photo by Achim Raschka
I had the opportunity to talk with the drummer of San Diego rock band Pierce The Veil, Mike Fuentes. The band just got back from an Australian tour, and will be going on the road again for their U.S. tour on September 3. Mike and I chatted about ten years of PTV, their “Circles” music video, tour, and learned who is the best actor in Pierce The Veil.
GMN: How was Australia?
Fuentes: Australia was awesome. We were out there with Beartooth and Silverstein. It was our first headlining tour in Australia which was awesome. It was just crazy to see so many fans out there. I mean, we played three nights in Melbourne which is pretty crazy for our first headlining tour out there. It’s safe to say that we need to go out there a lot more and I think we will in the future.
GMN: Even though you’ve been a band for ten years now, Pierce The Veil continues to draw in more and more young people. What do you think attracts teenage alternative fans to your band?
Fuentes: Well a lot of it is the fact that we’re actually a real band and not some thing that came out of nowhere, you know. I think fans are super attracted to the fact that we’re just four kids that came from San Diego, started a band and really wanted to do it and get to the next level, to play in front of as many people as we can. Just a band that focuses on progressing and giving kids a show. Not just going up there and playing ten songs but giving them a real show, putting together a set with a crazy light show, crazy production. It’s just something we’ve always been fans of–really putting on a show and having kids leave going “Wow, what the hell just happened” other than just playing the songs. We’re really trying to leave them with memories.
GMN: Your next tour is the Made To Destroy Tour, which comes to Minnesota September 13. What are you most looking forward to with that tour?
Fuentes: I’m stoked to be on tour with Neck Deep and I Prevail, we’ve never toured with them. Those are both bands that I’m into and I think it’s just a great package. I’m excited to play some new songs along with some old ones. We’re doing some cool stuff on this tour. We’re playing an acoustic song that we’ve never played live in the States so that’s gonna be awesome. For our stage set up we’ve got something special for the kids, something we’ve never done before and I think they’re gonna like it.
GMN: What’s your favorite song to play live?
Fuentes: Ooh, um, well right now since we’ve been trying new songs out live I think one of my favorite ones is still “The Divine Zero.” It’s the first song we released off the new record and for me it’s the most fun because I hear the kids sing it the most. It’s got a cool bridge breakdown-y part that’s fun to play as well. It’s just a non-stop fast rock song.
GMN: I’ve noticed that, from an outsider’s perspective, on Misadventures the drum parts seem more complex compared to your previous albums. Was that a conscious decision or did it just kinda happen?
Fuentes: I think it goes along with a lot of [Frontman Vic Fuentes’s] writing. Vic always writes a lot of super complex, a lot of times complicated parts that we try to connect with. I hear what he’s doing with the guitar and I just try to follow him on the drums the best I can. So whatever he’s writing, I put the drums to cater to whatever he’s doing. I think it just depends on whatever he’s writing at the time and for this record, we spent so long on it, I think it’s just how much time we spent on it and how we wanted these parts to work out and that’s how that happened. I’m super excited about how the drums came out. We’re all about progression so we keep progressing and keep writing as many interesting parts as we can.
GMN: How did you get into playing drums?
Fuentes: I went to my first punk show when I was like thirteen, and I instantly fell in love with the drums. I just automatically focused in on the drummer and was like “Wow, I wanna do that!” Next thing you know I picked up a drumkit from the local swap meet when I was about fourteen and just taught myself how to play through watching other drummers. I’ve just always been attracted to the sound of the drums, the way you can move behind the drumkit, stuff like that. I mean I’ve never had a lesson I’ve just taught myself how to play so that shows that anyone can do it.
GMN: Did you ever try out any other instruments or was it always just the drums?
Fuentes: I played a little bit of guitar here and there, little bit of bass, but that’s about it. I’ve kind of just stuck to the drums because I knew I had a niche for that and let the other guys handle the guitars. [laughs]
GMN: How have you watched the scene evolve in your ten years?
Fuentes: A lot of the scene has definitely evolved through the internet, I believe. [laughs] You know there’s so many bands coming out of nowhere and they’re all at the tip of our fingers now. Before you just had to go and hand out demos and get your music out there in other ways but now it’s so much easier with social media. It’s becoming a bit of a challenge to start a band I think because there’s so many bands out there and you can listen to them so easily. I think it’s just one of those things, you know, you gotta keep just writing songs and keep touring and keep putting yourself out there if you want to do anything.
GMN: Do you think that in a way, social media has broken down the rockstar mystique? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Fuentes: I haven’t really seen anything change in that realm. There still are those rockstars out there but I don’t think there’s any room for them in our genre because fans want to be respected and they’re human beings who can see right through that. That’s kind of how we look at it–there’s no room for any rockstars here. We’re just normal people and we want to hang out with the people who listen to our music.
GMN: Do you get starstruck anymore?
Fuentes: [laughs] Well I was in L.A. the other day and I was walking down the street and I saw these camera guys like, running around and I was like “What the heck?!” I realized it was paparazzi and the guy coming down the sidewalk–I walked right by him–it was Sylvester Stallone.
Fuentes: I was like “Woah that’s kinda cool!” and got a little starstruck for a second. When you see actors that are on that level and who have done so much you kinda can’t help it. Like if you saw like, Leo walking down the street you’d be like “Woah! That’s Leo!” [laughs] You definitely react in a different way.
