In the late 90’s I was fortunate enough to be involved in the early days of Coldplay.
I recorded and produced ten tracks for the band, released as the ‘Safety’ e.p., ‘The Blue Room’ e.p. and as the B side of their UK No2 hit ‘Yellow’
In an interview with Coldplayzone I recounted the early days of Coldplay and our sessions at Sync City Studios in London.The interview can be read on the Coldplaying site in it’s original form, or re-produced below.
Coldplayzone recently published an interview online with Nikki Rosetti, the producer of Coldplay’s first releases – Safety EP and The Blue Room EP. Artist, musician and painter, Nikki, told them about her history with the band with delight and a touch of nostalgia: “I told everyone, ‘watch out for this band, they’re going to be huge”, she said. Here is the interview article below:
You’ve been the producer of the two Coldplay opening musical publications, that is Safety EP and The Blue Room EP. That was the moment of the band birth and baptism. And you were there. How did you meet Chris, Jon, Guy and Will?
We were recommended to the band by friends of theirs. Most of the bands who came to us, did so by word of mouth or from record labels developing bands.
So you set to work at once. Was it hard? Was there enough material to work on or was everything under definition?
The songs were all written, although I recall all the band members trying out keyboard parts or harmonies and so forth. We recorded the basic tracks pretty much live, then overdubs that worked, were added, but very few. Some keyboard parts, vocals and harmonies, maybe some guitar. Getting Jonny’s guitar effects set up right took some time…
Just out of curiosity: who had the idea of placing microphones on the wet road in front of the recording studios to record “Easy to please”?
That I can’t answer as I was not involved in that track!
Which is the best song you produced for Coldplay, according to you?
Difficult. If you listen to ‘Safety’, which is what most people are familiar with from our sessions, I would have to say ‘Such A Rush’. However, as many people are aware, I was not happy with the amount of reverb swamping everything and subsequently re-mixed all the session tracks. They now sound like completely different songs, the sound is fatter, warmer and more intimate and Chris’s voice sounds twenty times better than the original, having taken the reverb off (and it was was pretty good already!). From the re-mixes, I’d have to say my favourite is ‘Panic’, bits of which went on to become ‘Don’t Panic’.
Could you say something about Ken Nelson and Chris Allison, the other two producers at that time?
All the tracks we produced were in isolation at different studios, so I never met tKen and Chris. The two sessions we recorded, were done at our own studios, Sync City.
Is there any funny anecdote, any particular event or remarkable quote that characterized and distinguished the moments of the two produced-by-you EPs creation?
Well, the thing that always sticks out in my mind is Chris and his ‘sorries’. Chris was a genuinely nice, well mannered, inoffensive guy as well as being a perfectionist. If he felt he hadn’t sung a phrase particularly well, he would keep saying saying ‘Sorry Nikki’, and we’d stop take it again. After some hours I had to stop and tell Chris to stop apologising all the time. The tape is littered with ‘sorry Nikki’. Perhaps that should have been the name of the e.p!
We think the material which you worked on was not huge, but anyway conspicuous. We know that certain tracks were discarded and that Chris wanted to record everything with the reverb effect. Shall we, one day, listen to those “whimpers” seen by many Coldplay fans as a “Holy Grail”?
I think this has been documented elsewhere, but here’s the official track listing from our sessions:
1. High Speed
2. * Such A Rush
3. Ode To Deodorant
4. If All Else Fails
5. * Bigger Stronger
7. * No More Keeping My Feet On The Ground
There is one futher track, I believe completely unknown, so maybe a first for you. Right at the end of the session when we were winding down, Chris got me to do one more recording with just him, his acoustic guitar and vocal, called’ Vitamins’. A very intimate recording and a great song, never heard by anyone I believe. I’m not so sure that even the band had a copy.The second session saw the whole time devoted to just two tracks, ‘Brothers And Sisters’ and another version of ‘Ode To Deodorant’ with a much harsher guitar part. ‘Brothers and Sisters’ opens with an Indian instrument with metal prongs like a music box, but played with the fingers. I forget the name of it, but I remember Chris not being amused when I kept referring to it as it a ‘banjo’. Of course the three ‘safety’ tracks were included on subsequent releases, up to ‘Yellow’ which also has ‘No More Keeping My Feet on The Ground’ on it.
Now we ask you to answer sincerely: did you expect, after launching their music, that the “Fab 4” would become applauded, later famous and now among the most appreciated musicians in the whole world? How much of this prestige and charisma do you feel like belonging to you?
Well, if you were to ask anyone around the studios at the time, I never shut up about the band. I told everyone, ‘watch out for this band, they’re going to be huge’. I knew they were to be the band they are as soon as Chris started to sing and Jon started to play. How much can be attributed to me? Well, I think it would have been difficult for anyone to not come up with a good recording of this band, they were that good. Having said that, Phil Harvey the manager rang me during the recording of the ‘Parachutes’ album for EMI to say that they were almost out of time and could not get the sound they wanted. We seemed to have captured the sound of the band that they had in their heads. Phil asked if we could fit them in to finish the album in our studios. Well, they must have sorted out the problems because they completed the album where they were.
Do you have any regret about associated to that period?
None at all. That period saw us fortunate enough to record bands such as Coldplay and Keane and you can’t ask for a better work day than that. We were one of the first fully digital studios from 1996 and bands loved it. it was all pretty new stuff this copy and paste, nudging the odd bass note or kick drum into place. And I have my own personal mixes of all the tracks to listen to!
Have you ever seen again the band in the last years? They must see you like a second “mum”…
Well, Jonny came back in with a band he was working with called ‘The Betina Motive’. We recorded two sessions with them. I think he jammed in the studio with my partner Ron Niblett, a bass player. Outside of that, the band have move on to bigger and better things.Their second mum? Well I think I must be. They never write, they never phone………..!!
Let’s talk about you, now. You didn’t leave the music world, on the contrary you integrated it with the Art one, another great passion of yours. Thinking about everything now, at this time of you existence, are you completely in love with you artist life?
I do love painting and the creative process, whatever it may be. I will always be a musician first and although we are no longer active in the professional music world (we sold Sync City Studios in 2005 and move out of London) our house becomes more like a studio every week and we enjoy jamming with local musicians and I have been writing and recording some acoustic material. Even where we are living, there are some great musicians and young talent who I like to promote such as Gracie Neal (here comes the plug) http://www.myspace.com/gracieneal, who is apparently very popular with the Italian men!
Your surname sounds familiar to Italian people. Any descent from our country?
Not in the recent past, but it surely has Italian origins.
You birthday has just passed. Happy birthday from Coldplayzone! How did you celebrate?
Thank you. On the same note, supporting local talent, we went to watch the local drama group put on their cabaret and stayed for the after show party, much wine drunk. I have never seen anyone snort Sambuca before!
Finally, we ask you to say something to all Coldplay Italian fans and to all the users and friends of Coldplayzone. Here in Italy many of us miss that period of the band which is over (by now), and thinking that you took us back for few seconds to it make us feel very glad…
Well, thanks for remembering that far back!. Of course for me, that was the definitive Coldplay sound and I hope it has given some pleasure to you. If you keep it alive here, maybe it will be remembered fondly in the future.