September 17th, 2014
Interview by Mike Bax
For the past few months, Pierce the Veil’s Jaime Preciado, Vic Fuentes, Mike Fuentes and Tony Perry have been sequestered away in New York, working on the follow-up to their very successful 2012 release, Collide with the Sky. Collide took the band to new levels of popularity. It also took them around the world, a tour expertly captured via the hour-long music documentary This is a Wasteland, a film that won the band a Revolver Golden God statue for Best Film & Video.
With a fan base that seems to be organically growing day by day, this upcoming fourth Pierce the Veil studio effort could be the band’s watershed album – blowing them up worldwide into a bona fide stadium sized touring band.
Make no mistakes, this hasn’t been an overnight thing. Pierce the Veil has been touring harder than most bands over the past seven years. The four PTV members keep their expectations low, their fans close, and their egos very much in check. Their music is indeed quite addictive. In 2015, they could be THAT band – the ones that appear to have just popped out of nowhere and dominate car stereos and radio waves the world over.
After some social niceties; The weather; Pronouncing Jaime’s name (It’s ‘Hey-Me’), and where we both are dialoging from – Kitchener, Ontario for me, and a sweltering hot San Diego, California for Jaime – we get down to brass tacks.
Mike: Can you tell me how long after Mike and Vic put Pierce The Veil together that you got involved, Jaime?
Jaime: They were in a band called Before Today a long time before they actually got signed to Equal Vision. They were touring, and at that same time when they were with that band the guitar player Tony (Perry) and I were in another hardcore band in San Diego, playing some local shows and whatnot. At the same time more or less both of those projects just fizzled out. Mike and Vic were looking to start a new band, they approached Tony at a guitar shop where they used to go all of the time to get supplies and stuff. They got chit chatting and then started jamming together. Then Tony gave me a call one day and said, “Hey, I’ve got these guys that want to get together and jam and stuff”. I think the first time we all actually jammed was in 2007. Everything felt right, you know? It was one of those things where everything just clicked. I remember looking at the guys and thinking, ‘You guys are all pretty good at what you do and everyone seems stoked’. The vibe and attitude was right. We just started everything from there. It turned out awesome. We haven’t looked back since. It’s been great.
Mike: How old were you when that all came together?
Jaime: Aw, man. I was maybe nineteen years old. I was still in college. They had a little bit of experience touring – not a lot, but a very small amount. I think that was when we decided to get into an RV and start touring. We were playing shows for five to ten kids, you know? We were having probably the most fun we’d ever had playing music. We started growing and growing. The one-fan-would-tell-another-fan sort of thing. It wasn’t an overnight thing or anything. It took a long, long time for kids to start noticing, but it turned out awesome.
Mike: Did you fully understand what committing to a full-time rock n’ roll band would demand of you when you made that decision to jump on full time with Pierce the Veil?
Jaime: I knew what I was getting myself into. At that time I had a full time job and I had a 401k, and I knew it was a huge change. I knew music was something that I wanted to do and I was trying to play more and more. The other guys were all on board as well. That was one thing that we sat down and talked about. We said, “If we’re going to do this, then let’s do it.” And we started there and put 100% into it. So before we actually started touring we made that agreement. “This is it. Let’s go for it.” I’m really glad we did that. I left behind a job, and I’m really glad that I did because I’m 28 years old now, and I’ve been doing this for a while now and it’s a great life.
Mike: How quickly upon meeting these guys did you have that discussion? Was it one of the first things that you talked about?
Jaime: Not right away. I think the first part was feeling each other out. We were all from different backgrounds. Tony and I were from a heavier background. Vic and Mike were from a punk rock background. We jammed a lot together and hung out for a while. That was important. You want to be able to hang out with your band-mates. It just became second nature for us. We became really good friends. I remember the first time meeting them, Tony the guitar player told everyone what they were expecting of me and that I was the complete opposite of them. They are very shy. I’m the complete opposite. I’m very outgoing and a very hyper dude. I remember that first night they weren’t even sure they could hang out because I was just off the walls excited. We all have our own lives; our own personalities, which for some reason works together.
