Pierce The Veil: Life goes on

Nearly seven years on since their last album, a lot has changed for Pierce The Veil. Now firmly fixed on the future, they’re a band reborn.

Words: Steven Loftin.
Photos: Celina Kenyon.

It’s been a hot minute since Pierce The Veil graced us with new music. But now, they’re returning revitalised and ready to seize the day with the California band’s fifth album, ‘The Jaws of Life’ in tow. 

No small statement, as with everything the Pierce The Veil pen touches, it’s meant to be fully loaded. “It felt big; the words feel powerful,” guitarist and vocalist Vic Fuentes gushes. “It describes the meaning of the album in a lot of ways – about how life is trying to devour you, and you’re trying to get out of its grips or find your way from a dark place into the sunlight again. That’s the vibe for this album.” 

It’s this lifeline that Pierce The Veil have been for fans since arising in 2007. But in the space between today and 2016’s ‘Misadventures’, they found those sharp-edged teeth sinking in. Following the departure of founding drummer and Vic’s brother Mike Fuentes after misconduct allegations, the band began to reconcile with the future of Pierce The Veil. With Vic teasing material as far back as 2018, fast forward two years, and with everything standing still, Pierce The Veil were at odds with the world around them. 

“This record is what got us through those feelings in that state,” Vic says. “This is the record that took us from a darker place into a lighter place. And it was through that process of making the record and being with my bandmates, living together in a house, working on this record – reconnecting and communicating again – it strengthened our bond and our brotherhood and brought us closer than ever. And so, I think this record did a lot for us internally.”

Hunkering down with the band – guitarist Tony Perry and bassist Jaime Preciado – up in Seattle, while those rain-sodden streets are a world away from those of their home state, it allowed time for the group to reconnect. “We would just have a lot of good hangs and lots of good conversations,” he remembers. “And just talk about the future, [which] is such a thing that we took for granted for a while there. To be able to talk about the future is an important thing, and that got us into a better place and got us really happy and inspired again.”

“It felt more like we had changed so many things about our band, and about the approach that we’re taking to make a record,” continues Vic. “We switched producers, we did our last two records with Dan Korneff – who I adore and love – but we wanted something different across the board. We just [wanted] to have a completely different experience.”

They’ve thrown out the Pierce The Veil rulebook for this new era. Even down to the aesthetics of the album. It’s the trio moving confidently into maturation without letting any of their sprightly charms fall to the wayside, with grittier shades replacing vibrant colours. “It’s kind of what I wish we would have done a long time ago,” Vic admits. “It’s these things that you don’t think about because you’re too close to them, and when you finally shake things up, it’s refreshing and makes music so much fun.”

While these days it is all about shaking things up, some things never change. “Our approach to making the music is always just honesty and working as hard as we can on the song,” he smiles. “Like, making sure that in every single song, we put our everything; every lyric is exactly what we want it to be. At the end of the day, that’s always been our approach. It’s just to try and do the best thing we possibly can while working our asses off to make this the thing that we’re most proud of.”

“This is the record that took us from a darker place into a lighter place”

Vic Fuentes

Stating that he sees every album as “a time capsule”, ‘The Jaws of Life’ will be the one that Vic’s growth reaches a peak when his first child comes into the world (“We’re trying to get the nursery ready,” he beams). But outside of this, for the creative side at least, the focus in this snapshot, he ponders, is “the moments of where you are in your life. It’s where you are creatively, and this record is exactly what we have wanted to do.”

Enlisting Third Eye Blind’s longest serving member Brad Hargreaves on drums, as well as Chloe Moriondo on closing track ‘Fractures’, this fresh blood gave ‘Jaws’ a chance to embrace the new era moniker Vic plasters over it. On getting Brad involved, Vic says, “That was a big moment because we had we had a lot of songs written, but I really wanted him to play on the album, and that was the most like, nervous I’ve ever been asking anyone anything.”

While there’s still the trademark, spiky Pierce The Veil sounds loved amongst the alt-scene so vehemently (they’re embarking on a UK arena tour later this year), they also find moments to embrace their sensitive sides (‘Even When I’m Not With You’). Recent single ‘Pass the Nirvana’, alongside its swinging savagery, comes a full pelt through the darker side of ‘Jaws’’ mental health subject matter, but on the contrary, Vic beams, “every time we play that my body wants to explode. It’s so fun!”

Though the moment he picks as being the most impactful, he gives that honour to ‘Fractures’. “I’ve always been a fan of how much power a song can have even though it’s tiny, but it’s huge at the same time,” Vic says. “And I’ve always felt that way about music in general. I’m a pretty shy, five foot nothing, small guy,” he chuckles. “But I can make a lot of noise through music, and that’s what I’ve always told the younger artists, that music gives you that ability to make as much noise as you want and be as big as you want. And so, I think that that that song is a good example of that. It’s a small, tiny song, but it’s super powerful in its substance.”

You’d be hard-pressed to argue against their fans finding the same merit in Pierce The Veil’s output. Since their last appearance – and thanks to the ‘King For A Day’ resurfacing via a recent TikTok trend – the timelessness of their matter, along with the recent resurgence of alt music, has given mind to the legacy of Pierce The Veil and to how far they’ve come. On the individual importance of ‘King’ – featuring Sleeping With Sirens’ Kellin Quinn – Vic recounts, “I co-wrote it with my best friend. I met my wife on the set of the music video, so all this stuff really means a lot to us on a more personal level – it’s amazing.” But, most importantly, it’s meant there’s a new generation of fans awaiting their return. 

The bond with their fans has never been stronger. The fervour across each snippet and single leading up to ‘The Jaws of Life’’s release is a testament to this, and not being able to relish in those moments in a live scenario was the hardest part for Vic. “Now that we’re actually doing it again, and we’re a little older, and we’re at a different place in our lives, and the band’s at a different place, it’s [such] a blessing to be here. That’s kind of where we’re at. We don’t take anything for granted that comes our way.”

Pierce The Veil are the kind of band that needs to keep moving. Much like their music, which is rooted in high-voltage guitars and the kind of deep earnestness made to adorn notebooks and tattoos of the disenfranchised, they need to be bouncing off the walls, in this case, clocking up miles on the road, or things begin to unravel. This time, the focus being put upon ‘Jaws’, they found a way out, but that constant turning is where they thrive and is what this album stands for. 

“It represents forward motion which is important to us,” Vic concurs. “Releasing music, reconnecting with our fans, meeting this new generation as well that we haven’t met yet. That’s so important for us because I think we felt stuck for a long time being at home and not having an album out and not having a tour. But the feeling of forward motion of anything really – even doing this interview right now – it’s just so energising, and so that’s really what’s important for us, to be moving again.”

Pierce The Veil are indeed now more future-focused than ever. Now that they have a greater understanding of their capabilities and bond as a band, the forward motion is all pedal to the metal. “We have a new appreciation for everything that we’re doing right now,” ends Vic. “It just feels like a new, totally new start for our band.” ■

Taken from the March 2023 edition of Upset. Order a copy below. Pierce The Veil’s album ‘The Jaws Of Life’ is out now.