So if we didn’t make enough noise about this last year, let us remind you. In December 2016 Coldplay quietly took up a residence at our Sydney Studios to work on some music whilst they were in Australia on tour. These sessions marked the last official band recording in our legendary Studio One before our 2017 relocation to commence construction of our new facility.
Whilst frontman Chris Martin had announced that the quartet had plans to release a new EP this year, the crew here at 301 spent the first few months patiently waiting. Finally some music has emerged from these sessions and it’s making a pretty big impact to say the least.
The first to be released on February 22nd was a collaboration between The Chainsmokers & Coldplay called “Something Just Like This” which broke the official YouTube Record for Most Single-Day Lyric Video Views.
The second was Coldplay’s own song called “Hypnotised‘ which was a surprise release on March 2nd that coincided with Chris Martin’s birthday. Additionally with this release the band officially announced the date of their upcoming new EP!
So with all the Coldplay buzz happening we reconnected with our 301 in house engineer Owen Butcher who assisted on these sessions to talk about what it was like working with the band and hearing some of this new music for the first time.
Here’s Owen’s recollection of working with Coldplay and their long-time producer Rik Simpson.
“Working with Coldplay and their producers Rik and Dan was a great experience. They have all worked together for a long time, so they make a very cohesive recording unit. lot of the time was spent supporting them technically and generally just making things happen in a way they needed it. The band have a very fluid approach to recording, where they have a basic structure worked out of what they want to play, but it’s open enough for new writing ideas to come forth and be integrated into the sound very quickly, no matter which band member the idea comes from.
Chris spends a lot of time in the studio, so he would bring the songs to the table in a demo form and let the rest of the guys work out parts that fit and finish it off. It’s a very hands on approach as they’re all playing instruments live while doing this, so you’ve got all four band members playing together. They’re semi isolated sound wise from each other, though the piano and guitar were in the same room, but sight communication is key and trumps the need for complete isolation. A bit of spill doesn’t bother them if the song is good!
The Chainsmokers collab “Something Just Like This” was brought to the studio with all the Chainsmokers parts finished, and Coldplay were putting the finishing touches to their contribution. Again, it was full band tracking live (very refreshing for an electronic based track), and after that we focused some time with Jonny getting his guitar just right. From the get go he could hear where it needed to be and had the basis for it very quickly, but as it was the peak of the song he was determined for the feel to be just right. I personally think it makes the end really pop and was definitely worth the effort.
“Hypnotised” was the first track they worked on when they arrived. You could see they were keen to get this song tracked and finished. They were feeling good and we got the band parts for the song tracked in a short amount of time. Because they’d practiced beforehand and knew what they were playing, it went down very easily. The day before we’d pulled sounds on all the instruments and tuned the kit and piano. This resulted in Will remarking that with a combination of the room, mics and kit we’d pulled the best drum sound he’d ever tracked, and Chris was equally impressed with our Yamaha C7 too.”
“The band and crew are all great people. They’re one of the nicest bands I’ve had the pleasure of working with are genuinely warm and caring toward everyone, whether that’s making sure to go out of their way to thank interns and other studio staff, or even just chatting to other musicians they meet in the building about music. There was even a writing camp using our other rooms and Chris gave them 75 free tickets to one of the Coldplay concerts after chatting with one of their runners. Very generous people all round.”