After the astounding success of their 2011 album Ceremonials, Florence and The Machine has finally finished their follow up, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, that is slotted for a US release on June 2nd.
The 11-track album features the deeply cinematic bass playing of Mark Saunders, who was selected to join the band just months before they blew up in popularity with the acclaimed success of their 2009 debut, Lungs. Saunders chatted with Bass Player Magazine to explain how he landed the gig with an audition in London that took place on his birthday.
"It was pretty daunting because I was sent three songs beforehand and I walked into the studio and there were a bunch of other bass players and I could hear them all playing and auditioning. So I listened to them try out the whole time and I felt a little more prepared from knowing what they were doing. I was really nervous about this because I really wanted a place in this band," explains Saunders. "Florence was down the road buying coffee, so we played through a couple of songs without her. Then Florence shows up like a spinning top just flying through the room like a bloody whirlwind and she made the whole band sing happy birthday to me, which was quite bizarre. Then we went through all of the songs and it was over. A week went by and my phone rang and they said I got the gig and I needed to drop everything and report to the studio in the morning. I was in shock."
Saunders performing onstage with Florence and The Machine (far right)
The new album's first single "What Kind of Man" features a booming rock riff from Saunders that locks in with the constant kick drum and tambourine rhythm that serves as the foundation of the song. With multiple guitars, a harp, drums, percussion, string arrangements and horn sections, Saunders has learned over the years how to find his sweet spots within the music and make them impactful.
"In this band I’ve learned how to fill space without stepping on too many toes. Every musician wants to be in the spotlight a bit, but now I’m quite happy to do my job as a bass player and just hold it down. Outside of music, as a band, we’ve been living in each other’s pockets for the last seven years, so you learn to how live with people and take care of each other. There are good times and bad times in life and music and you have to support each other through all of it. I like to bring that mentality into the studio and onto the stage with my playing."
Here's a look at Saunders finding his bass spots and even contributing a little percussion on a 2011 SNL performance of "No Light, No Light."
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful Track List:
1. Ship to Wreck
2. What Kind of Man
3. How Big How Blue How Beautiful
4. Queen of Peace
5. Various Storms and Saints
7. Long and Lost
9. Third Eye
10. St Jude