Last Fall CHVRCHES chose Central Park's Summer Stage in NYC to kick off what is sure to be a multi-year trek around the globe in support of their brilliant, sophomore album Every Open Eye. The album ups the game on the endearing, indie-electronica of their debut, The Bones of What You Believe...a collection we called "polished, precise, addictive and clean from start to finish, just about the perfect follow up." when it came out.
Central Park Summer Stage is an iconic location...can you think of a more beautiful and thrilling setting to kick off a world tour? But that evening also represented something so much more in the band's career. Not just a new album and tour, but loftier ambitions as a band, and bigger expectations from fans and critics. So, in many ways, it might have been a show that represented the one of the most important moments in the band's history. And we were beyond humbled to be chosen to capture the band's beautiful performance on that magical night back in September.
In addition to producing a full concert film (which we'll be bringing to you sometime in March), we also set out to go behind the scenes of this magnificent moment for the band. Sitting down with Lauren, Iain, and Martin shortly before their sound check, we chatted about a variety of topics, including what playing such a historical venue feels like, what they hope their fans get out of Every Open Eye, and probably most interestingly, the extremely close and very deliberate relationship they share with their fans.
"I think we've always been incredibly lucky that people have been very passionate about this band," Lauren explained to us. "Since the very beginning there was a handful of people who found the band on a blog and were passing a link to their friends. There has always been a really engaged community around the band."
To honor that passion the band regularly spend time with members of their fan club in each city they play in, holding sound check parties, sharing conversation, and sending everyone home with loads of personalized CHVRCHES memorabilia, not to mention a whole lot of memories. "I don't think without that [relationship] we would be doing the things that we're doing," Lauren went on to explain. "It's very important to us that we can keep in contact with that community and feel that we're in engaged with it. I think it should be based on a mutual respect. I'm sure a lot of people have a lot of comments about how we do live shows, but I would rather be connecting with people and engaging with them on a [personal] level."
In our unique, behind the scenes look at the band's show in Central Park, we preview clips from the upcoming concert feature that we'll share on the site in the coming months. But more importantly, we dive into the relationship between the band and their fans, talking to a handful of excited concert goers who enthusiastically shared their stories about why CHVRCHES are their favorite band.
What's most interesting is how relationship extends both ways. For the folks we talked to, the band's show in Central Park was more than just the opportunity to see an amazing concert. CHVRCHES write the kind of songs that burrow deep down into the soul, shaping their fans' lives as they navigate the twists and turns and rough roads that sometimes lay ahead, taking direct inspiration from what Lauren, Iain, and Martin do and how they go about doing it.
"I've heard this Bruce Springsteen quote," Lauren told us. "I guess he said that when he plays a show he never wants to look at the audience and not see himself in the audience. And he never wants the audience to look at him and not see themselves in him." Which we think pretty much sums up how this incredible group of musicians approach their career and their relationship with the folks who allow them to do the things they do every day.
Never took your side, never cursed your name I keep my lips shut tight, until you go-o-o-oh And we've come as far as we're ever gonna get Until you realize, that you should go-o-o-oh Come in misery, where you can seem as old as your omens And the mother we share Will never keep your proud head from falling The way is long, but you can make it easy on me And the mother we share Will never keep our cold heart from calling incredibly lucky that people have been very passionate about this band. Since the very beginning there was a handful of people who found the band on a blog and were passing the link to their friends. And yeah there's always been a really engaged community around the band, and I don't think without that we would be doing the stuff we're doing, and I think it's really important to us that we kind of keep in contact with that community and feel that we're engaged with it. Because I think it should be based on a mutual respect kind of thing, and I'm sure a lot of people have a lot of comments about how we do live shows or whatever, but I would rather be connecting with people and engaging with them on a level. ...sound check part, and this part is always...always weird. - Hi guys. Hello. Hello. - This is awkward for such a very large gap between us, but we're gonna play a song. Holding on tightly to the sides Never quite learning why You'll meet me, you'll meet me You'll meet me halfway Well thank you guys for coming down and Nick ...has some lovely posters. We might come down there and we can see you guys, so that's like the musical segment we do. I've heard this Bruce Springsteen quote that I guess he said that when he plays a show he never wants to look at the audience and not see himself in the audience, and he never wants the audience to look at him and not see themselves in him. And I was like, "Oh...that's really nice. " But no I think it's really important and we've all played in bands for a long time where your music doesn't connect with people, and you're really part of what you made, but it doesn't make that leap. It is insane when people come to the shows and they've got touchies with the lyrics on them, and they've made their homemade t-shirts, and it's just mad because we have bands that are that for us and you never think that you'll be that band for somebody else. But it's a real privilege, I think. Good evening people in Central Park. I've been in Central Park only a couple of times because I guess most of the time we're here we work a lot. But it's amazing, it's really cool to in here, and yeah, especially at the summer stage shows. - Yeah, our first show in New York City was right at the