Jump to content

A Will Champion 2002 interview: One to the Head


Recommended Posts

Just found this, yesterday while I was searching for Coldplay in my Inbox :) I think it's a 2002 interview. Don't know the source, the newspaper, the website or the magazine, sorry. I post it anyway cos it may be interesting :)



One to the Head: An Interview with Coldplay Drummer Will Champion

ERIK OLSON (staff writer): So you're in New York tonight? Excited?

WILL CHAMPION (drummer, Coldplay): Absolutely, yeah.


EO: You're playing two nights or just one?

WC: Just one. We watched Oasis last night, actually.


EO: Oh, they're back from the accident?

WC: Yeah, they're fine. A few scars, but they're alright.


EO: Did Noel talk about it at all?

WC: Not really.


EO: First, I have to say the new record is amazing. I had to take it out of my CD player this weekend so I would stop listening to it, because I was afraid I was going to get burned out on it. I want to talk about the differences between Parachutes and [A Rush of Blood to the Head]. Namely, it seems like [lead singer] Chris [Martin's] singing was the focal point of Parachutes, but it seems like on the new record the songs as a whole take center stage. Do you think that's correct?

WC: Yeah, I think it was always about the songs for us. It was the focal point of the record. But for many people, that's what [Parachutes] became. For us, this album seems to be more rounded. Seems like it brought out the best in everyone and everyone was kind of pulling together. I can't really explain it, but it is more of a band sound.


EO: Yeah, a team effort. The songs are all so big, arranged and things like that.

WC: Yeah, sure.


EO: You said you knew a song was done when you were recording when adding things only made it worse. Did anything get cut that you were really into?

WC: No, not really. We all knew when something was good and when it wasn't so good. We have a sort of quality control, and the ability to be self-critical. If anyone was in doubt of something, then we'd all talk about it and see what the problem was. But there was nothing that got cut out that we were really into, that didn't make it to the album.


EO: So deciding on that stuff was a pretty democratic process?

WC: Yeah.


EO: Guitarists aren't defending guitar parts and you're not defending your drum parts?

WC: No. We all know what it takes to write a good song and to make a song sound good. We all have ideas about what we think the other people's parts should sound like. We do talk about it all the time and say, "Try this." or "Try that." Someone will say, "Try this drum beat." Or, "Add something here." We're very vocal about everything. We don't mind people making suggestions. We're not afraid to be vocal about what we think.


EO: That's one of the things I love about the new album. Every time you want a drum fill to come in or a big guitar part it seems to happen right on time.

WC: Right.


EO: It must be fun to pull all that stuff off. How do you balance ambition with knowing what's best for the song? Because I'm sure everyone wants to kind of go out there with everything.

WC: I think they go hand-in-hand for us. Our ambition is to make sure the song is the best the way we record the song. We don't try and overblow things. The first thing we do is think about what's right for the song. We often try things that we think might work and then we realize it's not the way the song should sound. It's always at the forefront of our thinking. What we do is... knowing whatever's right for the song is what we'll have to do.


EO: Discretion is the better part of valor.

WC: Correct. Right. Yeah.


EO: You've said good things only come for the band at difficult times. Why do you think that is?

WC: We went into the studio with a big plan about how what songs were going to get on the record and what songs weren't, and how we were going to record them. We needed that plan to go into the studio. We need that kind of structure. And then once we were in there it became obvious that the plan wasn't working. Things were going wrong. That kind of freed us up, in a sense. Things were difficult because we knew that the plan we had made for over two years on the road, thinking about the new album, wasn't working. Ultimately, that freed us up to be more spontaneous and creative. We needed more new songs, and out of that period of difficulty, came the new songs. EO: By difficulty do you mean writing or mental blocks?

WC: No, not that, really. More of a panic when we thought, "Oh, Christ! We haven't got enough songs." Knowing that our plan had gone wrong and knowing that we needed songs, that created the right environment for us to create these new songs.


EO: Did that come from the pressure of trying to follow up Parachutes which had been such a big hit?

