Fault catch up with PVRIS ahead of their sophomore album

PVRIS are back with their new album ‘All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell’ (AWKOHAWNOH), featuring some massive tracks that are sure to fill venues on their upcoming US and European tours. FAULT had the opportunity to catch up with Lynn Gunn ahead of the album’s release.

Hey! How’s it going? Has it been quite manic with the release date for the new album approaching?

Yeah, it’s been a lot of chaos, but it’s fun chaos. I think it’s a lot of the universe testing us but making things somehow fall into place.

 

All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell’ is an interesting album title. What was the motivation behind this?

It was a super serendipitous kind of thing. I was staying in Sacramento finishing editing our video ‘Heaven’ with our director, Raul [Gonzo], and it was around the same time we were getting the album art and track listing together and really just finalising all the details, and we still didn’t have an album title. Raul and I wanted some kind of dialogue or poem or quote to put at the beginning of the video that we released before ‘Heaven’, just to mark the transition and capture the theme of the next record.

I was online all day looking at quotes and just trying to find some really cool things mostly just pertaining to the word heaven, not necessarily hell either. I was up all day trying to find stuff and I just couldn’t find anything, so I gave up. Then later than night I was watching a TED Talk and the lady giving the talk had quoted the last line of an Emily Dickinson poem, so I wrote it down and looked up the poem the next day and found a few different personal interpretations for it and I just thought it was really beautiful.

I think it captured especially what ‘Heaven’ was about, but I think afterwards – once it was finalised and announced it was the record title – I noticed a lot of things tying together and just naturally playing off each other.

 

So it was like everything was nicely falling in to place then?

Yeah. The album art is kind of duality in itself. There’s a lot of really subtle references in the lyrics to duality, which was not a conscious effort whatsoever, it just happened pretty naturally. There’s a lot of pushing and pulling and rising and falling. Even the first verse in a lot of the songs on the record and the second verse were written a year apart, which I think offers a natural duality in itself.

That was such an important thing all us learned in the past year, the importance of balance, whether it comes to your emotions, music, or your health, or hard work.

How would you describe the pressure that you, Alex and Brian had to live up to ‘White Noise’?

It was quite intense and it wasn’t at the same time. Our approach with this record and our mentality was very much the same as ‘White Noise’. It was all just about following our tastes and not boxing ourselves in… not being afraid to experiment, just follow our inner compass and create what feels real and genuine.

I think with this record it was natural from being on tour and then suddenly stopping – it was a total emotional whiplash and all of us processed it completely differently. For me, personally, I just kind of shut off emotionally and mentally. That was something we had to shake off at first when we started the recording process, but we found a lot of really beautiful moments in that mindset and that experience.

 

There’s quite a feeling of intensity and a very full sound to AWKOHAWNOH – it feels like a more mature sound compared to ‘White Noise’. Do you think that reflects the maturing you’ve gone through since releasing your debut album?

Yeah, absolutely. I think everybody can hear it. It’s different and it’s fresh and it’s definitely just naturally more mature and progressed from the last record, but I definitely think it still has that heart and that guts and same integrity behind it.

I think we’ve really been able to hone it a lot more on this record with our writing and everything. We’ve all matured so much. And even coming down to our team in general, from videos to producers to management, we’ve all gotten so tight with each other and there’s a lot more trust and better communication. Everything in every aspect is really honed in.

 

When ‘White Noise’ was written you were around 19…?

I think 18 or 19, I don’t even remember! I was a baby! We’d just been on one tour and then recorded the record and everything else was history.

 

So does it feel quite different doing things the second time around? Do you still feel that kind of sense of ‘newness’ that you felt with ‘White Noise’?

I think there’s definitely a ‘newness’ and it feels like a sophomore update for us. We’re working properly and everything works. It definitely has a really nice freshness to it, but I think we’ve learned so much as well… so it’s a freshness but with a little more of a backbone and a little bit more preparation I guess.

 

When you were writing the album did you set out to create an almost anthemic sound?

I think it just really naturally happened. A lot of the demos before this record, before we went through and started picking and choosing, were really kind of, not stripped down, but quite driving and quiet. I think the studio we were in and the environment we were in at the time was so massive with so many tools. We had three drum sets set up, two grand pianos, organs, harps… there were so many instruments and tools around that we were like little kids in a candy shop.

Do you think having all those instruments at your disposal encouraged you to play around more?

