The language around CHVRCHES typically includes descriptors such as “ethereal”, “spell-binding” and “dreamy”. Unlike many in their class, the Glaswegian trio has earned that mantle because of its maximal handle on a spectrum-defying sweep of sounds that is charged with a straight-to-the-heart beauty and dam-breaking majesty. Venn diagrams abound in the CHVRCHES aesthetic universe but frontwoman Lauren Mayberry and multi-instrumentalists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty have ensured that its overall vision is a singularity. On May 25, the trio will unfurl its third album Love Is Dead into the ether – and reveal what its members have assured is a new musical incarnation. Below, Iain Cook tells us more.
Where are you now and what has kept you busy lately?
I’m in New York, at the moment. The band’s based here for now. I think we are nearly ready to go out and play our new stuff live!
You’re just a couple of weeks shy of the launch of the album. How does it feel like being almost at the finish line?
It’s pretty strange. This is the longest we’ve spent creating a record. The first album was made at an apartment, which was done in a year-and-a-half and the second album was done in five months. We spent the whole of last year basically just writing. We had about 45 songs written by the end of the process, so we had to choose the ones for the record. At the end of the day, we’re happy with it and we’re feeling confident now, but you’ll never know how it goes.
“This album is a sort of distillation of CHVRCHES’ different sides and I’d consider it the complete expression of the band. I’m really proud of the work.”
Having worked on the previous albums internally, did working with a hitmaker such as Greg Kurstin take some getting used to at first?
We always had the idea that we’ll do everything by ourselves. For this record, we just wanted to explore a bit more and work with external producers. We worked with about five or six different producers but the experience we got from working with Greg was different from the rest of them because I felt like it was a great fit. Sometimes, you can be in a room with a producer and you know things aren’t going so well but with Greg, it wasn’t like that all. It felt like we had a new member in the band. The dynamic worked so well. In my head, I have an idea or preconception of what it’s going to be like working with a producer. I imagine it to be like a producer telling you what to do but Greg was different. We worked together and created an unified energy, which was translated into the album.
I love Aereogramme. Seclusion is one of my favourite albums of yours. Do you ever dip into that approach or legacy for the music you make in CHVRCHES?
Oh, wow! Seriously? That’s a question I’ve not been asked before. Martin from CHVRCHES worked on the last Aereogramme album and it was a segue into our next work. There might be some similarities but the main difference is, there’s one person writing in Aereogramme but in Chvrches, all three of us write together. There’s never the feeling where you feel like you’re working on someone else’s idea. The three of us and the producer work very closely together. But there are some similarities with the emotional aspects of the music of both bands.
Do you miss the Aerogramme days?
I do miss the good old times. But touring in Europe and America and knowing that people don’t really give a shit is not a good feeling. Laughs. I do miss the guys and the music that we made, though.
The National’s Matt Berninger features on “My Enemy”. How did you link up?
We’ve always been big fans of The National and we have played a few festivals together and after we performed in America together, we kept in touch for a bit. When we were writing, “My Enemy”, Martin’s vocals were on the track initially but we had an idea to ask Matt to sing on it because his voice would fit the feel of that song so well. Lauren dropped him an e-mail and he agreed immediately and recorded the track at his house the very next day.
Lauren said in an interview that this album is more pop-sounding than its predecessors. Can you please elaborate?
When Lauren said that in an interview, people took it out of context. This album is a sort of distillation of CHVRCHES’ different sides and I’d consider it the complete expression of the band. I’m really proud of the work because it takes the blueprint of electronic music and brings it into the real world with instrumentals and live drums. That’s the direction we have in our live shows as well.
That’s fantastic. Let’s talk about your beautiful cover of Beyoncé’s “XO”.
Thank you. We were asked by iHeartRadio in America to do an acoustic session in New York at a superb studio. We used to focus on the artistic side of our sound but this time, we wanted to do something more organic with piano and acoustic guitars. So, we sat in a room on a Sunday afternoon and thought about what we’re going to do and someone suggested “XO”. We felt that it was a good match with the feel and instruments we picked.
Can expect you guys in Singapore anytime soon?
I’d love to get back to Singapore soon but I’m not sure if that’s being planned so far. We’re hoping to come back in 2019.