Chvrches, born on the internet just 18 months ago, are about to release their debut album to a worldwide audience. Fiona Shepherd meets the Glasgow band
‘We’re not really in the business of writing la-la-love-you chart pop songs,” says Lauren Mayberry of her band Chvrches, doubtless aware of the irony that this Glasgow group-most-likely-to are poised to take up a chart position of their own with the imminent release of their debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe.
What Chvrches are in the business of writing was all up for discussion when the trio formed two years ago. Iain Cook of The Unwinding Hours (and formerly of Aereogramme) had teamed up with Martin Doherty, a touring member of The Twilight Sad, to try something a little out of their guitar-orientated comfort zone and asked Mayberry, of post-rockers Blue Sky Archives, to sing on a demo. The trio duly retreated to a basement studio with band “gearhead” Cook’s collection of vintage keyboards and wrote for months, recording as they went along.
“The very early days of the band was about trying to establish a sound and see what excited us musically,” says Doherty. “I had been in something of a creative lull for four or five years. I hadn’t written any music and I just listened and listened and worked hard at learning how to tour and be in a band. When it came to do this, I was drawing on all that experience. The idea of having something that was my own or that I could share with the other two people in this band was a real motivator.”
Doherty takes lead vocals on a couple of tracks but Mayberry is the recognisable voice of the group. Her pure pipes are not quite what you expect to hear on top of hefty analogue synthesizers but that blend of bright pop tuneage with a slightly foreboding backdrop proved an instant hit when they posted one of their tracks, Lies, online. “At first it was just going to be a writing project – we didn’t think beyond the fact that we wanted to make a record,” says Mayberry. “We could have stayed inside forever putting it off but when people responded so well we realised we should play live sooner rather than later.”
And so Chvrches emerged from their bunker to meet the burgeoning demand. Cue an increasingly crazy schedule of festival appearances at home and abroad, several trips to the States, including a successful stint at the annual South by Southwest beano, a visit to Japan – which Doherty says was “huge” for him – and a prestigious European tour support slot with Depeche Mode, which put the group in front of their biggest audiences to date.
“Depeche Mode is an important band to all of us so it was an awesome opportunity seeing a band like that up close,” says Mayberry. “I think it’s interesting that they are a stadium band but are not playing what would be regarded as stadium tunes.”
A mere 18 months since their first online missive, Chvrches are now in the enviable position of releasing an album to a worldwide audience who are already primed to hear it. “This is a band that was born on the internet so there is not the geographic boundaries that there might be when you are introducing a band to people territory by territory in the traditional sense,” says Mayberry. “We’re very lucky that there is a certain level of interest in us on blogs and social network sites that allowed us to play all these places before our record had even come out – which is pretty insane.”
“It makes the travel schedule quite difficult but it’s a great position to be in,” adds Doherty.
“I think it helps that we had cut our teeth already,” says Mayberry. “If this was the first band any of us had been in, I might think we were in over our heads but right now I think we’re just enjoying the experience.”
• The Bones Of What You Believe is released on Monday. Chvrches play ABC, Glasgow on 10 and 11 October. chvrches.tumblr.com