LYNN GUNN GOES FACE TO FACE WITH THE GHOSTS HAUNTING HER ON THE TITLE-TRACK OF PVRIS’ DEBUT SMASH-HIT
It’s no surprise that PVRIS’ White Noise video was inspired by 1982 movie Poltergeist. As singer Lynn Gunn rolls around the walls and ceiling in a red sports jersey, as if being attacked by a sinister force, her ghost-hunting bandmates fiddle with a static television set in an attempt to make contact with their estranged friend.
Such a direct homage for the video – directed by Raul Gonzo – was a no-brainer since the song itself was heavily inspired by the old horror flick. White Noise was written in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in the home studio of producer Blake Harnage. “There was one day when Blake had to go do something in his dad’s house,” remembers Lynn of their time working on their 2014 debut. “He was like, ‘Just stay here for the day and do whatever you want.’ He left his computer open with all these programs running, so I ended up making White Noise and I wrote about Poltergeist; I just tried to paint a picture of that story and what it’s all about.”
The first verse, she explains, hints at the fact someone is stuck in the TV, only able to communicate through white noise and static, so the significant other can’t understand it, doesn’t realise it’s them, and just turns the volume down and shuts them out.
“It’s all about trying to get their attention,” says Lynn. “And be like: ‘Can you hear me!?’ The second verse is about that significant other – since you’re in the TV, you’re in their bedroom, and you’re watching them bring someone home, so ‘a brand-new face on your pillow case’ hints at them moving on. They’re sleeping with them and you have to watch it ’cause you’re stuck in the TV.”
Creepy demon beasts with a thing for young girls aside, there was a darkness to the song’s lyrics inspired by real-life feelings. An entity which is equally as insidious, but a whole lot more real. Lynn described a year-long bout of the blues not quite as depression, but as a “really rough patch and a low point in my life”. It inspired the majority of the songs on White Noise – St. Patrick, My House, Ghosts, Let Them In and, of course, the title-track.
“White Noise [tied] into the whole depressing time,” explains the lyricist. “When you can’t verbalise things properly, and you can’t talk about things and connect with someone because of that…”
It’s a sentiment echoed even more obviously on Ghosts. “I was depressed and upset and I couldn’t really understand why,” recalls Lynn. “I couldn’t express myself, and my girlfriend [at the time] didn’t understand it and couldn’t really help. So it was about her always trying to help me out of it, and comfort me, and fix it, when she couldn’t… as a result I ended up pushing her away. I was like, ‘It’s not you, it’s the shit in my head. Please stay.’”
My House, meanwhile, became a break-up track, after Lynn split with her girlfriend in the midst of recording the album. The story is told via the metaphor of a ghost; a pesky ghoul going through your house, and you telling it to ‘do one’. “It’s a metaphor for either a person, or an issue, your demons…” explains Lynn. “It’s about trying to tell that thing or that person that you’re not theirs, and it’s your house – get the fuck out! When I wrote it, it was a little bit metaphorical, but also once again, [it referred to the] trouble I had a while back.”
Meanwhile, Let Them In – the ‘Them’ of which refers to the “shit going on in your head, bad times and depression” – is about “trying to get [that stuff] out and it always forcing itself back in on you and trying to get inside your head, and take over you. It’s about that, and failing, and letting it in, basically.”
Though there are many songs pertaining to depression on White Noise, St. Patrick is perhaps the most positive, and triumphant. Unlike the others, the words held within talk of someone you meet helping you out of that ominous black hole in your mind, by giving you ‘something to think about that’s not the shit in my head’.
“I didn’t think I was ever gonna get better,” says Lynn of her low period. “Then this person came along and gave me something to think about and something to talk about, and I felt like they were a straight-up miracle. So that song’s a little shout-out to that person.”
“I don’t really know what it was,” Lynn told Kerrang! of her dark year in her first proper K! feature in March 2015. “I just know that I was not okay. I didn’t ever get it checked out, and I didn’t ever talk to anybody about it, or really get help for it, so I don’t wanna call it ‘depression’, but it felt pretty serious, and definitely was a bad time.”
During that period, Lynn would get upset over nothing, didn’t see the point in anything, and just couldn’t find a way to be happy or positive. “There was shit bothering me, but I didn’t know what it was or how to talk about it or explain it,” she added. “I woke up so many mornings just being like, ‘What’s the point of this? What am I even doing?’ Eventually I just figured out how to write about it and figured out how to get over it. As much of a bummer as it is, the best stuff comes out of you when you’re [at your] most vulnerable and feeling angry, sad, or upset about something.”
And White Noise is the proof of exactly that.