The members of British band Coldplay have been thinking a lot about outer space recently.
The popular quartet launched their new song, Higher Power, by beaming a video of themselves performing it to French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who was on board the International Space Station.
The music video for the song is set on a fictional planet called Kaotica and shows the band with dancing aliens.
Sometimes, it is easier to talk about things happening on other planets than on Earth, says guitarist and band co-founder Jonny Buckland in a Zoom interview from London.
"You can use other planets to describe what's happening here in maybe an easier way," the 43-year-old adds.
Drummer Will Champion, 42, says the band, which also comprise frontman Chris Martin, 44, and bassist Guy Berryman, 43, were inspired by science-fiction movies and books.
"When you look up and can see the stars, you'll get a little bit of perspective into how small, and sort of finite, we are here on Earth, and it's a really useful viewpoint to be able to have," says Champion.
"We wanted to try and get a perspective of how seemingly difficult we've made life for ourselves here on Earth, and by zooming out a little bit and getting that perspective, it can be helpful to think of things in that way."
Talking to Pesquet, someone floating high above the planet, helped reinforce that point of view.
"Looking down, there are no borders," says Buckland. "Everybody's just together on one big spaceship flying through space."
Higher Power is the first song released from the band's upcoming ninth album, the follow-up to 2019's Everyday Life.
The track's synth-pop sound is a homage to 1980s pop music, says Champion.
"We're children of the 1980s, really. Those were our formative years. I grew up listening to lots of 1980s pop music and so it's deep in there somewhere. They're like nursery rhymes, they're embedded in our brains and ears," he adds, citing bands such as A-ha and Duran Duran.
Formed in 1996, Coldplay are today one of the world's best-selling music acts. Their first three albums - Parachutes (2000), A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002) and X&Y (2005) - catapulted them to stratospheric success.
With their music taking on a more electronic direction in recent years, the band have had to rethink their approach to their instruments.
"If you're looking for the most vulnerable members of a band when it comes to music in 2020, it's probably the drummer and guitarist," says Champion.
"Because so much of the music that we listen to these days has very few guitars, and most of the drums are electronic or programmed. So, it's definitely required us to be a bit more open to using our instruments in different ways."
The band recently found themselves playing an unplanned concert in New York earlier last month - their first in front of a big physical audience since the pandemic put a stop to live gigs worldwide.
"It was supposed to be a sort of TV performance of two songs in front of like a few hundred people who were vaccinated, but then, that was in a park," Buckland says.
"So, obviously, loads of other people just turned up, then suddenly we realised we were playing a gig."
Champion adds: "It was amazing. We were supposed to do two songs, but we got carried away and so we played a whole bunch more because we haven't played in front of people for such a long time. It was a lovely reminder of that feeling."
Living through a pandemic has made the band members appreciate one another more.
"We're more grateful for what we do and for having one another," says Buckland.
Champion adds: "Something that we've always recognised, but has been especially important in this last year, is to make the very most of the time that we have together.
"I suppose that's a really great metaphor for life in itself, isn't it? We recognise that we don't have a huge amount of time and so we want to make the most of it."
• Higher Power is available on platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.