Chicago is a wonderful city, as it has pretty much everything you need from a big city. It’s impressively easy to navigate public transit, tons of local food options, tourist attractions, etc. If you’re into music, then you’ll find a great music scene there — both for local music and one that attracts almost every touring package. It’s that last bit that brings us here, and the touring attraction this time was none other than PVMNTS, who invited Substream out to spend the day with them and bring you a behind the scenes look into their daily life on tour.
The band — comprised of Tyler Posey, Freddy Ramirez, and Nick Guzman — just wrapped up their U.S. co-headlining tour with WSTR, one that was their biggest, longest tour to date. “This is our first time ever doing something this large. We’ve never played more than — our last tour was like, five days in a row. Not even in a row, we had days off. But, this tour — it’s the longest run we’ve ever done,” Posey explains.
When I first arrive to the venue, it’s about 2pm in the afternoon, and PVMNTS is just arriving for their load-in at the venue, Chicago’s Beat Kitchen. While we have done an interview previously, this was our first time meeting in person, so upon arrival Posey and PVMNTS’ tour manager, Kyle Murphy, hop out of their van to introduce themselves. It’s a brief encounter at first, as they end up departing to move their van around back and began loading in.
Once load-in is complete, we meet back up outside, catching up while Posey finishes his cigarette. We make small talk, as a dog walks by and we kick around the idea of how nice it’d be to have a dog on tour. “It’d be rough for them,” Posey jokes, taking advantage of an easy pun, admittedly still one I didn’t immediately pick up on.
Upon finishing his cigarette, we head inside and it’s time for their sound check. There’s only one minor problem: there’s going to be no time for a sound check, as last minute they switched set times with WSTR where WSTR will be headlining, and to get everything set up for their meet & greet, they’ll have to sacrifice this. As Posey would tell you, they have a fairly simple set up on stage, meaning doing a regular line check directly before their set will be suffice.
We head downstairs to the green room, electing to do the sit-down part of our interview before we split up to grab food ahead of their meet & greet. We dive in, and having just driven around 5 hours the day prior to get to Chicago, driving comes up pretty quickly. “These drives are really the only difficult thing and, at this point, five hour drives are easy,” Posey explains, while further discussing that driving is usually split between him and their tour manager. “He’s good co-pilot, I’m a good co-pilot. Freddy’s terrible because he just falls asleep.”
Ramirez adds in with talking about how he doesn’t drive much, while dropping that he is still probably the better driver than everyone else in the band. This is something that doesn’t get much push back from Posey, who ultimately refers to Ramirez as the “relief pitcher” as Ramirez brings up a situation in which the band asked him to assist with parking the van and trailer. At the end of the day though, he admits he enjoys the “lack of responsibility” that comes with his role in the van.
One of the keys for PVMNTS on this tour was to have low expectations and keep their feet on the ground while allowing themselves to be pleasantly surprised and ecstatic no matter how each show goes. Fortunately for the band — and everyone else on the tour — they were largely successful shows. On an off-day towards the beginning of the tour, they played a house show — one that was the “sweatiest, gnarliest show we’ve ever played,” according to Ramirez, something that was a welcome change for the band.
With this being their first big tour, those aforementioned low expectations contain ideas of what their shows will be like with crowd reaction. “They’re a lot more relaxed,” Ramirez mentions when comparing how their crowds on tour compared to the one-off house show.
“It’s real diverse, because a lot of our fans have never been to a punk show before,” Posey chimes in, before highlighting that having WSTR on tour has been a plus for helping their fans get acclimated with these types of shows and how to, respectfully, have fun with one another. “A lot of our fans don’t quite realize [how shows go] yet, so sometimes their energy could be a little different. Other times it’s intense with crowd surfers, mosh pits. It’s getting better as shows go on and on,” he explains.
For this co-headlining tour, the crowds only received 45 minutes to get acclimated with PVMNTS. While the band has previously done some headlining shows where they play for at least an hour, these shorter shows actually work out better for them, and not just because they currently have seven songs released. It helps our voice to grow to become stronger, physically capable to actually spend the whole hour singing,” Ramirez explains on why the shorter sets are beneficial. “The first time we played in the UK, my voice was shot. I think we played like four headliner shows and like three acoustic things at Slam Dunk Festival, so after that — it was end of May, my voice recently just got okay. So, it takes a toll on you. It’s like any muscle in the body, the more you use it, it’ll get better and you’ll be able to withstand that hour long set in the future,” he finishes.