WC: Yeah. I guess the pressure we felt most was the pressure we put on ourselves to better ourselves or to push ourselves. We weren't concerned so much with if people thought this was better than Parachutes. We know it's a fact that some people won't and some people will think it's better. You can't please everybody. We really just wanted to show people that we could make something that wasn't identical to Parachutes.


It would have been very easy for us to do to make something very similar to Parachutes to make another record like that. But it really wouldn't do for us.


EO: That's one thing people won't be able to say: that this is just a re-recording of Parachutes.

WC: Yeah. That's important for us.


EO: I think there's a lot of bands that, when they find success, they keep going back to the same formula. It doesn't seem like you guys have done that, which is great.

WC: I think that's definitely what we aimed for.


EO: You guys didn't set out to be the biggest band in England, but it just kind of happened. What are some of the great things about being so successful?

WC: Oh, I think we wanted to be the best band in England. We've always wanted to be the best band. The best thing about being successful is the fact that we can go all around the world. We can play in New York. We can play in Atlanta, and Sydney, Australia, and Singapore. That's the best part about being successful. The more successful you are the more places you can go, and the more people you can play to and the more people that can listen to you. And that's the amazing thing.


EO: And what's the worst part about being successful?

WC: There isn't really anything... my very easy life.


EO: You could have to go to work every day.

WC: Exactly. I could work in a mine or a sweatshop in Indonesia or something. I don't want to complain about anything.


EO: What would you be doing if you weren't in the band?

WC: Probably trying to be in a band.


EO: Is it hard to have the press always looking for the next Coldplay when you're about to release a new record?

WC: The press are always looking for a new something. We were the new Radiohead for a while. It's not particularly helpful to have labels like that. It just creates ideas in people heads about the sound of the band, before they've even heard it. But ultimately it's the only way some people can relate to music they haven't heard yet. It's the way people explain things; it's a bit like this, or a bit like that. It can be a useful way of making sense of what you don't know. But it's bad too, because you get stuck with that.


EO: And people may never check the band out because they may not like that band you're comparing it to.

WC: It's something you have to live with, unfortunately. It's like trying to describe a color. Saying blue is quite similar to green. You can't do it.


EO: It's like that old quote, that writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

WC: [Laughs.] Yeah.


EO: Different art forms are not necessarily related. Do you read the things that are written about you guys or do you try to avoid them?

WC: We do read them. I think we'd be stupid not to. For every 10 good reviews that we don't kind of listen to, we'll read a bad one and take that to heart. I think criticism is a good thing. It helps you grow stronger and improve. It helps us to understand what we really believe when someone says, "I think you're rubbish because of this." It makes us think about where we are. Have a look at ourselves. But if we disagree, we say, "No. We disagree because of this." It helps you polarize your views about yourself and your ambitions with the band. It can make you feel even stronger, or make you feel that there are other views besides this.


EO: Is it frustrating to think people are criticizing you because they don't get it? They criticize something you didn't intend to do anyway. I think that would be the hardest part.

WC: In the end, we know we can't be everything to everyone. That's why there's more than just one band in the world. We don't want to contrive anything, and we don't want to change ourselves to please certain people. But we ultimately want to improve and you can't improve without knowing what your weaknesses are.


EO: Sure. Makes sense. But there's a difference between criticism and rumors and it seems like in America we're always hearing about you guys not getting along, or you're going to break up, or you have broken up. Why do you think you guys are plagued with that so much?

WC: [ironically] I don't know. I have absolutely no idea.


EO: Is it true that you guys do have your tiffs?

WC: Every band has those. But we certainly have no more than anyone else. But that's just because we spend so much time together. We know each other so well. And sometimes it's useful to have an argument now and then to vent frustrations. If we didn't ever argue it would mean we didn't care enough about it. We're very passionate about what we do, it takes something very small to spark up an argument or whatever. It's just as common in any bad that really cares about their music.


EO: Seems like, with you guys, it just gets covered more.

WC: Maybe.


EO: Do you think you guys would get along better if Chris had a brother in the band? Like Liam and Noel, someone he could argue with?

WC: [Laughs.] No. Probably not.


EO: What can people expect from the live show? Is there going to be a lot of new stuff or a mix?

