"Death Of Me," the propulsive lead track from PVRIS on the heels of its first major label deal, hinted at what's in store from the Massachusetts-bred trio. Today feels like the big reveal.
New single "Hallucinations" is a hulking dance-pop fist-to-the-face, the force of which PVRIS hasn't brandished since its breakthrough hit "My House." But while that guitar-charged track from PVRIS' 2014 debut White Noise evoked their old Warped tourmates like Issues and Of Mice & Men, "Hallucinations" is a different beast. Introducing herself to a new cast of collaborators, band leader Lynn Gunn provided reference tracks ranging from Florence + The Machine to The Weeknd; the eerie strings leading to the "Hallucinations" bass drop echo the former while the proceeding chorus thumps like "Can't Feel My Face."
The track was produced by JT Daly, perhaps best known for his work on K.Flay's breakthrough "Blood In The Cut," and written by Gunn alongside Daly, Amy Allen (who co-wrote Halsey's No. 1 "Without Me"), and omnipresent dance-pop hitmaker Marshmello. It arrives with a music video Gunn calls "psychedelic and trippy [with] references the occult" in a call this week with Billboard. "We wanted to make a really bold statement, and just kinda fuck with people."
The trio, which also includes guitarist Alex Babinski and keyboardist-bassist Brian MacDonald, plans to include "Hallucinations" on a new EP out Oct. 25 Warner/Reprise. Their third full-length is expected in the first quarter of 2020. Alongside the label switch — their first two LPs were released through Rise Records — PVRIS has welcomed other new members to its team: Paradigm Talent Agency's Mike Marquis has taken over as booking agent (Creative Artists Agency handles international booking), and an expanded management team has been added alongside PVRIS' original manager, Nathan James of NJ Management.
Watch the YHELLOW-directed video, then read our recent conversation with Gunn about PVRIS' next chapter.
Billboard: How’s life?
Gunn: Life is hectic [Laughs]. We pretty much had this past year off from touring. [We've been] working on new music and just taking steps forward: rebuilding our team, going through management changes, booking changes, label changes, producer changes. Pretty much everything is moving in a new direction.
The very danceable direction you take on "Hallucinations" — I feel like PVRIS has been headed that way for some time, especially tracks like "What's Wrong" on the last album.
We’ve always had little easter eggs that have bridged things from record to record, bridged our progress together. A lot of those "lighter" songs — "What’s Wrong," "Winter," "Nola 1" — [they were] a bridge to where we wanted to go in the future. It’s been really natural. We’ve always wanted to go in this direction, and we’re finally being supported to do that. I think the stars have aligned.
You've been working with a bunch of new collaborators in the studio lately. What's that been like?
It's a big trial and error. I think for any artist that does blind-date sessions with producers and writers, it's kind of hit-and-miss. You have to be patient, take things lightly from session to session, have fun with it, not get too attached to what you're working on. Be open and vulnerable, but you can't feel heavy. You have to take it lightly. You can change anything from that day one session and make it what you want — if there's a song you like but you don't like the production, or vice-versa. It's kind of freeing and fun.
I’m guessing you’re working on new songs for the next album?
We are, yeah.
What's that been like?
We’ve been working with JT [Daly], mostly. We've [been going] to work with him in Nashville for two-week spurts, going back home to L.A., going back to JT, spreading the time out with that. We’ve been taking some demos I’ve had for probably three years at this point, polishing them off. There are one or two other songs I started in the L.A. sessions — they're pretty cool so far — but we're still really trying to get the best we can, keep pushing forward. We're still digging for gold.
What made you want to sign with Warner/Reprise?
The energy of their label and everybody who’s started to work with us is so great. It genuinely feels like a family. Very tight-knit. It’s a very different experience than what we’ve had in the past. Very pleasant from the get-go.
What do you think PVRIS can accomplish with the new label that the band hasn't been able to before?
Reaching a larger audience. I like to look at our label as like a cannon — a cannon for our band and music to be launched through.
I think there’s a preconceived notion for a lot of artists that a major label will alter your sound or persuade you to go in a different direction, but they’ve been so supportive and open to whatever we want to do. I’m sometimes like, Well I don’t know what I want to do! Can somebody help? They’ve just been really great and really supportive.
Are there specific songs you've got cooking now that you're really excited about?
There's two I can think of right now… I started them [several] years ago in hotel rooms in Brooklyn — the dinkiest little demos recorded with the worst demo vocals ever. But I always thought these songs would be really special; they had to be brought to the right person. They've been on the backburner for a while, and I didn't really know if they would see the light of day. Then I took a chance and sent them to JT, like, "What do you think of these?" He loved them both and made it a priority to finish them the next time we work together… They sound way cooler than when we started. I'm really excited they're finally seeing the light of day.
Are they going to be on the new EP?
They should be. Unless we randomly write, like, three more really cool songs that top them. But so far those should be on it, yes.
It sounds like a pretty busy year coming up for you guys. The plan is for a new album next year, right?
I think so, as of right now. That could change but yeah, it should be pretty busy. Once we get back from touring Europe this summer, we rehearse for five days and then go on our intimate show tour [in the U.S.]. After that we’re off the road, just working on new music to get whatever body of work ready.
Is there anything else coming up you're excited about?
Just excited for everyone to hear [the new music], watch the video, and see what else is next. There's some stuff we don't even know about, so it's equally exciting.
I feel like plans change all the time, and a lot of the record, or whatever we’re gonna put out, is still being fleshed out and discovered, so it’s in the exploratory stages, which is the most fun part in my opinion. We’re just about to dive into that. I’m excited to see how things unfold and unmask themselves, as far as concepts, visuals, the whole package.