Despite being relatively new in the music scene, Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES is one of those bands with the most rewarding touring experience as they have been touring non-stop since their debut in 2011. This is attributed to the fact that the band is formed by Iain Cook, Lauren Mayberry, and Martin Doherty; all of whom used to be members of their own indie bands.
Iain Cook is perhaps the member with more touring experience as he used to be a member of Aerogramme and The Unwinding Hours. Martin Doherty, too, was a member of a live band called The Twilight Sad while Lauren Mayberry was a lead vocalist, drummer, and keyboardist for Boyfriend/Girlfriend and Blue Sky Archives. However, chances brought them together when Cook was producing an EP for Mayberry’s band in late 2011.
Cook then started a “new” project with Doherty, with Mayberry singing for a couple of demo of the songs. After spending almost 8 months writing songs together in a basement studio in Glasgow, the project turned out to be a great success when they proudly presented their work online. Little did they know at the time that they would tour across the world and perform as supporting acts for various other like-minded bands including Passion Pit, Two Door Cinema Club, and Depeche Mode. Their success eventually led to the release of their debut album, “The Bones of What You Believe”.
Having performed at various other countries in Asia, the Scottish trio finally made their way to Malaysia as they kicked off Urbanscapes’ month-long festival with their satellite show at KL Live.
But before they heat up the show with their euphoric sound, we had a chance to sit down with them and talk to them a little about what to expect from the show, their future music style, and how they liked working with Lorde for the soundtrack of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1“.
Check out the interview below:
Hi guys! Welcome to Malaysia! How’s Malaysia treating you so far?
Iain: Amazing. Beautiful city. We’re having a great time and the food is amazing. We went to Batu Caves yesterday 🙂
Oh good! I assume this is your first time in Malaysia then? What can we expect from the show tonight? Any surprises for the Malaysian fans?
Martin: Umm I think it’s kinda cool because we’ve never been here before. You guys are lucky enough because we’ve got like this almost 2 years of experience of learning how to play live, so the first time you guys are seeing a CHVRCHES show, it’s gonna be like a ticket to our past.
Lauren: We’ll rehearse then.
Iain: Hahaha! Gradually. No, we didn’t see that one so probably that’s just us.
Martin: We’ll have 2 new songs on our set as well, but more than those we’ll stick to our album because of course, people are here to listen to our record. If it turns out that we’re going to play a bunch of new songs, then they’ll be like, “Wow. Thanks for that. I paid for that?”
Iain: Haha! Yeah, the worst thing is when people showed up but then they sing a completely different melody to you, and then you’re like, “That’s not it!”
Martin: One time, there was a plan to change all these songs but then they’re like, “Yeah, maybe you can play these songs in 5 or 7 years but this is the first time I’m seeing you live, can you please play the f**king song?”
So, are you guys planning to perform any cover song for the show?
Lauren: We won’t entertain, sorry.
Martin: We’ve retired from the cover business. Haha!
Lauren: Yeah, most of the cover songs that come out on the radio station, they ask you to do them for a session, mainly in UK. So, that’s where we learned to refuse those. And we played a couple of cover songs on our set earlier on but we aren’t adding those on our show.
Martin: Yeah, we’ve already played the rest from our album so we don’t have to play a good cover song on our set anymore. I mean, we are getting too well known to do covers so we don’t want to people view us like a cover band. We’ve already prepared 10 songs for the show, so if we’re struggling, we could just release all of them then.
Iain: Well, the “Game of Thrones” one is a bit of a stretch though. Haha!
The band’s music style is heavily influenced by 80s pop, will that change in the future?
Iain: I think 80s pop is one of the influences that we can withdraw. I think movie scene is more skewed to that direction because a lot of the instruments that are being used, are from that era. But in terms of actual songs, a lot of influences come from different eras, you know. But I think that, our sense is definitely going to shift as we are writing our stuff and that’s why it tends to depend on what we are listening to and what excites us musically. So that’s gonna change but we’re not gonna commit with acoustic folk record for our albums. Haha!
Martin: We will maintain focus on some writing and we’ll dress the music however we feel all the time based on what is exciting and what we’re listening to now, be it the record from today or from 7 years ago.
Martin: She is amazing, that girl. We had a conversation with her but then it’s very very clear immediately that she is heavily involved in the process that she has taken on. That’s very crucial to the entire sound. From the hours she chose to the clock ration that she did on the record, we are pretty inspired by the way she spoke and what she said about the project. We immediately want to be involved in this. Not just because it was fun to see and the movies are great, but it’s the way she spoke about it and the things she said.
Iain: The whole album is actually quite surprising that we all are holding hands together because a lot of these things, they can be a bit of sky high approach with so many styles that doesn’t really fit as a album but somehow, it can hold together. I guess that’s attributed to her skill as a curator for the soundtrack.
But what did you guys have in mind while producing this song? Did you imagine yourself in a world in “The Hunger Games?”
Martin: So that’s the first thing in the back of our mind, like under subconscious, we never sat there and went, “This song is for this exact session of the movie or that song is deliberately referred to X or Y”. It’s more of the tone thing. In other words, the overall tone of the movie is transparent to what we wrote.
Lauren: What I had in mind about the theme is when we’re approaching the song generally and lyrics specifically, but not referencing anything. Because I think we can all tell when the bound is written for movie and if you contribute stuff to the lyrics above the film, then it’s just very clunky and fairly done so you try to stay away from that. That’s the world Katniss I really don’t like at all.
Last one for the road! Turkish DJ/producer Deniz Koyu was in KL last month for a club event and he actually mentioned that he listens to your songs. Have you guys been approached by DJs to collaborate on songs?
Martin: Umm, that’s funny. Yes. Haha! But that will be revealed in the future.
So, that’s going to be a surprise, huh?
Martin: Yeah! 😀
Okay then! We will look forward to that! Thank you for your time!
CHVRCHES: Thank you!
It was a great pleasure talking to them, though there’s so much more that we want to know about them. But still, special thanks to our awesome friends from Universal Music Malaysia for making the above interview happen. We can’t wait to see them again! 😀
For more information, hit up their website and visit their Facebook page or Twitter! Don’t forget to join us again at the next Urbanscapes’ satellite show with Scottish post-rock band Mogwai on 30th Nov and Tenacious D on 1st Dec.