Vocalist VIC FUENTES tells the stories behind each song on PIERCE THE VEIL’s Selfish Machines.
Besitos 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.
Southern Constellations 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.
Caraphernelia 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.
Bulletproof Love 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.
Disasterology 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
• The beginning of The Balcony Scene
• The screaming in I’d Rather Die than be Famous
• Jaime’s blonde streak
• Guitars in Besitos
• “You know the only way to cure pain is to add a little more, because everything new distracts the old”
• Southern Constellations
• Jeremy McKinnon’s parts in Caraphenelia
• Crying during Stay Away from my Friends
• “Can we create something beautiful and DESTROOOY IT?”
• The bridge in The Sky Under The Sea
• Mike’s lip piercing
• Vic bringing fans on stage during Bulletproof Love
• Beginning of Hell Above
• EVERYTHING ABOUT KING FOR A DAY
• Vocals in Props & Mayhem
• THE FIRST PUNCH
• Those vocal effects in Hold On Till May
• Tony’s stretched ears
• Verse 1 of Dive In
• Guitars in Texas Is Forever
• “I’m mastering the art of miracles and flawless tragedies”
• The acoustic version of Today I Saw The Whole World
THIS SONG IS ABOUT GOING TO HOLLYWOOD AND REACHING FAME, BUT ONCE THE PERSON REACHES FAME THEY GET CAUGHT UP AND GET ADDICTED TO DRUGS AND ALCOHOL.
THE BALCONY SCENE IT IS ABOUT TAKING CHANCES WITH THE ONE YOU LOVE. SUCH AS HAVING ADVENTURES OR GIVING A RELATIONSHIP A CHANCE.
BESITOS SPANISH FOR KISSES, TELLS A STORY. THE CHARACTER’S A BOY AND A GIRL, A PAIR OF OPPOSITES. HE IS ORGANIZED AND UNADVENTUROUS, AND SHE IS QUITE THE OPPOSITE. SHE LIVES IN THE FAST LANE, ADDICTED TO DRUGS AND CONSTANTLY SHOWING UP AT HIS PLACE UNEXPECTED. HE IS LIVING A HORRIBLE REALITY THAT IS INDUCED BY HER FAKE REALITY THAT IS HER GUILTY PLEASURE - HER DRUGS - AND WHILE SHE IS HAPPY HE HAS TO DEAL WITH IT. AND ALTHOUGH SHE IS TEARING APART HIS LIFE, AND SHE IS CONSTANTLY USING HIM FOR BOTH SEX, MONEY, AND A PLACE TO STAY, HE LOVES HER, AND CONTINUES TO TRY TO HELP HER AND LOVE HER THE BEST HE CAN. HE IS CONSTANTLY HAVING DREAMS ABOUT HER AND HER PERFECTION, AND HE IS CONSTANTLY WORRYING THAT SOMETHING WILL GO WRONG. SO HE DOES WHAT ANY WORRIED FRIEND WOULD DO - HE WARNS HER THAT HER DRUG ADDICTIONS WOULD KILL HER IN THE LONG RUN. SHE DOESN’T LISTEN TO HIM, AND SOON AFTER, DIES OF A DRUG OVERDOES. HE, UPSET AND CONFUSED, BEGINS TO USE THE VERY DRUGS THAT KILLED HER. AFTER VIC (THE SINGER) SCREAMS RED ROSES, THE SONG TAKES A TURN TO TWO DIFFERENT PLACES. THE DRUGS BEGIN TO DRIVE THE MAN TO INSANITY, AND HE DOESN’T KNOW WHERE HE STARTED AND WHERE HE BEGAN, AND HE CAN’T TELL WHAT’S REAL OR FAKE. HE KNOWS NOT WHETHER THE GIRL WAS EITHER A REAL PERSON, SONG, OR A FIGMENT OF HIS IMAGINATION; ALL HE KNOWS IS HIS OWN BEDROOM, WHICH HE REALIZED THROUGH HIS DRUG INDUCED DREAM COMING TO AN END, THAT ALL MAY HAVE BEEN A DREAM- BUT HIS DRUGS ARE KILLING HIM.
KISSING IN CARS VIC WROTE THIS SONG FOR A FRIEND TO GIVE TO HIS WIFE FOR THEIR ANNIVERSARY.
