Watch Architects perform with a full orchestra from Abbey Road Studios
Performing alongside the Parallax Orchestra, the band will bring their U.K.-chart-topping ninth album, For Those That Wish To Exist, to life like never before via a complete front-to-back playthrough. The legendary Abbey Road Studios, made famous around the world via its association with the Beatles, will provide the backdrop for this most unique live show.
The stream marks Architects’ second such livestream event, following 2020’s performance from the world-famous Royal Albert Hall in West London. That recording was later pressed to limited-edition vinyl, which rapidly sold out during preorders.
Ahead of the Abbey Road Studios event’s premiere Dec. 11, Architects vocalist Sam Carter sat down with Alternative Press to discuss his personal connection with the venue, bringing For Those That Wish To Exist to life and the unique challenges of performing with a full orchestra...
As a fan of music first and foremost, what does Abbey Road mean to you?
It's such an important part of music in not only the U.K. but all across the world. Some of the biggest and most important records of all time were recorded there. It's such a joy to even be allowed into the building, let alone to record there. It’s a very special place; I still can’t quite believe we were able to create there.
Where does your personal connection with Abbey Road come from? You’re a big Beatles guy — is that where you first learned of the studio and its importance in history?
For sure. I think one of the main things that got me so excited about the Beatles was their recording techniques. There was no editing or chopping up or anything — they were simply going into a room and recording. They were that incredible. There was a kind of magic to it. Part of what's so special about the place is that magic and the vibe of it. We've been to a lot of different studios around the world, and this is one of the only ones where you sort of feel the ghosts of the people who were there before you. You stand there, and you think about the music and the lyrics that have reverberated off the walls around you — and they haven’t changed much, either, from the 1960s and 1970s.
What was it like, the first time you went there? What struck you the most? Did it compare to the expectations you had in your head?
Actually going into the building is crazy because there's still instruments that these massive bands used in the past. The first time we were there, there were two pianos that the Beatles used on a bunch of their albums. I was sat at one having a beer, and I put the bottle down on top without thinking, and someone was like, “You might want to move that — that’s John Lennon’s piano you’re sat at!” You walk down the same hallways that the greats once have, or you go up to the roof where the Beatles sat before recording “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”
Where did the idea of recording For Those That Wish To Exist with an orchestra first come from? Given the increased prevalence of strings in your music over the past few years, was something as fully realized as this always in mind?
We had felt that the livestream we did from the Royal Albert Hall [in 2020] was a really special event, so we always kept in mind the idea of doing something again that was beyond the normal for our fans. Earlier this year, we actually did a filmed Q&A at Abbey Road with Daniel P. Carter from Radio 1, where we talked about the making of the album. When we had finished, I was talking to Dan [Searle, drums], and I said to him, “Imagine if we did the whole album front to back… with an orchestra.”
Dan said that he thought it would be a hell of a lot of work but something really fun and special. So we started exploring the idea. We managed to make it happen in the bigger room, in Studio One, which is a room where I think a lot of film soundtracks have been recorded — the Harry Potter films, Pirates Of The Caribbean. Before we knew it, we were sat in the middle of it surrounded by 30 or 40 musicians, who are all so much more talented than us, and we're trying to impress them!
When it came to composing the actual arrangements, was that quite a collaborative process?
Parallax Orchestra had done a lot of work on the album anyway, so Dan was able to work very closely with them. For the songs that didn’t have strings on them in the first place, that involved working out what the arrangements would be together. On others, it involved taking out layers of the electronics that are on the studio recordings and replacing them with strings. For others, it was inventing and creating entirely new things. It was super easy and a lot of fun.
The amount of strings on the record already was very helpful, as it meant we could add to those as a starting point. It all felt very natural. It was a very full-on experience, though. It’s very intense to have that many musicians around you playing at the same time, especially when you then add a breakdown over the top. [Laughs.] I’ve listened back to it a lot since, and the intensity is there every time.
How challenging was that for you to work with as a vocalist? That must be very distracting from your own performance…
I had the orchestra in the mix of my in-ears, but I pulled the levels down a little. I would have loved to focus more on the orchestra, but I had to concentrate on my own performance in the moment. I knew I could enjoy the rest later. It was intimidating, too, and it definitely took a few songs to really feel comfortable with so many amazing musicians looking at you yelling. [Laughs.]
Now that you have had a chance to listen back to the event, what are the moments that take your breath away?
I find it all very emotional. It’s the combination of these two worlds that I love so much. Not every band gets the opportunity to do what we did at Abbey Road — and not every band has the balls to try to do it, either. So I’m also really proud of it. “Impermanence” and “Goliath” were really special; “Demi God” was already a really fun song with the strings that are on the record, so to be in the room when that happens was also really amazing. It's hard to pick out just a few moments, though, because for me each song has its own individual magical moments.