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Re-inventing the world’s biggest and most boring band

May 13, 2008

Coldplay sold 10 million copies of their last album, but despite the success they realized they were in serious need of re-invention.

Their music had become predictable and formulaic.

They were just like U2 in 1992, who turned to veteran producer Brian Eno to reinvent themselves.

Coldplay followed U2’s path to Eno.

Eno is clearly a master of shaking things up and getting the band to think and behave differently.

This month’s article in Q Magazine, mentions some of Eno’s tactics.

1. Hypnosis-Using it to help the writing process

2. Changing the studio hours from rock star hours, to business hours

3. Thinking about making music as performance, not a studio act

4. Encouraging experimentation- getting the band to play with rhythm and time signatures

5. Cutting things down- encouraging brevity

6. Widening the bands musical knowledge- getting them to listen to German death metal and African folk.

On the evidence of the first single- The LA Times seems impressed.

“there are moments where “Violet Hill” ranks as some of the more exciting
music Coldplay has recorded. The first guitar crush arrives after a
lengthy ambient intro, and brings an electrifying jolt to the striking
piano melody. And Martin brings a booming confidence to his vocals that
has been more evident in Coldplay’s live shows than on record, his dip
into a falsetto in the chorus more matter-of-fact than sorrowful.”

However, everyone will need to wait for the album to see if Eno’s done enough to shake the critics off the band and deliver that’s something truly fresh and interesting.

The point is re-invention is a serious job, it’s not cosmetic and it requires action and the willingness to shift out of your comfort zone. This applies as much to inspiring creative teams and re-positioning brands, as it does to people and bands.

If you want to create change, you have to do something and not just talk about it.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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