start of the band, it was just as we were exploding online, and we did two shows in one night at Mercury Lounge. And I remember putting those tickets on sale and getting a phone call being like, "There's something wrong with the site," and it was like under a minute and all those tickets had been sold, and that was kind of our first introduction into New York City, the size, the kind of hysteria of it, this place, I love it. - I'm always like, "Is this a prank? Is somebody gonna turn around in a minute and be like it was all made up? Everybody was an actor. You're not actually playing the show. " But we'll see. - There's a lot of history here, and it's an honor and a privilege to play in this space. Throw me No more bones and I will tell you no lies This time At least I am not So cold You give me everything I never deserved This time You know I'll leave Here's to taking what you came for And here's to running off the pain And here's to just another no man If you want another Say you need another Here's to never ending circles And building them on top of me And here's to another no man If you want another Say you need another - It starts raining at 10. - Does it? - Hopefully we're off by 10. - We'll be off by 10, yeah. - I've been checking it all day like a mad psycho. - It keeps getting pushed back. - Yeah, so it has, it's pushed back to 10 now. - I think it's gonna rain us out, I'm not being pessimistic. - Do you guys want to get...should we sign some, we came prepared. - Chvrches is one of my favorite bands and I'm really excited to be here tonight. That's it. - Music takes on meaning when people take it to heart. Otherwise it's just in a vacuum, it's just songs forever. But when people like we've already talked about, when it starts to mean something to them, that's when it starts to mean something. - I guess we are what we are because people didn't just click one song and they liked the tune, they don't care about the band. We're here because people are invested in the band, and they brought those songs into their lives. Get your feedback from people that come to the shows who are invested in the music, and I think that, to me, is a nicer way to evaluate what you're doing. - I decided I wanted to get them something like nice. So I was gonna throw it on the stage, like originally, because I wanted to come here early to be in the front. - We meet again. - Yes. I got this... Oh I just like talked about like how much I love their new album and everything and talked about my favorite songs. And I like Tether, I like the ending part where it suddenly gets like really loud and everything and I like the lyrics, I feel like I relate to them personally. She feels like she's trapped in a relationship and she doesn't really know if she'll leave yet, and she doesn't have the power to leave the relationship. That's what I think the song means to me. That's what I think it means, I mean I'm pretty sure. I'm feeling capable of Seeing the end I'm feeling capable of Saying it's over I'm feeling capable of Seeing the end I'm feeling capable of Saying it's over I'm feeling capable of Seeing the end with that song in particular where maybe both certain relationships being in, where you felt, or where I felt very broken and completely a mess from. And just that feeling of "Okay, I'm not alone in this, and there is a recovery from that. " It's very impactful and then when the music is good that goes along with that, it just kind of takes you to a different place. And if I recover Will you be my comfort? Or it can be over Or we can just leave it here So pick any number Choose any color I've got the answer Open the envelope I'll give you one more chance To say we can change or part ways And you take what you need And you don't need me I'll give you one more chance To say we can change our old ways And you take what you need And you know you don't need me - I think they're tremendously positive when people bring their experiences of our music to us via the internet or in person. I think it's at the root of everything we do, I think any musician is trying to establish a level of communication with the audience, if that's a DJ telling 50,000 people at a festival to put their hands in the air and they do it, that's one route to go. If we're writing songs that help people through a difficult time in their lives, that's another route to go, it's a deeper connection. It's an important part of what we do and we get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from feeling that level of connection with a listener. And it happens all the time, I mean it happens on a daily basis now that someone will write to us and say that they lost a family member or they had a horrendous breakup and that our music was a level of therapy for them, and that's, on a lot of levels why we even do this sort of thing. Star Wars thing was... - It was made for him, wasn't it? - Will you get Jabba the Hut? - The harmony and the beat in Gun are just so perfect and work so perfectly together, so whenever I get down or whenever I need to calm down, that's my go-to song. Did it make you feel so clever? Did you wear it on your sleeve? - Freshman year was a little bit crazy. I moved up from Texas to New York and I had a lot going on. I had to deal with a couple people trying to commit suicide my freshman year, so I just kind of turned to music to hole myself away. So music was always my go-to outlet and when I discovered Chvrches they were always first on my playlist. Hide, hide, I have burned your bridges I will be a gun And it's you I'll come for Hide, hide, now it's all so easy I will be a gun Who are you to tell me how To keep myself afloat I treaded water all the while You stuck in the knife that you held at my back - It's just like a positive message about yourself after everything you through with people. If it sometimes sours or not, there's something that's very strong and consistent through all of their songs. - Well I think hopefully one of the things that people like about our band is that they can hear genuine and authentic emotion in it, and that's just how we write as writers. And I suppose it is something we look for in music that we love. And if people can find something relatable in what you've said and make it their own and personalize it in some way, I think that's really powerful and we all have those songs and those bands. And yeah, it's a very humbling experience when somebody says what you've written matters to them. But then we