If you caught the tour, you would have heard PVMNTS perform new music — and if you missed it, then now you know. Though they busted out the new songs for their set, they actually were newer than you might think. “We had a cabin at Big Bear for the past two months, and at that point we had these general ideas already out, but we only really just sat down and started working on it at that point. So really like a month before tour is when they started to take shape,” Guzman shares, explaining that the songs were being formed long before, but only started taking a shape nearly a month before tour. He goes on to express that he had nerves performing this songs for the first time, with uncertainty over how the reaction would be; however, he confirms that it had been mostly positive. “Every time that we play them, it’s like they get better and better. It’s like practice every time,” Guzman chimes in.
The most interesting thing about these songs, though, as Posey points out: the potential for them to change from now until the time they are recorded and officially released. “We really like the way that they are now, but we have never laid them down. So they might sound completely different when we sit in the studio and work it through. That usually does happen, when we get into the studio with a song, it kind of ends up changing a little bit,” he explains.
The conversation immediately turns to their new music, of which they’re excited to get to work on. At the time of our conversation, Ramirez confirms that they’re looking to get into the studio either late this year, or early-2019 at the latest. They did confirm that they know who they were working with on the upcoming record, and though I pushed for details on who it was, I couldn’t get anything other than a few jokes about potentially working with Celine Dion and DJ Khaled.
“We had a lot of songs we were sitting on, we kind of pick and chose certain songs that I think would help showcase our sound, because not every song sounds similar,” Posey mentions when discussing how they had to pick certain songs for their debut EP. However, he explains that their next release will be a full-length album, which allows them a little more freedom. “We don’t have to be too choose-y. I’m sure we’ll write more than what we’ll put on the record, but for the most part, we really get to have a full feature album. We’re really excited for that.”
The two new songs that PVMNTS performed live fit right into their set, stylistically speaking. As the guys mentioned previously, it’s unclear how those songs will end up — maybe they change a lot, maybe they wind up sounding just the same. While we don’t have an answer to that just yet, the overall style of the new album should not change too much. “I don’t think it’s going to have too much of a different sound than what we’ve already put out, but you’ll just be able to see our range more,” Posey highlights. He mentions that they do want to add some slower, acoustic songs to bring some diversity to the music that they have released so far. Expanding their range is a big thing for PVMNTS, though they won’t force themselves to write anything in particular. “When we first started writing songs, I think all of our influences are so engrained in us that we didn’t try to come up with a certain genre that we wanted to follow, we just wrote what we felt in our hearts and what we love. We love punk and elements of punk, other elements of other music and genres, so I think it kind of fell into place as it is. I think that’s the approach we’re gonna take for this next album, there’s not a certain like goal we’re trying to reach other than just putting it out,” he finishes.
“Personally, when people ask me what genre we are, I don’t like answering it,” Ramirez begins to add on to Posey’s statement, further explaining that “In general, yeah, it’s like punk, but I like letting other people decide, because me personally, I just write what I write.”
It’s on the note of new music that we conclude the sit-down part of our interview, and for the first time since their arrival at 2pm, we go our separate ways as they head off to grab food and I do the same. They know they didn’t have much time before their meet and greet, but they called an Uber and drove off anyway. By the time they returned, we reconvened and it was nearly time to get everything together for doors to open early and meet some incredibly eager fans.
Fans start trickling in and slowly filling up the venue. Afterwards, Posey even admits to me that this was their biggest meet and greet to date. PVMNTS walks in and sits down, introducing themselves and giving fans the option to either hear “Chemical Trails” or “Standing (On My Own Two Feet)” — at which point they chose “Chemical Trails.” After the acoustic performance, it was time for fans to line up in a single file line and take photos with the band. As they start coming up, there’s a couple PVMNTS shirts, but Posey is most pleased to see Warped Tour shirts and points them out as he sees them.
Their meet and greet ends, and it’s a lot of relaxing before they take the stage and do what they love most. However, before PVMNTS goes on, there’s a local band that takes the stage before the touring package begins — Hold Close kicking things off with their brand of pop-leaning pop-punk. Almost as soon as PVMNTs takes the stage, though, there’s a different energy amongst the crowd: the crowd starts singing louder, with some movement in the crowd. Posey and Ramirez interact well together on stage — with one another and the crowd. Early in their set, though, Posey asks the crowd to start moving around more — something that we discussed towards earlier in the day. They respond well, as a few people even start crowd-surfing their way up to the stage.
