Vic Fuentes – Pierce The Veil ‘Finding Odd Souls And Misadventures’
Although it is debatable, actors may have one of the most difficult individualistic challenges when it comes to abandoning their “comfort zone” for their performance. Depending on the character – their gender, sexual orientation, faith, morality, appearance and reactions could become a complete departure of who they are as a person through this identity they have helped create; it is essentially a sacrifice of oneself for their art. Actress Madeline Brewer, renowned for her Emmy-nominated depiction of Janine Lando in The Handmaid’s Tale, once said: “Step outside your comfort zone because that’s the only way you’re going to grow“. Fundamentally, this advice could inspire any artistic undertaking and encourage evolution.
While Vic Fuentes from Californian post hardcore outfit Pierce The Veil is not classified as an actor, he does appreciate what Ms Brewer has expressed. After four studio albums working with either famed producers such as Dan Korneff (The Devil Wears Prada, Motionless In White) and Kato Khandwala (Blondie, The Pretty Reckless) or sitting in that chair himself, Vic decided to relinquish his comfort and control further for PTV’s fifth LP The Jaws Of Life and call upon the talents of MuteMath‘s Paul Meany, a departure that boosted ‘The Veil’s diversity immensely. As Victor describes from his home:
“It was cool man. We wanted to work with Paul (Meany) and I think one of the main reasons was because he was an artist as well. We’ve never worked with a producer who was an artist. A lot of our producers have been more like ‘engineer’ types. So it was nice to have an artist’s perspective, especially somebody with a band that we liked and trusted.”
Mr Fuentes discloses in a reflective manner, “He worked more like an artist, nothing was overly structured or instructed to do in this ‘perfect order’. It was it was a lot more experimental and left a lot of room for trying countless ideas that we normally wouldn’t do. Sitting in a room capturing sounds playing all this weird sh*t on a synth while somebody else is turning a pedal and just gathering content; this cool sounding stuff for the songs that we would use later on to spice up the album and make things just as creative as we could.
So I think that was a great strength of his and also just his opinions are so strong too, which is something we asked for and we wanted. Because a lot of the records we’ve done, it’s always been about just us recording what we already have. His approach was: ‘Okay, we have that. Let’s see what we don’t have.’ So a lot of it was was finding new things about the songs that weren’t even there yet.”
With his answers, Vic depicts an excited school kid trying to tell his parents about his report card that is packed with the highest grades. As the band’s fans worldwide know, this is actually the kind of person he is, especially on stage and in studio, doing what he loves so much that he almost bursts with excitement at discussing his passion. As the days wind down until the release of this versatile full-length, that character is literally jumping out of his skin.
“I mean, putting out new music, IT IS the reward for all the hard work. And it always feels like when I used to finish my finals in school—you do all this work and get it all done, then you can finally breathe and relax and watch it all unfold.”
He admits with elation, “That’s really how I always feel like when we put out a record, it’s very cathartic and emotional and also extremely relaxing and rewarding. Thankfully it means we have a lot of touring ahead. Touring is always the fun part as well for me, where we get to celebrate the record. Right now, it all feels amazing. Honestly, it’s been so nice to put out even just a few new songs that we have.”
The lead single ‘Pass The Nirvana’ is one of these prior mentioned songs and the grunge driven post hardcore single is not just a “hit”, it is a fully fledged knock-out. With over 13 million streams since its release in September last year, it justifies the artist working with artist experiment that Victor, Tony Perry (guitar) and Jaime Preciado (bass) undertook working with Mr Meany (if MuteMath is an unknown to the reader, the Twilight soundtrack might be a good source for introduction) as a marvellous Misadventure. However, it plagued this writer to ask Vic about his experience with the grunge icons that were Nirvana – it has been stated that the song isn’t in reference to Kurt Cobain, but the sound and his charisma shines through – for instance what is Mr Fuentes favourite aspect about Nirvana?
