PVRIS: More Than White Noise
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve at least heard of PVRIS – that is, of course, if you haven’t already fallen in love with them. In three short years, the electro indie rock trio have gone from being three regular kids dicking around with some instruments and a computer, to being one of the world’s biggest names in alternative music. They’re currently Down Under to support Circa Survive on their east coast headlining tour, so BLUNT caught up with frontwoman Lynn Gunn to talk touring, the band’s sudden rise to success, the next chapter for PVRIS, and what it’s like to be a role model for the LGBT+ community.
So PVRIS are in Australia right now! How are you liking our country so far?
This is our official second day here! We just got in yesterday and did some exploring around the city, and none of us had any clue of what to expect, but I feel like everything has already surpassed our expectations. It’s been incredible so far, and we can’t wait to see what else you guys have got in this wonderful country!
Over the past year especially, PVRIS has been on an absolute whirlwind of touring wins. Like, you’re Rainbow Road-ing this shit right now. What have been some of the highlights from this year so far?
Honestly, the biggest highlight has just been putting this record out because I think if we didn’t put the record out, none of the other awesome things that have happened for us would have happened.
In an age where it can take bands up to and over a decade to make a name for themselves, PVRIS shot up in the ranks incredibly fast. In three years alone, you’ve put out a massively popular full-length, you’ve toured around the world, and you’re the first – and only – female-driven band on the Rise Records roster. How does it feel to have come so far in such a short amount of time?
It feels incredible; we’re super grateful for everything. We had no idea that we would do all of these things so quickly and so early on in our career, so we’re just beyond excited to see where we end up in another year. We surpassed any expectations or hopes that we had initially, and everything that’s happening now is just icing on the cake. We’re constantly shocked by what’s going on around us.
Just a couple of months ago you won the APMA for Breakout Band and the Kerrang! award for Best International Newcomer, which is pretty amazing considering that both of those were fan voted. What was it like for you all to win those awards?
It felt awesome! We were just grateful to be nominated for those awards, never mind actually winning them. It felt really incredible, especially with the fact that our record hasn’t even been out for a year.
Looking ahead to the mysterious void that is the future, where do you see PVRIS going to next? Where do you want to take this project and how do you see yourself getting there?
Really, the sky is the limit. We have goals, but we don’t have any expectations, so we’re going to aim as high as we can, but we’re not expecting anything to happen. We really want to do anything and everything that we can, so who knows what the future may hold. Hopefully we’ll get to come back to Australia a bunch more! [laughs]
You mentioned a little while ago on Twitter – when you epically shot down those “ghost writer” rumours – that you carry around a mini-studio with you everywhere you go. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, and how you produce on the road?
Yeah! I use Logic and Reason when we’re on tour, and I just work from my computer mostly. But I have, like, a little tiny MIDI keyboard that I’ll use with a drum pad on it and everything. I have a little interface too, if I want to track guitars or do vocals. It literally all fits in my backpack; the keyboard is probably the size of an alarm clock. Whenever I have a free minute or some alone time, I’m usually on my computer working on some new tunes or little production things for whenever we get into the studio next.
One of the key pillars of PVRIS is your lyrics, which are always so powerful and doused in personality. As a songwriter, how do you channel your thoughts and what you’re feeling at the time into a song?
I feel like it’s always really different, and it’s always kind of scattered. Like, sometimes I’ll get a song line or a concept in my head and I’ll be like, “Ooh! I have to come back to that and work on that” but I don’t know, it all happens very sporadically and randomly. Sometimes I can sit down and write, like, a full page of lyrics and be good to go, and then other times it comes little by little, and whenever I get an idea I’ll have to roll with it and grab it as fast as I can. I feel like ideas are kind of like little clouds floating around, and you have to catch them when they come. I always have to write dark and spiritual, in a way. I don’t know why, but that’s what feels best to me, for some reason.
Being an openly gay woman in a rock band, you’re quite a rarity in the music scene, which is something that shouldn’t be true in 2015 but unfortunately is. I think the way that you’ve used your platforms and your fame to inspire and empower your audience is absolutely awesome. What made you want to be a role model like this in the first place?
I mean, I’ve never really wanted to be one. I’ve always seen sexuality as, like, something that just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t define you as a person or make you any different from a straight person, or a transgender person, or whoever! Whatever you are, that doesn’t define you as a human. So originally, I didn’t really want to be open about it – well, not necessarily not open about it, but I didn’t want to speak about it and always bring it up. But I’ve realised that in this day and age, with people coming to terms with their sexuality or gender, it’s such a big thing right now, and there’s not a lot of people out there who are open about it. Not a lot of teenagers have a role model for that. I never had that when I was growing up and coming to terms with everything, figuring all of that out, so I figured that if I can be that for somebody else, I might as well. But I don’t want that to be our defining factor over the music – the music and the art of it come first and foremost before anything. But if I can be there for someone or help someone come to terms with being themselves, that’s something that’s very important and I’ll always stand behind it.
When you see people tell you that you helped them feel comfortable with who they are or inspired them to come out, how do you respond to that?
I would never want to take credit for someone accepting themselves or being okay with that, but like I said, if I can help somebody in any way by being myself and being open about everything, that’s fucking awesome!
Does it ever get overwhelming that you’ve become such a prevalent figure in these communities – not just as a gay person, but as an empowering female voice in what is admittedly still a male-dominated industry? Is there a pressure there that you always have to say or do the right things?
In a way, but regardless of whether I was a frontwoman in a band or just a person going to school, I would still have the same morals and the same mentality about leading by example and just not being a shitty human being. I don’t have to think about it, it kind of comes effortlessly.
As more musicians start to come out of the closet and others pledge their support for our community, do you feel that the music industry is becoming a safer and more accepting place for LGBT+ people?
Oh yeah, absolutely!
Just before I let you head off, I have to ask – can you confirm or deny that you might or might not have started to work on what might possibly be (or not be) some new music?
I have to say, White Noise is still the number one focus right now, buuuuut, we are always working on new music! We recently just got out of the studio to work on some demos and writing, so things are being worked on, but I just can’t say when we’ll be putting some of that stuff out. I hope it’s soon!
Circa Survive / PVRIS Tour Dates
Fri Sep 18th – The Met, Brisbane
Sat Sep 19th – The Metro, Sydney
Sun Sep 20th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Mon Sep 21st – 170 Russell, Melbourne (U18)