What have you learned about yourself and your own limits during the last few years since debut Every Open Eye (2015)?
I have learned that everyone has an opinion about you and they are going to tell you whether you like it or not, so you just have to try as much as possible to block that out, and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. We started this band because we wanted to make music and try to express ourselves and connect with each other, and I try to focus on that. It’s tiring to be constantly trying to please people so if that gets me called a bitch or a slut then I suppose there isn’t really anything I can do about that. I’d rather be honest and genuine than pander to people.
In ace single Get Out, the chorus lyrics change from the accusatory “Get out of here” to a pleading “Can we get out of here?” Do you think contrariness is always present somewhere in close relationships?
I think so. There are only a couple of songs on this record that are actually about romantic relationships but Get Out is one of them, and for me it’s about accepting your own part in a situation rather than just blaming someone else. No one’s perfect and it’s hard to be truly open and vulnerable with someone. Admitting when you’ve been an asshole is an important part of true intimacy with another person, I think.
You guys met The National’s Matt Berninger (who features on single My Enemy) during a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Do you think a wish to do good goes hand-in-hand with the public platform afforded by musical fame?
I think it’s important to recognise your luck and privilege and try to do something positive with it.
This might all go away tomorrow so what kind of person do you want to have been while you were doing it?
When people say that artists shouldn’t comment on things outside of music, it makes me wonder what they think the music is written about. Women’s rights and reproductive rights are relevant to me because I am a woman living in this world, and then I go home and write songs as that same woman, so I don’t understand why people think those things aren’t relevant. Matt is someone we all hugely admire as an artist but it’s been really inspiring to get to know him better and see the positivity he tries to create. Music and film and all kinds of art connect with people in ways a political campaign won’t so if you can find community or understanding or challenge each other’s ideas in a constructive way through those things, I think that’s positive.
Did you always envision that track to be a duet? The lyrics could also work from one perspective, instead of two.
I originally wrote the lyrics thinking they would all be from my perspective and then that changed a little when Martin recorded the verses on the demo. Once we heard a male voice on it, the shape of the melody and the style just made us keep thinking of Matt. He’s such a storyteller in the way he writes and the way he sings. We sent him the demo not thinking he would ever actually record it, but he replied to the email in about 20 minutes and recorded it the next day. It was the most efficient interaction in rock ‘n’ roll history…
You’re releasing the album on cassette (amongst your more regular formats). What was your fave cassette as a child, and did you ever record your own songs or radio shows on cassette?
I DEFINITELY did this. So many attempts at recording songs off the chart show with the intro accidentally cut off… I definitely had all the Spice Girls cassettes, lots of random “Best Of” country / motown / soul ones I’d buy in gas stations, and I remember being very fond of The Colour Of My Love by Celine Dion. That sepia cover…
The clip for Miracle looks like it was a massive endeavour – and kind of dangerous! Were there any scrapes?
All the extras were stunt trained so they were totally on top of it and just mainly yelled at me to get out the way at the right time. Spoiler, I fall onto a crash mat and don’t actually get shoved to the ground. I’m not that committed.
You’re supporting the Girls Rock Glasgow initiative – Australia is also part of the alliance (we have three camps across the nation). Why is the project important to you?
Girls Rock is such an amazing initiative so we’re excited to help them in any way we can. As a teenage girl in bands, it was made very clear to me by other musicians, people in venues, bookers, that you weren’t welcome there – that your presence wasn’t normal or the status quo. When we look at festival bills and note the lack of female performers, it’s all connected. It’s made less accessible for girls every step of the way – and I’ve experienced that in every level of the music industry I’ve been in – so anything we can do to help change that is important.
It is Martin we hear singing on God’s Plan? What was it about this track that you all thought suited his voice more fittingly than your own?
It is! I think the two voices have always been an important part of the CHVRCHES sound and sometimes there’s just something about the shape of the melody or the instrumentation that makes it suit one of us more than the other. He wrote the lyrics for that one too so it makes sense that he should sing it because it’s more personal to him.
Do stripped-back tracks like Really Gone feel extra vulnerable to perform, or does vulnerability come more from how personal the song’s message is, rather than how much of your singing voice it reveals/hides?
I think sharing anything is intimidating but things like Really Gone are definitely more intimidating to perform live. We’ve worked hard on the live show and now it feels like standing still is scarier than running around because then there’s really nowhere to hide. But sometimes the things that scare you are the things you need to do the most.
Love Is Dead is out May 25 (on cassette, CD, limited edition clear vinyl and limited edition clear blue vinyl) via Liberation.
Keep up with the latest Australian release dates for music.