Tuesday, June 11, 2013

viva la vida or death and all his friends

Coldplay staged a revolt against fame to live the life with the expansive atmospherics of this massively successful magnum opus. 'Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends' was recorded at The Magic Shop in New York, The Nunnery and A Church in Barcelona, and at the band's headquarters in a converted bakery in Hampstead, North London with producers Markus Dravs, Brian Eno, Jon Hopkins, and Rik Simpson.  The credits on the album include:  Guy Berryman on bass; Jonny Buckland on guitar; Will Champion on drums and percussion; and Chris Martin on vocals, guitar, piano, and keyboards;   with Davide Rossi adding strings; Mike Kezner playing sitar; Jon Hopkins providing colouring; and Brian Eno offering sonic landscapes;   all of them aided by a small army of engineers.  

Martin says the group was trying to get away from the trap of their success:    "Being such a big band is never a problem but it can be distracting. That’s why we had to go back to home cooking and not think about all the outside stuff, because it doesn’t help you write songs...You don’t want to be writing about being on tour or that you only got two nominations at The Brits because people can’t relate to that. You have to go back to singing about human things."

Champion reflects:   "Coldplay is like a marriage and we’ve passed the seven-year itch point. The relationship between the four of us is much stronger for surviving...We’d become a little monochrome and we’d come as far as we could...We had a specific mission. We wanted to have more vocal identities on the album as opposed to just Chris."

Buckland considers the album "Coldplay’s musical revolution. I had to throw out a load of pedals — there was a revolution in my pedals, because we wanted a new sound...The tension between the band was that we didn’t know where we were going next. But our new studio, and getting producer Brian Eno in, gave us a new focus and everyone was fine again.”

Martin muses:   "Some say this album is brave — I just see us as being very lucky. We got Phil Harvey, our fifth and invisible member back and we got to work with producers Brian Eno and Markus Dravs. We were ballsy in asking people to come. It’s difficult when you’re successful, to admit that you need help.  Brian was obviously top of the heap. We wanted someone who did what Brian did for Bowie and U2 but we never ever thought Brian would say yes. We asked him ‘Where do we find a new Eno?’ And he said, ‘Well, I could try!’ You can’t help but get swept up in his enthusiasm. No one has been a teacher with us for a long time. He’d tell us about books, films and exhibitions to see. There were moments when we were like schoolkids again. We’d wind down and ask for ‘Uncle Brian’ stories. It was so inspiring to hear his tales."

Berryman explains:   "Nothing was off-limits on this record," says Guy. "We didn’t have a particular musical style or sound. We just listened to music from all around the world, from all periods...Brian helped us a lot with the rhythms, singing and song structures. So I don’t think it sounds like a Brian Eno record...All the things you associate with Eno weren’t anything to do with him really. We were working with a guy called Jon Hopkins, an amazing keyboard player, producer and writer. A lot of things you might have associated with Brian were his contributions."

Martin reveals:   “We have a lot of singing on the record which comes from Brian — we just stood in a group and sung all the time. But in this studio, it didn’t sound right so we took a field trip and found a nunnery in Barcelona.  Every time you hear lots of singing together on this record, it’s probably in a nunnery."

'Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends' seized number four in Hungary; three in Brazil and Japan; two in Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and Poland; and number one in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European singles chart, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.  It won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album and was nominated for Album of the Year.  It has sold over ten million copies worldwide.   The album cover is Eugène Delacroix’s depiction of the French Revolution 'Liberty Leading The People'.  Martin admits:    "We know 'Vida La Vida' is a risky album name, because it’s in Spanish and because there’s another title as well. We’re well aware that the title is pretentious. But that was what it had to be called. It comes from a painting by Frida Kahlo, who always mixed darkness and sadness with light and joy. And it just seemed like that painting was what we had to write about."


The title track 'Viva la Vida' became the band's first single to reach number one in the UK as well as in the US.  It was the sixth song in history to sell four million downloads and has sold over six million copies worldwide.  It won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

'Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends'

full album:

All tracks written by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, and Chris Martin, except where noted.

1. "Life in Technicolor" (writers: Martin, Buckland, Berryman, Champion, Hopkins) 2:30
2. "Cemeteries of London" 3:21
3. "Lost!" 3:55
4. "42" 3:57
5. "Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love" (3:57/2:56) 6:51
6. "Yes" (4:04 / includes hidden song "Chinese Sleep Chant" 3:01) 7:06
7. "Viva la Vida" 4:01
8. "Violet Hill" 3:42
9. "Strawberry Swing" 4:09
10. "Death and All His Friends" (3:30 / includes hidden song "The Escapist" (Martin/Buckland/Berryman/Champion/Hopkins) 2:46) 6:18

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