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#1 12 Coldplay Months of 2010: JUNE (7 Antiques Dealt?)
24-12-2010, 05:08 PM
So June 2010 in the world of Coldplay it is then. What happened? You'd be forgiven for putting your favourite band on the backburner as apparently June saw the entire globe go crazy for something called the World Cup which I vaguely recall come to mention it. We saw Roadie #42 return with two blogs in June. Will Champion revealed yet more irritations towards the band's record label EMI and Guy Berryman had an interesting month which saw the release of the deluxe edition of Apparatjik's debut album We Are Here and the creation of his own antique's dealing company alongside his brother Mark. Jon Hopkins came out of the shadows to talk about life with Coldplay to Coldplayzone.it and we also saw another blog from Coldplayings own alternative blogger Roadie #43! Oh and the Pet Shop Boys performed their version of Viva La Vida at Glastonbury!
Roadie #42 returned after a two month absence detailing the strenuous song writing phase the band were going through under Brian Eno's guardianship but also revealing that LP5 had some 'killer tunes' lined up. The blog in question led to some media speculation with several news outlets stating that the new record was scheduled to be released by Christmas - sensationalist or what?! Below is the full blog from the 3rd June.
"Greetings to you from Budapest. I'm nearing the end of a two week break from the studio. We're back in on Monday. I greet you hanging my head and begging forgiveness. Yes, seven weeks is an obscenely long time to be leaving you hanging. Apart from this couple of weeks of being a civilian, my primary distraction has been that they've asked me to get a little more involved engineering on the record. This means I've spent a great deal of time trying to work out exactly what plugs in where and more importantly, why...
I'm far enough along the learning curve now though, to return to my primary responsibilities of keeping you wonderful folks posted of progress. If you'll forgive me this once, I promise that when we make it back next week I'll more than make it up to you - how's that? ;-)
So anyway, enough of excuses, what's been going on? Well, "Your skin and bones, turn into something beautiful...." was the first hook that Coldplay sank into many people - and it also pretty much perfectly describes progress over the last month.
With the project getting something of a reboot after Latin America, they've been very much back in the exploratory phase again. As described in the previous blog, there is a list of songs now and those songs have verses, choruses, riffs, lyrics and so on. These are the raw materials, though. Unrefined and rough, this is the record's skin and bones, if you will. The "turning into something beautiful" bit, is the result of two methodologies.
The first is a huge amount of sheer graft and attention to detail. Brian Eno calls it "screwdriver work" and he's not much of a fan of it. It's the real craftsmanship of the songwriting phase. Everything is tried and changed, analysed and re-appraised. All in search of an approach that will yield the magic they're seeking. Leaving no stone unturned means that the elusive "perfect arrangement" or "getting everything to sit just right" will be achieved no matter how much work is required to get there.
The second method, is the lightning bolt of "happy accidents". Sometimes, the thing that ignites a tune appears to come completely out of nowhere - and you'd need to do a lot of retracing of steps just to work out exactly who triggered it. It could be as simple as someone playing a part with the wrong sound in error, or it could be Will noodling distractedly on his drum machine and Chris jumping on it and putting it under the verse of a song from another day.
Both things get the record made and neither can be invoked by attempting the other. Sitting around waiting for inspiration doesn't get the hard work done and long conversations and methodical approaches can waste hours when a single snap of brilliance can change everything in an instant.
It's this growth and evolution of the songs in the studio that I've never witnessed before (previously, I've only ever been with the guys on the road). I remember first hearing Lost! during the X&Y tour. We were in an empty arena one afternoon in Chicago. Chris asked me to record a bunch of demos with just him onstage in the empty venue at the piano he plays in the gig. He put down about a dozen ideas that day, but I remember Lost! jumping out at me immediately as a great song, even as just a sketch in an echoey arena.
The next time that I heard Lost! was when the album had been completed and we were making preparations for touring. It was like seeing a favourite nephew for the first time in years and saying "My how you've grown". (Although if I remember correctly, my exact quote at the time was "Wow, I've always loved this song, I'm really glad you didn't fuck it up..."). There are already several tunes for this next record that everyone has their eyes on - and plainly there is absolutely no intention of fucking them up.
In other news, Brian has been dropping in regularly, but has also been leaving the band to get on with things alone. It's been noted that he's having as much effect on the record when he isn't here as when he is. The band observed a little while ago that very often when they were working without him and getting stuck, they'd think of something that he would say and apply it, getting them "over the hump".
