Mimixxx Posted September 13, 2003 Share Posted September 13, 2003 I saw it in work today, bought it and typed it out for you lovely people. Enjoy: Downstairs in a back room after another gig at another-out-of-town venue. This time Copenhagen. A month before Christmas, 2002. It’s cold outside, the air sharp, the wind vicious. The back room is overheated, hippy throws are nailed to the walls and bins are filled with bottles of beer. Jacques Villeneuve stands in a dark corner. He is very famous, very rich, a proper celebrity. Still, all the beautiful Danish girls gaze at another man. He is much taller, leaner, prettier than television allows. It is easy enough not to notice his unfashionable black walking boots. Even in this dim room, his eyes are a startling blue. Perspiration collects in beads on his forehead. His chest still rises and falls a little too quickly from the recent exertion on stage. He needs a drink. He disappears for a moment, bounces back into the room with a can of ginger beer. The can sweats all over his hands. He absently wipes them dry on his Fairtrade T-shirt. He can’t stop smiling. He doesn’t even seem to notice the girls. He is too busy wondering why anyone bothered to venture out into the cold to see the gig, while congratulating himself on being the luckiest guy in the world. Chris Martin isn’t smiling today. He is tired. He doesn’t like doing interviews. His forehead is covered in a rash of pimples. He thinks he is losing his voice. He knows he is losing his hair. He is agitated. He didn’t get any sleep last night, although he won’t say why. He keeps apologising. It’s a reflex, he can’t help himself, he always has to say sorry. He would hate to be thought of as rude. He sits backstage at the Tower City Amphitheater in Cleveland, Ohio, drinking a small bottle of Perrier, rocking on his chair and gazing out across the water. He wears his usual uniform of battered black jumper, black trousers, Hi-Tec walking boots. Sandy hair closely cropped; he can no longer have wild curls so this is the only option. A necklace with gaffer tape holding together a cross he hasn’t got round to mending. Some ragged friendship bracelets. On his left hand the now familiar marker pen tattoo of ‘MakeTradeFair.com’, on his right, ‘Ring Nan’, hastily written in Biro. In the last two weeks, Coldplay have headlined the Hollywood Bowl and Denver Red Rocks, both for two consecutive nights. In a few days they will play Madison Square Gardens, which sold out in under 45 minutes. The guest list at the 18,000-capacity Hollywood Bowl included Brian Wilson and Steven Speilberg, both of whom went backstage to pay their respects. The band then played Red Rocks on the 20th anniversary of U2’s historic gig and were given an ecstatic reception by a 9,500-strong in a violent storm on the second night. Coldplay are huge in the US. ‘Clocks’ has been used to trail the new series of Six Feet Under. They are A-listed on KROQ, the West Coast radio station responsible for breaking Radiohead here, where their impassioned love songs appear between the latest nu-metal bands. They have undeniably worked hard, touring the country four times in the last year, and their dedication has paid dividends at a grassroots level. But, rather surprisingly given their overwhelming ordinariness, they also attract endless A-list celebrities. No doubt Gwyneth is doing her bit, but it’s more than that: Coldplay are cool in America. Rocking on his chair; yawning then apologising, Martin considers the fact that it is just five years since the first gig. He was 20 and yet to get his first-class degree in Ancient World Studies at University College London. He, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion were called Starfish when they played a shambolic gig at The Laurel Tree pub in Camden. “I was lying on the stage earlier on trying to have a sleep, looking at the venue emblazoned with our name, thinking: ‘How the fuck did we manage that?’ To some people I must still be Chris who used to fun around school with a stupid haircut acting like a twat; to others I’m Chris Martin from Coldplay and they’re freaked out to meet me” He frowns. “This tour has been the best ever. Amazing. Brilliant. But it is still just the beginning for us. Do you know what I mean? I want to play nine nights at Madison Square. One is not enough.” Martin has a verbal tic of saying ‘Do you know what I mean’ constantly and pausing, as though for confirmation. He won’t let his words hang in the air, he always needs a response, even a simple nod of understanding. He also tends to contradict himself, not because he is being dishonest or misleading but because he talks in a stream of consciousness and is perhaps a little confused by everything that has happened to him in the