San Diego post-hardcore quartet Pierce the Veil was formed in 2006 by brothers Vic and Mike Fuentes. They recently released their new album Misadventures, the long awaited follow-up album to Collide the Sky. Drummer Mike Fuentes took some time out of their sold-out touring schedule to tell DIME all about their new album, crazy fan experiences and how they got Matt Pinfield to be in their new music video.
JENN DEVEREAUX: You guys released Misadventures last month. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of making this album?
MIKE FUENTES: It was a crazy process. We went into this record similar to our older records. We were touring non-stop, and we had to take time off to write. We stayed home for close to a year and wrote eleven songs, and then we went into the studio with Dan Korneff, our producer. He also did our last record Collide With the Sky. We got in the studio and started pre-production, and we ended up having to cut two songs from the record, which is crazy because we ended up having to write two songs in the studio, which we don’t normally do. We normally have all the songs preset, and we spend months and months on each song. We basically got in a circle and just started writing anything we could.
JD: What happened to the songs that got cut? Will they end up on another album?
MF: They’re in the vault right now. We lock them up, and if they work for another record, we might revisit them for certain parts. They just didn’t fit with all the other songs we had.
JD: You guys went on tour in the middle of making the album. Did that help with the creative process?
MF: Yeah! We had a world tour booked, and then Warped Tour in the middle of the record process. That kind of became a blessing because we got to go out and play some shows and see our fans. Vic was struggling with lyrics so I think that helped him, and once we got back from those tours, he was able to finish. But he also did a lot of traveling after that too because he realized that he wasn’t going to come up with anything just staring at the same four walls in a studio, so he ended up taking a lot of trips. At Big Bear, he was in a cabin for a while, and then he went up to Seattle and was influenced a lot by the grunge rock scene there. That was where he finished the last couple of songs, and now it’s finally out. We are super stoked.
JD: The definition of misadventure is an “unfortunate mishap.” What kind of adversity or obstacles did you guys overcome that would lead you to put this as the title of your album?
MF: When you do an album, you have all of these deadlines from the label and all of the people that are working with you. We realized that we can’t pay attention to these deadlines. It’s like, if you’re an artist painting a picture, you don’t tell the artist to hurry up. It’s done when it’s done, and there is no rushing art. People were telling us, “It’s got to be done by this date.” We were like, “If you want a half ass record we can give it to you in a week.” <Laughs> In that perspective, it was kind of cool because we realized that we are in control, and we are able to do things on our own time. We knew it wasn’t ready so we took the time to really reach out, and Vic found all the lyrics that were meaningful. Each song has meaning, and there’s a story to every song. So that’s one of the misadventures, just trying to get past that, and also the tours that came up in the middle and all the places we visited while finishing the record as well.
JD: The single The Divine Zero off this album is up for Song of the Year for Alternative Press Music Awards. How do you guys feel about being nominated?
MF: Oh, it’s an honor! AP has supported us for a while now, and, you know, the fans are the ones who vote for that. We put that song out before Warped Tour because the kids were so ready for new music, so we finished that song first, and it got a great response. It’s actually one of my favorite songs to play live now. It’s so cool hearing all the kids sing these new songs because we’ve been playing the old ones forever. We played in Denver last night, and the crowd sang all the new songs just as loud as the old songs, so it’s pretty cool.
JD: The song Floral and Fading is different than any other Pierce the Veil song that I’ve heard, but it’s one of my favorites off the album. Were there any bands that you were listening to at the time that may have given you a little inspiration for this song?
MF: That song is actually one of my favorite ones, too, but it’s definitely something we’ve never done. It’s definitely one of the slowest tempo songs we’ve ever done, but I’m not really positive what the main influences for that one was with Vic as far as melodies. I always got a kind of Pierce the Veil meets Weezer vibe out of it. That one is awesome to play live, too, because the kids just sing that one so loud. I think we might be pushing that one for a single soon.
JD: The band is on the bill for Houston Open Air. Do you think the song Texas is Forever will be the anthem of the weekend?
MF: <Laughs> It’s definitely our fastest song, and I know that’s a pretty aggressive bill for us to be on. It’s a lot of heavy hitters so, yeah, I think Texas is Forever will be the anthem. I definitely see a circle pit.
JD: I’ve read that one of your biggest musical influences when you were teaching yourself to the play the drums was Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. How did you incorporate their sound into your drumming style?