To this end, they asked Brian to come up with ten commandments that could hang on the wall and could be applied to every dilemma. Of course this isn't brand new, Brian's Oblique Strategy Cards are themselves as famous as many pieces of studio equipment. Here though, Brian's Ten Commandments (of which of course, there are eleven) are tailored to this project and provide strong guidelines for just how these songs will grow up.
Just as every child needs to be shown wrong from right, the songs are now free to express themselves in any way they choose - whilst knowing that if they're caught doing what they know they shouldn't, they'll be getting a hard stare at the very least. I've seen Chris on more than one occasion get halfway through playing something a little too flowery or "done before", before breaking down in laughter and shaking his head, saying "All I can hear in the back of my head is Brian telling me off".
It has to be said, that throughout the entire band, the Eno impersonations are becoming quite uncanny.
All of that of course, makes it sound as though Brian is somewhat tyrannical and negative, which simply couldn't be further from the truth. When he arrives in the studio control room, he brings with him his very own portable sunshine of enthusiasm. His excitement is very contagious and addictive. He's like a naughty schoolfriend who encourages anyone he comes into contact with to try things that maybe they shouldn't, or maybe go exploring somewhere exciting that their parents have told them to stay away from. He's a true dichotomy, part benevolent schoolmaster (nod to Phil…) and part wonderfully bad influence. He plays both roles extremely well and the results speak for themselves.
So, now we're on a break for a couple of weeks, giving everyone the chance to spend some time with families. As before, a gap in proceedings made for a great deadline and a deadline became a great motivator. The most recent few weeks were a real concerted effort to push every song to a place that everyone was excited about.
Anything that's not as great as the current favourite song gets strong focus. Problems get the spotlight so that they can't hide. A verse that's not flowing into the bridge gracefully can get a whole day's attention - the screwdrivers have well and truly been out.
The ongoing war on obstructions to greatness was further escalated with the arrival of Markus Dravs. He was back in the camp for the last few days before the break. I've seen him referred to as "Drillmaster Dravs" on one the studio whiteboards and now I can see why. He's not one for letting folks slack. Markus, for those of you who don't know is German.
His grasp of the English language is of course perfect - it even extends well down the road of a superb appreciation of dry British humour. When he was studying the phrasebook though, he appears not to have learnt the phrases "that'll do" or "good enough". I don't imagine he's ever uttered the words "can't be arsed" either. No wonder he fits in so well around here...
To round off the last week before the break, Rik was asked to put together "monitor mixes" of all of the songs in progress. The band and Markus sit down for a listen through on the final day. The plan is to work through every one of the songs in progress - to listen to it, discuss it and then play it together out in the live room.
Inevitably, it's an overambitious plan and the day slips away before they get through the whole list. Something very interesting happens though as they make it through listening to the first few songs.
After weeks and weeks of working on the tiny details, of only paying attention to the flaws, they are now standing back and trying to objectively experience what they have made so far. I could be mistaken, but it genuinely felt as though there was real excitement spreading through the room. Perhaps it began to dawn on the fellas that what they have here is more than just a collection of intros, verses and choruses.
The songs haven't assumed their final beautiful form yet, but they're a very long way from their skin and bones phase. What's impossible not to conclude though, is that they have some absolutely killer tunes. I have no idea whether the fellas left for their break proud of what they've achieved so far and excited about what they have here, but I really hope so. They should be.
Close to the end of the month we got another (TWO IN ONE MONTH - HE WAS REALLY COMMITTED!) blog from everyone's favourite Roadie this time detailing the workings of a particular song the guys had been working on in a very much refreshing summery atmosphere within the Beehive. You can read that second blog of the month here at:
Meanwhile Will Champion spilled the beans over the band's discontent at EMI's handling of their 3rd release X&Y in an article in The Times. The importance of Coldplay was so paramount to the company's future that Champion revealed that company executives were making ill advised trips to the studio advising the band over future single releases.
“EMI didn’t handle it very well, as far as we were concerned,” Will Champion remembers. “We really didn’t need [label executives] coming down to the studio and telling us what the singles should be. It got to the point where, on our website, we were going to put a little EMI share index, so you could watch it go up and down according to what we were doing.” EMI's dramas continued as executive chairman Charles Allen resigned from his position at the troubled record label.
Following the release of their debut album We Are Here in February, Guy Berryman's side project Apparatjik released the deluxe version of the album accompanied by their May release of the 3 track E.P entitled "4 Can Keep A Secret If 3 Of Them Are Dead". Mike Diver from BBC Music gave a particularly glowing review of the supergroup's work writing that "Apparatjik could easily attain an admirable level of recognition – and there’s every suggestion that they could create something even more magical than this album, if allowed." You can read the full review below as well as a link to the title song of their EP.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo7STJWzV1Y"]YouTube - Apparatjik - Video #3 - 4 Can Keep A Secret If 3 Of Them Are Dead[/ame]
According to The Sun it was also revealed that Guy had become a bit of a Lovejoy after he set up his own antiques dealing company with his brother Mark called 'Berryman's Antiques'! Surreal as it sounds the company which is based in Sweden home of Mark Berryman, seeks to repair damaged Scandanavian antique items and sell them to UK bidders over the internet with prices ranging from the hundreds to the thousands!
