Audeze interviews Iain Cook of Chvrches

Iain Cook is one of the primary members of the band Chvrches, who approached Audeze during the Covid lockdown of 2020 while working on their album Screen Violence. The band wanted LCD-Xs to bridge the gap of not being able to work in the same studio, and they used them for writing, recording and mixing the album.

 

Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett / Dork

"I have been working daily with the LCD-X... I would be lost without them!... the mixes I have done on them seem to translate really well, they give me a really solid and reliable reference that I find to be invaluable." - Iain Cook of Chvrches
Here's our chat with Iain:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

I think one of my favourites is the song Recover from our first album. I don’t tend to listen back to our music very often once it is released but periodically I hear this song and think it still sounds fresh and interesting.

How would you each define your main roles on most of the projects you work on?

It’s a tricky one to pin down exactly because Martin (Doherty) and I have a lot of crossover skills like melody writing, production, arrangement and mixing. Lauren (Mayberry) writes the lyrics once most of the song is in place. Martin has a very strong and unique sense of melody and rhythm.

How did you all get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I can’t speak for the others but my background musically started playing piano as a child then discovering bass guitar through being the double bass player in the school orchestra and doing the odd musical theatre job. I ended up playing in a church band for many years which was musically formative in many ways. I taught myself guitar from there and got really into prog rock and metal. I ended up being guitarist/arranger for a band called Aereogramme for nearly a decade during which time I got into electronics and orchestral arranging which fed into a period of writing music for TV and film. I feel in my role in Chvrches I pull on all of these things from time to time.

Can you name any factors you feel majorly influenced the course of your musical lives? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

Too many to mention all the specifics but we did get to support Depeche Mode in four stadiums in Europe. For a young band with a predominantly DIY attitude that felt like a real trial by fire but I think we just about pulled it off. Meeting them was lovely and inspiring.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

A recent one that comes to mind is the very recent realisation that no one knows the music like the people who made it and on this latest album, we decided to handle most of the mixing of the album ourselves. It felt a little daunting at first but once we had a couple of songs in the bag, we started to grow in confidence and I think the results are really dynamic and full sounding in the way that we hoped the songs would eventually sound.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

We are currently obsessed with the new transformer based Shelford Channel by Rupert Neve. We are using a pair of them to print a lot of the parts in our arrangements and the colouring options on offer are mind blowing. We have also really been enjoying the Moog One synthesiser. It’s an absolute beast but I think it has pretty limitless potential.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

I feel like any modern musician starting out should learn as many different cross applicable skills as possible. It’s entirely possible with plugins and sample libraries and free online resources like YouTube to learn so much about every stage of the process of making music. The most important element is the thirst for knowledge, and improvement. It will take a ton of time but you don’t have to go to college or spend any money to educate yourself and gain experience. Collaboration too is a very important element. Finding the right person/people is the tricky part, but you can learn so much from other musicians.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I am a little bit of a headphone obsessive, I have too many pairs but the quest to find the right phones for the right job feels like a never ending one. Because we made this latest album in lockdown, 5000 miles apart, we were constantly on headphones, using a combination of Zoom and screen sharing apps and ListenTo by Audiomovers. It took a while to figure out but we eventually figured out a setup that was dynamic and productive. I think having the same reliable monitoring setup in this kind of long distance collaboration is vital, so we were all on the same headphones (LCD-Xs) throughout the writing and production process.

I have been working daily with the LCD-X now for months and feel like I would be lost without them! If I lost or broke them I would get another pair immediately. I find the soundstage and imaging to be more ‘lifelike’ than any headphones I have ever used. I find that the mixes I have done on them seem to translate really well, they give me a really solid and reliable reference that I find to be invaluable.