SOUTHERN CONSTELLATIONS 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 SO-CALLED 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.
CARAPHERNELIA 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 ME 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 CLAREMONT 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.
BULLETPROOF LOVE 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 .
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. -VIC FUENTES
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.
DISASTEROLOGY 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 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 SAYING HOW HE THINKS THAT SUICIDE IS SELFISH.
HELL ABOVE I WROTE THIS SONG FOR ALL OF OUR FANS WHO FEEL LIKE THEY DON’T HAVE A HOME OR A PLACE THAT THEY DON’T FIT IN. IT WAS ALL INSPIRED BY THE LETTERS, MESSAGES, AND CONVERSATIONS THAT WE’VE HAD WITH THEM OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. IN THE CHORUS I SAY ‘THIS IS A WASTELAND, MY ONLY RETREAT. ’ I AM REFERRING TO THE SHOWS THAT WE PLAY AS A TEMPORARY HOME FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT. IT MAY NOT BE MUCH, BUT AT LEAST IT’S A PLACE WHERE WE CAN FORGET ABOUT OUR PROBLEMS FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
A MATCH INTO WATER I WROTE THIS SONG FOR MY EX-GIRLFRIEND WHO HAS BEEN FIGHTING BREAST CANCER. SHE RECENTLY FINISHED HER LAST CHEMO-THERAPY TREATMENT AND I WROTE THE LYRICS ABOUT HOW PROUD I AM OF HER FOR MAKING IT THROUGH ALL OF THE PAIN AND THE TREATMENT ALL ON HER OWN. SHE’S THE STRONGEST GIRL I’VE EVER KNOWN AND I AM INSPIRED BY HER EVERYDAY.
BULLS IN THE BRONX WHILE THEY WERE RECORDING, SOME KIDS TOLD VIC THAT A YOUNG GIRL (16) HAD JUST COMMITTED SUICIDE. THEY EXPLAINED THAT THE BAND MEANT A LOT TO HER AND SHE FELT THAT THEY SHOULD CONTACT THEM AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT HAD HAPPENED. ATTACHED TO THE MESSAGE WAS A LINK TO HER TUMBLR PAGE WHERE SHE HAD POSTED A VIDEO EXPLAINING WHY IT HAD ALL COME TO THIS AND BASICALLY SAYING HER GOODBYES. THE VIDEO HAUNTED VIC FOR WEEKS AND HE ENDED UP WRITING ABOUT HER EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.
TANGLED IN THE GREAT ESCAPE THIS IS ABOUT VIC’S FRIEND WHO WAS/IS ADDICTED TO DRUGS AND HE WAS AFRAID HIS FRIEND WAS GOING TO DIE.
ONE HUNDRED SLEEPLESS NIGHTS THAT SONG IS ABOUT A GIRL THAT REALLY MEANS A LOT TO ME; KIND OF LIKE THAT GIRL YOU FEEL COULD BE “THE ONE. ” WE WERE KIND OF TOGETHER, BUT WE WEREN’T REALLY OFFICIAL. WE WERE BOTH STILL SEEING OTHER PEOPLE. SHE ENDED UP GETTING PREGNANT AND HAVING A BABY WITH SOMEONE ELSE. THAT KIND OF ENDED THE WHOLE THING. IT WAS AN INTENSE, CONFUSING EXPERIENCE FOR BOTH OF US. SHE’S A YOUNG MOM NOW AND I STILL REALLY CARE ABOUT HER, BUT SHE WAS WITH ANOTHER GUY. THAT SONG EXPLAINS THE NIGHT SHE TOLD ME WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.
HOLD ON TILL MAY A GIRL I USED TO DATE ONCE TOLD ME THAT HER PARENTS NEGLECTED HER AS A CHILD. SHE REMEMBERED CLIMBING THIS TREE IN HER BACKYARD AND HIDING FROM THEM JUST TO SEE IF THEY WOULD LOOK FOR HER, OR EVEN NOTICE THAT SHE WAS GONE. I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS SUCH A SAD STORY AND I WROTE THIS SONG FOR HER. IT ALSO TALKS ABOUT THE UPS AND DOWNS IN THE RELATIONSHIP THAT WE’VE HAD RECENTLY.