The meteoric rise of metalcore outfit Pierce the Veil is one to be reckoned with. From their San Diego beginnings back in 2006 all the way through to their current world-beating record Misadventures, the Vic Fuentes-fronted quartet have remained one solid unit and gone from strength to strength. We caught up with bassist Jaime Preciado ahead of their show at the Melkweg in Amsterdam to discuss his role as a bassist, the band’s A Flair for the Dramatic turning ten and why he might soon be flying the band around the world.
So, how are you? And how’s the tour been?
Tour’s been really fun, it’s been awesome. It’s our first time doing a mainland headline tour through Europe. It’s crazy to see kids coming out just for our show, it makes you feel really special. Having Creeper and letlive. out with us is great, they’re two great bands to see every night. We’ve toured with letlive. in the past, but Creeper was so genuinely stoked to be here. It’s so awesome to have an opening band who are more pumped than anyone else. It’s like, “oh yeah, let’s do this!” They’re really excited.
Misadventures has now been out for roughly six months. How has the last half year been in the world of Pierce the Veil?
It’s been crazy, it’s been very hectic. We’ve been non-stop busy and that’s what we kind of wanted. We expected it to be busy, and that’s because we put so much time into the record. We felt like a new band when it was done, and right when we finished the record we realized that it was exactly what we’d wanted to make since the beginning. It took us four years to make the damn thing, and it really made us feel like a new band. You feel like you have something new to offer, and then you want to get out and tour. For us, being on the road is the celebration part of recording a record. The recording bit is the work part, when you spend eighteen hours a day in the studio trying to figure out what these songs are gonna be. Once you’re done, the fun part can start and you can play the songs in front of kids. We’ve been all over the place, from South America to Europe and beyond. We’ve covered a lot in those six months.
As you said, it took you four years to make Misadventures. Why so long?
I don’t quite know how that happened. When we started working on the record, we had a plan. Just like with every other record, you have an idea and you go into the studio to work on it. We had the same producer for this record too, which made it an easier period to go into. It was a very smooth transition, and at one point we went into the studio with a couple of demo tracks that we liked. At the end of it all, we ended up cutting two tracks which we didn’t think would fit on the record. It was something we didn’t expect, so then we had to go back into the studio and work on two brand new tracks. When you’re in the studio for so long, you obviously start to go crazy.
Cabin fever, basically?
Yeah! And then you have managers and labels constantly asking when the record will be done, so we had to get out of there. We went on Warped Tour, and we also played shows with Sleeping With Sirens (2015’s The World Tour). The way we made that record was so unorthodox, hence the name Misadventures. It wasn’t the best of times, but it also wasn’t the worst thing ever because it ended up making the record turn out to be what it is today. I think you can hear it on every song, each one has its own unique thing going on. That was really special for us, because we did take a long time to make it and every song turned out to be its own unique little thing. We’re really excited that it’s done, and it feels almost like a weight has been lifted.
What about the two songs that didn’t make the cut? Are you going to leave them out completely or do you plan on utilizing them somehow?
We have this thing called The Vault, and it’s just a collection of lost and misguided songs. It consists of anything from songs which could be considered way too gnarly for a record, or songs that are way too Disney for the record. We have a bunch of riffs and stuff which we turn into songs, but for us something just has to feel right for it to be a Pierce the Veil song. The record has to feel good to us, and that’s probably why it didn’t come out sooner – we weren’t really happy with where it was at. We knew we had these great ideas for very special songs, but we didn’t know exactly how to show them to people yet. That’s the way with any art you do: how do you know when something is done? For example, only a painter will know when his art is done. He has this idea, and you can’t be all like, “oh it looks fine”, because he’ll tell you that it needs a little bit more of this or a little bit more of that. When you see the final piece, he goes “voila” and it’s done. That’s how we approached Misadventures; if it doesn’t feel right, then it can’t be rushed.
Essentially finding that balance between gnarly and Disney, then?
Yeah! And obviously labels and managers aren’t the happiest with us at times, but we’re in an awesome position to control that aspect of our band. That’s the one thing that I love about being in this band right now: where we’re at. We’ve done so much hard work to get to this point, and now we actually have more freedom to do what we want both musically as well as with the live show and merch. We have pretty much the same amount of control over every aspect of our band now. Before, it was the label thinking that we should do something.
How would you ideally see your sound developing as time moves on?
Honestly, I think that this record took us to a bunch of new places further than where we’ve ever been before. We played a bunch of rock festivals that we never saw ourselves ever playing, sharing stages with bands like Slayer, Ghost and Avenged Sevenfold. It’s crazy! Like, why are we even here?! It’s such a weird thing, and then also doing late night TV shows; we did Conan back home in the States, which was really cool. We’d never done anything like that before, and we also got to do the MTV Awards. The bands there weren’t our style, but for some reason we got in there and got into a new territory. That’s what we want to keep doing; we want to play the big European festivals, the big American ones. We started out playing Warped Tour, and that really helped us. When you’re there you have all these kids walking by who then come and check out your band, and that’s awesome. We want to maintain that aspect, but on a bigger scale. Stuff like Reading & Leeds and Rock am Ring.
The latter of which you’re doing next year, right?
Yeah! So that’s one of those things where we basically want to try and continue doing what we do. We want to grow in the UK and Europe, something which every band wants. It’s tricky, though, to breakthrough and get kids to pay attention to what you’re doing. You’ve gotta make noise, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
I just want to focus on the songwriting process again. As a bassist, you form an integral part of Pierce the Veil’s rhythmic backbone. Do you feel as if there’s ever any added pressure for you to “get it all right”?