June also saw Viva La Vida and Death And All His Friends collaborator and co producer Jon Hopkins give a fantastic exclusive interview to Coldplayzone.it in which he told readers about his experiences working with and supporting the band.
Hello Jon! It's a real honour and a great pleasure for Coldplayzone to interview you. How are you?
Hello. Thanks very much, I'm well. I'm on my way back from a show I just had in Montreal which was very fun.
Coldplay's fans (I'm completely aware of what I'm saying, since I'm one of them) owe to you such many things, like the microcosm of ideas you developed during the production of 'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends'. Your main music genre - electronic music – wasn't so related to the band's ideas in the early steps of their career. How much did the relationship with Brian Eno and the confidence of Chris and the rest of the band in your music skills influence the perfect fusion of such different sounds?
I think the band and Brian were looking to expand the palette of sounds they had become accustomed to using on their previous albums. They were interested in exploring different ways of working, and particularly in the idea of working with new musicians, to break up the routine of what they have become used to...
During the recording sessions, how does electronic music come into play in the raw elaboration of the songs? How much does the fusion process affect the two creative trends?
Our collaboration begun with me jamming on keys with the band while they played through the songs, which were at the time only partly formed. It's hard to say how much that influenced the further writing but it was good to see parts that I had come up with in those first sessions surviving all the way to the final mix.
In 'Viva' your contribution and your work can be seen in more features than those reported on the official booklet. In the intro of 'Life In Technicolor' and the mainstream of 'The Escapist' your own style can be noticed very clearly, but most people don't know that also the intro of 'Violet Hill' is yours (you worked on it with Davide Rossi, we'll speak about him later on in the interview), as other notes of organ, harmonium and keyboards. Which one was the hardest for you to work on?
No particular element was more difficult than any other, but I had different levels of responsibility on each song, and so probably felt different levels of pressure corresponding to that. Prospekt's March in particular, one of the ones I co-produced, was largely my responsibility in terms of sounds and arrangement, so I remember having some very late nights working on that one.
Could you tell us something more about the intro to 'Violet Hill'? How it was born? But, most importantly, what did Brian Eno think listening to it then, since the sound elements of those 34 seconds are related to the ambient music, which he was an expert of in the past?
That came about when Davide Rossi and myself were improvising together in the studio, and though we didn't know this at the time, Chris and Rik (Simpson) were listening to what we were doing and recording it. We went back into the control room to discover they were really excited about how it was sounding. I've never actually had a conversation with Brian about it though, he wasn't there at the time, I'm don't know what he thinks of it (he laughs, ndr)
The official booklet of the album tells about one particular feature you took care of: the 'colouring'. What is it exactly?
That was a word Chris and I came up with to describe those elements that I contributed which can't easily be described with a traditional credit. They would usually be atmospheric elements, or processes I added to instruments the band had played, things like that.
Coldplay allowed people to know your music, having you performing live as a 'supporting act' before their shows, 15 times at least. Which one of them was the most amazing for you? And what kind of atmosphere did you sense before and after the show?
It was a lot more times than that I think, I did two American tours, one Japanese tour and the whole UK tour. I think the Japanese tour was the most enjoyable, I'd never been there before and had always been fascinated by the difference in culture. Plus Davide Rossi came with us on that tour, to join me on stage.
With the ping-pong, the sparks, the playstation and the buttons sewing for the uniforms, every backstage must have been very chaotic and ruled by time constraints. Do you recall anything in particular that caught your attention, among those intense moments?
Not really as I tended to spend the time leading up to the show getting very nervous and getting my thoughts together - then after my show, I had to go and DJ at Front of House until the band came on. Then I would usually watch the show. Although backstage was always busy, with people running about everywhere doing stuff, the band's dressing room was always a peaceful place.
Through this happy experience, you got to know a great work colleague, Davide Rossi (who, to the Italian fans of Coldplay, is a sort of divinity). What can you tell us about him as a musician, and as a friend? How does your approach change when you two work together or by yourselves?
Dav is great fun to work with. I've rarely met anyone who works so hard and to such a high level. We've worked together on a few projects since then, and he joins me on stage at my shows whenever it's possible. When we're working on the same project we tend to work in separate rooms but frequently play eachother what we've worked on. Generally we seem to have quite an instinctive communication within music.
