Pierce the Veil aren't the band they once were. Its been four years since they released their last album, the wildly popular Collide with the Sky, and they've grown in the interim. They scored a gold record with "King For A Day," featuring fellow metalcore talent Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, but most importantly, the full-length gave them real visibility. Once you might've never heard of the band, now, they're mostly inescapable.
We hopped on the phone with frontman Vic Fuentes to talk about their upcoming fourth studio album, Misadventures, and the journey that's brought him to this point.
Last time we chatted was at the Alternative Press Music Awards, right after [guitarist] Tony [Perry] healed from his mountain biking accident.
Now he's part robot and it's all good!
Then he won Best Guitarist, must've been a great day. You're up for Song of the Year this time around for "The Divine Zero."
When they started setting up the voting for that, it was the only song we had out. It's nice to get that recognition early on.
Last year, Sleeping With Sirens took home the award for "Kick Me." I know those are buds of yours. Frontman Kellin Quinn sings on "King For A Day," and that song is massively popular. How did you guys link up in the first place?
It was actually through our fans on Twitter. They put us together. It was almost like putting two dudes in a room and saying "Hey, be friends." They brought us together and kept asking for a song together. I honestly didn't know who he was...we didn't know who each other were so we were brought together through our fans. It was this cool, unique thing. We had that song on [Collide with the] Sky, our last album, and thought Kellin could take it over the top, and he really did. He made something crazy special, a gold record out of it. I can't believe it.
Future A&R scouts, all of them. Collide with the Sky came out four years ago and did super well—No. 12 on the Billboard 200. Did you feel a lot of pressure for Misadventures to live up to that?
I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves every time. I'm just the kind of guy who does that to himself. I'm always pushing myself to make something that I'm proud of. We called this album Misadventures because its been such a weird journey making it. It's completely unlike anything we've ever done. We set out with a plan and it totally tailspun out of control. We went into the studio and we started making the record and everything went great until [it didn't.]
I think we spent too much time in the studio the first time we went and basically needed to get out of there and do some tours. We did a world tour right in the middle of making our album. Looking back, it had to happen. I had to get out, see the band, play some shows. We finished touring and I went back in the studio. I went on a lyrical journey. I wanted to do the exact opposite of what we were doing, which was sitting in a room. I wanted to go out and stay in some different cities in different houses, work in some different studios...so that's kind of what I did. I rented a bunch of different Airbnbs over different periods of time. I stayed in some really cool studios, and towards the end of it, I had a few more songs left and I took a leap up to Seattle. I booked a cheap flight and finished the record up in Seattle because I just really love it up there. I love the music vibes up there. I describe it as I was searching for these songs. I wanted each to have a good story and a good meaning.
“I wanted to do the opposite of what we were doing...I was searching for these songs.”
You're using Misadventures as a positive thing when the word itself gives off negative connotations. How did you determine which cities you were going to write in?
I was in L.A. One of the things that really helped the record, that just fell into my lap, was when our label Fearless merged with a label called Concord. Concord had all these resources at this studio called the Village in Santa Monica. Concord, they permanently rent a little residence there so they were like, "Hey, you're officially a Concord artist, this is what we do for our people, you can use this studio for your album." I was just mind-blown. The studio was unreal. It was where Fleetwood Mac built their studio. It's this amazing three-story building with super creative artists coming in and out of the door. It went from Snoop Dogg to Weezer to Ziggy Marley. It was just so cool to feel all that energy in the studio. I spent a good month and a half working on the record [there.] Within that time I was bouncing around to little practice studios too, different Airbnbs I was staying at. At one point in the writing process I was staying in a cabin up at Big Bear, California, doing all these things to find unique inspiration to make this something super special. After a good run with the last record we knew we needed to make something that would just blow people's minds.
What was the timeline for the album? On paper, it looks like it took four whole years, which is a lot considering the two-year album cycle that dominates the music industry.
We weren't working on it the entire time. We don't really write on tour. It's just hard for us. On a bus, there's no privacy. I prefer to write with privacy. I'm always writing lyrics, daily, but we didn't really start writing music until we finished touring with the last record. We toured really extensively with Collide with the Sky because it was a huge growth period for the band and that record just keep going. It kept selling, we kept getting tours. People were just finding out about us so it was important we got what we could out of that record.
You traveled all over to write this record. Each song has its own narrative, but the only one where the location appears in the title is "Texas is Forever." What about the Southwest holds personal importance to you?
Texas, I think I've dated one too many Southern girls. This girl that I've been writing about for the last two albums, that song is a closure to that topic. I think I'm done thinking about that issue, that whole situation that we had. If you follow along the songs that have been about her, it's the story of our lives but it's sort of about letting go of that whole thing and learning to be happy for each other and the separate lives that we're living now. That was the end of that.
It's totally going to live on as an anthem for kids in San Antonio. Are there any tracks on the album that act as a head nod to your hometown of San Diego?
There's a line in a song called "Sambuka" where I sing "Hello, welcome to Southern California, now go back home." It's about how for a while there I was trying to make relationships work on the road. Every once in a while I'll start dating someone from another state, another country and it never seemed to work out. I try to make it happen. As a touring musician, it just happens: You meet people and you try to build relationships. That song is about not really ever being able to make that work and the bad situations I've been in. I called it "Sambuka" because it's a foreign alcohol that I had while I was in the U.K. that I'd never heard of.
You recently released "Circles," which feels like the closest thing to a straightforward pop-punk song we'll ever get out of Pierce the Veil. You've said it's about the Paris Attacks at the Bataclan.
I wrote that song in like four hours after I heard what happened in Paris. It kind of reminded me of when [Pearl Jam singer] Eddie Vedder wrote about that boy in the classroom when he wrote "Jeremy." It was a news story that he heard about that devastated him and it was the same way for me. Everyone got hit really hard, and I think musicians got hit in a different way because that's what we do. We play on those stages. At the end of the day, I tried to put a lighter note on it. I wrote about two friends who are trying to save themselves from something, but that was the main inspiration for it. I heard a lot of the people [at the Bataclan] were trying to save their friends. I kept thinking about that. It's not something you would know unless I told you, but I have to be honest about where these songs come from.
The very last line on the very last track, "Song for Isabelle," is "But somedays I wish I was a kid again." It feels really delicate, nostalgic, sentimental. The entire record is deeply personal but that line, how it just cuts the song off, feels poignant. Is there a reason you wanted to end Misadventures on that note?
I think, by chance, it just worked out that way. That song felt like the last song on the record. I didn't really realize that until we laid it down. It does really wrap everything up. It does really feel like we're starting a new life with this record. I literally feel like a new man after these couple years of making it because it was such an intense process. I put myself through a lot, making it. I spent a lot of time alone, in isolation; I had a lot of time to think about stuff. I feel like we are ready to start a new life and I think that line sums up a lot.
This year you've been a band for a full decade—10 years is a long time. What's your secret? How do you keep this thing alive?
We don't call each other when we're off the road. We get off the plane and we're like, "Alright, don't call, don't even think about texting me." The main thing is that when we started this band, my brother Mike and I started the band, early on, when we tried out members to form the band, the main thing we told everyone was, "You need to be ready to make music your life. You have to be committed from the start. If this isn't what you want to do, then don't do it." That's how we lost our last member from our old band. They weren't true musicians. They weren't true road dogs. They weren't ready for it. From the very beginning we all had the same mindset, throughout all the years, it was important to start out that way.
Want more Pierce the Veil? Watch a vintage interview below wherein the band details their high school life.