PVRIS + READING & LEEDS = REALLY REALLY HUGE.
WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTOS: EMMA SWANN.
“We always have the mindset that no matter how many people are in front of us, we have to deliver the same show,” starts Lynn Gunn. “It’s definitely a bit more exciting when you have a bigger crowd though,” she admits. PVRIS have been spoiled for the excitement of big crowds this summer. At the start of the Warped Tour, the band were performing on the Journeys Stage, one of the festival’s smaller platforms and were ”super excited” to be there. But after proving to be such a draw, they were swiftly promoted to the main stage where they’ve been playing to “some of the biggest crowds we’ve ever played in front of.”
It’s the sort of velocity that PVRIS have had to deal with since they released ‘St. Patrick’ a little over a year ago. While they’ve never looked out of their comfort zone, see their performance on the Alternative Press Music Awards alongside Issues’ Tyler Carter or their appearance at BBC Radio One’s Rock Week, or their sets at Slam Dunk Festival; the list goes on, the band still find the whole thing “surreal.” “I keep saying that our bones are growing faster than our skin,” explains Lynn from one of the forty stops along Warped. “We’re just trying to keep up with that, to keep up with people’s expectations and to keep bringing it to the next level.”
“I feel a lot of pressure as a vocalist,” she starts. “To perform live and deliver the best we can, with what we’ve got. We don’t have in ears or anything crazy yet so I’m still singing with a monitor on the floor. I can only hear 50% of what I’m doing and can’t hear anything else which is frustrating. I feel like people expect a lot but we’re doing the best we can, with what we have right now. It’s a lot of pressure but I like to think we’re giving people what they’re expecting, if not more,” she offers with a hopeful inflection. “I definitely feel a lot of pressure, as a female vocalist,” she continues. “Guy singers can get away with things a little more when they sing but I think there’s more pressure on vocalists if you’re a female, I don’t know why though.”
Lynn knows first hand the power of presence. Citing a Paramore concert as one of the reasons she knew she could perform onstage and Warped Tour giving her a platform goal, she now finds herself stood on a similar position of influence. “I try not to think about it but I know it’s a thing that’s going on. Young ladies will come up to us afterwards and tell us that they feel inspired, that the feel like they can do this and whether we meant to or not, it’s awesome we have the power to do that, to put instruments in people’s hands.”
“There’s a lot more people seeing other girls out there doing it and realising they can do it too. More and more, every day and every year there are more females getting involved in music and that’s awesome. It will eventually be a discussion that’s in the past,” she adds. “I have hope.”
It’s really no surprise that PVRIS have found an international fanbase. Between the dark optimism of their debut album ‘White Noise’ and their fearless sense of voice, the Massachusetts trio have an audience wherever they go. “It feels like you have best friends all across the world,” sings Lynn. “It’s definitely an awesome feeling knowing that those people all over the world support you and will love you, no matter what and the feeling’s mutual.”
Meeting those fans comes with its own pressure though. “Sometimes we’ll be busy or have to go do something and we won’t give them what they want. We’ll try our best but we’re only human,” Lynn concedes. “Everyone’s very polite and they get it. They understand what’s going on and they’re very courteous towards each other and you, it’s a good feeling.”
“When people confide in you about [mental health issues] there’s a bit of pressure because everyone has a different opinion on it and expects a different response,” Lynn explains. “The biggest thing you can say to anyone is just hold on and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. That’s the biggest thing, I feel like everyone’s afraid to ask for help and speak up about it. That’s what causes so many issues and keeps so many people in the dark. It needs to become an open discussion people need to listen.
“It’s pressure because a lot of people in our fanbase are so young, they’re fragile souls so you can’t say the wrong thing to them. You just have to try your best, be gentle and be there for them, no matter what. The least you can do is just be there for someone so they know they’re not alone. I’m still learning, I don’t know everything either. It’s a lot of pressure but it’s not necessarily a bad type of pressure to have on you.”
It’s not just the band that PVRIS want to do good things with. “I don’t really care if someone hates our band but the biggest compliments are about who we are as people. We want to be known as good people. We do our best to be warm and welcoming towards other people and I think that shows. I don’t care if people hate our music so long as they know we’re good friends. We’re very family based, we’ll have everyone’s back and that’s more important.”
Returning to the UK this August for the fourth time in as many months, Lynn is expecting a “grand old time,” at Reading & Leeds Festival. After a crazy year that’s seen the band barely spend any time at home, there’s still no end in sight. “We’re still going,” Lynn promises. “Put it on full blast. I mean, we’re already working on album two. We’re always working and making stuff so there isn’t really a time to step back. Inspiration comes at all times, so you just have to roll with it and that’s what we’ve been trying to do. We never stop working,” she explains cheerfully. After the gruelling months on Warped the band are retreating to California to work on music videos and do “a bunch of filming.” Then there are a few brief days at home, “That time, I will cherish with all my heart.”
“We have our goals but we don’t have expectations anymore. Wherever the record wants to take us is where we’ll go with it,” Lynn offers, a year in and still snowballing. “It can do some pretty cool stuff, it’s already exceeded all of our expectations for the first or even the second record so we’re excited to see where it’ll go,” she says, still as hopeful and optimistic as ever but now, after months on the road solidifying their relationship, “We were already like siblings but now we’ve got a lot closer,” there’s a fiery determination. “We’re going hard,” promises Lynn. And as for the size of their crowd at Reading & Leeds? “I think we’ll do alright,” she says with a smirk.