WC: Definitely. At the moment it's kind of half and half. But when the album comes out we're going to try and push it more in terms of new stuff. As soon as we wrote songs when we were touring [in support of] the first album we tried to get them into the live sets as a way of keeping ourselves motivated looking forward, not just looking back.


EO: But a lot of those songs were the ones that got dropped when you tried to record, correct?

WC: I think there were three songs that we played live that didn't make it onto the album. I think they were early attempts at types of songs which we did a lot better later on.


EO: And they've now shown up on the album?

WC: Yeah. They're similar. Like the song called "Murder" which we used to play didn't make it on the album. But that was an earlier, not-so-good type of song that we did better with a song called "A Whisper" on the album. That same sort of vibe. It's got that kind of 3/4 timing and a weird, dark atmosphere. We took the good bits of "Murder" and morphed them.


EO: Is your [drum] kit still going to be set up towards the front of the stage?

WC: It's at the back again now, but it's kind of off-center. As you look at the stage, there's Chris in the middle with a piano, then [bassist] Guy [berryman], then [guitarist] Jonny [buckland's] further stage left. I'm kind of off-center towards the back forming kind of a semi-circle.


EO: Nice. So you're not hiding in back?

WC: I'm not hiding, no. But I'm not as far front as I was last time.


EO: I didn't see you on the last tour, but a couple of friends of mine said you were set up in kind of a strange spot. But they kinda liked it.

WC: I really enjoyed it. It was great fun. We really wanted to get off the treadmill of, "Here's the band." That sort of every-band-looks-the-same set-up. There's the drums, there's the bass player ... it's all pretty formulaic.


EO: Are you excited to tour again or are you still trying to recover from the Parachutes touring?

WC: No. We went to record the second album at the exact right time for us. We couldn't have done any more touring. We really couldn't. And now, we can't do any more recording, if you know what I mean. We're recorded out. It's the perfect time to come out.


EO: Cool. Fans tend to think of touring as so cool and glamorous. What are some of the things that we don't understand about touring that would make us never want to do it?

WC: I don't think there's anything that would make you never want to do it. There's so much waiting around. And that's the biggest thing. It's not like it's a bad thing, but you can see why a lot of people turn to hard drugs because there's just so much waiting around. I spend probably about a third of my day waiting.


EO: Yeah, in a city you don't know...

WC: Well, that's the good thing. The flip side of that is, it's annoying when you can't go anywhere and you have to wait for someone to come and collect us. Wait to check in at a hotel, or an airport. But when we have time, like this afternoon I've got nothing to do until sound check which is a 6 o'clock, so I've got like four hours or five hours to kill in one of my favorite cities in the world, you know. That's amazing. I'm in New York. I'm staying at a nice hotel. It couldn't get much better.


EO: Yeah, that would be the good part for sure. Last, but not least, who's your favorite football team?

WC: The Southhampton Football Club. I was born and bred there. All my life I've been a supporter.


EO: Nice. And do you think [star English defender] Rio [Ferdinand] is overpaid? [Ferdinand recently signed with Manchester United for five years for reportedly 30-million-plus pounds.]

WC: I don't know how much he's being paid, actually. We were away. Were in Europe when he went and I know [his transfer fee was] 30-million, but I don't know how much he got paid.


EO: Yeah, that was quite a transfer.

WC: It's a big bill, yeah. I'm quite worried that Southampton still haven't been able to find anyone in the closed season. We've got a new defender from Sweden [Michael Svensson], but I don't think he's good enough. We'll see how it goes. But he's certainly no Rio Ferdinand.


EO: Were you excited about the World Cup?

WC: Absolutely. I thought it was a brilliant World Cup. It really was, with all the individuals that were there. I think that made it amazing. But also, I think it had a really good spirit. There was no crowd trouble, no violence. It was well-hosted. I thought it was fantastic just really, really good.


EO: And do you wish [English goalie David] Seamen would have stayed on the line?

WC: I don't know. That was one of those freak things you can't do anything about. I don't think [brazilian star Ronaldinho] meant to shoot.


EO: No matter what he says, I don't think he shot either.

WC: It's just one of those things, you know. We didn't deserve to beat them on that day. I thought the first goal was just amazing. It was just pure genius, so what can you do?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...