“I don’t really wear this eyeliner stuff in my free time,” says 27-year-old Chvrches front woman Lauren Mayberry over lunch at Kin Shop in the West Village. She momentarily rests her fork on her plate of green curry to gesture toward the swooping, Cleopatra-esque ink that extends past the corners of her brown eyes. “It feels kind of like war paint, though. I think it’s been quite helpful. It’s like I’m taking on a character that’s me but 25 percent tougher.”
Over the past few years — eyeliner or no — Mayberry’s proved she’s full of fight. Since forming in September 2011, Chvrches, a three-piece electropop band from Glasgow that traces a line from ’80s New Wave to modern-day EDM, has seen the kind of out-of-nowhere rise that feels like a distinct product of the viral age. (Even that Roman v was chosen to make the name more easily Google-able. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Mayberry says with a sigh, noticeably tired of explaining that it’s just pronounced “churches.”) The band’s debut single, “Lies,” a shimmering synth-pop gem with a skyscraping, Billy Squier–size beat, ripped through the blogosphere in the summer of 2012. Like Mayberry, who used to front the Scottish twee-pop band Blue Sky Archives, Chvrches’ other members were Glasgow-scene lifers: Iain Cook, 40, used to play in post-rock act Aereogramme; Martin Doherty, 32, was a touring member of the moderately successful indie band the Twilight Sad. But the overwhelming response to “Lies” and its follow-up single, “The Mother We Share,” made this crew of second-act musicians realize that Chvrches, finally, could be their break. They self-recorded their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, on nights and weekends while they all worked day jobs. It paid off. Bones sold half a million copies worldwide.