GMN: I feel like at some point people get so famous that you don’t fully recognize that they live on the same planet as you.
Fuentes: Exactly, yeah. And, you know, I feel weird if kids feel like that about me…’cause I’m not cool.
GMN: Do you picture yourself doing this for another ten years?
Fuentes: I mean I sure hope so. I’d like to do it for the rest of my life. No backup plan. Drums ‘till death, is my saying.
GMN: I first saw you live about three years ago when you were on the House Party Tour with A Day To Remember. That was a huge tour at the time. What tours really stand out to you over the years?
Fuentes: Yeah, I would say the House Party Tour is one of those that stand out to me. Also the Spring Fever Tour that was with All Time Low and a couple tours before that as well where bands like A Day To Remember, like Bring Me The Horizon, All Time Low were taking us out and giving us a chance. ‘Cause you know, they were into our band then and they liked what we were doing so you know, we learned a lot from them and other bands like that just from them taking us out and kinda showing us the ropes and how it’s done really. Now we are in that spot now so we’re able to take other bands out as well and show them some more kids to play for. We just did that with the Misadventures Tour, we took out a small band on (Fearless Records) called Movements and they were super respectful of everything and I think they’re gonna go really far and they were just stoked to be playing in front of that many people and you know, they deserve to.
GMN: Do you think touring is more important than releasing music or the other way around?
Fuentes: I would say it’s equal. I mean, if you’re touring and you don’t have a record out then there’s no real point, like what are you supporting? You gotta have something for kids to go home with and learn your songs with. Also, you know, if you put out a record and you don’t tour on it then what’s the point of that, too. Fans want to see you perform the stuff live and they want to see it in real person. For me I think it’s 50/50.
GMN: What albums have you been listening to lately?
Fuentes: A lot of bands have put out new songs and a lot of bands are gonna start releasing records soon. I’m actually pretty stoked about that new Green Day song they put out, it reminds me of their old stuff. I think it’s called “Bang Bang?”
GMN: Yeah, “Bang Bang.”
Fuentes: It’s a great song, it reminds me of their Dookie album or something like that. A Day To Remember is releasing some new stuff that sounds pretty cool, back to their punk rock roots it sounds like. My rap side is feeling the new Drake, feeling the new Schoolboy Q, the new YG. I like all kinds of music. The other day I was driving home listening to a jazz playlist and I was just grooving to some jazz. I go all over the map.
GMN: Listening to Misadventures all the way through I can hear a lot of different genres being expressed. It’s not all specifically hardcore. What were some inspirations for that album and what were you listening to when you were in the studio?
Fuentes: I know we were listening to a lot of old punk rock, a lot of fast stuff and that’s the reason why there’s a couple fast songs on there. For a lot of the groovy ones, like, I know Vic was listening to a lot of The Neighbourhood for a while, and the new Weezer and stuff like that. Just a variety of stuff that’s coming out right now–there’s just a lot of good music out right now and I think it’s a good time for rock music. A lot of bands are coming back, you know, you got Guns N Roses back for the first time in how many years and everyone’s coming out of the woodworks so it’s gonna be a good couple years here for rock.
GMN: About a month ago you released your video for “Circles.” Was that an entire built set? How did that work?
Fuentes: Well the location was a spot in L.A. where they shoot a lot of different music videos so it was like a huge warehouse. It was full of props as well. They set up each scene for each shot. So, we’d be doing a scene at the bar, which they set up, and then while we were doing that scene they set up the live performance scene. They had a crew–two different crews–doing both sets so it was seamless so we could shoot the whole thing in one day. But it was still like a seventeen hour day of just non-stop people working. That’s the way to do it, you know, just bang it out in one day and get as many shots as you can.
GMN: Who came up with the idea for the video?
Fuentes: We based it off an old movie called “Nothing But Trouble.” I think Vic might have come up with that. Yeah, it’s just a cool movie we were into back in the day. If you haven’t seen it you should definitely check it out and you’ll get where we came up with these shots through that movie.
GMN: I know the subject matter for the song itself is pretty dark–it’s about the Paris attacks back in November.
Fuentes: Yeah, we wanted to put a little different spin on it because that’s such a tragic event you know, and we wanted to put a more positive spin off the song. In the video, it has happened to us before, where we’ve checked into a hotel and got a super sketchy vibe and we were like “Woah, man, we gotta get out of here.”
GMN: Who do you think is the best actor in the band?
Fuentes: [laughs] Well (bassist Jaime Preciado) really gets into it, and kind of overdoes it a little bit. I think (guitarist Tony Perry) is kind of a naturally shy actor. I think Vic is the most theatrical of the group and I think he might take the cake.
GMN: What’s next for Pierce The Veil after the Made To Destroy Tour?
Fuentes: Well after that we’re going to the UK and Europe with Letlive and Creeper. So that’s gonna be pretty cool. Right now it’s kind of like, we’re kind of in a crazy spot right now because it’s the first time we’ve had a song go to the radio so all these opportunities are kind of coming up. We’re doing a lot of festival stuff and a lot of acoustic stuff and we haven’t done too much of that in the past. But it’s been really cool going to different radio stations and playing for different people, just a different vibe. So yeah, obviously tour tour tour, get out there as much as we can, and play as many places as we can.
You can catch Pierce The Veil with Neck Deep and I Prevail on September 13th at The Myth.