Interview with Lynn Gunn of PVRIS

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You’re shallow and empty and filled with regret.
I think that chest must be heavy from that cross on your neck
You only wear ‘cause you’re wary of what comes next
After your death.
Don’t think I didn’t notice.
‘Holy,’ White Noise, PVRIS

Listening to the words sung over the indie electro rock beats of the Massachusetts-based trio, PVRIS (pronounced Paris), is a refreshing break from the regurgitated nonsense found in most of today’s popular music. Their debut full-length, White Noise, resonates as more of a psychedelic concept record to explore and get lost in rather than a run-of-the-mill rock album. Though it’s been marketed entirely through the alternative substream, its steady bass lines, groovy backbeats, and melodic vocals are reminiscent of chart topping albums like Taylor Swift’s monumental 1989. However, this record has a lot more to say.

When it comes to composing, PVRIS has an incredibly high level of sophistication for an up-and-coming trio. As the title of their debut suggests, White Noise plays on various levels of sonic intensities and even creates the illusion of space through biting, yet melodic tracks such as the aptly titled “Fire” and the more direct “Holy.” “I think ‘Holy’ is my favorite,” says frontwoman Lynn Gunn. “There are just a lot of lines that I’m pretty proud of. It’s such a bold song, and so many people connected to it, and I didn’t expect that.” "Holy" pairs religious commentary with societal standards and even ironically throws in scorching lines famous for their Disney-counterparts, such as the repetition of “poor unfortunate soul” from The Little Mermaid. “I’m sure everybody has dealt with opinionated people who don’t practice what they preach,” continues Gunn. “So, ‘Holy’ was about someone who had a problem with me being gay, but it can also be generalized to other people who are like that, that are very closed-minded for the wrong reasons.”

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Not only is PVRIS bold enough to tell their story lyrically, but also through the ink they wear on their skin. “I feel like music and people in the music world are a lot more open to sharing their story and being themselves,” says Gunn. “They’re not afraid to show personal sides or personal stories. Musicians will share stories that are personal to them or not afraid to put that out to the world. Same thing with tattoos; they’re not afraid to have them or not afraid to put stories on them and share them with the world.”

PVRIS crept into the music world almost out of nowhere. With a short EP released in 2012 followed by an acoustic extended play, little else was known about the group until Rise Records signed the trio in mid-2014. Notorious for their roster of post-hardcore and metal bands, like Evergreen Terrace and Miss May I, it’s almost unheard of to find a band on Rise that doesn’t sound like these forerunners. When PVRIS began dropping synth-rock singles like the angst-filled jam “My House,” however, all expectations of djenty metal riffs began to fall aside. “We all kind of grew up in that [metalcore] scene and with that music,” explains Gunn, “but we didn’t entirely want to make it. A lot of people will give us a hard time, like why didn’t you sign to a major label? But they don’t understand, Rise has the exact same resources that those labels do, except they just haven’t had the right bands for that. So that made it special for us to go with them because they finally get to shoot for a specific band, and that happened to be us.” In fact, the group were set to sign to another label the same day they received an offer from Rise, and in the end opted for the Ohio-based label.

PVRIS

Apart from being a successful sound anamoly on the Rise roster, PVRIS also has the honor to be the first and only female fronted band to ever sign to Rise. “I don’t think it’s any different than being in a band with a boy singer in it,” explains Gunn. “We don’t look at it as anything different or anything that separates us because I think that our sound as a whole, whether it was female fronted or male fronted, would get the same treatment and would still stand out just as much.”

Though having only been a band for a few years, the trio has already been inked together including getting joint Friday the 13th tattoos to commemorate their first tour. Along with these inspirational tattoos, bassist Brian MacDonald has a full sleeve from tattoo artist Tom Sardinha based on themes of heaven, earth and hell with his mother and grandmother represented as guardian angels. This guiding sentiment is also represented in guitarist Alex Babinski’s ink. Babinski rocks a traditional dagger and rose with a banner that reads “Brave enough to fail” as his reminder to never give up. Gunn, too, shares her side of the story with her arrow tattoo, symbolizing the band’s time on the Rise Up Tour.

In a time where society constantly feels the need to analyze who’s really “all about that bass,” and why we just need to “shake it off,” hearing bold, personal stories like those in the lyrics of White Noise is unexpected and refreshing. With such a successful statement piece put out for their debut record, Gunn's arrow tattoo may be correct in predicting PVRIS future musical ascension.

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