It would seem that the impending Prospekt’s March EP release has sent the band (and Chris in particular) into that familiar Coldplay overdrive. It’s a day off today, but the term seems to mean little to one Mr. Martin. I’ve tagged along as he meets up with Viva’s co-producer Rik Simpson to "put some ideas down". I remember talking to Rik ages ago about how some songs arrive right at the end of a project – and that sometimes they are the best ones. He was saying that he reckons it’s down to the fact that the creative juices are still flowing but there is suddenly the joy of the pressure being off. So, with "Prospekts March" finished and on its way, here he is with the tap still running.
Songs at this point are sketches, they are mere collections of chord progressions, riffs and melodies. From these seeds though, all the good stuff will happen. It’s partly about getting things down at this stage – so that the flood of ideas doesn’t end up slipping away forgotten. It’s also about being able to hear things back and evaluate them, not necessarily now, but further down the line when work proper on the next record begins.
One part of the recording studio experience that I always forget is that of utter silence. Studio control rooms have large amounts of money spent on correct acoustic treatment, to ensure that the recording engineer can hear every detail of the work at hand. For the roadie, this brings the opportunity to realise just how bad one’s tinnitus is. The ringing in my ears is usually just a dull roar, covered by the sounds of air conditioning, traffic or other background noises. Here though, there’s no getting away from it. Thankfully, the coffee is strong enough to leave me grinding my teethfor most of the evening and the sound of this helps mask the worst ofit.
For a moment, I’m reminded that for a very short time, Rik joined the Coldplay roadcrew. It was back on the Rush Of Blood tour. I remember him having a grand old time and being proud as punch that he had achieved full roadie status the day he bought a torch (flashlight) with a leather belt holster. Once they get into recording a particularly dramatic and atmospheric piece, the lights get dimmed to a point where I bet he’s wishing he had it with him once again. He’s fumbling around checking cables in the almost pitch black of the control room. Dan Green, the band’s live soundman is here and fades up the lights. The dimmer makes a tiny but piercing squeal that merges in with the string part that Chris is playing at the synth. "Brilliant!" he shouts, as if it had been deliberate, before finding the note and incorporating it into the piece. Meanwhile, Rik is holding his iPhone out to light the back of the machine he’s fixing. Good to see that making it up as you go along isn’t just something that happens at gigs…
Revisiting another conversation from times past, I have to recall Chris talking at the end of the X&Y tour about "becoming a big band". "We’ve just got the job" was his quote. He repeated this emphatically and claimed that they had to do something with it, that they had a responsibility to become great if it was to continue. (I may be misquoting that bit, but you get the idea). Well, it seems that they’re not just taking the job seriously, but they’re putting in the overtime, too….