Posey mentioned to me earlier in the day that their fans were new to the genre and still picking up on etiquette at these type of shows. It showed at times, when it came time to jump back into the crowd. You could tell when someone was more comfortable with it when compared to someone that was doing it for the first time. It’s important to note that there is certainly nothing wrong with this fact, as there comes a time when it’s everyone’s first time, and it was nice to see a crowd that was supportive and did their best to get everyone to land safely in the crowd and onto the floor. A few times throughout the set, PVMTNS makes sure to thank everyone for coming out and supporting their band on their first big U.S. run.
When their set ends, they unplug some of their gear and move things around for WSTR to take the stage. If you’re unfamiliar with the Beat Kitchen in Chicago, the stage is set up to where there are stairs on the front side of the stage — where Posey, Ramirez, and Guzman would be walking off the stage and back to the green room. There was a swarm of young fans blocking these stairs, eagerly waiting for PVMNTS to come off and meet them. There was security needed this time, something that I’m told is not a normal occurrence at their shows. We make our way through the crowd, and out the front part of the venue, and down into the green room. While there was just a few fans that attempted to follow us into the green room, the band reassured them that we would be coming back out after some time to cool down.
Ramirez and Guzman stay behind, while Posey and I spend some time relaxing in the green room and chatting about the energetic, exciting 45 minute set. We stay down for WSTR’s set, wanting everyone to be able to catch them and give them their full attention. We spend most of our time talking about random subjects: things like our obsession with getting Air BNB’s (I was staying in one in Chicago, which sparked our conversation), and what he was going to be doing once the tour ended. If you’re curious, Posey highlights his plans to take his girlfriend, Sophia Ali, on a six-day vacation to celebrate her birthday.
When WSTR is done playing, they meet us down in the green room and we all chat a bit about the show. Soon thereafter, it’s time to head outside to smoke and meet the fans that have been patiently awaiting for Posey to come out. Posey, Murphy, and I are able to get outside without much trouble, but it doesn’t take long for word to spread that we’re outside. It’s a mostly tame setting, as we just stand out towards the front of the venue. There’s more picture-taking, especially for fans that weren’t involved in the meet and greet, though some do re-appear for more pictures. It’s not just pictures, though, as there are conversations and shared stories between Posey and fans, something that is always fun to see. One that particularly stuck out was an older gentleman named Dan who brought his three kids to the show and discussed their shared love of music and even the message that PVMNTS as a band sends. Posey is typically in no rush, and if you met him just by walking down the street, you wouldn’t have an idea that he was someone people were clamoring to meet. He’s very humbled by every interaction with fans, seemingly never taking it for granted, and appreciative of each coming out to support PVMNTS and their dream.
We do this for a lengthy time, before we head back inside to check in with the rest of PVMNTS and it’s nearly time to head off onto the next city. He joins Ramirez, Guzman, and Murphy with loading out and packing things into their van and preparing to leave. The five of us are hanging around their van, trading final pleasantries while discussing the remaining dates of their tour and odd tour routing: they came from St. Louis to Chicago, and were heading back to Springfield, Missouri.
After spending about nine hours together, we split up and immediately I’m walking back to the car and thinking about writing this piece here. There’s nothing overly glamorous about Posey, Ramirez, or Guzman despite the things they have achieved so far. This wasn’t a surprise, by any means, as the touring life for a band is hardly like my perception of it back when I was younger.
At our time of conversation, PVMNTS were looking forward to their U.K. tour which they just wrapped up, in addition to their one-off show in Paris that sold out in a few days. Afterwards, the band is looking forward to getting back into the studio, or maybe even doing some house shows. The future in the more specific sense of what immediately looks to happen for the band, is unclear at the moment. But what’s clear, is that PVMNTS will be just fine. They’ve accomplished so much in a short period of time: going on a full co-headliner in the U.S., a few U.K. tours, playing Warped Tour, and even selling out some of their show own shows, all while only having one EP and a demo out.
There may be nothing overly glamorous about the day-to-day touring of PVMNTS, as they spent the tour riding around in a van, and earring their place in the alternative/pop-punk music scene. The only direction for the trio is to go up, and with their debut album coming soon, their ascension is certainly unavoidable.