What’s it like to start a brand new band when one member is already famous? Before you get too excited about a sizable built-in fanbase, consider the naysayers inevitably tabbing you a “vanity project,” or your famous friend absorbing approximately 95 percent of the attention, and all the selfie requests.
But PVMNTS aren’t concerned. The L.A. trio formed two years ago, around the time co-frontman Tyler Posey finished up with Teen Wolf, the popular MTV fantasy-drama he’d starred in since 2011. The heartthrobby 26-year old has 5.4 million Instagram followers, which is roughly 5.3 million more than the band currently has.
Even so, you’ve got to start somewhere, and it certainly helps that Posey and fellow songwriter-vocalist Freddy Ramirez and drummer Nick Guzman bear an unflinching loyalty to their genre of choice: pop-punk. It’s not exactly the 2018 genre-of-choice for an actor and his friends looking to cash in and live out their Entourage fantasies, and chatting with them earlier this month — on the phone from a Warped Tour date in Orlando, Fla., no less — they insist they’re down to embrace that world’s less-glamorous corners. “With me having a little bit of exposure, we didn’t want things to fall into our lap,” Posey says. “We wanted to earn it — not live the life of luxury in a bus and [instead] sleep in a van.”
About a decade ago, when the music biz was really throwing money at the emo-core-screamo-punks of the world, a lot of Warped Tour hot shots skipped the grassroots van phase entirely. This did no favors for the scene’s long-term viability, and alas (for numerous other reasons) this year marked Warped’s final run. But PVMNTS have their heart in the right place and the influences they eagerly toss out — Blink-182, New Found Glory, State Champs, the Story So Far — nod to pop-punk’s well-respected, grind-it-out lifers. PVMNTS’ hooky, ultra-posi songs reflect male camaraderie, group therapy sessions, and an emotional openness greatly exceeding that of the early-2000s oeuvre they otherwise emulate. There’s even some good ol’ pop-punk screaming you don’t hear a ton of these days.
PVMNTS’ self-released debut EP Better Days is out Friday (Aug. 17), but you can hear it right now, streaming exclusively via Billboard. Find that below, along with our convo.
How did PVMNTS come together?
Freddy Ramirez: Tyler and I knew each other [from playing in previous bands]. After that Tyler and I hit a bit of a hiatus for our careers, for four or five years. When we came back, we had such good chemistry for writing music, so we started playing again. In that hiatus time, I ended up meeting Nick in college and we instantly hit it off music-wise. After playing with him for a couple years, I introduced him to Tyler. That’s when PVMNTS started, two years ago.
So you’ve all played in other bands before, sometimes with each other. What really drove you to start this band?
FR: Our influences mesh together really well.
Nick Guzman: It just feels like the right chemistry — when we play music, when we hang out. [PVMNTS] just kinda started itself, in a sense.
What was your headspace like when you wrote this EP?
FR: The EP has a lot of songs with heavier topics… We want people to listen to our songs and be like, “You know what, I’m not the only one that’s going through this, and everything is going to be okay.”
Tyler Posey: We cover topics like depression, losing loved ones and suicide. We also got lyrics about getting blue balls and other fun shit. We goof around a lot, but we’re also deep dudes and I think our songs reflect that. We can have a serious conversation.
I know these are heavy topics, so — whatever you’re comfortable sharing — can you take me through the inspirations of these songs?
TP: I wrote “Heavy Moon” about dealing with depression. It kinda comes on and off — some days are worse, some months are worse. I was going through this period where every time I would feel at my lowest, coincidentally there would be a full moon. I didn’t really think anything of it until I started thinking about the whole full moon theory — how people go crazy on that full moon. I thought there was something interesting there and I wrote the song about being depressed, but blaming it on something else, like the moon… You know, realizing there’s something deeper inside of you and you’ve got to come to terms with it.
I wrote “Standing On My Own Two Feet”… My mother passed away from breast cancer. This was about four years ago. It’s about a life-changing tragedy prompting you to decide whether or not it’s going to fuck you up. Are you going to take a positive path and do good, inspiring people, letting them know they’re not alone?
