It’s a casual Wednesday evening in Ohio, a relaxing 70-some degrees outside. I grabbed some dinner on the way home from the office, got home around 6:10, ate, and then took a little nap. It’s my usual routine, and you’d think I was going through a mid-life crisis if I told you I took naps at least once a day. Surprisingly I’m only 24, but I digress. When I wake up from my brief, fifteen minute slumber, I began preparing to hop on a conference call with Los Angeles-based pop-punk trio PVMNTS.
I dial into the call, and we have a casual conversation before starting our interview. The trio consists of Freddy Ramirez (guitar, bass, vocals), Nick Guzman (drums), and yes, Tyler Posey (vocals, bass, guitar). But, here’s the thing: if you jumped onto this call and had no idea who you were talking to, you would never guess that one of the members was a successful actor. That’s the beauty of this project, everyone is down-to-earth, and no one is complacent with resting on one’s laurels and using their platform to cut corners in the music industry.
“I want people to know that, although everything has kind of happened overnight,” Ramirez begins. “We really want to earn what we are doing. We want to set up the stage, we want to help out by breaking down after our set, we want to do a lot. Like, selling our merch and stuff like that. We want to take care of a lot of things because we feel that we need to, you know, get to that point. We’re doing super cool things, but we need to — what am I trying to say?” At this point he pauses, and without hesitation Posey jumps in and finishes where Ramirez left off, “we want to cut our teeth, we want to earn this shit. We don’t want to feel like this was just handed to us. Even though, we have been working towards this band for almost ten years, there is still a lot of stuff that we feel like we need to earn ourselves. It doesn’t feel right if all of this stuff is just handed to us.”
It’s a great time to point out that for PVMNTS headlining 2018 tour in the U.K., they all mentioned that they took with them a smaller staff. For a few reasons – it’s their first headlining tour overseas — but it is mainly routed in those DIY ethos. At the same time, I posed the idea that while they don’t have to simply use Posey’s acting career as a main aspect of their career, it’s a great stepping stone — one that also works to bring in new fans to this genre of music that otherwise wouldn’t have found it. Posey mentions that even before the band, he would often post about bands he enjoyed (Neck Deep, State Champs, etc.) and would get a lot people who said they found those bands because of him. At the time of their U.K. tour, they had one demo out (“Jumping Staircases“), and while fans learned the lyrics quickly to that song, “a lot of those fans were kind of riding on the acting side, the Teen Wolf side. I know that a lot of those kids don’t listen to this kind of music,” Posey mentions. “I think that we are kind of introducing this world to a lot of different people. I do think that is pretty fucking cool, I think that’s really rad. Maybe we could have a hand in bringing it back into the mainstream eyes,” he finishes.
PVMNTS are much more than all of that, however. This is a whole new entity that exists and is here to stand on it’s own. The group has been a near decade in the making, as Posey and Ramirez were in previous bands together before they both started picking up steam in their respective projects outside of the band. Through all of this, they constantly kept in touch and there was always a desire to get in another band together. “Freddy and I always kept in touch through the five years we didn’t play with each other,” Posey begins. “We always had it in the back of our heads that we did want to – once work calmed down for the both of us – that we did want to start it up again. It was kind of always an unspoken thing.”
Despite taking a while to get back into it, PVMNTS is here to stay this time. Posey mentions that the balance of his acting career and music side has taken some time to get everyone on the same page — he has a manager for acting and a different manager for music, for example — but he has made it clear he wants to spend equal time on both careers and for nothing to fall by the wayside. Ramirez and Guzman both lament that they had tried balancing both day jobs and their pursuit of this music career, but at some point, they realized they were nearing the limit of how much they could be away from their day jobs while pushing forward with PVMNTS. At this point, Guzman has left his day job, and Ramirez will be leaving his in early-August to put as much as they can into the band.
At this point in time, the band have played Slam Dunk Festival in the U.K., ran through a headlining tour in the U.K., and played Warped Tour in Ventura, California (and will be playing three more dates towards the end of the run). They are now turning their attention towards their debut EP, Better Days, which is set to release on August 17th. The title, for PVMTNS, represents a new chapter in their lives. “We all – sad to say – have gone through some stuff before this band that was a downer and not really the most positive thing. But this, at least for me personally, means a fresh start; a new page. It really is looking towards the future. Everything is happening so fast and everything is crazy,” Ramirez explains before finishing by simply saying “[Better Days] really, I guess, signifies the end of a chapter and the beginning of our next one: which is with the band.”