Definitely, yeah! We had a bigger arsenal of instruments but also a bigger environment and space to be in and think that really helped create the big atmosphere. But also I think there was a lot of energy to get out and a lot of catharsisism in the process of making the record, and I think that just came across in the bigness of it. Working with Blake [Harnage] as well, he always takes things to the next level and really just makes it huge and that was another key factor for sure.

 

That must’ve been exciting with all those instruments there to play with!

Yeah! There was a drum set set up at all times and I would probably hop on it three times a day, just getting anger and frustration out. We tracked a good chunk of it and it blended in on some of the songs, which was really cool. There was so much explosion of sound, which was really fun.

 

You deal with quite heavy themes in your music, with the likes of depression and anxiety, and you’re quite open about that. Do you find music’s been really good at helping you express all those emotions in an artistic form?

Absolutely. It’s so cliché saying that music is our release but it really absolutely is. Just the creative process in general – whether it’s some visuals, to videos, to just tracking and recording and writing – it really is the most cathartic part and the biggest release, and really is the reason we do it.

 

You mentioned the visuals there; from the visuals you’ve released so far for AWKOHAWNOH there seems to be real focus on marrying them in tightly with the music. Is that something you were all really keen to focus on?

We’re on our 15th or 16th video collaborating with Raul, our director now, and this time around with this record he and I are basically kind of co-directing now, so it’s been much more hands-on and a lot more of an honest and intimate process. We’ve become best friends through everything we created on ‘White Noise’, and even that was a super collaborative process, but this time around on this record it’s been even more hands-on and I think that really comes across.

 

From watching the ‘Half’ visualette you recently released that definitely shows.

That video was super last minute and was something that really makes me think there’s some kind of crazy inner workings and a weird energy looking over us at all times.

Happen’ leaked a week before we had anticipated releasing it and the boys and I had just got back from Australia, we were in LA doing some press there and I had to stay an extra day and the boys had gone home already, and we got a call from the label and management saying they wanted to put ‘Half’ out next. We had another song we’d planned to put out next and a video that was already booked to shoot and that was in the works, but the management and label wanted to put ‘Half’ out and wanted to provide some visuals for it, so asked if we had any ideas we could get rolling on. Coincidentally Raul was in LA at the same time shooting another video for someone else. I forget how it came about, but we linked up and drove from LA up to Sacramento, came up with the visual idea on the car ride up, and filmed it in like an hour the next day.

 

So, backtracking slightly… in a recent piece in Billboard you discussed coming out and how you identify, and it’s great seeing how open you are. How important do you think it is that artists are open about how they feel and who they are?

I think this is something I really was battling with a lot over the past few years, especially in press, with how open should I be. I never want it to be something that takes away from our music which overshadows everything else we do, I never want it to be a main focal point of our band. But I think in the past few years, because I was so unsure as to how much to share and discuss, I was really not being fully vulnerable and not sharing everything. I think that really builds up over time, especially with anxiety, and definitely made it worse, and I think that just being vulnerable and straight up about it really helps with it. It was such a big thing and such an important thing I’ve learned, especially in this record cycle – just being vulnerable and being open and honest. That in itself can be really healing.

And I guess when you’re using songwriting as an emotional output as well that must’ve helped you flourish creatively?

Yeah! Cause there’s no blockages and no energy being shut off, it’s just all flowing and feels so much better creatively. Even on stage there’s much more openness, it’s not like anything’s being hidden, it’s all out there on the table.

 

When you’re out on stage do you love getting in the moment and just going for it?

Haha, I try! I have a really weird relationship with playing live because I get so anxious to play and I’m just on edge all day waiting to play for some reason. I still haven’t figured it out as to how to properly navigate it yet, but I’m really trying to work on that and just being in the moment and enjoying it, not worrying about sounding perfect… that’s definitely been a concern the past two years, just sounding great live and focusing on that. I think every singer and everyone on stage deals with that to a degree.

I’m definitely overly critical of myself so I just really am trying, especially with this record cycle and on the next upcoming tours. I want to be in the moment and learn to just roll with it.

 

Are there any particular songs from AWKOHAWNOH that you’re really looking forward to playing live?

Yeah absolutely! Honestly, almost every single song… I think a lot of them are gonna translate very well into a live setting, just from the size of the songs and the size of the venues we’ll be playing, but also because there’s a lot of new instruments and a lot of jumping around. I think all of us are really going to get to showcase how diverse our talents are and our musicianship.

 

‘All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell’ is out August 25th.
Pvris are playing across the UK at the end of November, and tickets are available now.

Words Sammie Caine

Photos Brandon Taelor Aviram

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