Class Of 2013: CHVRCHES

With only a few tracks aired and a just handful of live dates under their belts, Glasgow’s CHVRCHES have already got us very excited indeed.

“I’ve been scolded by Kelly Rowland.” Lauren Mayberry chuckles, as she tells us about her day job as a journalist, “It was when she was doing that TV show that sounded exactly like Project Catwalk, but wasn’t. She was explaining it to me, and I said, ‘So kinda like Project Catwalk?’, and she was like ‘No, it’s not. I think it’s very rude to compare someone’s work directly to someone else’s.’ Ooh, I’ve angered Kelly!”

The thing is, Mayberry’s old line of employment is clearly going to have to take a back seat, as she switches to the other side of the interview table. On paper, CHVRCHES might seem like the least ‘sure bet’ of our Class Of 2013, having played a mere smattering of live dates and with only a few tracks available for our listening pleasure. But when one of those tracks is a potential single of the year, even though – at the time of writing – they’re without a record deal, it’s clear that the Glaswegian trio are on course to be something very special indeed.

After handing over the brilliant electro-pop earworm, ‘Lies’ to a lone website, the universal excitement that it met with came as an utter surprise to the band. Following it up with first single proper, ‘The Mother We Share’, resplendent with shimmering synths and gloriously unaffected vocals, they’ve justifiably garnered quick acclaim. Martin Doherty, who in his own former life was a keyboard player with The Twilight Sad, grins from beneath his baseball cap, as he recalls the moment that he realised that things were starting to happen for the band. “I was travelling somewhere, and my phone started going… brr brr brr brr brr… and I was like, ‘What the fuck’s going on?’ By the end of the day, it was everywhere.
“It’s going to be the Rocky IV of album recordings.”
“But I think the nicest thing is that it’s just been people passing it to each other, we didn’t spend £30,000 on viral marketing,” he continues, “Which was the best thing; everyone taking a chance on you at the same time.” Not that the positive reaction is without a downside, and they’re fully aware of the pressures of such early hype. However, with Doherty and Iain Cook on board, himself once of indie rockers Aerogramme, between them they’ve got enough experience to know the potential pitfalls. “Having people talk about your band, that just brings you to the table.” Iain points out, “It puts you in everyone’s minds, but if you don’t follow it up with something of substance, then you’ll be gone as quickly as you started.” “Yeah,” agrees Lauren, “We’re very aware of that, in a way now, there’s a lot of pressure. If we release another song and it’s not very good, I think the backlash could be a more harsh.”

Fortunately, the band had been beavering away in Iain’s basement studio for months before releasing a note of music to the world, and are keen to point out that they’re further down the debut record road than it might appear. “Our primary focus was just to concentrate on making the best record we can make.” Martin stipulates, “Then, even if it doesn’t happen from there, at least we’ll be happy with it. And we’ve got more than two songs, I promise!” Lauren deadpans; “Actually, it’s going to be those two songs in repeat, until track twelve.’

After a series of dates supporting Passion Pit around the country, the band seem hell bent on getting back to work; albeit with the intention of finishing their debut somewhere far away from their usual home comforts. “It’s going to be the Rocky IV of album recordings.” Martin starts to tell us, “You know how after Apollo gets killed, and he goes to Russia to fight Ivan Drago?” “He’s got all the high tech gadgets and Rocky’s just stuck in the middle of the snow fighting meat carcasses?” Iain interjects. Martin laughs, “I meant, he goes away from his family at Christmas to train for the fight; that was where I was going with the analogy.”

Recording locations and tenuous classic film comparisons aside, with much of the record already in the can, the band are hopeful for a late spring, early summer release. Obviously, there is the small issue of which label to sign for first, but we get the feeling that they’re currently not taking the prospect as seriously as perhaps they ought. “There’s the big box of money that they give you.” Martin chuckles. “Yeah, and a document that just binds you to them forever.” Iain chips in, “With all these conditions and stuff. And the box of money.” “I want a treasure chest and a map!” Martin continues, before Iain attempts to get more serious. “Nothing’s going to change. Except, we’ll get shouted at more.” Lauren, who just moments ago was joking about signing a deal in blood, continues the sensible tone; “I think maybe taking a massive advance is a bit silly; it’s not real money, you have to give it back. Don’t be a maniac and start buying houses and Lambrini cars…”
“Don’t be a maniac and start buying houses and Lambrini cars…”
As they all collapse into laughter (and promise to always purchase cars made of cheap fizzy wine, no matter how many boxes of cash they’re given), it becomes clear that, in part at least, it’s the easy chemistry between them that makes CHVRCHES so bloody special. Mindful of being portrayed as two svengali figures lurking in the background behind an attractive frontwoman, the band have always been at pains to point out the completely collaborative nature of their work. “Nothing is sacred, there’s no overruling opinion.” Martin concurs, “If someone has a problem with the vocal line, or with a beat, or any aspect, it can be challenged. And if you feel strongly about something, it’s probably a good indicator that there’s something wrong with it. It’s quite easy to get to a point where we all agree, though.”

But whilst we hope CHVRCHES never find themselves warring over their own music, there’s a definite point of musical unity between them, coming in the form of a purple suited guitar god from Minneapolis. “We’re all kind of obsessed with Prince, it’s something that we share.” Iain enthuses, while explaining their early cover of ‘I Would Die 4 U’, “We were asked to do a cover for the radio, and that’s a bit of a no brainer. We’re actually planning on doing the whole album at a gig.” Lauren is filled with excitement with the idea; “Last Halloween, I dressed up as a ‘Purple Rain’ era Prince, and I still have most of the costume. The cravat, which was made of toilet roll, got spilled on by a drunk lady though, so that’s out.”

And if that prospect wasn’t enough, there’s also a promise of a little something from the threesome in our yuletide stockings this year. “If we have enough time, we might release a free Christmas present.” Martin tells us, conspiratorially, “What that might be, we don’t know…” Lauren interjects. “It depends on whether or not we have finished our actual music in time or not,” Martin tempts us, “but we’re going to release something on Christmas Day for nothing.” The notion of some festive joy from our favourite new synth-pop band, why, it’s enough to melt our wintery hearts.

Taken from the December 2012 / January 2013 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.