The band is called PVRIS, but is pronounced like “Paris.” (It’s spelled with a “V” for legal reasons.) The sound is dark wave 1980s synth pop with anthemic arena rock leanings. PVRIS comprises Lynn Gunn (lead vocals, rhythm guitar and eyboards), Alex Babinski (Lead guitar and keyboards) and Brian MacDonald (bass guitar and keyboards).
They have played on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and have over 12 million YouTube views and 15 million streams of their debut album, “White Noise.”
Their live show, coming to play the DC 101 Kerfuffle at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, Sunday, is a blinding surge of exhilaration and power. Lead singer Miss Gunn and I spoke about their sound, name, vision and future.
Question: When I first heard the album, I thought you were British. But the band is from Lowell, Massachusetts.
Answer: That’s fumy because a lot of people have thought we are from the U.K, but we’re not. I think it is because all of our favorite bands are U.K.-based. All our favorite artists are from the U.K. I think we instinctively pull from that a little bit.
Q: Which of those U.K bands are your favorites?
A: Brian is a huge Ben Howard fans. I’m a huge Florence + the Machine fan. Alex is a huge 1975 fan. We all like Arctic Monkeys.
Q: When the band started out you were a “screamo” five piece. How did you evolve into an electro trio?
A: That portion of the band is kind of old history, but it has made us who we are today. The scene we grew up in was all really heavy, so we just assumed to fit in or whatever we had to play that. We were 14 and 15. Over time, as we started writing more and more, we realized we wanted to do a much different style of music. We kind of just naturally gravitated toward the rock/pop stuff and the electronic stuff, started incorporating it more and getting both more comfortable and confident with it.
Q: Is it easier to make music as a trio?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Less cooks in the kitchen. When you’re being creative that’s helpful.
Q: When you play live you guys switch between instruments pretty damn quick, sometimes mid-song. Is that difficult?
A: It takes a little bit of work. Like when we are trying out a new song live. Or if we’re bringing something different into the set, it definitely takes a bit of rehearsing and getting used to. We do really jump around a lot from instrument to instrument. We’ve adapted to it.
Q: When you started out touring as an opening act, did you learn anything from opening for bands like Fall Out Boy?
A: This year is a our first U.S. headlining tour. Previously, every tour we’ve done, we’ve been the opening act. All the headline bands or direct support acts have always sort of taken us under their wing and treated us like family. That has been drilled into our head that you have to take care of the people that you’re taking out on the road with you. Take care of everybody. Nobody is superior. Everybody is equal.
Q: Now that you’re the headliner, what bands are you taking under your wing?
A: On this tour we are taking out this band called Beach Weather. We’ve got this band CRUISR. And we’ve got this band called Lydia who we have all been fans of for a really really long time. We get to take them out. Should be the other way around.
Q: The stages and audiences have gotten bigger. How do you adjust your performance to fill the space?
A: We’ve played for 15 people on tiny stages in a bar. We played in front of 10,000 people at Madison Square Garden opening for Fall Out Boy. We have kind of become a chameleon, adapting to different venues settings and audiences. We’ve been pretty good at adapting to it. This tour we have our own production and lighting now, so we really have the chance to dial in what we want to do live and create a mood and atmosphere. Make it the show we want.
Q: What is the one thing you need on the road to make it bearable?
A: My laptop. I’ve got pretty much my whole life on there. I do a lot of graphic design work and a lot of writing in general. So basically anything creative is all on my computer. And my sketchpads.
Q: ”White Noise” was just released as a deluxe edition with a DVD. Is the visual element as important as the music to telling the story of the band?
A: Obviously music will come first and foremost because we’re a band. It’s also important for us to elaborate on that and really paint the full picture. Take the vision that we have as a band to the next level. I was supposed to go to art school and do all kinds of visual stuff if I didn’t do music. To be able to incorporate that into the band is an important aspect of what we do.
Q: What has been the coolest or strangest interaction with a fan?
A: Our fans are supercool. The craziest thing someone has done was to take me to Disneyland an hour before we had to play. It was right when we first started out. We were on this small tour playing Anaheim, California. I was walking into the venue and started talking to people. One of the girls said, “I just came from Disney.” I said, “I’ve never been.” She said, “If you wanna go, it’s only one exit away.” She convinced me. Even though I had a hour before we were going to play.
We went on Space Mountain and made it back with 10 minutes to spare.
PVRIS plays the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, Sunday, at the DC 101 Kerfuffle. Tickets are $55 to $95 by going to Ticketfly.com.