Worshipping Chvrches

Worshipping Chvrches
(From left) Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty and Iain Cook of Scottish synth-pop trio, Chvrches.

Chvrches are the best.

Sorry, there's no arguing. Not with me anyway.

The Scottish electro trio - Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty - have been touring non-stop since their debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, dropped last year.

They've been earning kudos from all quarters and their magnificent single The Mother We Share was used at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.

Having wowed Singapore audiences earlier in the year, Chvrches (pronounced "churches", if you were wondering) are returning to play on Nov 21.

Here I get to ask 40-year-old Cook - composer, producer, and synth genius - what makes the band so darn stupendous. They say never meet your heroes, but chatting over the phone should be fine.

To be honest, I think the unleashed fanboy proved a tad overwhelming for Cook.

Chvrches are my favourite band in the world right now. The Bones Of What You Believe is my favourite album of the past 30 years. Cook: No way. Thank you for saying that.

Do you have any objective sense of how great the album is?

Cook: Noooo. I don't think so.

The only standards that make sense, that you're up against, are your own.

We're really, really picky about music and we're really picky about what we like.

We just try to satisfy that. We don't think too much about how it will be received.

Do you have an idea of where it might fit in the hierarchy of pop music?

We don't think of the context of it in the canon of pop music. It's too much for an artist to really contemplate.

There's too much great music out there. Where do you start?

Is there one member of the band who's the perfectionist?

Cook: We all have things that we're particular about.

Lauren is extremely picky about her vocals. There will be one word in a song that she'll annunciate slightly differently and she'll be, like, 'I hate that. We have to do it again.'

Martin has a ridiculous sense of pitch. It's as much a curse as it is a blessing. He can hear things that are just slightly out of tune.

For me, I like the rough edges. I like to show the workings and leave in mistakes. But I don't think that makes me less of a perfectionist. I just like spontaneity more.

Do you think that a musician in an actual band brings more to the table than a hired gun playing for, say, Katy Perry? Yes. Absolutely.

With a hired gun, you get someone who's very technically proficient, potentially a virtuoso.

Nothing against session musicians, but there's an honesty about being in a band and writing with other people.

I think there's a personal investment and an integrity that might be lacking in a more polished and professional session musician.

I don't mean to sound damning, because I've worked with some incredible session musicians over the years.

What do you think is special about Chvrches? Do you have a secret sauce?

Surely that's a question for other people to answer (laughs).

The thing we concentrate on is songwriting. The way we dress the songs up is kind of secondary.

We like stuff like Depeche Mode, Fleetwood Mac and The Cure. Stuff that's really stood the test of time in terms of song construction. I'm not saying we're on that level yet, but it's something that we aspire to.

We've seen a lot of bands and artists cover The Mother We Share and it's amazing to see because there are so many different interpretations. I'm delighted that the songs stand up to all these interpretations because that's how we intended them to be.

Can you tell us about your next album?

Definitely there's going to be an evolution, but not a massive departure. That would be silly of us, because things have gone so well with the first record.

We want to start from there and then build.

We want it to be like the first one, but 20 per cent better (laughs).


This article was first published on October 15, 2014.
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