Give us just an adjective to describe Chris, Jon, Will and Guy...
They're all very funny guys, great to work and hang out with.
We know you have a taste for 'Politik'. Apart from the first track of 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head', which are the three songs by Coldplay of your own A-list?
Probably Death And All His Friends, Glass Of Water and Yellow.
Let's talk about you now. Jon Hopkins officially became a musician at the age of 5, when you began to plonk away on piano. Later, you attended the 'Royal College Of Music' in London. After that your learning experiences started to change. How did you get from your institutional and 'classic' training to electronic music?
The two things developed independently, at the same time - I was becoming much more interested in electronic music at the same time as learning the piano, and eventually stopped all piano training at 17 in favour of focussing on composing electronically.
Every artist has his own music influences. What about yours?
The most obvious one I guess would be Brian. I've been a fan of his for a long time now. Otherwise I'd say electronic artists such as Plaid, Four Tet, Nathan Fake, things like that.
When did you feel aware that something was changing in your work, leading you from an early and uncertain career into the success you are living now?
I guess one thing that really made me realise things were changing was when I did a week of work on the Viva album in LA with just Chris, and we worked on the electronic side of Prospekt's March and The Escapist. This was only a few months after I'd started work with the band and so it all felt pretty new and strange. Previously I'd been used to working in small studios on my own - and then suddenly I'm in LA working in an awesome studio with one of the biggest acts in the world. It felt surreal but was amazing.
How do you feel, personally, when you are composing your tracks?
Usually pretty excited. Few things beat the feeling you get when you know you've hit on something good in a new tune.
'Opalescent' and that brilliant masterpiece 'Private Universe', then 'Contact Note' dominated by the song 'Circle' that we could listen to before the shows of Coldplay and finally 'Insides' with the 'upsetting' 'The Wider Sun' and 'Vessel' on which also Davide Rossi worked on, but above all 'Light Through The Veins', the mother of 'Life In Technicolor' and its related songs. They're all albums that achieved a big success in the electronic music scene. Which one do you think is the music production that better represents your work so far?
Definitely Insides. In my opinion it has a lot more depth and contrast than the previous two albums.
What do you think about Italy and Italian people warmth? We know that you've been here many times during your career...
I love playing in Italy. I've been lucky enough to be have a lot of chances to play there over the last few months. I've always found the Italian audiences to be very warm and responsive and always look forward to going back.
You've recently created your official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/jonhopkinsmusic) and started on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/jon_hopkins). Do you think that a social network can help to better feel the support of your fans across the world? One of them (I don't know if you had a chance to watch it) even posted a link of a YouTube video that features a remix of 'Light Trough The Veins', 'Life In Technicolor', 'Life In Technicolor ii' and 'The Escapist'...
Yes I have found the Facebook page to be a very easy way to communicate directly with people who are interested in my music. I haven't heard that remix I don't think but I will check it out.
You've collaborated with great artists such as Coldplay, Brian Eno, David Holmes, Imogen Heap, and King Creosote, and have remixed Four Tet, Wild Beasts, Frou Frou and many more. Can you tell us something about your future projects? And again...are you going to be in the credits of the LP5 that the four guys are going to release sooner or later?
I have recently finished my first solo film score for a film called 'Monsters', which comes out in a few months. I'm really excited about this, it's an amazing film. Otherwise I am trying to get started on a fourth solo record. I have been asked by Chris to work on the next album but I don't know when yet.
We really thank you for you kindness and for the time you gave us for this interview. Would you like to say something to the community of Coldplayzone that got to know you through Coldplay and so learned to appreciate your music? Ok, I give you a hint: 'Life In Technicolor ii' is like an 'institution' here in Italy!
Thanks for all the support!
Of course for every #42 blog their surely has to one by the infamous Roadie #43, Coldplaying's own "missionary" into the goings on of the band. June featured a bizarre (to say the least) "interview" with "Chris Martin".
R#43: “Good to see you, Chris.”
Chris: “It’s good to see you too, Millard...”
R#43: “Now, first things first. You ARE the real Chris Martin, correct?”
Chris: “Well, you’re the real Roadie #42, aren’t you?”
R#43: “Uh, yeah, sure, why not.”
Chris: “Listen, this had better be quick. My daughter, Banana, has a recital later today.”
R#43: “Don’t you mean Apple?”
Chris: “That’s what I said, wasn’t it?”
R#43: “Are you sure you’re not just some James Morrison-type doppelganger?”
Chris: “Depends on how much I’m being paid for this interview!”
