Scottish act Chvrches have been special guests on the 2023 Brazil and European legs of the Music Of The Spheres World Tour. We called up Lauren from the band on the day of their last show with Coldplay in Milan, to find out how their experience has been.
Hi Lauren, how are you?
I’m good, thanks. I just went for lunch with Iain from the band and we were reflecting on this whole Coldplay thing. And we were so sad it’s over. But all good things come to an end!
How did you first hear that you were going to be supporting Coldplay?
It was just an email that came through. And I was like, “Why would anybody be emailing us about Coldplay?” But it was obviously an immediate yes for us, like it would be for any band. We’d been trying for years to get to Brazil, and we were never able to make it work. So to be able to go to places like that, and see how beloved Coldplay are there, is genuinely mind blowing.
How was that first night in Sao Paulo? Definitely a baptism of rain!
I felt like we were going in at the deep end, but in the best way possible. I did feel a little bad for the guys in our band, though, because they had to have the little tents over them while they were playing because of the rain. But from day one, all of the Coldplay fanbase has been so kind and so generous.
Is that always the way for a support act?
No, you don’t always get that. We’ve definitely done supports where, especially as a female in a band, the environment has been somewhat unpleasant. We did one support for a band I really love but there were people at the front giving me the finger a bunch of the time. That’s like slagging off your favourite band’s taste! But with Coldplay, in terms of their crowd – and in terms of the tour in general – everyone’s just been so bloody nice.
Had you played stadiums before?
Weirdly, we played the San Siro before, right at the beginning of our band in like 2013, before we even had an album out, when Depeche Mode booked us for four shows. I must say we were quite crap and we were not ready for that at all. But you’re not gonna say no, when the offer comes! That was so long ago, though. It feels like it wasn’t even the same band. But now we feel like we know how to do this properly and we can be a good support act for somebody.
From that first night in Sao Paulo, you’ve certainly looked really comfortable up there.
Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. I can’t say it felt like that! It’s been a big opportunity for our band, but also, it’s a big responsibility. You want to help curate a great evening for people. At the end of every set, I always ask everybody if they’re excited to see Coldplay. That’s kind of my favourite bit. My job at that moment is to be like, “Alright guys, it’s time, get ready!”.
Your wide range of stage outfits has been very impressive too. You must have a very big bag!
This is actually the end of our tour entirely – we finish the album campaign today – and I did have to pack three empty duffel bags into my suitcase so I can take all the outfits home! But, yes, everything is shown online so much more now. As a fan myself, I like it if you’re following along with a tour and you see different things in different places. And also, especially on these bigger stages, you have to think, literally, how do I get seen?
Do you have to perform differently on a stadium stage?
I have definitely been getting my steps in! I’m only 5ft 2, so I don’t cover the ground as quickly as Coldplay! But yeah, I think there’s a specific challenge when you’re not playing to your audience and you’re like, “Okay, well, how do you find a way to communicate this to people?” And I think that’s been a great thing I’ve taken away from watching Coldplay play their show as well: that there could be these really huge moments, but the band still find a way to make it feel intimate for people. Like, how can you still connect with the audience even though there’s 80,000 people there? And I suppose it’s all about personality and how you try and communicate what you’re trying to say. So yes, I’ve definitely been making mental notes.
Is stagecraft and performance something you’re continually honing as an artist?
Yeah, I get so much out of watching other people perform. Chvrches is actually the first band that I’ve done only singing in. I’d always been a keyboard player or a drummer. I was never the person that was saying, “I have to be the frontman”. So that’s something that I’ve had to work quite hard to figure out how to do. When I watch other people do it, who I think are great at it, I’ll think, well, what is it that makes them great, and what is it that I like about that when they’re doing it?
And what did you take from Coldplay?
I just feel like it’s such a generous show. Some performers I go see, I’ll think they’re amazing but the show feels slightly more focused inward and on themselves. And I feel Coldplay’s is just such a generous experience to be a part of. It feels like these are their songs, but they brought them here because they’re your songs too. And that’s a nice thing to feel as a viewer.
