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How 2021 Band of the Year CHVRCHES Navigated a COVID-Challenged Galaxy

Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty on their triumphant 2021, getting back into touring, the reality of playing shows in the pandemic

CHVRCHES band of the year interview
CHVRCHES, photo by Sebastian Mlynarski & Kevin J Thomson
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    Our 2021 Annual Report continues with the announcement of CHVRCHES as our Band of the Year. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2021. You can find it all in one place here.


    The last couple of years have undoubtedly been chaotic — and while many artists have used these uncertain times to provide a distraction, others, like CHVRCHES, our 2021 Band of the Year, have embraced that chaos to create profound and inspired works.

    CHVRCHES’ fourth studio album, Screen Violence, features the band working at the highest level since their debut, and with a little bit of cinematic horror and drama added to the mix, they sound like a band renewed. Tracks like “How Not To Drown (featuring Robert Smith),” which landed at No. 8 on our Top Songs of 2021 list, and “Asking For A Friend,” which hearkens back to an older CHVRCHES formula but with even more tact and vibrance, epitomize this odd, ever-changing year. Through the unavoidable fear and anxiety, there’s a powerful sense of determination and focus that elevates these songs to a cathartic level.

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    Chatting with Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty, they appear always to be a close-knit, deeply united trio — though Cook joined the Zoom call separately from a hotel in Chicago, as he had to remain quarantined following a positive COVID test during their run of shows last month.

    Fortunately, Cook recovered and rejoined the band in New York City for the last stretch of their North American tour. Their live show has taken on a Screen Violence-inspired makeover, complete with horror pre-show soundtracks, trippy visuals, and blood-drenched makeup and costume changes from Mayberry. All the while, the band is dedicated to COVID safety protocols, undoubtedly setting the example for what it looks like to responsibly tour amid a global pandemic.

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