Scotland’s synth-pop gods, Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty and Iain Cook, are on the cusp of becoming the UK’s biggest band
Back in May 2012, a Scottish synth-pop trio made a song available on the blog of the Neon Gold label as a free download. Within a year they’d been featured as one of The Guardian’s New Bands of the Day, played their first proper gig, released their official debut single, and come fifth on the BBC’s Sound Of 2013 list.
A lot has happened for Chvrches since; their debut LP, The Bones Of What You Believe, made it to No 9 in the UK and No 12 in the US, before the group’s follow up, Every Open Eye, cracked the Top 5 in the UK and Top 10 in the US.
Songwriting spoke to them just days before they released their hugely anticipated and absolutely fantastic third album, Love Is Dead. It’s the band’s best record yet, and with an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show behind them and four sublime singles already released, it has left Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty, and Iain Cook on the cusp of becoming the UK’s biggest band.
Not only are Lauren, Martin, and Iain true stars, they’re also three of the nicest people Songwriting have ever had the privilege to speak to, and are deserving of the very greatest successes for their incredible songwriting – just don’t mention Metallica!
You’ve just performed on The Tonight Show, had your faces on Times Square this February, and begin a lengthy North American tour this August. Will America be well-and-truly yours by the end of 2018?
“If I have learned anything in this game it’s that nothing is for sure and nothing is for keeps.”
How does the songwriting in Chvrches work – what’s the process?
“We start with a synth pattern or a beat and riff on that until we have a rough vocal melody topline. At that point, I will go write lyrics and then we normally do a rough vocal and live with it for a while before finessing the production and doing a final vocal take. Sometimes the style of the first vocal feels right so you just want to emulate that, but other times I find that sitting with a vocal pattern and a set of lyrics for a while can help you really figure out how best to express it.”
How has your writing evolved on Love Is Dead?
“I think I am more sure of what my voice is as a writer. I don’t get caught up thinking, ‘Does this sound like a Chvrches lyric?’ all the time. I’m more focused on finding what feels like the most honest and genuine thing for me to say, and trying to stay vulnerable in that.”
Could you please tell me how you wrote Gun?
“I wrote the lyrics for Gun sitting in a park near Waverley Station in Edinburgh. ‘Gun’ is Glaswegian slang for someone who is a bit head strong and ready for a fight and I don’t think that really worked in translation outside of Scotland but at that time we didn’t really know if there would be an audience anywhere, let alone outside of our home country.”
Interview: Damien Girling