PVRIS’ confident third studio album, August 2020’s ‘Use Me’, saw the Massachusetts rockers embrace an explosive rock-pop sound as frontwoman Lynn Gunn took the reins to explore an altogether different direction.
Following the arrival of ‘Use Me’ last summer, Gunn found time to contemplate the future of PVRIS, halt her creative burnout and, when ready, explore the possibility of new music. As she embraced this period of self-discovery, however, the singer felt a pressing need to “do something”. This helped spur into motion the latest “era” of PVRIS, which began with the arrival in July of their dark electro-pop single ‘Monster’. The track was inspired by Gunn taking stock during the downtime afforded by the pandemic and using the environment around her to create new material.
“This is the first time in a long time that I’m looking around, exploring a bunch and getting my hands dirty,” she tells NME. “I’m in the process of latching onto things I really appreciate, and that I find very inspiring.” This personal “realisation” has established the foundation of PVRIS’ next full-length record – more on that shortly.
In the latest edition of NME’s In Conversation series, Gunn discusses PVRIS’ powerful new singles, work on their upcoming album and expressing her identity. Here’s what we learned.
Lynn Gunn has a love/hate relationship with social media
The multi-instrumentalist and songwriter says she is “pumping the brakes” on her use of social media. While Gunn has never been keen on having an online presence, she says her mixed feelings about it have been tested during the pandemic. “It’s always been back and forth for me,” she explains. “I feel like anybody who watches PVRIS can see that. I’ll have periods where I’m really active on it, and then I kind of disappear. In the pandemic, there’s nowhere else for people to be looking and the internet became really stressful.”
For now, it looks like Gunn prefers being off the grid. However, she promises this isn’t a “definitive statement” about permanently call it quits on social media. “I’m definitely stepping away from it for a second, at least in this time. I feel there’s a lot of pressure on artists to be providing content, to the point where quality and intention can get lost a lot of the time.”
Things have got personal on recent PVRIS singles ‘Monster’ and ‘My Way’
PVRIS’ latest tracks mark a new beginning. ‘Monster’, Gunn says, was about defying public opinion by staying confident and truthful to yourself. “‘Monster’ is pretty personal. It’s interesting when you’re in the public eye: it’s easy to let people’s opinions or word vomit affect you. It’s easy to internalise that kind of stuff, even if it’s untrue,” she explains. “It’s a self-talk to yourself saying, ‘How could you let somebody make you feel this way? You know who you are at the end of the day’.”
‘My Way’, which arrived last month, is an energetic anthem that’s angled on self-empowerment: “‘My Way’ is the empowered side and just having fun with it. It’s brushing whatever ‘Monster’ is off of you.’”
Gunn is steering away from establishing definitive PVRIS album “eras”
PVRIS’ fans have used the band’s three studio albums to date as shorthand references when establishing their timeline. But, moving forward, the lead singer is trying to shift the focus away from “eras” to make way for the creativity that happens in between those periods. “I’ve been trying to think less in terms of eras, and just [on] what’s happening in the moment,” she explains. “In the last few years, there’s been a lot of pressure on artists and bands to have a defined “era”, and there’s so many in-between moments that are also so crucial.”
From breakout tracks to show-stealing anthems, Gunn wants to make enough space for the songs and moments in-between releases to get spotlighted. “Sometimes I feel they don’t get to be seen, or don’t make it on to that album or the next ‘era’. It has felt really freeing to be able to put ‘Monster’ and ‘My Way’ out without the confines of having a full-on theme.”
PVRIS are back in the studio – and a new album is on the way
Since the release of ‘Use Me’, PVRIS fans have been itching for more new music. Well, good news! A new album is in the works. “I can’t say how far, but it is in progress,” Gunn tells NME.
“I’ve been quoted way too many times and been so wrong from what it actually turned out to be. But I will 100 per cent confirm that it is being made! There are tracks ready, but I cannot say when they will come out.”
Fashion and style have served Gunn well in expressing her LGBTQ+ identity
When it comes to self-expression, queer artists can often feel boxed in by how they’re perceived through the media, or stereotyped based on misunderstandings around identity. Gunn, who has often been associated with a chic all-black aesthetic, opened up to NME about her affiliation with a particular style. “This will be my first time ever admitting this or talking about it in an interview, but when [PVRIS] first started touring it was right when I came out and was really accepting the fact that I was gay,” she explains.
“I think a lot of people go through this, and I know that a lot of my friends and I have talked about this. You feel this initial need to overcompensate with femininity just based on stigma and what’s expected of queer women. [During] that time, I was definitely overcompensating and felt really pressured to present extremely feminine.” The singer says she is now much more “comfortable” with her style: “I’m in a fun exploratory period, and I feel pretty good about it. I’m having fun with it.”