Mike: And you are now back in San Diego. I understand that you have been spending time in New York working on the follow-up to Collide with the Sky.
Jaime: Yes. We just got back here. Vic is still there finishing up vocals. We were there for about two and a half months in Long Island, in a little place called West Babylon where producer Dan Korneff built his new studio. It was awesome,man. This was the first time we went back to the same producer. He was the same guy who did Collide with the Sky, our third record. I think going into this new album we were really excited, more so than with other records. This time it was more nervousness towards the music as opposed to meeting with somebody new and wondering if he/she will be the person to steer us to the finished project. So we knew what we were getting ourselves into this time around. We knew we had to (not necessarily top the last record) but do something that we know is good and we feel comfortable with. I remember the time we went to his first studio which was in New Jersey, that plane ride over we were more nervous about just meeting him and hoping that we would get along, you know? In the past we’ve had producers that didn’t work out that well. So this time it was awesome. We were really stoked to go out there and work with him again.
Mike: Well, Collide certainly served Pierce The Veil well. It makes sense for you all to go back to Dan and mine that same mojo again.
Jaime: Yeah, exactly. We had a blast working on Collide. That record was such a great experience, for us and Dan Korneff as well. He really knows how to bring us together and gets the best out of all of us. He pushes us. I think he is the like the most realistic fifth member of our band. We’ll sit and work up a song for hours and hours, but he keep us moving. If doesn’t give us a time limit, we’ll just take more and more time. Eventually, we’ve got to get a record done, right? (Laughs) So I’m glad he’s there keeping us on track.
Mike: Do you feel like you are close to being finished the new material? Are you just doing the final touches at the moment?
Jaime: Yeah. Right now we are just adding the vocals and stuff. Doing all of the little fun stuff. For us it’s never really done until we absolutely NEED it to be done – until the record label is asking for it because they need it to start promoting it. We try to take all of the time that we possibly can. I think we are in that spot now where we can take a bit more time. We don’t want to rush it. I know that pressure is there for a lot of bands – to rush it and get it out before it’s ready. Our fans are so loyal that they can wait an extra week or two for this record. I really hope they enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Mike: Cool. There must have been a bit of pressure going in after the success of Collide. That’s a bit daunting.
Jaime. Yeah. We try to not look at it that way. Every time we go in to make a record everybody always wonders if we’ll top the last one. But we never look at it as topping the last one. We aren’t trying to write the same record again. I think we really respect bands who have changed over the long course of their career and who have explored new ground with their music and stuff. I think we always try to do that. We try to get better as we go as musicians and as songwriters and performers. There was a DVD I was watching, a Green Day DVD where he (Billy Joe Armstrong) talks about being successful is like making a tonne of mistakes along the way.
Mike: You may not be able to disclose this, but…
Can you say whether there will be any guest musicians on this new album or not?
Jaime: Um, yeah. We definitely like to incorporate guest musicians into our stuff. We did on the last record, with Kellin Quinn from Sleeping with Sirens and Jason Butler from letlive. And yeah, we’ve had talks. We’d like to do something with Jenna from Tonight Alive. Whether that happens or not is still up in the air. We always like to collaborate with other musicians. We find it awesome and the kids like it a lot. So yeah, we are not ruling that out yet.
Mike: Cool. What do you feel is the question you get asked the most as a musician?
Jaime: (laughs) Just in general?
Mike: Yeah. You must do a lot of these sort of interviews. You must have a bunch of questions where you think: “Aw fuck, there it is again”…
Jaime: I think the most common question is more from the older crowd and they always ask how we pronounce our names. I find that when I tell people I’m in a band, and they ask me what the name of the band is, I say “Pierce the Veil” and for some reason they don’t hear it right or something. And then we say it again. That’s always pretty funny. For the most part, it’s pretty standard stuff. Nothing too crazy. A lot of people, after we tell them who we are, they are like “Never heard of it”. And that’s cool, man. We just keep doing us. (Chuckles) Hopefully one day they will hear of us.
Mike: So, What do wish journalists would ask you more of? Things you actively WOULD like to talk about?
