Chvrches have spoken to NME about their new single ‘Over’, the “pressure” of stepping up to play stadiums with Coldplay, and how they’re preparing to mark their 10th year together as a band.
The Scottish trio – comprising Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty – released the anthemic standalone track last Friday (February 24) before confirming three UK headline dates for this summer.
“It’s sort of like a little miniature era between [2021 album] ‘Screen Violence’ and whatever the next year ends up being,” Mayberry told NME of ‘Over’, which was helmed by Swedish producer Oscar Holter (The Weeknd, Coldplay and BTS, Charli XCX).
“I guess normally we kind of strictly abide by the album format and the album campaign format, and we’ll collect songs over the course of months and years, and then make a record.”
While pointing to a yet-to-be-determined future, ‘Over’ harks back to the classic Chvrches sound as Mayberry seeks an escape from a period of personal turmoil (“It’s getting harder to breathe/ So, baby, put me to sleep/ ‘Til it gets better). This widescreen pop style, coupled with a narrative-led approach to writing lyrics, meant the song “didn’t feel right” for ‘Screen Violence’ – an LP that provided commentary on the horrors of modern society and our increasingly digital world.
“It seemed a bit stupid to sit on it for an indeterminate amount of time until we’re ready to work on the next thing,” Mayberry told NME of the reasoning behind dropping the tune now.
“So we kind of figured we would free ourselves from the self-imposed album cycle rules and just put the song out because we have it, and we’ve got loads more touring to do this year. So it felt nice to try something different for a change, go out of our comfort zone.”
Synth player Doherty went on to recall how ‘Over’ “began life” when he and Holter were “having fun and writing songs” together in the studio a few years ago. But he said the early iteration wasn’t necessarily intended for Chvrches, whose catalogue to date is largely self-produced.
“This song was already in existence, and we were excited about it,” Doherty continued. “We brought the song into the fold, and with it we brought Oscar into the fold. So it’s hard to say if that would lead to anything further with any other outside producers.”
He added: “It’s certainly not a blanket indicator of what we intend to do going forward, but it’s not something I would rule out either. Certainly we would have to have a conversation when that happens. We haven’t really thought about it.”
This June, Chvrches will make their return to the stage on these shores with shows at Rock City in Nottingham, Fat Sam’s in Dundee, and the legendary Barrowland Ballroom in their hometown of Glasgow.
“All those gigs will make way more sense in the next couple of months,” Doherty teased, acknowledging how the forthcoming dates curiously fall outside of “the traditional album cycle”.
Mayberry added: “People are like, ‘Why are you doing only three gigs randomly? How lazy is this band that they can’t be arsed to play more than three shows?!’ So yes, there is a wider context.”
Chvrches previously hinted at potential plans to mark the 10th anniversary of their debut studio album, 2013’s ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’. Speaking to NME last summer, Mayberry said the group had been “talk[ing] about it in the pub” but hadn’t “put anything into action” at that point. Have those conversations progressed since then?
“They’re slightly more organised, because we have emails about them now!” the frontwoman responded. “But yeah, it’s been interesting. Everyone’s been looking around to see if there’s any interesting artefacts from that time period. Whether that’s audio stuff, or photos, or video, or any of those things.
“We definitely want to mark it in some way, and it feels significant. Like on one hand, it doesn’t feel like it could possibly have been 10 years. But then on the other hand, it really, really does.”
Mayberry went on: “I think we’re all very grateful to still be here, still be a band making music and have people still care about it enough that they’re bullying us online to do some cool stuff for the anniversary. And I appreciate that – it’s good bullying. It’s a positive reinforcement that they would like something to mark it. So yes, we’ll see what we can do.”
The process of digging through the archives has given the singer “a moment to properly reflect” on Chvrches’ early days. “For me, it was quite a steep learning curve musically, professionally [and] socially,” she told NME of the ‘Bones…’ era. “So I think there’s quite a lot of disassociation involved in that.
“I was definitely there but then I look at it [and] I’m like, ‘Oh, maybe I wasn’t doing as terribly as I thought I was’. Part of me wishes I could go back and be like, ‘Just give yourself a fucking break because you’re trying your hardest, and it’s going to be fine’. I guess that’s the benefit of hindsight, you know.”
Looking ahead, Chvrches are set to give ‘Over’ its live debut when they open for Coldplay on their ‘Music Of The Spheres’ stadium tour in Brazil next week. “No pressure!” Cook laughed. “We’re gonna have a little rehearsal at the start of this before we go into the shows and just pull off the cobwebs, get ready and just go for it.”
Asked how she is feeling as the huge concerts loom, Mayberry told NME: “My mood on it goes and swings and roundabouts. One minute I’m very excited about it, and then the realisation of what it actually is sinks in and I shit my pants. There’s a lot of pressure on everybody, but especially on the front person. I think to cover that amount of ground and figure out how to communicate and connect in that space is quite a big challenge.”
She continued: “But yeah, we’re really excited and grateful for that. And I’ve been trying to get my steps in every day guys, because I need to get my energy levels up, y’know?”
Doherty said it was “a really awesome surprise” when Chvrches were approached to support Coldplay, and remembered some words of wisdom Chris Martin imparted to him when they crossed paths in 2014.
“I met Chris Martin at Radio 1’s Big Weekend just after our first album came out, and he was really lovely, and gave me some great advice about keeping up the momentum and getting in and making your second record,” he told NME.
“I guess what he was saying was that the chance that we had at that time was kind of unusual, and that if we could capitalise on that momentum then maybe we could turn it into a longer-term career. And here we are 10 years later, still going.”
Check back at NME soon for more of our interview with Chvrches.
You can see Chvrches’ current 2023 UK tour dates below, and purchase tickets here. The band were also today announced for the Glastonbury 2023 line-up.
9 – Rock City, Nottingham
10 – Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow
11 – Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow
12 – Fat Sam’s, Dundee
Last year, Chvrches’ Iain Cook and fellow Glaswegian musician and producer Scott Paterson formerly of Sons & Daughters launched new project, Protection – sharing debut single ‘Still Love You’ and telling NME about getting together and what’s to come.
“When you’re starting a new project, it’s very much like feeling out the boundaries of what we can and want to do,” said Cook. “Listening back, we found there weren’t many boundaries but a lot of connective tissue between the songs. If you were to ask me what it was, I don’t think I could tell you.”