Since releasing ‘The Bones of What You Believe’ in 2013, CHVRCHES have been an absolute revelation, growing from strength to strength. They released their second album ‘Every Eye Open’ in September 2015 and have been touring since, playing major shows and festivals all over the world.
Bangkok fans were left gutted when they had to cancel their performance here in November 2014, but last night, the wait was over, with CHVRCHES finally playing in Bangkok.
We caught up with them to ask them about touring, their music, the industry and if their dreams have been realized.
Read on to find out how Iain wants to be a dog walker, Lauren’s thoughts on working with Hayley Williams and her advice for budding musicians, and Martin’s love for video games.
How does it feel to be in Thailand for the first time, and back in Asia?
Iain: Great to be back in Asia! Always love being here and the food’s always amazing. It just feels like culturally so rich compared to where we’re from. Yeah, it’s really great to be here, despite the jet lag.
You’ve been touring for quite some time now, basically since September 2015. What are the struggles of having such a full schedule, like KL yesterday and Bangkok today.
Martin: You know, the traveling around can affect your routine and rhythm but it’s a small price to pay for what we do. The early mornings and moving around all the time are just … you get used to it eventually. But it’s worth it because we get to play our music for people so far away from Scotland, all over the world. It’s a privilege to do that so we don’t really complain.
Iain: Well, sometimes we do, when we’re tired.
Lauren: Very early mornings, but no complaining other than that.
I read on NME that when you get home for a break you want to get back into everyday life. What does that mean and what do you guys look forward to doing when you get home?
Martin: I just play video games all day. Just have the most normal, uneventful existence possible.
Iain: I might start walking in parks.
Martin: There’s a park next to our house now.
Iain: I hear that normal people do that. Do they do that?
Lauren: Yeah well I think that stuff that’s the most opposite of on tour that you can do like catch up with your friends and family, go to the movies, go to your favorite places to eat. Stuff like that. Cuz those are things you can’t do when you’re far away.
Iain: You could get a dog and then sell it when you go on tour again.
(Lauren and Martin laugh)
Iain: There’s loads of dogs that you can just rent, like a look-after-my-dog service.
You can be a dog walker, that would work!
Iain: A dog walker! Make some money on the side.
Lauren: There’s stuff in New York where you can like temporarily adopt rescue dogs.
Martin: Ah, interesting! But then you won’t want to give it away. This is a terrible idea!
Iain: You’ll fall in love with it.
Martin: I know, it’s a terrible idea.
(Iain) Great to be back in Asia! Always love being here and the food’s always amazing. It just feels like culturally so rich compared to where we’re from.
We love your new single “Bury It”. Do you guys look forward to doing more collaborations like that in the future? Someone asked me to ask you this, but they were like “do you think they’d ever work with an Asian artist”.
Lauren: Well I think the fun thing about Tiger Jams was that we got to hear a lot more music from Thailand and from Malaysia then we have before, because I guess most of the time you go places, you’re just going, doing promo, doing the show and then leaving so you don’t get to experience the local music scene that much. So it was really cool for us to see how many different kinds of bands are coming out of Asia. Generally we haven’t done a lot of collaborations. The thing with Hayley Williams came about really organically and we just kind of kept in touch online and when we were playing in Nashville we asked her if she wanted to come to the show and she mentioned that that song was her favorite on the record so we asked her if she wanted to play it and then we did the Parahoy Cruise with them and after that it just kinda seemed like it would be a nice thing to do, to put the single out for fans to have it.
So it kinda happened organically.
Martin: Yes, it was cool. We’ve never said yes to that sort of thing before, but it’s good.
So it’s new for you.
Lauren: Yeah and I think it just came about quite naturally and we’re all big fans of the band and her voice and she really brought something to the song that wasn’t there before and usually it’s nice to get to work with someone you really admire but I don’t think we have an major plans for anything else in the future, but you never know, we’ll see and take in on a case by case basis.
(Martin) There’s a whole different type of musician and with that there’s the term producer that’s kind of really changed in the last 10 years, as computers got faster and faster people were making their own music and they are the producer but they’re also the writer, also the performer, you know, every aspect of it and that’s really cool. I think it’s just a new way of doing things.
So we saw your 360 tour of your studio, I thought that was really awesome.
Lauren: Ah yeah!
Martin: Actually our manager came up with that idea.
Iain: It was a great idea.
