The Jaws of Life

The Jaws of Life

“When we started making this record and throughout a lot of it, I was feeling like life was trying to devour me.” That’s what Pierce the Veil vocalist/guitarist Vic Fuentes says about the San Diego post-hardcore band’s fifth album. “It was testing me, really seeing what I was made of. I had that feeling of being sort of trapped or stuck, or like something was eating me.” It’s a feeling that Fuentes and his bandmates—bassist Jaime Preciado and guitarist Tony Perry—know a lot of people can relate to after suffering through the pandemic. “I think this record was the thing that got us through all that personally—and also as a band,” he tells Apple Music. “The process was what brought us back into the light. A lot of it is about fighting your way back to feeling better again. Not just moving there calmly, but actually clawing your way, digging your way, scratching your way back to feeling like a human again.” All of which goes a long way toward explaining the album’s title. “The Jaws of Life is a machine that’s meant to save people’s lives, to pry them out of things,” he offers. Below, Fuentes comments on each song. “Death of an Executioner” “The visual of this song, to me, is a car that’s following you—like the video for ‘Karma Police’ by Radiohead. It’s got its headlights on your back, and it’s just kind of slowly creeping on you. To me, it represents social media and people expecting perfection out of you and always waiting for you to make a mistake so they can run you down and destroy you. I like the title ‘Death of an Executioner’ because it describes killing the person who’s trying to kill you.” “Pass the Nirvana” “Every time we’ve played this song live, I’ve dedicated it to all the youth in the crowd who didn’t get a graduation or a prom. It’s describing how the youth of America went through so much in such a small amount of time. I just feel like they’re going to be traumatized forever because of COVID and insurrection and all these school shootings. It’s just too much. ‘Pass the Nirvana’ is about trying to find a good feeling after all of that.” “Even When I’m Not With You” “This started with a text that my manager sent me. She wrote, ‘Even when I’m not with you, I’m still with you.’ I was going through a rough time, and she was consoling me with these beautiful words. It hit me so hard that I wrote it down, and it all just naturally fell together into a song about devotion and staying connected through love, even over long distances. I dedicated it to my wife, and it’s a reminder that we’re always connected no matter where I am in the world.” “Emergency Contact” “When you’re young and you go to the doctor, you always put down your mom or dad or guardian as your emergency contact. And then there’s this funny moment when you get older, and your emergency contact becomes your wife or your partner. God forbid something happens to me; my wife will be the one to help me. I got to record this one when I was staying up in Seattle at this amazing 100-year-old house owned by Mike [Herrera] from MxPx.” “Flawless Execution” “This one’s kind of hard to describe. I feel like it’s about people blurring the lines between love and sex and vice versa. It’s almost about when you’re OK with being used because you want to be close to the person so badly. You want love so badly that you’re actually OK with being used or abused, kind of like the Bill Withers song ‘Use Me.’ So, it’s about those extremes that we go to just to be validated. If you’re always desiring someone’s approval, it can go to some toxic places.” “The Jaws of Life” “It’s about trying to get released from life’s grip and finding your way. There’s a line in it where I say I’m having the time of my life rotting in the sun, inside the jaws of life. It’s trying to be OK with where you are and starting to feel happy again—I’m making my way, and I know that I can see some light. There’s a lot of ’90s influence in this song musically, which I’m super stoked on. The verse feels like Tripping Daisy or Superdrag—I was thinking about their song ‘Sucked Out’ a lot when I was writing this one.” “Damn the Man, Save the Empire” “I’ve been trying to use this title for years, but it’s never felt right until now. It’s a quote from one of my favorite movies, Empire Records. Lyrically, it’s about how no one can really know who you are until they’ve really spent some time with you. I feel that way sometimes when people follow our band on social media and think they have me pegged, but you’re seeing what I want you to see, not who I fully am. So, it’s just reminding people about that superficial experience.” “Resilience” “With this song, I had this vision of that classic scene in the movies when the hand pops out of the dirt after they’ve been buried alive, and the person starts pulling their body up to the surface. It’s like when you’re digging your way out of this hole, and your eyes finally see the sun and they adjust. Also, one of my most proud moments on this record is that we got to use a quote from Dazed and Confused to start the song. We actually had to have the actors approve that. It was such a win for the album.” “Irrational Fears” “This is an interlude that sets up the next song. It was inspired by that first scene in the movie Garden State, with Zach Braff, where he’s on a plane that’s going down and everyone is freaking out around him, but he’s perfectly calm. We wanted to set the scene with this British flight attendant being all chipper but saying really dark things. Jaime made the music, and then my friend who’s a voice actor recorded the voiceover in London. It was a fun challenge, and I’m really proud of how it came out.” “Shared Trauma” “The title kind of speaks for itself. I’ve always felt that shared trauma and going through a traumatic experience with somebody can be one of the strongest bonds in human existence. Knowing that you’ve both been through something together will always connect you in such a powerful way. I think that’s beautiful—it’s the good that can come out of the bad. Musically, it was very much a collaborative band effort that came out of this loopy analog beat that Jaime sent me. It was really fun to write.” “So Far So Fake” “This song was written in 2017, so we’ve had it for a long time. It was one of the only ones that made it from some of the first writing sessions we did before the pandemic. It’s about if you’ve ever been betrayed by somebody you felt was a friend, and the wound never really mended—where even an apology doesn’t feel like it’s enough. It feels like it can never really be resolved. So, it’s a bit angry, a bit sour, a bit difficult to think about. But I always want to write about things that are affecting my life.” “12 Fractures” (feat. chloe moriondo) “The song was called ‘12 Fractures’ before it became the 12th song on the album. We didn’t plan it like that. I’m glad it worked out that way, but it also makes things confusing. I’m actually looking at our vinyl right now to make sure it doesn’t just say ‘Fractures.’ But this one came from a deeply personal story about a friend of mine who went through a divorce. I watched two of my favorite people in the world just fall apart. When friends break apart like that, it’s like losing a family member. It’s super difficult, even as a bystander. It was cool to get Chloe on the song to bring the story to life. I’m a big fan of hers, and I think she did an amazing job.”

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