You must have watched Coldplay quite a lot now?
I have watched the show many times at this point. I feel like a bit of a superfan! But I always cry at the same parts.
I always get quite emotional at the beginning because there’s something quite primal about being in amongst that many people with that kind of excitement and anticipation. And then I always cry at the singalong bit at the end of The Scientist. That section just resonates so much with people. Because nobody did say it was easy, and no one said it was gonna be this hard. I’m always like, “Oh being a human is difficult”, and then I cry. And then I always have a cry at Yellow, obviously. And then A Sky Full Of Stars. And then Fix You. I thought I would do it like the first couple of times and then I would get over it. But I think the fact that the experience is so profound for people in all these different places just makes me weepy.
Were you a Coldplay fan growing up?
Yeah, I feel like I was the exact correct age for when Parachutes and Rush Of Blood came out. I always think there’s something special for a British teenager who’s in bands seeing other bands go from being played late-night on Radio One to going on the trajectory a band like Coldplay has followed.
For any Coldplay fans reading this who don’t know Chvrches, how would you describe your music?
I would say it’s synth and guitar-driven pop music with an emotional storytelling core.
And your synth and guitar-driven pop music also went down very well at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, even though you’d played with Coldplay in Naples the night before.
We were very stressed about getting there on time! It was two very amazing opportunities and we were like, “We can’t say no to either. We just won’t sleep for some time!”.
It looked like you played a great Glastonbury show to an enormous crowd. It must feel good to be hitting these new peaks this far into your career.
Yeah. And I think we’ve been thinking about that a lot because this year is the 10th anniversary of the first Chvrches album. That album coming out feels like a lifetime ago, but also I’m like “How has 10 years passed?”. But yeah I think we’ve always just been so lucky with people buying our tickets. Our band kind of started on SoundCloud, but then we were able to negotiate with labels because we were already selling tickets. People have always come to our shows. So we’re very, very lucky to have that.
At the Coldplay shows, you’ve also joined the band on the C stage several times to sing Cry Cry Cry. How has that experience been?
Definitely terrifying as a prospect. I knew from following the tour online that sometimes they asked support bands to do that. And I was like, “Well, they wouldn’t ask us would they?” But yeah, it’s so incredibly generous of them to do that. I’m always very conscious that I don’t want to mess up the song! Like, this is their song and also beloved by everybody that’s looking at us right now. I have to do a good job. But again, I think that speaks to just the ethos that the band carry around with them. A lot of the time in the music industry, it feels like music is not a thing that is fun or enjoyable. And these one-off moments at Coldplay’s shows just feel so freeing and spontaneous. But yes, over the course of the month, Chris and I did have a conversation about how I don’t like to make eye contact with him.
And don’t you?
Well I’ve been doing it the last few times we’ve done the C Stage. I’ve been consciously making an effort to, and to stop worrying that I’m going to spontaneously combust! I just think Chvrches are not a very eye contact-y band. But I was like, “Yeah, I suppose I should connect with you on a human level while we play this song”. That’s the purpose of creating music. It was funny when we both realised, though. I was like, “Yeah, sorry, I keep avoiding eye contact”. And he said, “Why do you do that?” And I said, “I dunno, I’m just really Scottish and awkward.”
What have Chvrches got coming up over the next few months?
Well, we have to go make a record. This is the end of our touring for now, so it’s quite a high note to end on. But we’ve been touring this album for like two years, so it’s definitely time for a little break and to think about what comes next. I think we’ll have a bit of a nap and then we’ll start working on tunes down the line.
And the final question we always ask in these interviews: what is your favourite Coldplay song?
Maybe this makes me a very basic bitch but I think The Scientist is one of the most perfect songs ever written. I always say to my friends that if I’d ever written a song as good as that, I’d be like, “Roll me into the road. I’m never writing another song, it’s done for me now.”
Find out more about Chvrches over on their official website