SINGAPORE – Members of British band Coldplay have been thinking a lot about space recently.
The popular quartet launched their new song, Higher Power, by showing a video of themselves performing it to French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who was aboard the International Space Station.
The music video for the song takes place on a fictional planet called Kaotica and shows the group around dancing aliens.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk about what’s going on on other planets than on Earth, says guitarist and band co-founder Jonny Buckland in a Zoom interview from London.
“You can use other planets to describe what’s going on here in a perhaps simpler way,” the 43-year-old adds.
Drummer Will Champion, 42, says the group, which also includes singer Chris Martin and bassist Guy Berryman, drew inspiration from science fiction movies and books.
“When you look up and can see the stars, you’ll have a little perspective on the small size, and sort of finished, we’re here on Earth, and that’s a really useful perspective to be able to have,” Champion said.
“We wanted to try and see how difficult it has apparently been to make life here on Earth, and by zooming out a little bit and getting that perspective it may be helpful to think of it that way.”
Speaking to Pesquet, someone who floats above the planet, helped reinforce this point of view.
“Looking down, there are no boundaries,” Buckland says. “Everyone’s just together on a big spaceship flying through space.”
Higher Power is the first song from the band’s upcoming ninth album, the sequel to Everyday Life in 2019.
The track’s synth-pop sound is a tribute to 1980s pop music, Champion says.
“We’re 1980s kids, really. Those were our formative years. I grew up listening to a lot of 1980s pop music and so it’s somewhere in there… It’s like nursery rhymes. They are ingrained in our brains and ears, ”he adds, citing groups such as A-ha and Duran Duran.
Formed in 1996, Coldplay is today one of the best-selling musical groups in the world. Their first three albums – Parachutes (2000), A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002) and X&Y (2005) – catapulted them to stratospheric success.
With their music taking a more electronic direction in recent years, the band had to rethink their approach to their instruments.
“If you’re looking for the most vulnerable members of a band when it comes to music in 2020, it’s probably the drummer and guitarist,” says Champion.
“Because a lot of the music we listen to these days (has) very little guitars, and most of the drums are electronic or programmed. So we definitely had to be a little more open to the use of our instruments in different ways. “
The group recently found themselves playing an unscheduled concert in New York City earlier this month (June) – their first in front of a large physical audience since the pandemic ended live concerts around the world.
“It was supposed to be kind of a two-song TV performance in front of a few hundred vaccinated people, but then it was in a park,” Buckland said.
“So obviously a lot of other people came by, and then we suddenly realized we were playing a concert.”
Champion adds: “It was amazing. We were supposed to do two songs, but we got carried away and so we played a lot more because we haven’t played in front of people for so long. It was a nice reminder of this feeling.”
Experiencing a pandemic allowed the members of the group to appreciate each other more.
“We’re more thankful for what we’re doing and for having each other,” Buckland says.
Champion adds: “Something that we have always recognized, but which has been particularly important this past year, is to make the most of the time we spend together.
“I guess that’s a really good metaphor for life itself, isn’t it? We recognize that we don’t have a ton of time so we want to make the most of it.”