MF: Oh, that’s awesome. I’m actually wearing a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony shirt right now. <laughs> I don’t know, I was just always obsessed with how fast they could rhyme and how fast they could rap. They rapped with some sort of melody as well, so it was kind of like singing and rapping at 100 mph. I’ve always been a fan of really fast drumming, so I guess that kind of just went hand in hand. I never played to Bone Thugs. I just always loved how fast they could rap, and that was the coolest to me.
JD: You mentioned that you like fast drumming, but you use a single bass drum pedal, which is different from a lot of punk bands who use the double bass drum pedals. Why is that?
MF: Yeah, when I was in high school, I was in a punk band. They wanted to go hardcore style, and they wanted me to get a double bass and just start playing breakdowns. I never wanted to be in, like, a “breakdown-y” band. I always just wanted to play punk and rock. I grew up listening to my dad’s records, Jimi Hendrix, a lot of jazz, Santana and stuff like that. I just never wanted to go that route. I know you don’t have to play hardcore if you have a double bass, but that’s what they wanted to do. I just avoided that, and I was like “nah, I’m gonna stick with the single pedal,” and it kind of stuck with me and my brother. We’ve always wrote to a single pedal. I think there are cool ways we write as well because we will write a part and it calls for double bass, but we will figure out different parts of the drum kit to emulate the double bass. So I’ll play something on the floor tom super fast or just incorporate the whole drum kit for those parts. I think that kind of makes our style as well.
JD: What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
MF: Probably from my dad. When I first started playing, he told me to play with my heart and soul. I never really got that when I was younger, but I do now. He always told me to feel the music, and now I know what he means because when you look at a guitar player or drummer and you see them play live, you can really tell if they are into it or if they are just trying to get through it. I really respect when you can see an artist playing with his heart and soul and he’s really into it. It comes across when he’s hitting those notes and if he’s really digging into it. I think that’s the best advice my dad ever taught me, and I’ve actually got “Heart & Soul” tattooed on my neck.
JD: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
MF: Ooooh, do we! An hour before the set, we will clear the dressing room where guests have to go wherever they go. We all change into our show clothes and start getting pumped up. We usually just blast Slipknot or the heaviest music we can find, and it’s pretty much everyone in a room running around like crazy and just getting the blood flowing and stretching out. I take out a little practice kit that DW gave me. They call it a tree, and it’s like four practice pads that my drum tech puts together for me. I’ll usually play on that thing for half an hour, and then I’ll join the party and run around the room, and then we will hit the stage.
JD: You guys have a pretty hardcore fan-base, which I witnessed first hand at the 2012 Warped Tour. What is the craziest fan experience?
MF: Oh, man, well, we’ve had a couple times where we’ve played a show, and we’ve gone back to the bus to change and shower up and then there’s actually been fans in the bus, just chilling. I remember one time we played a show, and we were walking back to the bus and there were a couple kids behind us. We all thought they were Jaime’s guests because Jaime had some family out that night, so we all got on the bus and these two kids were sitting there. We all looked at each other, and we were like “Hey, what’s your names?” They introduced themselves. We were like, “Oh, cool. Who do you guys know?” And they were like, “Oh, we just came to hang out.” We were like “What!? You guys can’t be on here. You’ve got to go!” And they were like “Ok, thanks,” and they just took off. <Laughs>
JD: So basically, to get on the tour bus, you just have to act natural, like you are part of the band?
MF: <Laughs> Apparently, yeah! Apparently, it’s really easy.
JD: I saw some leaked photos of Matt Pinfield dressed as an old man for the new music video for Circles. Do you care to elaborate on that?
MF: Ohhhhh yeah! He is in our new video. We did a podcast with him a couple of weeks ago. We were talking to him about stuff he’s done. Like, he’s been in a Limp Bizkit video and just a few videos here and there, and he’s such a legend in the music scene. He’s probably the smartest, most knowledgeable guy I’ve ever talked to about music, especially in our genre as well. So I know a lot of our fans don’t really know who he is because that was back in our day, but we just asked him, “Would you ever be interested in being in a Pierce the Veil video?” That was on the podcast, and he was like “Oh, of course.” Last week we actually did hit him up, and he was like “Oh, I’m so down.” So he flew out, and he got in this crazy outfit for the video. He nailed it, so I think it’s going to be so cool.
JD: What can fans expect on this tour?
MF: Well, we are playing the whole Misadventures record from start to finish, but we aren’t just playing the songs. We are actually doing cool things in between and during the songs as well, just to get the fans involved. We don’t like just playing the songs. We like to write cool parts or extend the bridges — you know, get the fans involved and make a show of it — and we also encore with some old stuff, so anyone who hasn’t learned all the new songs can hear a couple of old ones as well.