the band’s benefit. With Collide With the Sky producer Dan Korneff (My Chemical Romance, Chiodos, Breaking Benjamin) back behind the boards, Pierce the Veil were able to take more time to finesse their new music.
Misadventures drops on May 13th, and that night, Pierce the Veil will celebrate the release with a show in Mexico City. A few weeks later, the band will hop back on the road for a month-long U.S. tour. Before kicking off the festivities, Vic Fuentes spoke with Rolling Stone about the stalled release of Misadventures, trekking to different cities to write the album’s lyrics and the unexpected pains of popularity.
Collide With the Sky came out four years ago, and this is the longest gap you’ve had between albums. Why did it take so long to release Misadventures?
For one reason, Collide With the Sky was a huge growth album for our band. It called for a lot of touring – we toured pretty much throughout the entire four years, and the band just kept growing. We kept selling records; people just kept finding out about us even though it was our third full-length – it was as if we were a new band. So the album took us all over the place, into new territory.
When we went to do the record, we took our time on it. We ran into a lot of twists and turns, and that’s why we called it Misadventures, because we had such a crazy time creating the record; we ran out of studio time, we ended up doing a world tour right smack in the middle of recording the album. I went on all kinds of journeys to do lyrics. I lived in different places all over the world, pretty much, working on this thing. It was a bit of an unexpected, crazy journey making it as well.
You mention living all over the place to write the lyrics. Where did you go, and what inspired that approach?
When we went into the studio for the first time, we were there for way too long trying to finish something that we’d felt couldn’t happen at that time. I’d been in there for so long, I felt cabin fever. I felt like the four walls that I was looking at every day were not gonna inspire an amazing record, so I got out of there. We went on tour – the tour was very, very conducive to the record – and when we did get back and it was time to work on the lyrics and really finish the thing, I wanted to do the exact opposite of what I had been doing. I wanted to travel instead of being stuck in a room. I wanted to stimulate my brain, go to different cities, stay in different houses and work in different studios.
I really wanted to search for the meaning behind each song – have each one have a good story that meant a lot to me. The standard that I have for every record is to have it be based on my life, on the things that weigh heavy. So I had to wait for it, I had to search for it, and I think at the end of the day that’s what really made the record. I finished it all by taking a cheap flight up to Seattle, and I finished the last few songs up.
What were the last songs you finished writing?
I remember the last words I wrote were for the song “Dive In” – it was actually for the first track on the record. I finished the song “Circles” within literally four hours; I was at a coffee shop in Seattle, and I was able to finish that song in a matter of hours. Something about that city, all the musical vibes in that place – the grunge, the Sub Pop inspiration, was all really strong there. I remember being in the Hotel Max up in Seattle, writing the last words, going down, ordering the most expensive cocktail they had in their bar and celebrating by myself.
“Circles” was written in reaction to the Paris attacks; “Texas is Forever,” another Misadventures single, is inspired by your punk past. It seems like you were drawing from all over the place on this record.
I think that was the point. I think that’s what I wanted – each song stands alone musically. I think they can both take you in different directions in your mind when you just listen to the music. I wanted each song to be completely different, about a different time in our lives, a different story. If you were to ask me about any song I could tell you where I was when I wrote it, and how it affected me. So each one of them are little stories of my life of the last few years.
You worked with Dan Korneff on Misadventures, and this is the first time you’ve worked with the same producer for two consecutive albums. What clicked with Dan?
Dan is the dream-maker. He’s the hardest-working man in the producer biz. He’s very underestimated, and he’s amazing. He works harder than we do. We’re working, like, 15-, 16-hour days, and we go to bed, and he’s still awake and still going. It’s just crazy to see somebody that has as much on the line for a record as you do; it really, really means a lot. We’ve worked with producers in the past who’ve literally fallen asleep in their chairs during sessions, and we’re just like, “This isn’t what we want.” We’ve always dreamed of having a guy that is our guy who can make our dreams come true, and make our songs come to life, who is [as] passionate about their work as we are about ours, and is putting everything on the line – putting their life on the line, their health, their mind, everything they got into what they do. He does that.
