Photo: Eliot Hazel
Not many bands are ever able to assemble the devout following Chvrches already has, especially not at the rapid rate the Scottish electronic pop trio has converted its congregation.
Singer Lauren Mayberry and synth disciples Iain Cook and Martin Doherty worked in secret for seven months, crafting what would become the group’s hit debut, The Bones of What You Believe, starting in 2011. They wrote and recorded in short pockets between obligations to jobs and duties in their other respective bands (The Twilight Sad, Aereogramme and Blue Sky Archives).
But as they leaked the early songs, their friends and press interest turned evangelical, assuring that the project wasn’t going to remain under wraps much longer.
“The initial reaction of people online was a lot stronger than what we anticipated,” Doherty said. “After that, we realized we could be on to something.”
Fast-forward to this year, and the band is headlining big rooms — like Sunday’s show at Cain’s Ballroom — and performing for seas of tens of thousands at festivals internationally.
“We’re kind of in uncharted territory,” Doherty said. “Coachella was the first time we were able to step back and really become aware of how far we’ve come in the past year and a half.”
Who’s to say why Chvrches is one of just a few chosen ones out of the hundreds of glossy, dance-hook-laden synth-pop bands buzzing about? It probably has a lot to do with the urgency Doherty and Cook bring to the songs and the laser-precise but emotionally vulnerable delivery of frontwoman Lauren Mayberry.
“It’s a concise statement, in terms of what we are about,” Doherty said of the debut. “It’s not 12 deliberate, trying-tobe-pop anthems, you know? We aren’t that kind of band, and it was important that people began to understand that. We come from an indie world, and it still feels that way as we write; we just don’t use traditional instruments to play them.”
Touring runs through the fall, but the windows between gigs are starting to fill up with brainstorming for the band’s second LP. Chvrches is expressing little to no hesitation or nerves concerning the prospect of a follow-up, either.
“I don’t stop thinking about it,” Doherty said. “For someone like me who gets bored easily, I start working on ideas again the second I get over the jet lag. You just have to follow your own nose and please yourself.”
Early indications point to new material with the same message as before, or at least constructing similarly soaring songs but with a different set of building blocks. Regardless, the trio knows it is just preaching to the choir at this point, anyway.
“One goal for us is to do more with less elements — a leaner record. That doesn’t mean we are going to go softer; arguably, I want to go harder and heavier, but with less fat,” Doherty said. “I know that beyond everything, the focus for us is songwriting, not how the music is dressed. It’s the relationship between melody and rhythm before anything else.”