In the past, Jaime Preciado has called himself a “tortured guitarist,” being placed in the role of bassist out of necessity for the San Diego-based post-hardcore band Pierce the Veil.
The electric guitar was always the first love of the 29 year old, but his talents on bass were so great that he almost felt a duty to the band to take on the typically under-appreciated role of the rhythm section. But it was those talents on bass that won Preciado the inaugural bassist of the year award at the 2014 Alternative Press Music Awards in Cleveland last July, being voted on by fans of the punk, metal and emo genres.
The award recognition is just the tip of the iceberg for Preciado, who less than 10 years ago was working full-time at a Costco in San Diego before joining the band. And in that time, Pierce the Veil has toured the world several times over, released three albums, filmed the tour documentary, This is a Wasteland, and won over a large and loyal fanbase.
Pierce the Veil is back on the road after nearly a year-long hiatus, headlining the Vans Warped Tour around the country. And the entry back into the live arena has given the band a chance to highlight some of the new songs on their forthcoming album – a yet-to-be named follow-up to the 2012 critically-acclaimed Collide With the Sky. Produced by Dan Korneff (My Chemical Romance, Lamb of God) the band spent several months living in his studio in the midst of an industrial wasteland and cemeteries on Long Island.
Focusing on recording a new album and primarily staying off the road last year allowed for Preciado to follow his other passion besides guitar. He spent hours working on obtaining his pilots license to fly a single engine, four-seater Piper Cherokee airplane.
I caught up with Preciado as he was checking out of a hotel in Los Angeles where the band had been rehearsing for their tour. He talked about life on the road, his first rock concert and recording a new project (the first single off the new album, “The Divine Zero,” was released in June).
Michael Yoder: Have you been itching to get the new album out?
Jaime Preciado: Yeah, we’ve been working on it for quite some time. For us, I like to say that we take our time, but it more that we’re slow writers. [laughs] We don’t try to rush it – we try to get it right. That’s the most important thing. That’s how we’ve done it in the past, and that’s the kind of formula we go with and stick with.
MY: So it’s a matter of being meticulous and making sure everything sounds right?
JP: Yeah – especially in the studio. When we have an idea or a song that we’re working on, we try to just exhaust every possibility of that song and how it can be made. By the end of it, we’ve heard every possible combination of that song. It makes for more of a record that we’re proud of at that moment.
MY: Did you feel any pressure as a band coming off the success of Collide With the Sky to repeat the success or create something even better?
JP: In the back of our minds, that was there – that nervousness when you’re going into the studio. But for us, it’s good to be nervous because that’s a normal feeling that you get in any situation. We use that as fuel, and we’ve never really tried to outdo ourselves on a record. We don’t go into the studio with that mindset – we just try to grow as musicians, as songwriters, as band mates as you would do in regular life. We learn from our mistakes and try to do the best we can at that moment. For our last couple records, I think we figured out a process that we really like. And having Dan Korneff as our producer – who was also the producer on Collide coming back for this one – was almost like a comfort factor. That was really, really cool.
MY: Was it a process of simply picking up where you left off last time with Dan as producer?
JP: Kind of, yeah. This was the first time we actually went with the same producer for our records. There’s always that nervousness like, “I don’t know how this guy does things,” and for them, they don’t know how the band is or what they can or can’t do. We already passed that on Collide, so we just jumped in and went for it. We like to call him the sneaky fifth member of the band at times. [laughs] He keeps everything on track, and his ear for engineering abilities and making things sound awesome is pretty crazy. Sometimes we’re like, “Man, how did you do that?” He’s really good at making instruments and making sounds amazing.
MY: What was it like being holed up in Long Island at Dan’s studio for two months?
JP: [laughs] It was cool. The studio is located literally in the middle of four cemeteries and an industrial park, so it was desolate. It was just us there in the industrial park, pretty much. This time around, we actually lived at the studio – and when I say “lived,” I mean we physically slept there. It was a new experience for us. I enjoyed it, and I think everyone had a cool time. We worked as long as we possibly could and then wake up the next morning and do it again. I think we only left the studio to go eat, and that was just at the local Chili’s or whatever. [laughs] We always joke around that every time we go to a restaurant with the four of us, we’re like, “I wonder what people think – if we’re like the four best friends that anyone’s ever seen and they meet up for breakfast every morning.”
MY: Being in a closed environment like that, what affect do you think it had on the record?