I read an interview with Jaime [Preciado] where he said that Dan helped you tastefully experiment on the new record, and push yourselves in a way that made sense to you. What about Misadventures differs from your previous work?
When we first met Dan, the main thing that I wanted to tell him was, “If you’ve ever wanted to try anything, experiment with something in the studio that you’ve never done and always felt too scared to do, or it was too much of a risk, do it with our band. That’s the kind of band that we are.” We’re ready to take risks; we like to dive into uncharted territory, because I think that makes for what our band is; it’s what creates the sound that we have, and it’s sort of like shooting in the dark, like, constantly. That’s what makes the sound of every song a little bit different.
There’s a flamenco influence on the last couple albums that isn’t there on Misadventures.
I think you’re talking about “Bulls in the Bronx,” where we particularly went into full-on Spanish, and it was a very impactful thing that people remembered. We had a Spanish intro for the new record, but it just didn’t seem to work – it was sort of just whatever the song needs, you bring it out. It’s sort of the way that we treat guest appearances; if I need another voice, if we need somebody else’s inspiration, we take it, we collaborate. Each song calls for whatever it needs. If it needs to have some screaming, I get angry on it; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Even with the lyrics, I want each one to be its own personality.
When you wrapped up Misadventures, was there anything that made you step back and say, “I never expected to do this”?
“Floral & Fading” was one of the risk-takers on the record. It’s probably the slowest tempo we’ve ever done, as far as beats per minute. It’s very different, stylistically, than anything we’ve ever done. Like I said, one of our favorite things to do is to try things that we’re not sure are gonna work or not. That song, I wrote it about my girlfriend.
When we first got together people were attacking her online, tearing her down, sending her all these nasty letters and threats, and all these kinds of things that we’d never had to deal with. It would bring her to tears. I wrote this song about trying to tell her that none of that stuff on the Internet matters; all that matters is her and I. We could live on another planet and everything would be fine. So that’s what that song’s about.
In addition to touring constantly, your growing popularity was also something you had to deal with in very tangible and sometimes difficult ways, as you just mentioned. How did this affect the album?
You know, we did get a lot of Instagram [comments] everyday, “Where’s the f’in album, Vic, what’s happening?” We’d post a picture of our dog and it’d be like, “Hey, does the dog have the album? ‘Cause I’d like to hear it.” That was hurtful and helpful at the same time, because obviously it sucks to have people breathing down your neck. But at the same time it is, in a way, a show of support that people want to hear new music from you, and that’s inspiring. That’s good to know that our fans stick around and keep listening – and growing with us, growing up together. That’s the most important part – growing up together with your fans, and having that longevity is what we’d like to hang onto.
Speaking of longevity and growing together, Pierce the Veil celebrates 10 years in the fall. What does that mean to you?
It’s crazy. It’s really weird. It means a lot to me and my brothers – my band. I can see our faces when we first started touring in a 15-passenger van and an RV back in the days. It just reminds me of all those days and all the miles that we’ve traveled together, the hopes that we can continue to discover different parts of the world together, and play bigger and bigger shows together. That’s really just the goal.
Your record release show is in Mexico City – why there instead of San Diego?
Mexico City, it was a wild card. A random idea that we had was to do our CD release show there. The last time we played down there was probably one of the most chaotic, wild, uncontrollable, unleashed shows we’ve ever played. It was just insane. So we wanted to do something unique, really – I guess something that we could be proud to tell people about. We’re gonna film the thing. It’s gonna be a crazy night to remember.
You’re going on a month-long tour after that. What can people expect from the rest of the Misadventures tour?
We’re gonna be playing the new album from front to back. It was very Seventies-band of us to make a record and then go out and play it in its entirety. When we came up with the idea, we were actually surprised that more bands don’t really do it, but we went with our gut. We have such a close relationship with our fans; we can feel out what we all want to do together, and I think it’s been long enough since we’ve had new music. Everyone’s thirsty, and everyone’s ready for something new. We’d thought we’d do it in the biggest way possible, and put on a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime thing for them to start off the record.