Jaime: For the most part, we pretty much know what we want to talk about. We try to keep on certain topics. Sometimes it will get a little goofy and stuff. We are kind a fun group of dudes. We just kind of go with it. We are open to anything, really.
Mike: Alright then. Full disclosure here (Laughter) I’m twenty years older than you.
Mike: And I knew who Pierce the Veil was because I saw you at Warped Tour. I still like hitting festivals and seeing new bands. But I don’t have a tonne of context in the three album history of your band or your rather passionate fan base. I did my due diligence and streamed your albums on RDIO. I checked you out online and I found a YouTube link for This Is a Wasteland before we talked today.
Jaime: Nice. Thank you.
Mike: As a new fan, kudos on This Is A Wasteland. What a great sixty minutes of footage. Very impressive
Jaime: Thank you. We had a lot of fun with that. That literally was us on tour with a camera next to us. Everything that we were actually experiencing, the viewer is doing the same thing at that moment. It was a lot of fun making that segment. This was the first time that we had ever tried making something like that. Looking back we found that we forgot some of the places that we’d been over those two years. I dunno, it was kind of humbling to watch. I can’t believe that we did that, and that we were even there (in those places). It’s kind of cool to have that.
Mike: It is. If nothing else, if that footage had done nothing for Pierce The Veil, at least you had the foresight to document it.
Jaime: Yeah. I think with the way it came out and that all of the kids who watched it really enjoyed it… the reaction we got from it made us feel like we should do this every day of our lives and just have footage. Because it’s really cool to have that kind of stuff. Maybe when I’m older I’ll be looking back at this footage going, “Man, I really did that stuff?!”
Mike: Oh man. You could film every day and call it P-TV. (Laughter) It could be Pierce TV. Reality television.
Jaime: Yup. There it is. We’ve done it. That’s really cool. Thanks, man.
Mike: So, to make that film, you’ve got someone following you around with a camera all the time. How much of what is in that sixty minutes of This Is A Wasteland just ‘occurred’ as compared to the film crew saying, “It would be great if we could get this footage” in advance? I guess I’m wondering how much in total of it was spontaneous.
Jaime: For the most part, we literally went to a lot of these places and our cameraman (we had two different cameramen for the two different sections of the world – Australia region and South America), we literally just had them with us and we told them to roll all the time. Sometimes we’d almost forget that the camera was even there. Nowadays, those cameras aren’t huge humungous things that ride on your shoulder anymore – they are little GoPro’s that you have in your pocket that somebody can discreetly pull out and film with. You can forget that the camera is even there. Having that kind of convenience worked to our advantage. It’s also kind of scary at the same time – you don’t really know who’s filming what. For the most part it was just a lot of fun. We definitely filmed in all of those places that we weren’t allowed to film, or weren’t supposed to be filming, but we went at the project with the idea of showing a fan what it was like to be on tour with us. It’s not just like always super nice hotels and first class tickets on planes. You see us sleeping on the floor in an airport, tired out of our minds from all of the travel and stuff. Its real life stuff where we may or may not look our best but it was true to what we were doing at that time.
Mike: Are you and your band mates surprised when you hear about other touring bands who don’t really get out and actually see some of the places they are going to when they tour? A lot of them will just go and get on stage, drink and then go to sleep, you know?
Jaime: Yeah. We were all very eager to go to these places and take advantage of being there. I can’t really speak for anyone else, but for the most part that’s just how WE look at it. We are at these crazy places where we never thought we would be playing music, so why not go check out kangaroos and koalas when you are in Australia – things you won’t see when you are out on the road here in San Diego. I would encourage touring bands to do so. But sometimes you’re tired and playing tonnes of shows, and it’s every single night. For us, last year we played like 280 shows, so I’m not going to lie, there are some times where you just feel like you want to go home. But being on stage and having those kids sing your songs like they do definitely makes it all worth it. It’s like, “Well, this is way better than anything I was otherwise going to do, you know?”
Mike: Yeah. Did the two people filming give you any idea of how much raw footage they had? It must have been a tonne, right?
