For some bands, it can take months and months of tinkering and tuning to feel happy with a new record. Many musicians lock themselves away for years to work on their latest masterpiece, while others decamp to the other side of the world to just try and clear their heads to prepare for the challenge ahead.
For Chvrches, all they had to do was head back home. “By the time we got off tour,” explains Martin Doherty, or Doc, as his bandmates refer to him, “this whole record was like turning a tap on and the whole thing just flowed out really fast. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to turn it around so quickly. We’d been building all of this creative energy up, and we hadn’t done anything together for three years, apart from ‘Get Away’ and ‘Dead Air’.”
At the close of 2014, the trio had spent almost two years on the road, but ideas for their next record were never too far from their minds. Towards the end of their schedule, they found themselves trying to note down as many parts, loops, and melodies as they could, just as a means of keeping their creative minds going. It was only in January that they finally returned to their home of Alucard Studios in Glasgow.
“I think the latter half of the campaign felt that way, just building up and building up,” Doc goes on as they sit together in a hotel bar. They’re about to head over to Canada for their first shows of the new campaign and are just days away from announcing second album, ‘Every Open Eye’. “Once all of the promo is done and all of the creative decisions are out of the way, you literally play a show every night, with the same pieces of music that you could literally play eyes closed in any scenario. You don’t really use that part of your brain for creativity, other than to make demos or start thinking of new ideas. You can’t exact any of that stuff, so it just builds up.”
“We don’t exist in a vacuum anymore.”
Returning to their studio wasn’t entirely without its worries though. While the band admittedly felt at home in its confines - “We’re quite studio happy in general,” confirms Iain Cook, “and it’s, broadly speaking, our natural environment” - they still were dealt a handful of challenges along the way.
“It was one of those things,” says Doc, “where it was the first concentrated period of us turning off the phones, everyone going away and just seeing what developed. That doesn’t come without its anxieties, you know? You sit in a studio after two years thinking, ‘Have you lost it? Have you forgotten what people liked about your band in the first place?’” “Especially when people are asking you, ‘Oh, are you feeling any pressure about going into the studio? What about the expectations that people have?’,” throws in Iain. “It’s like, ‘Fuck off, it’s hard enough already!’”
“I guess I had never thought about it before,” Lauren Mayberry continues their train of thought, “because I had never made a second album before. From my point of view, the thing I found difficult is that we don’t exist in a vacuum anymore. When we made the first album, it was the first record the band had made so it was about, ‘What should the band sound like?’ and it was determined by that record. Whereas I guess, I’m aware now that we have a pre-conceived idea of what the band sounds like and so do a lot of other people, so it’s just about trying to figure out how to divorce ourselves from that and actually do the work.
“I think, especially when we started writing lyrics and stuff, I would get to a point where I would write four or five lines and then I would delete 90% of it. I was like, ‘That doesn’t sound like anything I would say, that doesn’t sound like anything we would write’ and then I realised I was being ridiculous. I was second-guessing myself all the time, not necessarily because I want to write something that other people think is what we should do, but just because you don’t have as blank a slate as the first time, so you want to do something that feels consistent, but you can also be proud of and feels authentic. Eventually, you realise you need to stop worrying about it, you need to stop focusing on it and just get it done. It’s hard to remember that at the start, but once you’ve finally jumped in, then it’s easier to just say, ‘This is where we are’. As much as there’s not a concept or theme on the record, I think there are things that tie it all together. I think there are similarities and differences between the lyrics on both records so I guess once you find your route and get back up to speed it’s easier.”
“I would write four or five lines and then I would delete 90% of it.”
For all of their initial concerns – vocalised or otherwise – nothing was going to hold the band back. In fact, it’s taken just a handful of months for them to ready their new effort, and now they’re more than ready to embark upon their next step.
“It’s funny because the last time we spoke to DIY,” offers Doc, “we probably talked about pressure and I guarantee that I would’ve resounded, ‘the only pressure that I feel is our own pressure to be the best creative versions of ourselves, blah blah blah.’ So, now that the album’s finished and I’m 100% proud and happy with it, I can tell you that I was shitting myself! Now, with confidence and truth, I can tell you that I’m really happy with the record,” he laughs, “but I was definitely scared.”
Taken from the August issue of DIY, out now. Chvrches’ new album ‘Every Open Eye’ will be released on 25th September via Virgin EMI / Goodbye Records. Photos: Rachael Wright.