spent so long being in bands where what you'd written didn't matter to anybody. So, I'd definitely take this version instead of that. - But she sings a lot of lyrics, particularly her songs, where she's like kind of just...she's very like empowered and she gets through experiences very much with herself and who she is intact and going forward. So I like those songs where she's kind of like...so Clearest Blue I think she's singing something like "I can tell that you're not keeping up..." and then, you know. She's like so that's just going to be it, and I'm gonna go... - She loves her. - Well there's a bunch of new songs that we're gonna play tonight which we've only really played once or twice so far, so it's still super, super fresh for us. The one that I'm realy enjoying at the moment out of the new material is Clearest Blue. It has that moment halfway through or two thirds of the way through it kind of explodes, and that's a really great thing to play live, because you can just see people waiting for that moment, and then just letting go and it's a beautiful thing. - But it's...muggy? That would be the term. We have to all cross our fingers that it's not gonna rain during this experience. So we just all think very hard together about how we don't want that to happen. I mean I guess technically I'm under the shelter, so I'm fine. It's more Light is all over us Like it always was Like it always was Shaped, by the clearest blue But it's not enough It's not enough, not enough Just another time I'm caught inside Every open eye Holding on tightly to the sides Never quite learning why You'll meet me, you'll meet me You'll meet me halfway Whenever I feel it coming on You can be well aware If ever I try to push away You can just keep me there So please say you'll meet me Meet me halfway Tied, to the shifting ground Like it always was Like I always was You, were the perfect storm But it's not enough, it's not enough Not enough, not enough Just another time that I go down But you are keeping up Holding to a hope you'll undermine Never to be reversed Just another time I'm caught inside Every open eye Holding on tightly to the sides Never quite learning why Whenever I feel it coming on You can be well aware If ever I try to push away You can just keep me, tell me Tell me tell me, you'll meet me Tell me tell me, you'll keep me Tell me tell me, you'll meet me Will you meet me more than halfway up? Shaped by, clearest blue Shaped by, clearest blue Shaped (will you keep it half-a-way) By, clearest blue (will you keep it half-a-way) Shaped (will you keep it half-a-way) By, clearest blue (will you keep it half-a-way) - Thank you very much, have a great night. - Thank you New York. And I should know We wait for the afterglow To cover the blind side And I should know
A lot has changed for CHVRCHES in the past few years.
When the Glaswegian trio wrote and recorded their debut, The Bones Of What You Believe (2013), no one had heard of them. The three members (Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry) came together with the idea of working on a writing project together, unsure of what path that would take other than one which belied their previous musical projects and foregrounded melody and classic songwriting styles before everything else. There were no pre-existing ideas of what the record would or should be like, no pre-conceptions and nothing to live up to just three people in a basement studio in Glasgow making music they believed in.
The Bones of What You Believe went on to sell over 500,000 albums worldwide. The band enjoyed critical success, with accoladed coming from Pitchfork, Spin, Rolling Stone, Q, NME and many more. They made their debut US TV performance on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, and then went on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show with Letterman and Last Call with Carson Daly. Theyve clocked in 364 shows in 2 years, selling out venues across the world and making signature appearances at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, Lollapalooza, Australasias Laneway Festival, Reading & Leeds, Summer Sonic in Japan and countless others before retiring back into the studio for another go.
Approaching the new album, one could argue that everything is different for the band but they tried not to treat it that way. CHVRCHES returned to the same hometown studio that had housed them during the recording of their first LP, their basic goal to shut off the outside world and get back to what they know best: writing.
Made in CHVRCHES Alucard Studios a converted three-bedroom flat on the southside of Glasgow Every Open Eye offers an alternative approach in a climate of music written by committee or the same handful of well-known songwriters, going back to the idea that a band can write, record and produce their work entirely by themselves.
Using some ideas the band had recorded in venues during their time on the road as a starting point, the band found riffs, loops and melodies they wanted to develop or started from scratch on the synths, pads and machines they had been gathering in their basement to create the instrumentals of the songs. Vocal melodies were developed as the songs took shape with the lyrics added last, developed from words and sentences from notebooks Mayberry had kept on tour.
Musically, Every Open Eye seeks to do more with less. To make big sounds without racking up endless tracks within Cubase sessions. To make something intense and urgent and visceral, using the basic tools of melody, rhythm and arrangement rather than the mentality that 'more is more. Sonically, Every Open Eye develops CHVRCHES signature style, juxtaposing the light and the dark, creating their own brand of twisted pop music that uniquely merges the organic with the electronic, molding sounds and ideas forged over two years on the road into an electronic-pop record with a heart.
Lyrically, Every Open Eye is not a break up album. It is a record about past heartbreaks and getting over them ('Leave A Trace). About perspective and the benefit of hindsight. About being unapologetic and not being told what to do or who to be ('Bury It, 'Never Ending Circles, 'Playing Dead). About moving on to better things, holding on to the good and letting go of the bad ('Down Side Of Me, 'Clearest Blue, 'Afterglow).
Mixed by Spike Stent and mastered by Bob Ludwig, Every Open Eye will be released on September 25, 2015 via Glassnote. Lead single 'Leave A Trace is out on July 16.