R#43: “Let’s move on. How is the new material coming along?”
Chris: “Oh, it sounds fantastic! Just to make things even more experimental, we put Jonny on the drums and Will on bass just to mix things up a little, you know. As for me, I’ve decided to take up playing the triangle!”
R#43: “That’s fascinating, Chris! How involved is Brian Eno on the production side?”
Chris: “Oh, that old bum? Every time I would play something, that bald coot would yell at me for being too overdone and similar to past material. So we replaced him with a scarecrow. After all, we do plan on starting a new musical – and spiritual - revolution that will usher in a new age of enlightenment and prosperity!”
R#43: “Mmm hmm. Any ideas yet for a title for the next album?”Chris: “Well, so far the material has sort of a rainbow-y feel to it, so we were thinking something along the lines of ’In Rainbows’.”
R#43: “Wow, what an incredibly original and inspiring name!”
Chris: “Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.”
R#43: “So, this apparent leak…is it real? Is that truly your voice?”
Chris: “I could tell you…but then I’d have to kill you.”
R#43: “Some of our readers at Coldplaying.com had some questions for you, Chris. Coldplaying@Hogwarts asks if Jonny’s favorite food really is cake.”
Chris: “Oh my, yes! The entire reason Jonny got married is so he could have the world’s biggest wedding cake! He even says he wants to purposely divorce and re-marry his wife over and over again just so he can keep having gigantic cakes made for him!”
R#43: “That’s a brilliant idea! He should marry all sorts of fangirls just so he can have cake! Everyone’s a winner!”
Chris: “I know, right?”
R#43: “Totally. Moving on, MelColdplay on Twitter wants to know what you think about Latin American fans.”
Chris: “They’re the best fans in the world! Every time we play there, they just get louder and louder! It’s a darn good thing they know what the phrase ‘Viva La Vida’ actually translates to, because I sure as hell don’t!”
R#43: “She would also like to know what your biggest fault is.”
Chris: “Well, to be quite honest, I don’t think I’m nearly deserving of the success that Coldplay has gotten. In fact, I think we suck. But mostly I’m ashamed of the fact that I won’t ever be able to appease all my adoring fangirls with whatever dirty favors they may want from me. I just too loyal to my wife, Anne Hathaway.”
R#43: “You mean Gwyneth Paltrow? You know, for someone who claims to be the real Chris Martin, you sure are forgetful of family names!”
Chris: “Hey, I’m a rock star! It doesn’t matter what you or Will Berryman think!”
R#43: “Okay, then, prove it. Say something only the real Chris Martin would say.”
Chris: “My balls hurt.”
R#43: “Hmm…it’s true that Chris DOES like to talk about his balls a lot. Good enough for me!”
Chris: “No, I wasn’t answering your question! My balls really do hurt!”
R#43: “You're a funny guy, Chris. Time for one final question that we ask all our guests in our interviews – What is your favorite Coldplay song?”
Chris: “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
R#43: “Wow, me too! Hey wait, I thought…”
Chrisyawning) “Well, I gotta run now. Catch ya later!”
R#43: “Oh, uh, thanks Chris! There you have it, folks, an exclusive interview with the one and only Chris Martin…I think. I’m gonna go get hammered after a long day of doing nothing productive. Toodles!”
Yes - this review of June 2010 of Coldplay features a piss take. Slow news month? Of course not! I wouldn't be surprised if next month's review of July 2010 features that incredible duet with Dame Edna Everage and Chris Martin singing a cover of Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In The Name Of'...or did I just dream that? Probably the latter. Still to end this review I will leave you in the good hands of the Pet Shop Boys at Glastonbury performing a wonderful techno/electronic (and incredibly camp) cover of Viva La Vida.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y8JyDbwmRg"]YouTube - The Pet Shop Boys Glastonbury 2010 - Its a Sin & Viva La Vida[/ame]
John Atkinson Grimshaw - Southwark Bridge by Moonlight
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
- in Guy's pants officially :D
Thumbs Up Received: 0
024-12-2010, 05:17 PM
nice review Peter!
024-12-2010, 05:24 PM
Why, thank you!
John Atkinson Grimshaw - Southwark Bridge by Moonlight
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
- in Guy's pants officially :D
Thumbs Up Received: 0
024-12-2010, 05:29 PM
It was hard to choose between Guy's antique business and Apparatjiks We are here...
024-12-2010, 05:36 PM
Voted for Guy's antiques business just because it's so surreal.
Don't know why I committed a blatant grammatical error by putting an apostrophe in "set's" on the option though!
John Atkinson Grimshaw - Southwark Bridge by Moonlight