JP: We were there with nothing really around us, so there wasn’t any distraction. You work on each song and each part meticulously – even changing tempos 20 times to see which one’s right – so we had that ability because we didn’t feel rushed. That’s what we try to do with every record – we try to explore. I think on Collide, we told Dan that if there was anything he ever wanted to do on a record, do it on our record. So the same transfers over. We want to push ourselves and push him as well. It was all of that in a sweet little warehouse of rock. [laughs]
MY: Were there things that Dan wanted to try in the studio that he expressed to the band?
JP: His main overall thing was just making it exciting and entertaining. He was like, “You can have a 10 minute long song – I don’t care, as long as it’s fucking entertaining.” [laughs] That’s the kind of positivity we like to hear. There were times where he was like, “This is not entertaining to me,” so we would start again. He pushes us, and he knows us as musicians, too.
MY: What pushes you as a musician?
JP: Everyone working super-duper hard – everyone trying to make the best record they possibly can. There were a lot of ideas floating around about how songs should have been and parts. But I think we have a good give and take with all the members. We understand each other.
MY: What was it like to be honored as bassist of the year by the Alternative Press Music Awards last year?
JP: It was pretty wild. We were literally in the middle of recording the record, and we took a flight to Cleveland. It was a night-and-day situation from being in a desolate area with just the dudes from your band to being completely in the opposite end of the spectrum with everyone you’ve ever toured with in one spot. It was crazy. That’s all you can ask for and how awesome our fans are – the fact that we can be off the road for almost a year and still be relevant is awesome. You can just imagine how I was feeling. It was pretty intense.
MY: Was winning the award any vindication for you as someone who’s called themselves a “tortured guitarist” in the past?
JP: [laughs] No. I think it translates more to the band. Getting that award and doing all that stuff is a reflection of the whole band. It makes my job a whole hell of a lot easier when the dudes in my band are also really good and talented. We’re doing something right, so I’m just really stoked on that. My mom was pretty stoked, too. That’s always good. [laughs]
MY: Has your mom encouraged you as you’ve gone through your musical career?
JP: In the beginning, it was a little tough – telling your parents that you wanted to be in a band and wanted to tour. For a long time, it wasn’t necessarily a financial thing. We were just doing it to tour. We just wanted to be out there and be on tour. I think the first time a picture of us was actually in a magazine, I think it made it real for my mom. She’s been pretty awesome. My whole family’s been pretty awesome.
MY: Do you remember the first rock concert you ever went to?
JP: Yeah, it was a Korn concert with my cousin, and it was insane. [laughs] I don’t even know how old I was, but it was the most metal show I could possibly go to. I was like, “I want to do that.” There was so much energy, and everyone around was just going off. It was pretty wild. I can’t even explain to you how I was feeling. The production, the lights, the sound – everything was on a new historic level for me that day. I was like, “Man, that’s a show.” And then I started going to more local shows, but having that one – there’s no way to top that one.
MY: What kind of things do you look for in a show to incorporate into a Pierce the Veil live performance?
JP: We do a lot of our own research and try to come up with a fun and energetic show. I think that’s one thing I’ve noticed in other bands I’ve seen as I was growing up – the differences between other bands and what I liked about them and what I didn’t like. I’m a huge fan of when bands spend time on their set and make it fun for the crowd – doing things that aren’t necessarily just playing their record, walking off stage and that’s it. I like adding fun little things for the crowd. At the end of the day, it’s a show, so we want to entertain kids. We want them to leave the show and be like, “Man, that was a really good, solid show.” And not just from our set – we want the whole show from when the doors open to be awesome. When we pick bands to open the tours we do, we try to pick bands we feel have tons of potential and that will make a full package. At the end of the day, you want them to come to the show and have a good time from the beginning to the end. I don’t know if a lot of bands think that way, but I know we do and really try to make it a complete show.
MY: Have you gotten your pilot’s license yet?
JP: I’m very, very close. Obviously with me going on tour, it’s kind of tricky at times. But definitely any chance I get to fly, I try to do it. I’ve always wanted to since I was a little kid. One day I’ll get that sucker, and I’ll be flying around. Give me a couple years, and I’ll be flying jumbo jets. Me and the guy from Iron Maiden [Bruce Dickinson] will just be hanging out all the time. [laughs]
Pierce the Veil headlines the 2015 Vans Warped Tour all summer. The tour makes its first venture to the region for a show at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ, on July 10; the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, on July 18; and The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton on July 21. For more information on tickets and band schedules, go to the Vans Warped Tour website.