It’s always in the back of our heads, yeah. I’ve always loved bands that have that really cool drummer/bassist combo, and I feel like that’s one of the most underrated things in a band. Every time I saw a live band when I was younger, I wondered but never understood why the band were so tight and on the ball. It was the rhythm section, though! Something that you feel the whole time. It opened my eyes to a bunch of new possibilities, because both of our guitarists love to shred. If there’s nothing holding it there, though, then it’s just a load of noodling. We definitely love songs with big riffs, the kind that you want to learn as a child. Dammit by Blink-182, for example; that whole song is based off of one riff! That’s how we go about making song – we’ve gotta have that one riff which holds the song together. Dan Korneff, our producer, is a drummer so he’s in the rhythm mindset all the time. For him, that was a fun record to make.
It’s a very rhythmically-driven record as well, Misadventures.
Yeah! We love having those kinds of cool guitar parts to play, and each song has its own little thing: you listen to the bass on one track, and the guitar or drums on a different track. There’s so much going on all the time, and it’s Korneff’s job to create a balance and make it sound the way it should sound.
Next year is the 10th anniversary of your debut record, A Flair for the Dramatic. How do you feel about that record looking back on it all those years later?
Man, we’re getting so old! That record was made when the band were just starting out and it was just Mike (Fuentes, drums) and Vic (Fuentes, vocals), the two brothers. Tony (Perry, guitar) and I were in another band at the time, and back then they had a bunch of songs they’d been working on and showed us. They recorded the whole record all by themselves, because once they showed us they already had all this studio time booked to work on it. It’s really cool to hear that, because I love listening to those old songs and then hearing these new songs and comparing the difference across all records. It was such a cool progression. There’s still a lot of stuff going on throughout the first record, but we were still trying to figure out our sound. We got really close to it on Collide With the Sky (2012), and with Misadventures it’s helped lead into what we really sound like as a band. It’s just a cool thing to have, y’know?
Are there any plans to commemorate the anniversary of the record?
People have talked about that, yeah. On our last tour we did something called a Soundcheck Party, where we had 100 kids come in and play them some songs and talk to them for a bit. Other kids have asked that question, and we honestly had no idea that anyone knew that record! That’s just being in a band, though; you try to know your fans as much as possible, but you never know exactly what each person wants to hear. It was cool to hear that a lot of people were excited about the anniversary coming up, and I certainly wouldn’t rule anything out. We played Misadventures in its entirety in the States for fun, and that was pretty awesome. We definitely need to bring back some of the old stuff for sure.
We actually reached out to your fanbase to get in some questions for you, and we’ve handpicked three. The first question comes from Liselot, who wants to know what your dream bass is.
It’s funny you say that, because I just custom made some with Ernie Ball! They took a good amount of time to make, but they’re such a good company and I’ve been playing their instruments ever since I took up playing the bass. The people down there were like, “anything you want, and we’ll make it!” That’s really difficult though, so I just kept it to two basses. Normally, I try to do mirror opposites when it comes to guitars, and at the same time I like stuff to just be clean and simple. For the first bass, I went for some kind of wood finish with stripes on it. They actually had to find something called Zebra Wood, and it sounds like it is. It’s wood with stripes on it, and each stripe has its own unique elements. I made a whole list of things with every aspect that the bass needed, all the geeky stuff! That one thus has black hardware, and then I also made the same one with a white pickguard and gold hardware. I basically got to make my dream bass, if you will. It was a really fun thing to do. They said to me at the end that it was the most expensive bass that they ever made, so I was really grateful for the opportunity to work with them! I am forever in their debt.
Our second question comes from Madelon: what would you have become if you weren’t a musician?
What would I haven’t have become? I’m actually in the process of getting my pilot’s license, so that I could do scenic tours and stuff and be like, “if you look to your left…” haha!
You’ll be a bit like Bruce Dickinson!
Yeah, he’s commercial style. He’s got a 747, and it’s huge! They bring all their stage gear and production in that one plane.
I can’t believe it can carry all that weight.
It’s a big plane. But yeah, this is a dream I’ve had since I was a little child. I’ve always loved flying in planes, and I figured that I should go get my license for a single engine plane as soon as I have some time off. I was about to do the final exam and then we got a couple of tours booked, so when I get back to the US I won’t have flown a plane for two months and I’ll have to get right back into the swing of things. You tend to lose a bit of the tech aspect when you’re gone for so long, because there’s like a million things which you should know. I think we have January off, so hopefully I’ll get it done then and be able to call myself a pilot.
Our last one comes from Wendy: do you have any golden tips for young musicians who want to get somewhere in the music world?
First and foremost: buy a tuner. You’ve gotta have that. A lot of bands for some reason didn’t invest in that, and I was like, “just tune your guitar”. The best thing to do is try and save up as much money as you can or find somebody who knows how to record, and really make the best demo recording that you possibly can make. Literally go to shows, because that’s where you’re gonna find potential fans and build your band. Play as many shows as you can, and play to as many people as you can. For us, we were at every single show in San Diego just handing out flyers afterwards and giving away CDs or whatever. All it takes is one kid to put it in the CD player and tell their friends. Also, make sure that everyone in the band is as into the music as you are. I used to be in a band where two of the guys were into it, and the other two weren’t. It makes you kind of pull at strings to try and get everything going. Tony and I then left our old band, and Mike and Vic found us and together we became Pierce the Veil. I remember us all having a conversation and me saying to them, “yo, if we do this, we’re gonna do it. The full 100%, this is gonna be all that we do!” And we did. That’s really my best advice in how to best put yourself out there and have fun. It’s fun, it’s a super awesome time to be able to play in front of people who really care.
It’s definitely paid off as well. Thanks a lot for your time and good luck!
No worries man! We’re the lucky ones, for sure.
Misadventures is out now via Fearless Records. Stream it below.