Chvrches Talks Technology (And 'Ghostbusters')
The synth-pop trio Chvrches is not your average electronic band. The Scottish group embraces technology in its creative process — but that doesn't mean it can't turn in a stellar live performance.
Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty have joined the ranks of Glasgow's most successful musical wunderkind — from Mark Knopfler to Franz Ferdinand to Belle & Sebastian — in less than two years together.
Chvrches' debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, is out this week. The members say their preference for writing and recording with computers allowed them to capture some of the music on the fly — like the song "By the Throat," for which the main vocal was tracked in a motel room while the band was traveling.
"You effectively have a recording rig out on the road with you if you have a laptop and a small interface," Doherty says. "You know, that one day that you're in the mood and you've had a good rest, you open the computer and maybe write a song."
"I think technology is a very important part of modern music in general," Cook adds. "If you think about it, the mixing desk is technology; the piano is technology. Making music involves machines and equipment. I don't see how it does anything other than enhance creativity. To be honest, it opens up the floodgates to possibilities that just aren't an option in the acoustic realm."
The members of Chvrches spoke with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon about their process and influences — including one beloved gem from the Ghostbusters soundtrack. Hear more at the audio link.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
In this era of Pro Tools, Auto-Tune and one-hit wonders created on a Macbook, the synth pop trio Chvrches - with a V - embraces technology. Doesn't mean they can't deliver on stage too. Three (unintelligible) - Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty - make up the group. And in less than two years as a band, they have joined the ranks as some of Glasgow's most successful musical wonder team. Chvrches freshman album, "The Bones of What You Believe," is out this week.
IAIN COOK: I think technology is a very important part of modern music in general. I mean, if you think about it, the mixing desk it technology, the piano is technology. Making music involves machines and equipment. I don't see how it does anything other than enhance creativity. To be honest, it opens the floodgates to possibilities that just aren't an option in a kind of an acoustic realm.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
CHVRCHES: (Singing) (unintelligible)
MARTIN DOHERTY: You effectively have a recording rig out on the road with you if you have a laptop and a small interface. You know, that one day that you're in the mood and you've had a good rest, you open the computer and maybe write a song.
LAUREN MAYBERRY: "By the Throat" is probably the song on the record that has the coolest backstory because we recorded the main vocal line for that in a motel room in El Paso on a travel day. And then it was a good-enough quality that we were happy to put it in with all the rest.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BY THE THROAT")
CHVRCHES: (Singing) (unintelligible) you know by, by tonight. And I will pay for every time. If I could catch you and (unintelligible), I would leave you every time. All that's gold...
DOHERTY: The music is that (unintelligible) from the '80s is the stuff that kind of batties(ph) in your head, especially stuff that was movie soundtracks from the time. I've never said this before but we've been trying to draw inspiration from that song from "Ghostbusters" for years.
COOK: "Saving the Day."
(SOUNDBITE OF HUMMING)
COOK: Of course.
DOHERTY: That's where those bare stubs come from. They're not the same actual harmony but the rhythmic stance is the same.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
CHVRCHES: (Singing) Till you realize that you should go. You can see I'm over your romance. I knew (unintelligible) would never keep your pride from falling.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
COOK: One of the things that you try to do is kind of balance the light with the dark. And I think "Guns" is a really good example of that, because, arrangement-wise, it is one of the lighter, poppier moments in the record. But lyrically, and in terms of the production in (unintelligible) things, it's probably one of the hardest and darkest songs, as well, lyrically.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GUNS")
CHVRCHES: (Singing) Makes you feel so (unintelligible) 'cause you wear it on your sleeve. If you see another venture, well, I was not a part so far entwined.
MAYBERRY: I guess was (unintelligible) for me with that song is that, I think, a lot of people have interpreted as being written up a relationship or written about a guy. Whereas I would have (unintelligible). It's not like I've been feeling a great amount of importance in myself with the lyrics I write but I feel like what the songs mean are important to us at the time when you're writing it or when you're recording it or when you're performing it. But at some point, there's like a transfer of ownership of the song. So, it doesn't necessarily matter to the people who come to the show or the people that love us listening to the record what those songs mean to me. It came as what it means to them, and I think that's quite a powerful thing.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
CHVRCHES: (Singing) So, finally, we agree, no (unintelligible)...
SIMON: And you can watch a video of Chvrches performing live in the studios of Minnesota Public Radio on one of our websites, nprmusic.org. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.