The High Elevation Rock Festival at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre on Saturday, September 10, puts forth quite the smorgasbord of heavy music. Local alt-metal chanteuse Lola Black and hairy Southern metallers the Texas Hippie Coalition sit alongside industrial pioneers Ministry and metal giants Avenged Sevenfold. And somewhere awkwardly in between it all — like a Dungeons & Dragons player on the first day at a new school — is SoCal post-hardcore band Pierce the Veil.
Rising out of now-defunct punk-rock bands with names Before Today and Early Times, Pierce the Veil came together ten years ago, products of the healthy San Diego punk scene that also spawned the likes of Unwritten Law. This year, the band put out its fourth album, Misadventures, and its evolution from Californian bar-room punks to nationally beloved touring act continues. It’s been a slow road, though.
“We started off playing in punk-rock bands, and we were testing all of the waters as far as music goes, and just having fun,” says bassist Jaime Preciado. “It was just about having fun and playing as many different types of music as you possibly can when you’re younger. We never lost that DIY aspect of the whole punk-rock thing, and I think that’s what’s keeping a lot of this exciting.”
Even Preciado is surprised when he is reminded that Pierce the Veil is a decade old this year, lamenting the seemingly speedy passage of time but embracing the mistakes that the band has learned from over that time. This is a band that has never been afraid to take chances.
“We really take that stuff super-seriously and try to make it a fun experience when you’re at the shows,” Preciado says. “I definitely think we’ve changed over the past ten years. At the beginning, you’re kind of doing what people expect you to do. You’ve got labels and managers, and you’ve got to stick by the book. But as you start growing and building a fan base, you can have more control of your band and the art. We’re to a point now where we have full control over everything we do, whether it’s the records, our tours, what we do for our tours, our production for the stage, all of the artwork. We’ve gotten way more involved with every aspect of the band.”
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Preciado says that the process of recording Misadventures was smoother than previous efforts in some respects, thanks to the fact that the band used the same producer, Dan Korneff, as it did for the previous album, Collide With the Sky. However, the album still presented plenty of challenges.
“We had a plan, and a deadline,” he says. “But that went out of the window after the first couple of weeks in the studio. We ran into a couple of detours along the way, whether it was having to scrap two songs in the studio and creating two brand-new songs from scratch, to having a world tour booked in the middle of the session, to having the singer travel around to get inspiration for lyrics. At that moment, we were not happy with the record the way it was, and we knew we had to make changes, take some chances and risks. I think that’s what made the record what it is. We feel renewed. It’s always good to challenge yourself.”
Talking of new challenges, this is the first summer that Pierce the Veil has been invited to perform at festivals like High Elevation, outside of the Warped Tour.
“When I say we feel like a new band, it’s because we’ve never done something like this,” Preciado says. “Even though we’ve been playing for ten years, all of this stuff is still new to us, so it’s great to be a part of it, and we’re looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to being out of breath, second song in. That’s just how it works in Denver.”
He has a point there. And if the altitude doesn’t leave the band breathless, the quality and stature of the bands playing on the same day will.
“We’re playing a couple of festivals with Avenged Sevenfold all over the States, and if you had told me that eight years ago, I would have told you to shut up,” Preciado says. “They put on a great live show, and they’re one of those bands that you would see when you were younger and think, 'They’re gonna be huge'. Now, they’re headlining these crazy festivals. Good for them, and I’m really excited to see their antics. A lot of fire, I bet.”
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As for Pierce the Veil’s set, the band is planning to cram its regular headline set into forty minutes, which is no easy task. After that, the group will continue touring and head off to Europe later in the year. After spending so long in the studio perfecting the appropriately titled Misadventures, the bandmembers are enjoying stretching their collective legs.
“We’re ready to go,” says Preciado.
Bring it on.
The High Elevation Rock Festival takes place on Saturday, September 10, at Fiddler's Green Amphitheater, featuring Pierce the Veil, Avenged Sevenfold and more. Go to highelevationfestival.com for info.