The sentiment of starting over and beginning a new chapter in your life is one that is precisely matched by the artwork (done by Sarah Reniers) for Better Days. The artwork — which can be found directly above — shows a person looking into the mirror as they rip off their face, most likely to ultimately hang it next to the one they wore previously. “You put on a different face for every day, depending on what the day entails,” Ramirez starts, “It signifies you kind of going through the day, just doing the best that you can to deal with everything that goes on specifically that day.”
“I think the whole concept of Better Days is that there’s better ays ahead, no matter what you’re going through. The album cover shows that people shed their face, and kind of change who they are to fit in. Where a lot of our songs are kind of heavy and they hit on that topic, towards the end of the song and saying ‘there’s better days ahead, you don’t need to fit in, you don’t need to change yourself to fit in,” Guzman adds on.
PVMNTS’ Better Days was produced by Kyle Black (State Champs, New Found Glory, 5 Seconds of Summer), who did great things to help push the band in all the right ways to make the EP turn out the way it did. Black had ties to Posey and Ramirez through their previous bands, but they really hit it off when it came to putting together the debut EP from PVMNTS. “Kyle is a super talented musician and has a great ear for stuff, ” Posey starts to explain on their recording process with Black, “It really helped to have somebody who’s super talented in this genre, just to make our songs sound exactly how we heard in our head.”
Perhaps one of the better things, as Ramirez would explain it, is having someone come in from the outside with no biases towards the song and help get through the songs. “It helps us view the songs through a different light, ” he mentions, “I think as music writers – musicians in general – we hear something in our mind and it takes that direction. Because we take that direction, we kind of – not avoid the possibility of another route – focus on that end goal.” Black brought in a lot of different ideas for the band, suggesting minor changes here and there, which was appreciated by the band coming from someone who has done so many big things in this genre of music. For the better, Black played an integral role in shaping Better Days into the EP we will all hear next month.
Today, the band released a new song called “Chemical Trails,” which is the perfect second single from the EP. It showcases PVMNTS darker side lyrically, while still being accompanied by faster and heavier pop-punk instrumentals. “We wanted to release Chemical Trails as a second single to show everyone that we can write anthemic songs, but we can get down and dirty and write some heavier stuff. This song revolves around my struggles with anxiety and depression. Really the pressure of medication and going through withdrawals, and you know, the quote unquote need to have your medication just to be okay,” explains Ramirez. There is also a hope that the song can be a reminder to everyone who might be going through things similar to Ramirez’ struggles, that you are never alone in what you are feeling. While the consensus between the three of us on our call was that we notice these mental health struggles being talked about more openly, Ramirez wanted to write a song to make people feel better and put out a reminder that there is an understanding out there of whatever struggles we all may be going through.
Sometimes bands force themselves to write a certain type of song, whether it be a more positive song or one that leans on the heavier side, emotionally speaking. This isn’t inherently a bad thing; the idea of forcing yourself into a darker — or lighter — headspace to write creatively has been around in music, novels, etc., forever. However, with PVMNTS, they write whatever they are feeling when they get inspiration; sometimes while they are driving down the road or stuck in traffic on the freeway. “You get these random sparks of genius, I guess. You just kinda have to go with it, because they only come so often, and every time you get one of those, you have to go along with it,” explains Ramirez on his writing process. Posey echoes those same sentiments, nothing that they don’t try to push their music one way or another, and instead they just write about things that are real to them, with no holding back. “I think in terms of the content that we’re writing about, we don’t really filter what’s happening in our lives; if we’re going though some shit, that’s usually what the songs come out sounding like. But I think, in the end, we’re pretty uplifting dudes, we always come out of the dark shit with a better light. So, I think our songs kind of just portray that where there’s always some positive influence toward the end of the song,” Posey states.
‘Better Days’ is due out on August 17th, so mark your calendars if you like the two singles released so far. You can keep up with PVMNTS on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram. They have an upcoming show in Brooklyn, New York with Lost In Society and Neverkept, though we will keep you updated if more shows get announced.