Los Angeles very own Pvsher are gearing up for their next show July 28th at the Roxy theater. Over the past few years, the band, lead by veteran LA rocker Jonny Sculls and recently added guitarist Jinxx of Black Veil Brides fame. The group is armed with an evolving vision and new material. All Axess sat down with Sculls and Jinxx to discuss past, present and future plans, new material and how the two friends forged a musical connection.
Tell me what’s been happening the past few years with Pvsher? It has been a few years since we caught up with one another?
Jonny: I decided to really get out there and promote the band as hard as I could. Play shows, and get in the studio with the right people. I ended up getting so involved with people in the studio that I stopped playing live. The balance of playing live and while also getting a great sounding album, you have to kind of choose to stop one to start the other. I see a lot of my friends get stuck on the road forever or in the studio forever. Being my own boss, it has been that battle in between the two. I want to be happy with the songs I write and perform. It’s one thing to write a song but then you realize there’s elements in play such as “Oh, I wrote that song sitting down, I have to perform it standing up now.” It’s been a fun little journey. I’ve also been working with Jinxx from Black Veil Brides. He was originally going to help me out by playing guitar for a few shows but then we started examining the music closer and I asked him what he thought. He actually came up with some great parts and had great input on some of the arrangements. The music just started to flow really well and the chemistry was great. We’ve been playing live together for a few months now and I gotta say, it is pretty great looking over to my left and seeing him there on stage with me.
It sounds like the chemistry between you and Jinxx is really strong. What about the other players involved?
Jonny: I added Jinxx in with the players I already had to see how it would feel and where it would go. Jinxx has been a friend of mine for a few years and I have always admired his playing and his presence. The mix actually worked really well! It all clicked and both of us agreed we wanted to take this to the next level. Things worked out very smoothly. We decided to spend as much time crafting the songs and in the studio as possible. The hard work payed off as I am very happy with the finished product.
You brought up a point how musicians often get stuck in the studio or get stuck on the road. How did the inspiration and timing work out to focus solely on the songs and did Jinxx’s experience in the studio and as a musician help cultivate this particular focus? Was there a sound in your head?
Jonny: Definitely, I think Jinxx has a unique tone and playing style that’s to him largely based on the fact that he’s not only a guitar player, but also a violin player and a great songwriter on top of that. I wanted more guitar and aggression coming out of the music. I feel I left that in the backseat for too long. I knew Jinxx coming in would definitely add the element of guitars I was looking for. He really took the time to look at each songs with me. We really put them under the microscope. Jinxx did a lot more than just adding palm muted guitars or shredding solos.
We also used the live arena to test out some of the upcoming material. When you’re watching the crowd you can learn so much about the material you’re playing. Down to the B.P.M. You can see what works and what doesn’t. What’s way too slow or too fast. It’s not a science necessarily but more of a feeling. You can literally see the tempo affecting the crowd. It’s a great testing arena for songs. You find that sweet spot of tempos and you go with it We decided to keep it in that “family” in that “route.”. This is the reason I spent so much time playing the songs live before calling them completed. I wanted to make sure they had the right feeling since these songs will be played live a lot. It has to work for me so I can enjoy it and it has to work for the crowd so they can enjoy it too.
Did you feel that the process came about because you were very confident about the songs? Or did you make a plan to craft the music in this way and preview it for an audience like a movie?
Jonny: I wanted to definitely have a balance because the music can start to become homogenized. Even in your only head. You have to deal with the pitfalls of songwriting and B.P.M.’s and all that, but at some point you have to stop. Interestingly enough, I drew some influence from what I think is one of the greatest live bands ever, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They are not a technical band nor do they have technical songs by any means. They do have a rock and roll swagger in their music that totally works. They can play for hours and it feels like a short set. At least to me. It needs to always have that feel. I drew a lot of influence from them.
Who else is part of the lineup?
Jonny: The lineup has changed quite a bit. But my bass player, Carl Raether has been with me for a long time now. Almost since the beginning. My guitar player Deen Dean, has been a real workhorse and really helped the band’s sound. Drummer’s have been a kind of revolving door though. I am blessed and cursed to work with some of the best drummers in Los Angeles, they are always busy (laughs). I have Bones from Dead by Sunrise and Vera Mesmer and he is just amazing. It’s been that lineup for the last couple of shows. Funny enough I got to work with John Boecklin a bit ago. We’ve been friends for years and I’ve always wanted to work with him. We got the chance to play together recently at the Henry Fond Theater in Hollywood. Jinxx was involved with that as well. Finn Wolfhard from the TV show, Stranger Things introduced us. It was really cool. It was an excuse to have a great time. We all had fun.
How much is music business versus fun and vice versa?
Jonny: I have been doing it for so long I don’t get so much happy anymore, I get relieved. DOn’t get me wrong, I love what I do! I love music! But being in charge of everything can be exhausting. I’m in charge of the business; booking shows, scheduling rehearsals, songwriting, wardrobe, videos, merchandise, social media and what have you. When the hard work pays off and you get to see things come to fruition, it’s definitely gratifying but more in a relief kind of way. You have to take a step back and enjoy it. I am constantly reminded by my wife not to forget to enjoy all of this.
The music business is more DIY now. It is great being an artist but the business always has to be in the forefront of decisions.
Jonny: Exactly. Growing up I really had the romantic idea of getting signed and going on tour and just worrying about playing shows and being a musician. Then 9/11 happened. The MP3 explosion, and various other events slowly picked away the fiber that is the music industry. It can be easily exhausting but it is essential. Recently, I saw a contract that said if you play a gig here, at this particular venue, you cannot advertise another gig for a month before or a month after. So basically I was being asked to take two months off for one gig. Completely understandable from their point, but it’s the artists and musicians who get screwed over. I feel that if we aren’t careful the industry could just go away. Musicians aren’t good at business by nature and a lot of people around them take advantage of that. We recently did a showcase for a label and the deal offered involved years or touring to “see what sticks” but zero radio play. Even after being told the songs were great and catchy. The labels don’t want to invest their time or money anymore because people expect music to be free. It is a tough balance because everyone loves music, but don’t really seem to see the value of it.
