Coldplay Get Pushy
Bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion know expectations are high, but the band put developing their sound first. "When we make an album, we go in predominantly to make one for ourselves," Berryman says, "to prove that we can improve and we can push ourselves further."
To say that Coldplay have reinvented themselves with their third release is an exaggeration, but as they proved on 2002's ten million-selling A Rush of Blood to the Head there is always room to grow. X&Y is quick to identify that progression, revealing their ambition within seconds of the leadoff track. "Square One" opens with a warm electronic sensation and keeps growing into a dense structure filled with unpredictable tangents and an outbreak of strident guitars and sweeping cathedral organs.
But it was Berryman's part-time hobby as a technophile that led to the biggest change on X&Y a heavier electronic presence. Though not as severe as Radiohead's intense adoption of Warp-esque sounds, Berryman dabbled with programming to subtly introduce synthesisers as an alternative to the familiar Coldplay piano. "I was using Logical Audio, and instead of having physical keyboards, you get them as programs to use. I spent a lot of time going through preset sounds and creating sounds," he says. "The late '70s was really the period of music that we were listening to. We'd all been getting into things like Brian Eno and David Bowie, so that was where our influence came from."
Champion agrees that these additions have meant a great step forward for the band's renaissance. "The way in which we instrument songs entirely depends on what sounds best for it; it doesn't necessarily come from a desire to write a keyboard song or a guitar song, just what sounds best for that specific song. It just turned out that a lot of them were more synth-based.
"It's a progression in the terms that we aim for everything to be a progression in how we play our instruments, the production techniques, the videos and artwork, everything had to be something that we'd pushed ourselves with. [The synths] were a progression but that wasn't the important thing in terms of instrumentation, it was what things we were improving. Everything had to be something that we'd pushed."
As they've come to realise, Coldplay can't please everyone, nor can they simply ditch their trademark sound, so those reports of this being a radical companion to Bowie's Lodger or taking the riff from Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" into a whole new direction of Teutonic techno pop should be abolished right now. They are still Coldplay the soft rock band it's okay to like.
"I think we've always said it to each other and we all know that none of us could do it on our own," according to Berryman. "It would be just absolutely terrible. The music we make this is a clichι but it is greater than the sum of our four parts. It's very difficult to imagine not being in this band. We have such an amazing time listening and making music, so why would we want to change that?"
FeaturesJul 03, 2015
Leon BridgesInstant Vintage
She was like, "Is this secular music?" I told her "yes ma'am," Leon Bridges recalls. The playing of or listening to secular music was ve...
FeaturesJul 02, 2015
The Exclaim! QuestionnaireFlorence Welch (of the Machine)
Florence Welch has been on top of the charts ever since her band Florence + the Machine burst onto the scene in 2009 with the breakthrough a...
FeaturesJun 05, 2015
Where I PlayKathryn Calder
"To be honest, I don't know what half this stuff does, but that's okay." Kathryn Calder laughs, sitting in front of the sprawling console in...
FeaturesJun 04, 2015
Brandon FlowersIs A Retro Killer
"For the first eight or nine years of my life all I heard was '80s music, so it's a part of me, I guess." Brandon Flowers is known as th...
FeaturesMay 28, 2015
Patrick WatsonBlinded By Science
An album about robots may seem suited for the kind of experimentalism seen in science fiction, but Patrick Watson — the Montreal-based...
FeaturesMay 26, 2015
Samantha Savage SmithSteps Outside the Box
It took four years for the release of Calgary singer-songwriter Samantha Savage Smith's follow-up to her 2011 debut. In that time Smith has ...
FeaturesMay 26, 2015
High EndsClass Act
There's a line at the start of "Working Man's Blue," the last song on Yukon Blonde frontman Jeffrey Innes's debut LP as High Ends, that goes...
FeaturesMay 11, 2015
Mikal CroninStories We Tell
In a lot of ways, gifted garage rock songwriter Mikal Cronin's MCIII feels like the culmination of the last decade of his life. "About t...