FR: “Chemical Trails” is about my struggle with anxiety and depression. It’s about the aftermath of prescription drug use: anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants, stuff like that. I’ve dealt with it since I was a kid, since I was seven. It kept coming back and forth, so I had to do something about it. I wrote that song while I was getting treated. It came out as one of my most natural songs; I was writing as I was feeling these feelings an figuring it out.
“White Walls” is actually a story based on one of my friend’s situations. She had a little sister that was 10 years younger who passed away from leukemia, I think at age 13. That inspired me to write a story about a child who’s going through something traumatic, a terminal illness, but at the same time standing tall and inspiring everybody who’s going through the same thing. Especially in that age range. I told my friend about the song and she really appreciated the whole thing.
Tyler, you mentioned how a lot of your Teen Wolf fans carried over to PVMNTS. What’s it like having support from a completely different world behind the band?
TP: It’s really sweet, man. We planned this [recent four-date UK] tour with only one song out, and pretty much sold out every venue — small and decent-sized — with no expectation of anybody showing up. I don’t know how many punk concerts these kids get to go to, so I think it’s cool introducing them to this world. It’s really great for my bandmates, too. It’s everyone’s first time experiencing this kind of thing and it’s nice that we almost have a built-in fan base already.
I know the three of you are tight and have been buds for a while, but is it ever awkward having one member who’s already kind of famous with a lot of attention from something else?
FR: No, not at all. We’re really appreciative of the situation that Tyler has been in. We’ve been friends for a long time and I just see him as one of my good buddies. I mean, the attention we get, there’s nothing else that we, Nick or I feel besides appreciation for everything that’s going on… We get stopped all the time taking pictures with people and we let it happen. It’s all good and we have no hard feelings at all against anything that’s Teen Wolf– or Tyler-based.
What do you guys think of the band Pavement?
FR: We love them! We think they’re super fucking rad. That’s the reason we have so many liberties with our name because we didn’t want to step on any toes. We got the band name PVMNTS from a song lyric from one of our favorite bands and then remembered or were reminded that there was another band called Pavement. So we took out the vowels hoping that wouldn’t make anybody mad… I feel like we crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s. And I think it looks fucking cool.
What was the band and lyric that inspired the name?
TP: There’s a Story So Far song called “Four Years” that has the lyric–
FR & NG: “Time was short on courts and pavements.”
Warped Tour was so instrumental in breaking pop-punk bands over the years. Now that it’s gone, are you afraid there’s going to be a void? Where do you go from here?
TP: I think everybody is kinda feeling that way. I think there’s a lot of positivity and hope surrounding the idea of the festival coming back in a shorter stint. I think Warped is super grueling on everybody; 24 years of eight weeks straight is really hard… I’m sure a lot of bands would say that, and the fact it’s going to be gone is a little scary for us. But we’re also really stoked that we had the opportunity and I have high hopes that there will be some sort of tour, whether it’s a three-day festival or something like that.
Tyler, I wanted to ask you about co-starring in Halsey’s “Colors” video; she’s also a pop-punk kid. What was it like hanging with her and shooting it?
TP: Halsey and I met each other a few years before that video. We bonded on Story So Far — funny enough — and all these punk bands. She told me she grew up as a punk fan and as a 16-year old would volunteer at these punk festivals. I was like, “Holy shit, now way!” There’s hardly anybody in this industry that I can geek out with on this, and so we ended up talking forever and hanging out and we were buddies. She asked me to be in that video and it was just fucking rad. She’s a really easygoing, cool girl to be around.
What’s coming up for you guys?
FR: We’re setting up a U.S. tour with a band called WSTR. Tyler’s brother’s band, PCL, is actually going to join us on the first six dates as well. There are going to be festivals, tours, and things like that later on in the year.
Are you guys interested in a record label down the line?
TP: Yeah, I mean if the right deal comes up. If I feel like we’ve established ourselves enough and are confident, we can sign to a label, absolutely. It’s not like we’re opposed to it. I think that we just really enjoy doing things DIY right now, and it doesn’t seem totally necessary to sign with a label just yet.
Are there any labels whose work you’ve respected a lot lately and would like to work with?
FR: Not at the moment, not really. We really hope to continue doing a lot of stuff on our own. But maybe something small at first like Fearless or something like that and then seeing how things go, move up to something like Sony. As far as right now it’s DIY.