Music » Music Feature

Having Fun is a Major Motivation for Glasgow’s Chvrches

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When the members of the Scottish group Chvrches first started recording together, they didn’t have any great ambitions for the band.

“I’m not sure we had any real idea it would go as far as it has right from the beginning,” says keyboardist Martin Doherty. “Creatively, it felt stronger than anything else that I worked on almost immediately. There was something lean about the way we were working. It was three people and not too many opinions. It got up to speed much faster than the bands I played with in the past because then the idea of writing a song requires all sorts of politics. That doesn’t interest me. We were just three people in a basement doing this for fun, first and foremost.”

He describes Lauren Mayberrry’s voice as “mind-blowing.” Her hiccupping, upper-register voice certainly distinguishes tunes such as the poppy “The Mother We Share” and mixes well with the percolating synths.

“I thought there was something special in her vocals from the first time I heard her,” says Doherty. “She was playing in an indie band and sounded great. There was something interesting about hearing her in an electronic context with her tone and timbre and range even. For the productions we were working on, it just made sense and a voice like that could cut through. It’s instantly recognizable when you hear the first word of the first line. A proper lead vocalist needs to have that and Lauren definitely had that.”

Released last year, the band’s full-length debut The Bones of What You Believe received widespread acclaim and the band has been touring non-stop in support of it since its release — it played to an enormous late afternoon crowd over the summer at Lollapalooza and it comes to House of Blues on Sunday.

Since the band’s music has layers and layers of synthesizers, it would seem the group looks back to the ‘80s for inspiration. Doherty says that’s not entirely true. 

“I don’t think we were drawing direct inspiration from the ‘80s, any more than with the type of equipment we were using,” he says. “I suppose there’s an unspoken nostalgic element. That has to do with the fact that we grew up in that time. That culture has an effect on you whether you like it or not. In terms of direct influence, we were listening to a lot of modern music at the same time and trying to be aware of what was going around us in terms of production styles. We wanted to use the classic ideas with the most modern recording techniques and things that were at the forefront of technology.”

The band is yet another group that’s emerged from the working class city of Glasgow, suggesting there might be something special happening in the small city that’s produced so many significant bands.

“It’s always punched above its weight,” Doherty says of Glasgow. “The entire time we were there, there were bands that were globally successful. That created an idea for me that it was possible for us. You say, ‘That guy can do it, so why shouldn’t I?’ You would see bands like Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian and Mogwai at a pub on a Friday night and it would seem much more achievable.”

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