Martin: We need to turn it into a video game so you can shoot stuff and get high scores!
That would be cool because nowadays you can put on VR glasses and stuff could come out of the walls and stuff!
Martin: Multiplayer options with a video controller.
So much video game passion here, I love it!
I’m sure you could work in just about any studio in the world and everybody would love to work with you. Why do you choose to record by yourselves?
Iain: Well we like to be in control.
Iain: Not spend loads of money.
Martin: Well on a serious note it is a bit that to an extent. Partly for cost reasons because we can then invest in equipment instead of investing in someone else’s time and have the kind of creative control we’ve always sort of craved for a project, you know, like the idea of complete ownership. Up to this point for sure. It’s something that we’ve talked about a lot, maybe we will branch out on the third record, maybe we will be open to working with a producer, almost for reasons … like we’ll never know if we don’t try. Just to see, maybe we’ll hit on something unbelievable or maybe it won’t work at all. But we know we’ll always have that space, we’ll always have a way that works for us.
But it’s nice that it’s your choice so if you want to do it you can.
Martin: Yeah, right. We’re in a fortunate position now where we could work with other people or we could invest in different ways to improve our music.
(Lauren) Try to make sure what you’re doing feels authentic to you, that’s the first thing you can do, rather than trying to think about what’s popular or what you should be trying to write. If you’re making something that you believe in then it will be a lot easier for you to connect with other people on that level, I think.
With technology improving and becoming cheaper and easier – nowadays people shoot videos on iPhones and people record stuff in their bedrooms that actually gets on charts and stuff …
Do you think that bands who can record and do things themselves are the future and can disrupt the music industry?
Martin: Oh yeah, we’re a prime example of it, coming through what was kind of an augmented form set up basically you know, it wasn’t like a huge studio. You look at a guy like Calvin Harris who does everything on his own.
Iain: I think there will always still be a place for the kind of high end recording suite cuz it’s a different art form.
Martin: That’s because not every song writer or vocalist or band has someone in the ranks that can do those things on a professional level. But there’s a whole different type of musician and with that there’s the term producer that’s kind of really changed in the last 10 years, as computers got faster and faster people were making their own music and they are the producer but they’re also the writer, also the performer, you know, every aspect of it and that’s really cool. I think it’s just a new way of doing things.
Yes. I was asking as a lot of Thai indie bands are like that as well, which brings me to my next question. There’s over 1,000 indie bands here in Thailand and electronic bands and synth-pop bands are in the upper section of popular bands. A lot of these bands are also big fans of you guys …
Iain: Oh yeah?
… what would be your advice for these musicians who are just getting started and have that dream of playing music?
Lauren: Um, I guess just try to make sure what you’re doing feels authentic to you, that’s the first thing you can do, rather than trying to think about what’s popular or what you should be trying to write. If you’re making something that you believe in then it will be a lot easier for you to connect with other people on that level, I think.
(Iain) I would say that when I was younger my only real ambition in music was to have a sustainable income and like for my passion to be my job at the same time. So now that we’ve graduated beyond that everything we get is incredible and a bonus from here, you know. And it’s weird that it doesn’t feel like we’ve peaked. To me I hope this band never peaks.
I know someone who plays in a band here in Bangkok and they said they played next to you guys when you were back with Aereogramme …
Iain: Ahhhh! What? What’s the band?
His name is Niall and he’s in a band called Sangsom Massacre now. But yeah, just trying to make the point that you guys have really come a long way.
Iain: Yeah we have! (Laughs)
What were your dreams then and do you feel that they have been realized now?
Iain: Yeah I mean I guess the dream was always that we would find some sort of recognition worldwide with that band’s music, but we never really did. And yes indeed they have been realized with this band, way beyond my wildest dreams and expectations. I would say that when I was younger my only real ambition in music was to have a sustainable income and like for my passion to be my job at the same time. So now that we’ve graduated beyond that everything we get is incredible and a bonus from here, you know. And it’s weird that it doesn’t feel like we’ve peaked. To me I hope this band never peaks, that the band just keep doing what it does and I think that kind of arc, like thinking about it in those terms is actually a negative thought. Just keep doing what you’re doing and hopefully you’ll keep reaching more people.
Martin: It’s about being the best version of yourselves. Let everyone else take care of what they think about you. You don’t have to lose any sleep over that.
Written by Abner Olivieri and contributed to by Kris Ongrattanasenee