Lowell, Massachusetts trio PVRIS (pronounced Paris) have seemingly always been the type of band that belongs everywhere and nowhere at the same time. They've toured with lush post-hardcore bands like Circa Survive, heavy-hitting metalcore acts like The Amity Affliction and even space-rockers like Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars. Such is the diverse nature of their musical approach – which incorporates elements of rock, pop, electronica and post-hardcore – no-one has ever quite known where to slot them.
That's not set to change as the band prepares the release of their second album All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. Recorded over a year's worth of sessions, the album is another unique and high-concept LP that truly equates to the sum of PVRIS' parts.
“With every song that we make, I kind of envision it in the same way as architecture,” says Lyndsey Gunnulfsen – AKA Lynn Gunn – who provides lead vocals, guitar and keyboards to the band. She's calling Mixdown from her new place in Brooklyn, where she recently moved permanently after a stretch of couchsurfing and AirBNBs. “It's like building a house in its own way. Everyone has their part, and I feel like mine is being able to sketch out the blueprint and get the basic foundations down – chord progression, melody, the very basic structure. I work on Logic a lot, and I do a lot of demoing for songs when we're out on the road. We're the kind of band that's pretty much always writing – even straight after the last record came out. Once we get to the studio, that's where it becomes this very collaborative and productive thing.”
All We Know… was recorded by the band itself alongside their long-serving producer Blake Harnage, with initial sessions beginning some two years removed from their debut album, White Noise. Gunn notes that the impetus to have more of a watchful eye over the album's production came from the band's bond with Harnage, who has also worked with acts such as All Time Low and Hands Like Houses. “The past few years, we've been working with Blake, even when we're not doing records,” she says. “I've definitely learned a lot from him as far as programming and things like Logic and ProTools are concerned. I feel like that inspired me to have a bit more weight in the production side of this record.”
The album was recorded in a unique environment that saw Harnage and the band – Gunn, guitarist Alex Babinski and bassist Brian MacDonald – take up in a deserted cathedral that had since been turned into a recording studio. “It was serendipitous, I think,” says Gunn of discovering the space. “We were months out from making the record, but we were searching for the right place to record it. We were definitely after something isolated, somewhere quiet, something that would also be visually inspiring. Blake, as well as our management, went and checked out this old converted cathedral. All of them loved it. They really felt like it had a great energy. I think the thing that really sold us was the studio's owners – this couple named Pam and Jeff. They're the most amazing, accommodating people in the world. It was a really positive environment to be working in.”
Several album tracks have already seen several tracks shared with fans ahead of its release at the end of the month, including the brooding, atmospheric ‘Half’ and the dark, shuffled electropop of ‘Winter’. From a personal standpoint, Gunn was adamant about not holding back. Everything that she's been through in the intervening years between White Noise and here is on the line, and working through all of it is what makes the album what it is.
“We were on tour for three years straight,” Gunn begins. “I think that creates a lot of different things within yourself – inner turmoil, growth, change, conflict. That was definitely influential on the emotional spectrum and perspective on this record – a lot of sadness, confusion, anger and loneliness. The things that inspired me the most, though, were a lot of the things I was reading and watching. I was reading a lot about the balance of darkness and light, as cliché as it is. I was fascinated with energy, past lives and reincarnation. I've always been drawn to that. I was also drawn to turn-of-the-century art and photography – the Victorian era, in particular. I was uncertain how that would impact on me, but I feel like that's really played a part in the visual aspect of this record.”
Having delayed the release of All We Know... to ensure that all extra production tweaks were cleared, it's clear that PVRIS have worked incredibly hard to get this record just right. Aside from being a major step forward as far as the songwriting and production are concerned, Gunn also feels as though making the album has been an entirely positive development of her own well-being and mental health.
“A huge thing I learned through making this record was the power of vulnerability,” she says. “Rolling with the punches, open to wherever the universe wants to take you. Really paying attention to what's being put in front of you, and how it makes you feel. Being present, you know? It's something I'm really working on, and something I'm really trying to think through and be conscious of. We've had a lot of interesting things that could've been setbacks for us that ended up being blessings in disguise. I feel like there's always some sort of lesson in everything that we do.”
PVRIS’ All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell is out Friday August 25 through Warner Music/Rise Records.