PVRIS (pronounced like the City of Light, but has a V, for some reason) is a busy bunch of boys and girls. The band — Lynn Gunn on vocals/guitars/keys, Alex Babinski on lead guitar/keys, and Brian MacDonald on bass/keys — is currently smack-dab in the middle of a tour that started in the fall and doesn’t end (maybe) until June. This globetrotting is in support of their Rise Records debut, White Noise, a study in frustration, confidence, and the paranormal, framed by the ebb and flow of distortion, surging synthesizers and Gunn’s soaring vocal work. The album is good, and would still probably sell well on its own, but PVRIS is making sure they do their part, by racking up frequent flyer miles in support of it.
Formed in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2012, the band used the Ernie Ball Stage at Warped Tour as a springboard to regular spots on the festival circuit, both here and abroad, and scored awards from Alternative Press and Kerrang! as best newcomers.
Gunn took time out of declaring sonic war on being let down one too many times to talk about their debut album, being a female rock-and-roller (we need to start asking that question better, or not at all) and the supernatural realm.
Folio Weekly: How’s it going? You seem busy. When I look at your tour dates, it shows you in Europe right now and then touring nonstop, back in Europe again in April 2016, with Japan and a full tour of the U.S. thrown in for good measure. Are you tired?
Lynn Gunn:You know, no one has once ever asked us this, so I am going to answer you honestly. Yes, we are tired, but it just means we’re working hard. We love what we do, so it’s totally OK.
Your latest album, White Noise, has earned real critical praise. Are you proud of your work? What does this album mean to you, what did you have to put into it, personally and as a group, to make it sound how you wanted it to sound?
Absolutely. What’s the point of making art if you don’t like it? The album, in our opinion, is the reason for everything that has happened to us so far. If we didn’t release it, none of the amazing opportunities we’ve had would have happened. It’s also our very first full-length record, so it’s very special for that reason alone. It was the first unveiling of our band and it’s only a sliver of what our band is capable of doing. We put a lot into this record and I think one of the most important things we put into it was risk. I believe that’s one of the reasons the record is doing so well.
There seems to be some anger, or maybe frustration is a better word, with people on White Noise. Maybe it’s individuals, or groups that share certain ideas, but you give them your two cents on songs like “My House” and “Holy.” Have people done you wrong?
I think there was a lot of anger and frustration directed at a lot of different things. Sure people have done me wrong, and that’s certainly prevalent on certain tracks, but I think my own self did me the most wrong. So much of White Noise is based off internal struggle and a battle within my own self.
Was the synth influence something that started with the original concept you all had in mind, or did that grow organically with the writing? They add real depth.
I knew [producer] Blake Harnage for a few years prior to making the record and he taught me a lot about using different programs to produce and write more electronic-based music, so it was something we’d been messing around with for a while but never fully were confident in using or incorporating into our music. When we went into the studio, he really helped us blend those sounds together as well as introduce us to new sounds and new ways of making sounds. I think they add a great depth and texture to the record. They really help give it its own vibe.
I’m noticing a paranormal theme on White Noise, including the title, which must’ve been the first hint. Am I off-base here? How much does the supernatural influence you, if at all?
You’re not off-base at all. We’re all into the supernatural and dark topics, so it’s always a prevalent theme. I’m not quite sure why we’re all fascinated to it and drawn to it, but it feels much more comforting than happy things; I think because it’s cathartic in a way.
I’m betting you get asked about being a female lead singer a lot. If you could veto that question from being asked again, would you, and what question is a better one to ask?
I mean, as much as I would love to veto the question, because I don’t believe that females in music should be treated any differently, we unfortunately are treated differently a lot of the time. The fact that this is even a question proves that. I’m just here to make art and music and my gender doesn’t have anything to do with that, [unless, of course, I was to write a song about gender equality]. I think the better question to ask would simply be, “What’s it like being in a band?”