The technology used to only be available to a few and now it is available to everyone on laptops.
Jonny: There are iconic studios going out of business as we speak. It’s amazing to me what’s happening in the music business and everyone seems fine with it. Music is so easily stolen, compared to movies because of the file size. The federal government has made it a major offense to steal a movie but not music? It doesn’t really make sense at all if you ask me. There must be something technology wise that can intervene at some point to protect music because morally, people are fucked and will steal anything they can. I feel that the mentality of the industry is in trouble too. There were so many times I would deal with someone at the record label where they just didn’t care about the music or the industry as a whole. This is an art form that people involved in should love. It’s like that bond as a kid where you see someone wearing a band shirt of your favorite band. You instantly knew that kid was cool and you two should be friends. There was an exclusive club and now that seems to have gone away. I would love it if the internet went away. (laughs) I really would. It is okay to have this online world of information but I hate social media! We’re all plugged into the matrix and it’s only going to get worse.
Discuss the upcoming gig on the 28th.
Jonny: We are playing a show on the 28th with Madina Lake and I’m really excited about that. They are about to celebrate their 10th anniversary of their first album so, it’s going to be a really great show. We’re planning on going on tour in a few months with them so these local shows are kinda like warm-up dates. The goal is to do just the right amount of touring and recording and then put out a series of short films while on tour. There is a whole big picture involved and it will be very interactive and create an environment that will drag you out of your house. Fans will want to be a part of it. Not just watch it on their phone. That cathartic release and high energy of a great show is exactly what people crave. That’s what I’m trying to deliver and capture.
Tell me about how your involvement with Pvsher came about?
Jinxx: I have been friends with Jonny for a long time. We run in the same circle of friends here in LA. He would come over to my house and we’d work on some tunes together. I have a studio in my home so I produced a few songs that we co-wrote together. After awhile, he proposed doing some songs together with Pvsher. There were various songs we looked at from a writing and production standpoint. We then collaborated on these songs and Jonny needed someone to get up and play guitar for these shows, so it all came together pretty naturally. The first show we played was at the VIper room in April. It was great to be back on stage again. I’ve been on hiatus for awhile with my main band BVB (Black Veil Brides), so this has been fun to be involved with.
Sounds like the process came together quite organically. You’ve played with a lot musicians over the years. Do you feel you and Jonny worked well together?
Jinxx: Definitely, it wasn’t that Jonny just asked me, “Hey, do you want to be in my band?” We spent time hanging out together, and what do musicians do when they hang out together? Well, they jam. Aside from just hanging out, we would spend a lot of time discussing music, lyrics, we pretty much enveloped ourselves in the project. It was very organic, didn’t feel pressure from anyone regarding material, time constraints. We had the time and free landscape to do what we wanted.
You have been doing a lot of your own production work, how has that been going?
Jinxx: I started getting into it over the last few years. We (black veil Brides) have been wrapping up our fifth record. I have always had a home studio and now it is pretty full on. I am currently working with this band “Dianthus,” they are pretty brilliant musicians. Twin girls, that play metal and they rock! I have been recording them and it went really well. Doing a full album and actually working on vocals today. I picked up a lot of things along the way working with great producers like Bob Rock. I learned a few things here and there and applying what I have learned and I hope to make a great record with them.
Jonny was speaking about the filming the upcoming show and the visual aspects of the live performance. GIven your history with Black Veil Brides, how important is the visual aspect to you, as a musician, as a live performer?
Jinxx: WIth BVB, it was half and half between the musicianship and the visuals. We had a few guys that were really into the visuals and the other guys into the musicianship. We took all of our favorite bands whether Metallica or Megadeth or Motley Crue or Guns ‘N Roses. We knew we had one goal in mind which was to play arenas. In this day in age, people aren’t selling records, it is not like it was in the 70’s or 80’s obviously. You still want to reach for the stars. We have fortunately reached the level of playing large rooms with pyro, it started with just our makeup and music and grew into a fairly large scale. Pvsher’s show on Friday will have some great elements and it is great to go back to the DIY kind of element. We’re shooting a live video on the 28th with cool lights at the Roxy theater. I’m really looking forward to it.
How does your approach to playing guitar changed or stayed the same with Pvsher?
Jinxx: It is quite different, in Black Veil Bride’s there are a lot of guitar solos, some theatrics and with Pvsher I feel like it is straightforward. Killer rock and roll music. It is in your face, heavy and more basic. It isn’t about showmanship, or how many notes I can play. It is a totally different form of expression and approach. Still dark, dirty, ugly, it is punk rock.
What about the gear you are using?
Jinxx: I have a signature Schecter and a Marshall stack. I am running a Kemper live for effects. THe Kemper is great for live tones, as with BVB I wasn’t using live cabinets. With Pvsher I am playing through live cabinets, no in ears. If I can’t hear myself, I can’t hear myself (laughs)
Jonny discussed upcoming tour plans, what is your future plans with Pvsher?
Jinxx: I know Jonny has some big plans and wants to take this all the way, on the road and make stuff happen. I would love to be involved and be a part of it and it just depends on the schedule. Black Veil is my band and first obligation, but not sure what the upcoming schedule is. Our singer, Andy is on the road with his solo thing right now. I would love to get out with Pvsher and see where we can take it!
*Catch Pvsher August 17th at the Viper Room with Chuck Mosley