CHICAGO – CHVRCHES had just released the artwork, title, and release date for their second album, Every Open Eye, and their first single, “Leave a Trace,” hit YouTube only a few hours earlier. They’re a couple hours away from playing the Pitchfork Music Festival on a blazing hot Friday evening, their first true gig since taking the five and a half month break to record the album in their hometown of Glasgow.
It’d be only natural if the band is a bit jittery and out of focus, but the only thing lead singer Lauren Mayberry is worried about is a sunburn.
“It’s so hot today,” she tells a small group, including fellow members Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, congregated in the VIP section of the festival under a couple of trees. “Where are the clouds?”
After being offered some SPF 30 sunscreen, she smiles.
“You look like you might burn yourself. I’ve got 50! Do you want some?”
There’s no rust or nervousness evident from any of the three members of the band. The time away to record seems to have reinvigorated all of them, and they like where they are as people – and as a band.
If The Bones of What You Believe, the group’s debut, was about exploration and self-discovery, then Every Open Eye builds on everything that CHVRCHES learned along the way. They made this album for themselves and their fans, and they’re not really concerned about what everyone else thinks about them.
In an age in which it’s almost impossible to drown out the noise, CHVRCHES took a deep breath following the breakthrough success of Bones, and that quiet beat brought them clarity.
“The learning curve of album one was that as careful as you are with your own music and how you project yourself, you can never control what anybody says about you,” Mayberry tells Uproxx. “A certain level of zen must be reached with that or you just go insane. We were conscious when starting to make this album that we really needed to block out as much of that stuff as possible. We had an amazing couple of years on the road and did so many insane things we never thought we’d get to do, and that’s amazing, but after a point, we just have to go back to that place where we could find a sense of normality and structure and routine just to focus on making the album.”
Mayberry chooses her words carefully, and that’s not a surprise – as a former journalist who has been the one asking the questions before, she knows the power words can have far beyond her lyrics.
“You could drive yourself crazy thinking about all those expectations and trying to write something that you think is what people want, or you can try and block it out and write something you feel proud of and trust what you’re doing. I feel like we’re all on the same page with that. We listen to this record, and I’m proud of what we made. It’s a stronger version of the band that’s more sure of ourselves.”