Track by track
Vocalist VIC FUENTES tells the stories behind each song on PIERCE THE VEIL’s Selfish Machines.
PHOTO: Adam Elmakias
This song very openly features the Spanish side of Pierce The Veil’s music. We always try to incorporate at least a hint of Latin influence in every song, but with this one, we just went all the way with it. Lyrically, it’s about my dysfunctional relationship with a girl I couldn’t stop hurting over and over again. It’s meant to be her speaking to me, asking me why I’m not satisfied with what we had. I wanted to write it from her perspective to try and understand what she was going through at the time. It ends with her wanting to kill me for all the stuff I’ve put her through.
This is basically just the intro to “The Boy Who Could Fly.” We decided to separate the tracks because otherwise, the song would be around six minutes long. This short, little tune describes my unexplainable and undeniable recent obsession with Southern girls. The clean guitar tone is one of my favorite tones on the entire album. We used a Stratocaster with a custom amp to get the glassy and unique sound we were looking for.
The Boy Who Could Fly
We went back to our SoCal punk roots for this song. The entire thing is punk beats and super-fast guitar work. It’s almost therapeutic for me to play, because it represents everything that we loved playing as kids. Mike [Fuentes] is the fastest single kick drum player I’ve ever seen, so this song features him in all his glory. The lyrics talk about an unhealthy co-dependent relationship in which I couldn’t live without the other person because if you took her away, I would lose half of myself. It’s about obsession and desperation, and the stupid things you do when you’re in love. Musically it’s the craziest, most intense song we’ve ever written.
The last time I saw my ex-girlfriend, she left all kinds of random things behind at my house: travel shampoo, a razor in the shower, hair clips, etc. It was basically just a bunch of stuff that kept reminding me of her. After a while, it made me miss her, and I wondered why we ever broke up in the first place. When I wrote the music for the chorus, I knew right away that I wanted to ask my friend Jeremy McKinnon [of A Day To Remember] to do the screaming parts on the chorus and bridge. A few weeks after I wrote the song, I approached Jeremy with the idea and he agreed to sing on the album. It turned out to be one of my favorite tracks once we collaborated. One of my favorite things to do is make music with my friends. That collaboration makes the songs very special to me.
Fast Times At Clairemont High
This is a very selfish song that basically says, “If I can’t have you, then no one can.” I think this has gone through everyone’s head at least a couple times in their life. The theme of this album talks about these natural thoughts and feelings to want and take—the desire to be in love and the desperation for someone else to love you. This song deals with human nature and our selfish tendencies. I like the music because it has a hint of Michael Jackson influence.
The New National Anthem
I used to drive six hours just to see this girl that I liked. She was beautiful, but didn’t know it because she was from a small town. I went to her place once and it was completely empty because she was in the process of moving into another apartment. I remember making out with her in the dark in the middle of her empty carpeted floor. A lot of the lyrics are about that night. I recorded the intro to this song in our apartment in L.A. We used a lot of the original sounds from my ghetto little recording on the album.
I’ve always been obsessed with happy songs that have morbid lyrics. Lyrically, this song is one of the darkest I’ve ever written. It’s about being obsessed with someone to the point where you’re hurting yourself. A lot of it is written almost like a suicide note meant to be found by the one you love. It’s completely crazy and extreme, but it’s also comforting to say out loud the things you’re thinking sometimes.
Stay Away From My Friends
This is about my ex-girlfriend trying to stay in close contact with my friends even after we had broken up. We all need our friends to be there for us and help us out during hard times. I wrote the piano parts in my living room at home in San Diego. We wanted to challenge ourselves with this song and make it as different as possible from the rest of the album. We threw it right in the middle of the album as a sort of a breath of fresh air. My friend Dave Yaden played all the keys on this record, as well as on [2007’s A Flair For The Dramatic], and that took everything to the next level.
I Don’t Care If You’re Contagious
I wrote a great deal of these lyrics after a young fan had explained to me that her boyfriend had just recently died in a car accident. She told me that he held her hand for the first time at our one of our shows. She told me that she just wanted to thank us for being a part of their lives. This was one of the most shocking and heartbreaking things I’d ever heard. I wrote the song as a gift to her. It’s meant to be her boyfriend speaking to her, telling her that he is still watching over her and that he will love her forever.
This song is basically about a typical guy’s dream. It talks about girls, drinking and having the time of your life. It’s very poetic and drifts around just like a person’s mind would inside of a dream. I purposely just wrote down the first things that popped into my head. The chorus talks about building something beautiful only to destroy it. This is a very philosophical idea that I’ve played around with for a long time. I wrote most of the music in Florida with my good friend [former ADTR guitarist] Tom Denney. He and I worked on the music for this song, “The Boy Who Could Fly” and “The Sky Under The Sea.” Love you, Tom!
Million Dollar Houses (The Painter)
I wrote this song as a gift to my parents. It’s meant to be my dad talking to my mom. My dad has worked very hard his entire life as a painting contractor, struggling and fighting to make enough money to keep us going. We recently had to sell our house because things were just getting too expensive to afford anymore. This song is about how through all the years, my mom and dad have never let money tear them apart, and no matter how bad things got, they’ve always had each other. I strongly express my hatred for money and the way it sometimes fucks with people’s lives and families. All you need is love. The Beatles were right all along. Go figure.
The Sky Under The Sea
This song is about admitting, “I am the selfish machine.” It’s about being selfish with love and taking what you want without regret. The selfish machine refers to the animal inside all of us that no one ever wants to admit is there. I consider all of our evil thoughts and desires that we are ashamed of to be perfectly natural. We are all humans and no one is perfect, despite how morally good someone may think he or she is. alt