The transcript of a recent interview with Brian Eno conducted by a German radio station has been issued by his press people. The interview refers to the making of Eno’s new album, Small Craft On A Milk Sea, his decision to sign with Warp Records, and his ongoing interest in minimalism, and more interestingly, some new information that came to light about Coldplay's recording sessions during the Viva era, including the first introduction of Jon Hopkins to the Bakery recording process.
We're not sure yet as to the authenticity or timing of this article, or to what radio station it was sourced from, but below is the Coldplay exerpt - with an important brief introductory outline. More discussion on this article is at the Coldplay forum now.
Brian Eno on the creative process for the (Small Craft On A Milk Sea) new album: "The nice thing about working with a group of people is that, they do things that you wouldn’t do. They don’t have the same taste as you for a start so you, you either have to reject it or you have to embrace it somehow...
Groups always surprise you; they’re kind of randomizers really. That’s why groups that have been together a very long time sort-of stop surprising each other, because they know each other’s moves – that’s why they employ me. So I become the randomizer, the random element that throws the thing into a different pattern. Um, but with particular group of players, Leo is a musician I met I guess 10 or 12 years ago. I saw him... there used to be a shop up on Notting Hill Gate that sold second hand musical equipment and, you’d always go in there and there’d be people, you know, playing Stairway to Heaven or something like that… and so I went in one day and sitting in a dark corner of the store was a rather gentle looking person playing the most beautiful, quiet, guitar; which is already a revolution in a guitar shop: that anyone would ever play quietly.
“So I, I just listened to it for a bit and I thought: I love the way he’s playing. So I went up to him and said: ‘Could I have your number do you think, you know I might need a guitar at some point...’ And then, I didn’t for about six months and I called him – finally – and he came over. And I’d been working with a nice guitar sound; I’d been creating this guitar sound that morning – but I can’t play guitar you know – and I always tune guitar in a strange way, I don’t have a normal tuning so I’m always…[plays a demonstration] basically an open chord. But that day I had an even odder tuning it was a, I had changed two of the strings. So I had this song up and I said: ‘Do you fancy trying to play along with this?’ He took the guitar – which was tuned in this very weird tuning – and just ‘computered’… he just played along with it! Without re-tuning the guitar and, got everything right you know, I thought: ‘Wow, that’s rather impressive.’ And later I talked to him about it, I said: ‘Do you know that tuning?’ he said: ‘No no, it was really difficult’. I said: ‘Why didn’t you re-tune the guitar?’ and he said: ‘Oh, I thought it was a test!’ So anyway, I was impressed by the fact that first of all he’s a very tasteful player and he’s very interested in sound; that’s what I’m interested in you know, not just in notes and chords and that sort-of thing, but in creating worlds of sound. Some of his guitar playing sounds nothing like guitar… it sounds like huge sheets of ice breaking or, enormous orchestras all playing right at the top of their instruments or something like that.
“Anyway, so we worked together a bit and one day I said: ‘I need a keyboard player, can you think of any?’ and he said: ‘well I went to school with this guy called Jon Hopkins.’ Jon Hopkins came along, another sort-of genius player, who did a very very impressive thing. I thought it would be interesting for Jon to work on the Coldplay album, the last Coldplay album.
So I took him out there one day and they were working on a… Chris, from Coldplay, writes songs with very full and difficult chords, he always plays with ten fingers you know; in fact one of the things I often do is say: ‘Don’t use your left hand please.’
Or I make him wear gloves so he can’t play as many notes! So he’s working on this song – with these big thick complicated chords – and he said to Jon: ‘I don’t know what these chords are, shall I write them down for you?’ and Jon said: ‘Oh no that’s fine, I heard them’ and he just duplicated them all, and it was astonishing; and Chris said: ‘Can you do that with any chords?’
And there were two keyboards in the room, and there was an isolation screen between them so Jon couldn’t see what Chris’ hands were doing… so Chris is just doing really weird chords like that [demonstrates] and Jon goes: ‘Yeah yeah, that’s…’ So he has a very interesting ear, he’s an extraordinary player. In fact we used that… I did these concerts recently called ‘Pure Scenius’ where there’s seven people on stage. And one of the pieces – which we did in every one of the concerts, ’cos it was always such a success – is the Australian guy Chris Abrahams, playing something on the keyboard and Jon Hopkins echoes it.
And gradually Chris gets more and more complex in what he’s playing and Jon echoes it. And sometime if the chord is really complicated, there’ll be a slightly longer delay in the echo before Jon works it out! And sometime he gets, sometimes, not very often, he gets one note wrong and it’s incredibly fantastic when he does; it’s like a moment of huge drama when the echo is slightly off from the original. It’s a beautiful piece that, actually; we’ve done it now six times that piece.”
Pictures of Coldplay with fans in North London (1st November 2010): [thanks Lily Isabella]
Pictures by Lily Isabella