Jaime: (Laughs) Oh man, we gave them names like The Harddrive Kings. They had backpacks full of hard drives full of footage. It’s funny, a lot of it wasn’t used. We have a vault of un-used footage. Like I said before, I really had a good time doing those tours and having something to kind of look back on and show my parents. At the very least I have something to show them so they can appreciate what I do out there when I’m away on tour. It’s kind of cool.
Mike: Now, there may not be an answer to this but I’m going to ask it anyway (laughter) Was there a defining moment where you felt you knew that Pierce The Veil was taking off?
Jaime: Hmm. I wouldn’t say it was a defining moment. I think it was more like a “holy shit” kind of moment. We played our very first headlining tour in the UK last year (maybe a year and a half ago) and we played this really famous venue called the KoKo. It’s supposed to be like a legendary venue. Tonnes of bands have started there. And they have this thing about bands who have started there and gone on to sell out the venue – it’s supposedly a really big deal. We played there, and the show sold out. We sat down in the green room at the KoKo and had our “Holy crap” moment. It was just insane. That solidified to us that we do have fans in spots that we never thought we would, you know? It was like, “Ok. Maybe we are in the right spot here. Maybe we’re doing what we are supposed to be doing.” We never thought we’d get out on tour and sell out a show like that. It just made us feel like we’re doing something right here. I can’t wait to go back now, and see what’s in store for next time.
Mike: What are your hobbies outside of music, Jaime?
Jaime: My hobbies? Actually, I have a studio here, and I’m working on stuff now. But aside from music, funny that you ask, I’ve been getting into flying. I’ve always wanted to. Since I was a kid I’ve always been really fascinated by planes and stuff. After this last tour we got home and I had some time off and I started flying lessons. There’s an airport down the street from my house here. I want to say I’m like three quarters done with getting my license. So hopefully that will be something I’ll get before we start touring again.
Mike: Good for you.
Jaime: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun, man. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m glad that I now get the time to do it.
Mike: Who are some of your personal favourite bassists? And why do you like them?
Jaime: (Laughs) Personal favourite bassists? Hmm. Well, for me I was always a guitar player at heart. I learned how to play to guitar when my uncle gave me his first guitar to learn on. I just started playing bass out of the necessity to have a bass player that knew what they were doing in the local bands that I was jamming with. It was always like nobody wanted to play bass because they wanted to play guitar. But for me, I’m more inspired by touring bassists. Like good friends of ours for example, the guys in All Time Low. Their bass player Zack, he’s one of my good friends and just watching him live – he’s got such a great technique. He makes me want to play better, you know? And I think that’s something that our band is really good at – pushing ourselves. When we watch other bands we see the best in that band and try to learn from them. We love to watch other bands live and when we tour we try to pick bands to tour with that we actually enjoy listening to. So during soundcheck and during the show, we can go out and watch them play. I think that has been a huge help for us – just seeing how they perform and how kids interact with them.
Mike: Cool. Well, it will come as no surprise to your fans that you’re going to head out on tour with Sleeping With Sirens again in November and it sounds like that is a planned four or five month long tour.
Jaime: Yeah, there’s going to be so much shenanigans on that tour. It’s going to be a lot of fun (laughter). We toured with them a couple of years ago when we released Collide. Both of our bands had started growing and growing to become this whole new thing, so having this tour right now, especially with both of us having a record coming out soon, it will be just a great show for everyone involved. We’re going to have some really cool openers – other bands on the tour who are up and coming who we really, really, really love. I think the whole tour will just be an awesome run.
Mike: Right on. Do you think there’s chance it will come up to Canada?
Jaime: It might. We definitely have some legs that we haven’t announced yet. So there’s definitely some possibilities of going there. It’s called a world tour, you know? So… Canada is part of the world. So you never know.
Mike: Sometimes. Sometimes we are.
Jaime: Sometimes. I think it should be every time.
Mike: Awesome. I’ve abused your time here for almost 25 minutes sir. I appreciate you time, and best of luck with the new stuff. I’m excited to hear it.
Jaime: Thank you, man.