As far as years go, Chvrches’ 2016 has been an absolute belter. Hopping across continents, scaling festival line-ups, and taking on ever bigger stages with more dedication than even endurance-kings Dan and Dan the sesh gremlins, it’s seen the Scots take their second album ‘Every Open Eye’ to stratospheric heights.
Lauren Mayberry, especially, seemed to enter into a whole other league, transforming from a barely-contained fireball of volatile potential, into a front-of-stage superstar. During live shows Martin Doherty has taken to leaving his synths totally unattended during his lead vocal turn on ‘High Enough To Carry You Over,’ and in the process he invented a quite remarkable feat in modern choreography. A cross between the lindy-hop and someone with a bee stuck up their jeans, his innovative dance moves – along with his on-stage dedication to Harambe (RIP) at Reading Festival - place him as one of this year’s most underrated cult heroes; much like Barb from Stranger Things. Iain Cook meanwhile has morphed from dependable fort-holder, to a vicious fast-combusting bass-cranker. Thrashing and spinning across stages from the Californian desert, to the tranquil forests of Suffolk, Chvrches came into their own this year, and it’s clear they know it, too.
“I think we worked hard on the stage show,” agrees Lauren. “It was nice for us to develop it over the course of time, rather than just doing a pastiche version of things that we like. Also,” she points out, “cos we’ve toured so much, and we’ve moved up these sizes of venues, it’s been nice for us to think about what we want our live show to be, and how we want to communicate things. We have two records’ worth of material now, so it’s a bit more fun when you’re putting together a live show, and you can think about how to build the dynamics, and the ebb and the flow.”
“There are lots of upbeat and punchy songs on ‘Every Open Eye’,” agrees Iain. “It’s fun to switch that up live.”
“It’s great to play shows with people who you feel you share an ethos with.”
It’s tough for Chvrches to pick out a single highlight from the year, understandably. Being gifted Skips snacks on their Reading & Leeds rider prompted a great deal of excitement in Martin’s eyes. And taking a casual cruise with one of their favourite bands in the world, to play several gigs on a ship (as you do) also stands out as an understandable pinch-yourself moment for the Glaswegians.
“Parahoy was really cool,” nods Lauren. “We’ve always been big fans of Paramore, and obviously Hayley’s [Williams] voice is incredible, the songwriting is great, and they’re genuinely nice people, so it’s great to play shows with people who you feel you share an ethos with. A very awesome experience. Very windy.”
“Choppy!” interjects Martin. “ I got really seasick on the first night, and I had to kind of be thrown out on the stage having just being really sick,” he informs. Charming stuff. “It wasn’t without its challenges,” he concludes.
Chvrches might’ve had to contend with a few literal obstacles this year – namely gale-force winds – but there’s little doubt that come next summer, they’re destined to plain-sail towards festival headliner spots. They’ve proved this year that they’re more than ready to rise to the challenge.
Taken from the November 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe below.