We’d sit down and thrash ideas out.” Ben: “And we were much more comfortable in a studio environment this time.
It was our third bite at that, and our understanding of how a studio works was different to how it was before.
Moreover, in stark contrast to Babel, none of the new songs has been road-tested live: fans will come to them fresh. “It’s an invitation,” laughs Marcus, “not a challenge.” “Working with Aaron,” says Winston, “his approach to making music is that you chase every idea; chase it to the end.
Even if you don’t like the idea, stay with it, follow it.”“He taught us more about collaborating, too,” adds Ben, “in terms of working with each other. It encouraged us to celebrate each other’s ideas, and never abandon something.
We didn’t say: ‘No acoustic instruments.’ But I think all of us had this desire to shake it up.
The songwriting hasn’t changed drastically; it was led by a desire not do the same thing. It’s as simple as that.”“It felt completely natural, though,” says Ben, “like it did when we started out.
And the danger is that you begin to lose that as you get older, especially if you’re in the music business.
It felt like having an older brother in the studio. It should be fun.”Right from the opening bars of Tompkins Square Park, it’s apparent that those early sessions in New York and London witnessed a change in the band’s approach not just to writing and recording, but to texture and dynamics, too.“You start coming up with ideas, concepts, collaborating with new people.We are proud of them, there’s no point denying that; it feels like something not many other bands have done.I left a day early, I can’t remember why, and when we next met up at Eastcote, I swanned in, late, and they were working on that song.For me, that was the breakthrough moment in terms of the writing of the album; I could enjoy singing someone else’s lyrics, as if they were my own.“One of the things I most enjoyed about being in the studio rather than on the road,” Winston reflects, “was that you could play any instrument you liked; so you weren’t thinking, ‘I have to do this, play that.’ We all felt that we could do anything we wanted, and achieve much more in the process.”Believe, one of the new album’s key songs, was a beneficiary of this more immersive, collegiate process.