INTERVIEW: CHVRCHES On Life During The Pandemic, M’sian Food & Working With The Cure’s Robert Smith

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source: Chvrches (Twitter)

The massive success of Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches’ debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe catapulted the band to fame, allowing them to share their music with playing festivals around the world such as Coachella, Glastonbury, and Summer Sonic Festival among others.

Chvrches’ reputation continued to grow with the release of Every Open Eye and Love Is Dead. Besides their own music, the band delved into the gaming world with a lead single for cult-hit video game, Death Stranding.

It’s been a while and after listening to ‘He Said She Said’ and ‘How Not To Drown’, we’re excited to hear more new music from them.

Luckily, JUICE had a chance to talk to Iain Cook of Chvrches to find out about how they’re doing during this pandemic, their process while making the new album as well as their experience working with The Cure’s Robert Smith, touring and how much Iain loves Malaysian food.

Chvrches Drop Anti-Mansplaining New Single, 'He Said She Said' - Variety
source: Variety

First of all, how has 2021 been for you so far and other than music, what have you been up to?
It’s been good. Having the album sort of finished and ready to go and starting to think about writing new music is a really exciting place to be. Very excited to get back on the road again but that’s gonna be some time still… Yeah, it sort of feels like a waiting game in many ways, you know just waiting for things to happen, to start up again.

But I know that if everything goes well it would be a very busy time so, I’m just trying to enjoy home time as much as possible and make the most of being creative while being at home because it’s a lot harder to do that when you’re on the road and at airports, hotels and backstage. So yeah, been doing a lot of writing and exploring musically.

source: Fader (Twitter)

The band’s second single ‘How Not To Drown’ features Robert Smith from The Cure. It must have been really cool to work with the legend. What was it like? Any fun moments you guys had with him that you can share with us?
(Chuckles) Yeah no, he’s an amazing musician. One of our ultimate musical heroes so getting the chance to work with him on the song was… It’s not something that we thought we’d achieve with this band or any band. Such a great honour.

I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that I was in L.A. finishing up the mixing on the record with Martin and Lauren. It was Halloween and we’re just about to settle down after a day in the studio to watch a horror movie.

We got an email from Robert who had been up all night on Halloween recording some vocals, guitars and bass for the track and that was the first we heard. It just seemed like the perfect moment… The lord of Goth music on Halloween delivering the version of our song (chuckles). It was kinda like a dream.

I read The Guardian’s interview with Lauren Mayberry that the next album is inspired by Depeche Mode, Brian Eno, and Billie Eilish just to name a few. This feels like the next phase of CHVRCHES’ evolution, would you say?I would say so, yeah, I think something that we’ve always tried to do with our band is kinda balance the more pop element with sort of darker, more synthetic stuff that we grew up listening to, more electronic stuff I mean.

Depeche Mode has always been a part of our musical vocabulary and Brian Eno has always been a massive influence particularly his work with Bowie and Berlin, and his RnB music of course.

Billie Eilish as well. It’s not really something that I listen to but she’s an incredibly influential, incredibly talented musician and performer. As with her brother, the producer, he’s an incredible talent.

Yeah, I guess that’s true but the thing about this is that we all have our own influences and we bring them into the band. I think what makes this band what it is, is not just some of our influences but some of the music that we love. I would say that’s probably true for Laura.

Depeche Mode’s ‘Violator’. source: Amazon

Besides the music that helped inspire the new album, what records have you been personally listening to that helped with the process of making this album?
I don’t really think there was a correlation between what I was listening to with the making of the record, I tend to keep them quite separate. I think when we were making this record I was probably going through a Bowie phase, which is most of the time for me (chuckles). But I don’t think you can really hear a lot of Bowie’s influences on the record.

I think when we get in the studio together the outside world sort of gets more distant. So the stuff that we were listening to at the time maybe fades into the background and we tend to focus and listen to what we’re working on.

Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic stuff since we’ve made the record. That’s something that might end up influencing future Chvrches’ stuff. Strange answer sorry (chuckles).

David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. source: Billboard

The whole world misses live music festivals, and we bet you guys miss touring so much too. How does it feel to transition from performing live with a real crowd to a digital space, it’s really not the same feeling you get.
No, it’s not at all the same feeling and because of the nature of the technology as well it doesn’t feel spontaneous in a way that it does when you’re in the room with people and you feel their energy.

That’s where we’re at right now so we just have to make the most and try to give people what they want even though it’s a very different space. But we can’t wait to get out there and see peoples’ faces again. That’s a very exciting prospect.

Chvrches at Reading 2019. source: NME

The last time you guys came to Malaysia was back in 2016 for Tiger Jams Centerstage. Would you like to come to Kuala Lumpur when all of this blows over?
Definitely, we’d love to. We’d absolutely love to. The crowd over there in Malaysia are crazy (chuckles) I mean it in a good way. It’s such a nice feeling to travel that far for us and to have people really love the music.

It means… I can’t tell you how much it means to us. It also kinda feels like a dream you know, like something like you’d never, never thought would experience. Plus, Malaysian food is just some of the best in the world so, definitely miss that too.

Chrvches at Tiger Jams Centerstage 2016. source: Miriam Merry Go Round

Do you have a favourite memory of a dish you tried here or an experience you had in Malaysia?
I can’t remember the name of it but our label rep at the time took us out to a lovely restaurant. It’s kinda like a street food vibe but it was a bit more elevated. Just all the flavours you know, so fresh, so punchy and spicy. I love that, I love that so much.

There was a Malaysian restaurant in Glasgow where I lived until a year and a half. We used to go there all the time and it ended up closing down, unfortunately. Hopefully the lot will open up another spot that’s as good. I miss that a lot.

Chrvches at Urbanscapes 2014. source: All Is Amazing

After releasing their second single ‘How Not To Drown ft. Robert Smith’, Chvrches announced that their fourth album, Screen Violence will be out on 27 August 2021.

Get ready and mark your calendars for a listening party.