PVRIS: Don't Call It A Comeback

Interview PVRIS: Don’t Call It A Comeback

Fully taking the reins of PVRIS as a solo project for the first time, ‘Evergreen’ is Lynn Gunn following her instincts and fighting against the algorithmic tide.

Musicians often have it harder than other artists when it comes to stepping away from what’s expected of them. It’s a theory that PVRIS’ creative powerhouse Lynn Gunn is musing on while folding laundry and occasionally interrupting to question the odd behaviour of her cat; typically existential for the Boston-born musician, it also feels particularly pertinent in the run up to her fourth studio album ‘EVERGREEN’, one that has sparked conversation around a shifting style since the unveiling of dual lead singles ‘ANIMAL’ and ‘ANYWHERE BUT HERE’. The first, a digitised and defiant rager, harks back to the fury of 2014 debut ‘White Noise’, while the second embraces a more natural sound, in keeping with the greens and earth tones that run throughout the record’s wide-ranging visual aesthetic. Subsequent singles have played with the two directions further, not least ‘LOVE IS A…’’s nod to ‘Anti’-era Rihanna.

This topic of conversation is one that Lynn has been confronted with before. Each of PVRIS’ albums, running in parallel with line-up changes and Lynn’s more recent decision to approach the project as a solo effort, have pushed the boundaries of what the outfit sounds like. Similarly, each time Lynn has felt a need to defend her shift in direction - no matter how subtle. However, on ‘EVERGREEN’, she’s firmly cementing the thread that in her mind pulls the band’s vibrant and varied, decade-long career together: creating what feels right and making sure to have fun whilst doing it.

“The DNA of PVRIS – what we use in the studio, and the sounds that I gravitate to - are always the same, I just choose to accentuate them in certain songs and pull back in others,” she says, tracking the throughline from 2012 to now. “The tastes are still the same. I love aggressive things; I love dreamy things; I love finding the ways that those balance together. I love synthetic sounds, I love organic sounds, I love heavy distortion, and I love clean sounds. It’s just finding ways to make them interact in different ways. It’s using the sounds that I love, and being intentional about how each one fits into the mix and the composition of each song.”

PVRIS: Don't Call It A Comeback

“I felt like I had to go back to my roots as a kid, and what it was like to make music [then].” - Lynn Gunn

That intention has been hard-fought. Before this album, PVRIS parted ways with Warner, and have opted to team up with alternative stalwarts Hopeless for the release of ‘EVERGREEN’ - a step that, on the surface, sits at odds with Lynn’s deliberate push away from the pop-punk scene that first fostered the band, but in practice has given her the freedom to rediscover her enjoyment for her art. “I know all the things that I don’t want to do, just because they don’t feel natural to me at this point in my life,” she continues. “Really my only goal here as an artist is to create something that I hope connects with people. For that to be a thing, I felt like I had to go back to my roots as a kid, and what it was like to make music. To me it was about what felt exciting to make, and not to think about the consequences, boundaries, or restrictions of that. Just what feels fun, and what feels exciting.”

That clarity has also been heightened by stepping back from the digital world, removing herself almost entirely from online spaces in a personal experiment of sorts. Spawned from the pandemic’s full reliance on digitisation to stay connected, Lynn has undertaken a full 180, with PVRIS’ socials now only used for sporadic formal announcements. It’s come, she says, with mixed feelings. “Ironically, the longer I was offline and not creating content on a regular basis, I felt like every day I was ruining my life or PVRIS’ career,” she says. “But I just know I’m not here to do [the social media conveyor belt], and I don’t think a lot of us are here to do that.

“I’m ten years into this, and what we’ve done is very much based on tangible experiences and connections, and going out into physical spaces rather than creating a livestream or playing in the metaverse,” she continues. “I think the pace in which we consume and create art has all shifted too, so how do you make something that transcends that or stands up against it, and still find a way to connect with people when everything is disconnecting further? The longer I was offline, no matter how busy I was working on the album, I felt really anxious. It felt like at any second the world might have moved on, even with just the small amount of capital we take up. It’s really sad that’s where we are in the world. That was a big conscious thought the entire time of making ‘EVERGREEN’: What is going on? What’s happening? How do I fit into it? Do I fit into it? And are we even made for this?”

PVRIS: Don't Call It A Comeback PVRIS: Don't Call It A Comeback PVRIS: Don't Call It A Comeback PVRIS: Don't Call It A Comeback

“What PVRIS has done is based on tangible experiences and going out into physical spaces rather than playing in the metaverse.” - Lynn Gunn

— Lynn Gunn

The battle between feeling anxious to leave but unable to stay within that level of digital connection underpins much of ‘EVERGREEN’’s two halves. Thunderous opener ‘I DON’T WANNA DO THIS ANYMORE’ tellingly launches with Lynn’s digitally-enhanced vocals, leading into a brilliantly despondent chorus that clearly lays out her frustrations with how things are unfurling. “Something doesn’t feel right,” she laments. “Am I losing my mind?” Whether deliberately split down the middle or not, ‘EVERGREEN’ presents a journey from the dangerous dysfunction of a purely online existence to an alternate life within the expanse of nature. It’s a narrative arc that suggests there’s still hope to be found. “It’s going from that feeling that I simply don’t want to be doing this anymore, to that I want to keep doing this for as long as I can and am supposed to,” Lynn notes.

Having consistently spearheaded the band’s creative vision across ‘White Noise’, 2017’s ‘All We Know Of Heaven’ and 2020’s ‘Use Me’, ‘EVERGREEN’ marks yet another chapter for PVRIS, but one in which Lynn is flying fully solo. A question on how the change has developed her artistry is politely but quickly shot down. “It’s important to note that was never really an issue,” she states succinctly.

Instead, and arguably more excitingly, ‘EVERGREEN’ is the continued work of an artist unafraid to push boundaries whilst remaining true to themselves, keeping a throughline that has seen the project move from strength to strength, even when faced with unexpected adversity. “Making the album, I just crossed my fingers and closed my eyes and hoped that this would translate outwards,” she recalls. “I know that it feels fun for me, and that’s the best that I can do at this point in time. The crowds for this next chapter so far have been really amazing and supportive. It feels like a new energy, and it feels really exciting; a really positive and welcome space for people going to the shows.”

Undeterred by external expectation, and encouraged by fan reaction to date, Lynn presents ‘EVERGREEN’ as a poignant reflection of herself and her personal realisations over the past few years. No longer feeling a need to justify her decisions, and backed by a supportive team of like-minded individuals, the concept of PVRIS is stronger than ever. It sees Lynn push against the algorithm, channelling the creative freedom afforded to and celebrated by artists beyond music, deliberately detaching from the zeitgeist that is seeing more and more pop artists venture into the pop-punk world and swapping major label support for a proven independent.

“To me, what PVRIS is and always has been, is just about focussing on what feels exciting and doing that as fearlessly as you can within whatever circumstances you are in,” she says. “That’s the throughline.”

‘EVERGREEN’ is out now via Hopeless.

Tags: PVRIS, Features, Interviews

As featured in the July 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

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