Pierce the Veil are kind of a big deal.
So much so that the San Diego metalcore band (who play Viejas Arena on Jan. 23) had my own brother calling me up in bewildered excitement after I had casually mentioned in a text that I had recently interviewed their bassist, Jaime Preciado.
“Oh my God! Was he cool?” my brother asked. “Isabella [his 15-year-old step-daughter] and I just saw them here in Nashville! Brother, they were so good!” He emphasized that "so good" part pretty hard. I could tell he was nearly bursting with hysteria, and I wasn't surprised -- Pierce the Veil tend to get that kind of reaction.
It's always funny whenever you're reminded that, ultimately, the world is just an extremely small place: In a strange twist, it turned out Preciado was just as thrilled when I mentioned my brother's name to him.
We were on the subject of secret shows (calm down PTV fans, there won't be any in San Diego, although, "We've definitely had that conversation -- maybe one of these days," Preciado said) and had been talking about seeing bands back in the day at the Scene and the Epicenter, when he launched into a story of seeing one of his favorite local groups (Noise Ratchet) at a secret show in Escondido -- who, for that night only, were billed as the Purple Cows.
"Yeah, I absolutely remember that," I laughed, "'cause I was totally there too -- my brother, Danny Lothspeich, played guitar in Noise Ratchet."
All of a sudden, the 29-year-old bassist for one of the hugest bands ever to hail from America's Finest City sounded like a kid again. For what it's worth, I'd hear that same tone (along with some high-pitched squeals) later in the day when telling my brother about Preciado's Purple Cows story. There just aren't enough exclamation points to describe it.
Regardless, this type of thing is exactly what fans find so endearing about Pierce the Veil. They just seem to be four unassuming guys that have put in the hard work to get to the point they're currently at, amid tireless days and nights of writing, recording and touring. They're just like us, except their YouTube videos have a bajillion streams, and they've got more than 3 million Facebook friends and a million-plus Twitter followers. "When we started the band, it was all about Myspace," Preciado laughed. "It definitely wasn't like it is now." But they still remember what it was like to meet the musicians who inspired them.
"I was at the Del Mar Fair one time, years ago, when Mike Herrera of MxPx walked right by me," said Preciado. "I freaked out! But I asked him to sign my ticket, and you know what? I still have that ticket with his signature in my room. I still talk about that. Of course, he'll never remember that, but I will. Kids remember that stuff, and I was one of them."
Pierce the Veil's devotion to their fans runs deep. According to Preciado, stories from meet-and-greets and fan letters made their way into material on the forthcoming album.
"There were certain things we took in," he said. "You know, things are really different from when we went to shows back in the day versus when kids go to shows now. The world has become a really crazy place. Ten years ago, it was more about angst -- we were more angry than anything, you know? We just wanted to rebel a little bit. But now, there's a lot of depression in the world. Our singer [Vic Fuentes] was doing the lyrics, and some stories we heard, or letters we read, really affected him. It's personal to us too."
When asked if the new record would see PTV take another evolutionary step style-wise (as they've been prone to do since their inception), Preciado thinks it's all a constant work-in-progress.
"Bands change," he said, "but with us, it's always been a natural progression, no matter if they're small or big changes. It's always been organic. In my opinion, one of the best examples of a band evolving is Thrice. They started out super heavy and punk, but after every record, they changed a little bit and went further and further as they put out more records. I admire that kind of change. And now, I think they're a completely different band, and for better or for worse, I'll always be a fan. With our music, we don't have one type of sound. I've always thought of us as a black sheep in music. Some bands are strictly a metal or punk rock band, but we had a punk rock vibe; we had a heavy vibe; we had a mid-tempo pop vibe -- and we can include all those things in our sound now. The new record is a mix of all of that. That's how we like to write music. Each song is different and has a different vibe. You know, some songs don't need a crazy heavy part. At this point, kids are not necessarily expecting us to be one type of thing. And maybe that can be our style. Maybe one day, people will be like, ‘That band has that Pierce the Veil sound.'"
If their fans (like my brother and his daughter) are any indication, PTV have already reached that iconic level. Preciado admitted it's pretty awesome -- and insane.
"It's gotten crazy over the last couple years [laughs]. Before, we were like, 'Every band has crazy fans,' but after the last couple years, we have our people filming the crowd, and the line outside the venues -- and they're completely out of their minds [laughs]. During shows, I'll look out and see a kid going off -- and I think, 'I've never been that excited to do anything ever!' [Laughs] You're pumped because they're pumped."
And the homecoming love? That's not bad either.
"It's really special to play in our hometown for our family and friends. I never thought in a million years that we'd be playing a place like Viejas Arena. A couple months after we were booked, my mom saw our name up on the huge flashing marquee on [Interstate 8, next to San Diego State], and she called me up going, 'You're on the big sign! You're on the big sign!' That's just one of those things where you just stop and go, 'Wow.' Your family sees that, your friends see that, and they have a sense of pride. They've always had our back. There's just nothing like that San Diego love."