Interview: Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches ... gives an interview to her former place of work
Claire Sawers chats with former work colleague about touring, success and giving up the day job
LGBT and Around Town editor at The List up until a couple of issues ago, Lauren Mayberry is in Chvrches, the synth-pop trio who, just a year after forming, are set to play TITP, then tour with Depeche Mode. She still has time for the little people though, and catches up with former colleague, music editor Claire Sawers while on the road
CS: Hi. So this isn’t weird at all. I’m in the meeting room at The List where you used to come for editorial meetings. Where are you?
LM: Hi! Yeah, let’s pretend this is totally normal. I’m on a bus. In Burbank, California. Talking to you. We’re driving to LA. We played the Mezzanine in San Francisco last night - it reminded the boys [band members Martin Doherty and Iain Cook] and I of that place, the Bait Shop where they always have gigs in The OC.
CS: I imagine quite a lot of things are weird at the moment, considering it’s just over a year since you played your first Chvrches gig. Now you’re touring America, about to support Depeche Mode in Europe, put out your first album this autumn, play Australia, then Japan …
LM: Yeah, it’s a bit bewildering. Definitely. It’s amazing though. We wouldn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, or whine about our first world problems or tour woes or anything. I have a hamster carer now though. Martin [Doherty]’s girlfriend looks after my hamster when we tour. And I keep forgetting the time difference and Skyping my mum really late at night and waking her up.
CS: Do you remember a specific moment when you realised things were starting to happen - and people were taking interest in the band?
LM: Just after we put [much-anticipated second single and follow-up to ‘Lies’] ‘The Mother We Share’ online. I was working at The List, and in a café, and as a TV production runner - I was in the middle of an advert shoot, and I’d left my phone in my bag. I just kept hearing it buzzing on the floor, and it was this stream of texts, and emails and notifications. It went absolutely nuts in the space of about ten hours. That was mental.
CS: You’ve given up journalism - but does your experience there, and having to interview people, help you deal with the media side of things now?
LM: You’d think so, but no. You’d think I’d know how to give amazing soundbites, but I don’t.
CS: How comfortable are you with the press attention - seeing as you’ve been hyped on blogs and in print almost ridiculously ever since your first single came out?
LM: I’ve stopped reading reviews and interviews. Or stressing about YouTube comments. Glowing reports will give you a big head, and someone laying into you - that’s not going to help either. It’s funny, I’ve noticed that even when I say the exact same thing, different writers will draw different things from it - and there’s been a few times when made-up things just get dropped in. I’ve never once Googled myself. I hopefully never will. It would just be another thing to worry about…
CS: As someone who can sometimes be shy and tongue-tied in real life, but much ballsier in your writing, for example, do you enjoy the chance to get ‘into character’ when you’re onstage? Do you carry yourself differently?
LM: When we started, I wondered if I was going to have to do the serious, po-faced, sultry electro singer thing. I tried it for about five minutes of one rehearsal. It’s just not normal for me. I take my hat off to people who can get into a persona, and almost make it like performance art. I can’t. I still get nervous before shows, but I try to - for want of a less cringeworthy phrase - just be myself. Which normally means making awkward jokes.
CS: How nervous will you be before opening for Depeche Mode this summer?
LM: That’ll be nerve-racking for sure. We’re all big fans. I imagine we’ll be trying to discreetly follow them around backstage, like kids in a spy movie or something.
CS: Real talk. What do you miss most about not working for The List anymore. Is it compiling the listings?
LM: Of course! I miss checking all those opening times. Obviously I loved my List job. But jokes aside, it’s the first time in my life where my only job is… making music. So that’s pretty cool. But yeah, I figured it was becoming a bit of a joke writing as a ‘girl Around Town’ when I was no longer even Around Town anymore. It was time to stop…
CS: Where do you hope to be in a year’s time?
LM: A couple more tours, followed by time to take stock after the album’s been out? More festivals, but maybe not running around as much as this summer. There are two kinds of bands; those untouchable, amazing, removed-from-reality bands, and the down-to-earth, relatable ones. We’d definitely like to fall into the latter. Talk to me next year though, when I’m wearing a sparkly onesie, and a feather boa. For the timebeing I say no to the boas.
Chvrches play T in the Park, Sun 14 Jul, http://chvrch.es/