The sweetest rocker in San Diego still melts faces

by Staff

All photos courtesy of Adam Elmakias

By Allie Daugherty, Managing Editor

Selfish is not the first word that comes to mind when describing Vic Fuentes. Actually, it’s probably the last. Yet the Pierce the Veil frontman insists he is.

“When it comes down to it, humans have animal-like qualities that we keep inside and even try to deny,” he said in a recent press release. “But no matter how morally good someone may think they are or try to be, we are still humans.”

Fuentes used this philosophy to name the band’s second album “Selfish Machines” — a term he believes describes humans in their rawest form.

“We are all in one way or another selfish machines,” he said. “In no way is this a negative thing. It’s human nature. We all have natural tendencies to want, love and take.  One example of this is how we are all constantly searching for someone to love, or even more desperately, someone to love you. It is human nature broken down to its bare bones, no bulls—, just rock-bottom honest feelings and desire. It’s about the ‘evil’ thing inside of us that is really not evil at all, it’s just there and always will be.”

But even if Fuentes does have some evil inside of him, he doesn’t show it. He and the rest of Pierce the Veil — which includes Fuentes on vocals and guitar, his brother Mike Fuentes on drums, Tony Perry on guitar and Jaime Preciado on bass — are some of the friendliest people in existence. Even when the band is performing, the members’ faces are lit up with smiles.

All photos courtesy of Adam Elmakias

“We’ve always been described as a super nice group of guys,” Vic Fuentes said. “We get along with everyone we tour with. I think that’s been one of the reasons for the success

of our band.”

His brother can attest: “Vic is someone that will always think of others before himself. I’ve seen so many bands be rude to their fans or be too ‘rock star’ to sign an autograph and I know that he will never be like that. (He is) hardworking, a perfectionist, but still knows how to party.”

The San Diego quartet recently finished tours in both Australia and Japan promoting “Selfish Machines,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.

For Vic Fuentes, Japan marked a milestone. Pierce the Veil had been able to do what the bands it admired had done: Play on stage in Tokyo.

“That was a really high point in the band for me,” Vic Fuentes said. “A lot of people don’t get the chance to go to other countries or see so many places, and we get to do it with our band. People pay for us to travel. That’s the most amazing thing, I think.”

All photos courtesy of Adam Elmakias

“We had some moments where we looked at each other and said, ‘Are we really here right now?,’” Mike Fuentes said.

Yet Vic Fuentes’ musical success seems slightly odd considering he never intended to become a singer and can’t read music.

His singing role emerged from his first band in high school, in which he was the only member who had a shred of vocal talent and was therefore left with no other option but to pick up a microphone.

“I definitely wasn’t very good when I started,” he said. “It definitely took a lot of practice. I don’t think I was really born with a voice, so I had to really work for it. I always envy people who are really natural singers, who have that natural talent, because it’s something I had to work so hard to get.”

Fuentes claims his music talent lies within his ability to play by ear — a skill he learned from his dad and the reason he can’t read music.

“My dad is the one who taught me to play guitar, and he’s a jazz and Spanish musician who plays by ear,” he said. “It’s all about the feel of the music and the soul of it. He never really taught me to read (music); he never knew how to read himself. I think when I started out, the thought of trying to learn all that stuff felt like homework to me so I didn’t really want to get into it. I kind of wish I had now ‘cause I would know a lot more. At the same time, I’ve always played by ear. A lot of people don’t have that talent. I kind of like it this way.”

The record labels don’t seem to mind. Vic and Mike Fuentes’ previous band, Before Today, was signed to Equal Vision Records while Vic Fuentes was still attending  San Diego State to study graphic design.

“We made a demo, just like three songs, and we were basically just passing it out to as many people as we could in San Diego,” he said.  “We would go to shows and pass them out to the kids in line and put up flyers for our shows.”

The demo soon made it into the hands of some representatives from Equal Vision, who sent it to their New York headquarters. “We had a show in San Diego at Soma and some people from Equal Vision flew out to hear us play and basically they took us out to dinner after that and gave us a record deal,” Vic Fuentes said.

Eventually, Vic Fuentes’ responsibilities with the band became too time consuming and he was forced to leave school at the end of his third year, only two semesters short of graduating.

“I was bummed,” he said. “If I ever got a big enough chance, like if we weren’t touring and I wasn’t working on something, I would definitely come back. I love graphic design and I still want to study it.”

The band, however, broke up after only releasing one album. “The other dudes in the band weren’t very passionate about music, they were just in it for the fun of traveling and partying, and it didn’t last,” Vic Fuentes said.

But that didn’t stop him and his brother. “Mike and I were the ones who were writing all the music and who really wanted it to be our lives,” he said. “That kind of kept us going.”

Vic and Mike Fuentes are a duo to be reckoned with. “Me and Vic have never had that ‘brother-to-brother’ fight relationship,” Mike Fuentes said. “We’ve always had each other’s back and that’s how it always will be. It’s a blessing that we get to tour together, see the world and do what we love every night. Sure, we get in our little fights here and there but they’re always about something in the show or something stupid, so it only lasts five to 10 minutes.”

The brothers began writing a new album and decided to change the band’s name, ultimately forming the beginnings of Pierce the Veil. The two have been playing together since they were young, so it was only natural they were able to write and record an entire album on their own.

“The memory that will always stick with me,” Mike Fuentes said, “And my mom will show you the video, was when we were little and me and Vic were playing in our living room. I had a toy drum set and Vic had my dad’s guitar and we had our first jam ‘sesh’ at 5 years old. Who would’ve known we’d be touring the world one day, with the most amazing fans we could ask for.”

The name Pierce the Veil was derived from the term “pierce the corporate veil,” which Vic Fuentes learned in his sociology class at SDSU.

“I always liked the term ‘pierce the veil’ because I  used it a little more in a life sense,” he said. “If you have a problem in your life and things are just building up, it’s better to cut things out sometimes at the source or the root, before they build up and hurt you over time.”

Pierce the Veil was able to record and release “A Flair for the Dramatic,” which helped gain a growing fan base across the nation. “We owe a lot to Equal Vision Records for really sticking with me and Mike,” Fuentes said. “They could have dropped us when the band broke up but they decided to keep faith in us and continue making records.”

After months of auditions, Pierce the Veil was finally complete when Preciado and Perry joined the group. Since then, the quartet has thrived in the music world, dominating stages and winning the hearts of fans across the globe. The band will continue this trend on its nationwide tour with Attack Attack!, which began Nov. 11.

Vic Funetes’ hard work and dedication to the band seems to be the recipe for its success.

“(Vic has) taught me a lot about passion and soul in everything we do, whether it be on stage or in the studio jamming,” Mike Fuentes said. “My bro is the hardest working dude I know and will always stay true and genuine.”

If there’s anything Vic Fuentes and his bandmates can prove from all of their success, it’s this: Nice guys definitely don’t finish last.

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