“This is my personal thought about when I see Kurt Cobain: I feel like I see through his ‘I don’t care. I’m punk’ delivery of everything that they do. Being on stage and just acting like he doesn’t care what he’s playing – he is just going nuts. It is giving off that kind of grunge punk energy. But, I also see that he is playing his guitar perfectly. Even though he’s acting like he’s not, he’s hitting every single note. He really wants you to hear the song the way it’s supposed to be heard.” Vic explains in deep thought as if narrating a documentary, “I really respect that, you can present things in a in a such an aggressive and defiant way, but also really care about what he’s doing and crafting his art.”
From one end of the spectrum to almost the complete opposite, the track ‘Shared Trauma’ is a completely new venture for the trio (quintet when touring). Pushing the experimental abilities of PTV – this composition would fit perfectly on a record released by The Antlers, Haux or could even act as a sequel to Thrice‘s electronic exploration with their single ‘Digital Sea‘. So how did this endeavour come to be?
“This was a interesting song because this came about when we were home and I was just asking my band members to kind of send me ideas of anything, just send me anything, whatever, I don’t care what it is. Jaime (Preciado, bass) sent me this one snippet of this loopy and very cool almost analogue sounding thing as if he’d made it on some old beat machine or something. I heard melodies on it like instantly, this was doing something for me. I structured it into a song very quickly.”
Vic continues, “It’s probably one of the most divergent stylistically songs we’ve ever done. I don’t think we’ve ever done anything quite like this, where it’s like this loopy analogue beat and I also really enjoyed the opportunity to sing in a the lowest register that I’ve ever attempted. Honestly, I’ve never sung that low before and I don’t know if anybody’s ever even heard my voice sound like that. So that was cool to like challenge myself in a way because I always love to try something completely new that no one’s ever heard us do on every record. I think that one would definitely be one of the most different ones we’ve ever done.”
For the devotees of Pierce The Veil they will be discovering numerous musical ambitions that haven’t been investigated before with the newest LP – but such is the growth of the artists, the escape from their comfort zones. As far as Mr Fuentes is concerned, the deep dive was well worth the discoveries.
“Thankfully Paul (Meany) was very unorthodox with a lot of stuff. For example, he had built this drum-kit in a way that I’d never seen a drum-kit built. It was designed for you to just not use your feet at all, it was to use all only your hands. It was crafted in a way that you played in a symphony if that makes sense? I thought it was genius. Because he’s not a drummer and I’m not a drummer. So when we’re writing beats and just creating demos, we could use these drums to create rhythms and I’ve never done anything like it, I really want to do that for myself.”
He elaborates further, “We wanted to try to experiment with as many sounds as we could. We challenged ourselves to be as creative as possible with whatever we had in the house. I remember I ended up using like a power tool on my guitar; pulling it out of the closet to try and make some weird sounds out of it. There were other instances, but that is what Paul does, he is a maniac – especially on stage too, I saw him at South by South West and there he was doing somersaults and handstands on his piano. It was super punk, but they aren’t a punk band you know?”
With the recent completion of their most successful UK tour to date, the (touring) five-piece will be taking the new record back to European territory following its release. Considering that global travel is well and truly thriving currently, when will the great Down Under get to hear and be saved by The Jaws Of Life?
“We’re planning on coming down I promise, we’re planning our Australian stuff right now, but I probably shouldn’t have said that (laughs).”
Regardless of what was said, please ‘Come As You Are’ to Australia Pierce The Veil.
Interview by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill
Get The Jaws Of Life here.
Pierce The Veil – The Jaws Of Life tracklisting:
1. Death Of An Executioner
2. Pass The Nirvana
3. Even When I’m Not With You
4. Emergency Contact
5. Flawless Execution
6. The Jaws Of Life
7. Damn The Man Save The Empire
9. Irrational Fears
10. Shared Trauma
11. So Far So Fake
12. 12 Fractures
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