past few years. This 26-year-old from Devon is the son of a chartered accountant father and teacher mother, who spent his teen years at Sherborne public school worrying about being gay, who only lost his virginity in his early twenties, who abhors drugs and would rather drink a vanilla milkshake than a beer. And who now fronts a band with two Grammys and an Ivor Novello to its name. And, of course, dates Gwyneth Paltrow (who travels with her beau as often as her schedule allows, but who is off-limits in this conversation). He may avoid mentioning his girl’s name, but Martin certainly doesn’t worry about speaking his mind. Talk about Coldplay being poster boys for Fairtrade, and the negative effect supporting the rainforest had on Sting, and Martin says: “Fuck it. People are cunts.” Later he adds: “I do worry about people getting fed up with us. But fuck it, I am going to carry on supporting Fairtrade. Part of it is appeasing the guilt of being successful, I’m sure, but it’s a good cause too.” It is well documented that Chris Martin likes to worry. About anything and everything. At the moment he is, unusually, less worried about hair loss than about dying and overkill. He thinks people back home will be bored of Coldplay by now. He says the band won’t be taking a six-month break and disappearing – “Fuck no! We’re going to be working the whole time” – but he thinks they need to retreat. Mention in passing that Coldplay are constantly on the radio and he looks pained. “It’s too much, isn’t it? Fuck.” He says this quietly, under his breath, looking down. “And we’re never in England these days. We virtually live in America.” Silence. “I’m sorry: I’d like to apologise if we’re over-exposed. What a bummer.” Head up. “Well we’re fucking good, so we can’t worry too much.” The music being played onstage increased dramatically in volume and Martin considers asking someone to turn it down, but decides it would be too rude. So we walk out of the venue and within a few minutes find ourselves sitting on a crumbling wall below a rusty bridge with graffiti decorating the walls. Martin assumes the Buddha position. “Cool man, we can score some heroine here,” he says, grinning. “I feel totally blessed, do you know what I mean? In every way. Ridiculously so.” He frowns, twists his friendship bracelets. “I don’t want to die. I want to record another album. Whenever I travel by plane at the moment, I think it’s not going to crash because surely we’ll be allowed to make another album.” He dismisses the pursuit of immorality as a reason to make records. “What’s the point in that when the world is going to end one day? Where will OK Computer be then? That really worries me. I really wish someone would go into HMV and blast all the great records into space. I’m serious,” Maybe he should fund such a project; he probably has the money, after all. “That’s a great myth!” he laughs, breaks the tension. “My dad told me the other day that I was reported to be worth £5 million, which is way off. Way, way off. I do not have £5 million. Really I don’t.” He moves around the wall. “With such stories circulating, there must be even more people than ever waiting to say we’re shit. But I’m prepared to…cut off my own foot to make the next album amazing. And different. I want to make a really uptempo, emotional album. I’d like to right a song like ‘Trouble’ crossed with ‘The Only Way is Up’. He looks mischievous. “That’s a bit gay, isn’t it? Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay.” He laughs. “Yeah, I’d like to write a gay ‘Trouble’.” Martin spends a lot of time thinking about the perfect song. He takes his songwriting very seriously. Although the band joke that they sometimes don’t know what the hell he’s on about, Martin is defensive about his lyrics. “I like to think they’re not all bollocks. There’s something to be said for the sound of a word. The way the word ‘yellow’ sounds makes it worth using; it doesn’t necessarily mean much. Like I wanted to sing the line, ‘Shoot an apple off my head’ on the last album. Today I got the line, ‘Don’t you think once is enough?’ I’m sure that will end up somewhere.” Although he has just written a song for one of his heroes, Johnny Cash – “If he’s well enough to record it, it will be unbelievable. Fucking hell!” – he has yet to pen the perfect song for Coldplay. He thinks ‘Clocks’ is close and maybe ‘Politik’. He says ‘The Scientist’ is “nice”. He doesn’t include ‘Yellow’ because the mix is terrible and so he can’t listen to the record, only sing it live. He used to worry about just being the band that wrote ‘Yellow’; is that still the case? He looks up at the bridge. “It would be fucking cool to climb up there. There are some weird smells in this town, don’t you think? ‘Yellow’…We’ll always be the band that wrote ‘Yellow’. That’s great. Radiohead will always be the band that wrote ‘Creep’ and the same with U2 and ‘The Streets Have No Name’.” (Martin) learned to be true to himself [the band have turned down million-dollar advertising offers from Gap and Diet Coke] while deciding early on that the band should be a real democracy, having equal songwriting credits and splitting the royalties four ways. “Bands write songs. You know. The Beatles would not be anything without Ringo Starr.” He starts shouting. “It drives me fucking insane. Radiohead, R.E.M, U2 – all their songs say written by the band. Coldplay is our band. Our gang. Not my band. Last night I was really upset and Will was just there. He looked out for me. It was cool. It’s so nice to be part of the gang.” (Hmmm, I wonder what, or WHO, made Chris so upset. But how cute of Will to look after him) He stops for a moment. “Everyone thinks it’s me and…” He doesn’t say her name. “And the other three. Because there are two different tour buses. It’s a smoking thing; they smoke, I don’t. They drink, I don’t. I hate drinking. I hate it. But we’re best friends.” Of course Chris Martin worries people will see him on one bus with Gwynnie while Jonny, Guy and Will travel on the other. When the relationship started last autumn, Martin immediately became a tabloid target; even as we talk, there is speculation that he is now engaged to the Hollywood star, which everyone in the Coldplay camp vehemently denies. He sighs. “The main thing is, if you go out with someone…you belong to the tabloids. Basically, however, I am not going to worry about anything today because we are going to make such a bonkers-ly brilliant record that I don’t care. I don’t care if it flops…well, I do care. Do you know something? Everything apart from the music is bollocks.” He jumps of the wall. “So I don’t care if people think I have sex with badgers.” Chris Martin comes offstage without saying ‘Hello, Cleveland’, but he does joke with the audience about being inducted into the city’s Hall of Fame. Coldplay have been a great live band since first performing ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’ at David Bowie’s Meltdown in June 2002, but they really came of age later that month at Glastonbury. Martin charmed the audience with his self-deprecating jokes, manic piano playing, angelic voice and bittersweet love songs. A few minutes after the gig ends, Martin appears from a backstage Portakabin wild-eyed and clutching a bottle of water. He jumps onto a flightcase, sits crossed-legged, rubs his knee. “I love to move but I’m not a very good dancer. I’ve hurt my shin so I’m now dancing on one leg, which is ridiculous. I’m like Bez crossed with Captain Hook.” His voice is croaky. “Even Jonny, who’s such a shy boy, is starting to twist his waist around on stage. Deep down we’re Blink 182.” There was a time when Martin couldn’t stop apologising on stage. Then he had singing lessons with May Hammond, who works as a vocal consultant with West End theatre companies. “She is amazing. She’s like a psychologist as well as a singing teacher. She really sorted me out halfway through the ‘Parachutes’ tour, gave me a lot more confidence. I love feeling like I know what I’m doing. Being in control.” He leaps off the flightcase. “Excuse me. I’ve gotta call my lady,” he says, beaming. While he disappears for half an hour, Jonny, Will and Guy lie around on sofas in the Portakabin drinking beer with Wayne Griggs, their on road DJ. They listen to The Beach Boys and rifle through the second-hand singles they have been collecting on afternoons off. Jonny chainsmokes and wonders if he did the right thing shaving off his beard and leaving a porn-star moustache ( :lol: the magazine thought it looked like a porn-star too!) He stands by the door, chatting to Rocky, the band’s security man and personal trainer. Martin has finished his phone call and is now talking to a highly coiffed blonde woman and a loud man with a Hawaiian shirt and big cigar. He stands very straight, hands clasped behind his back, smiling politely. This must be his standard ‘meet and greet’ pose, assumed when he meets someone important from a record company or radio station. Then someone whispers that the woman is Gwynnie’s aunt. Backstage at Madison Square Garden, four hours before Coldplay appear in front of 14,000 hysterical fans at the home of the Knicks. Martin is hassled. The soundcheck involved rehearsing with a young woman who paid $35,000 to sing ‘In My Place’ onstage with the band at tonight’s gig. He is utterly charming with her but still, this is a big night and he could do with some time to himself. He stops in the corridor to chat and pulls at his blue convict hat. “I’m stressed man. Thanks for coming. Haven’t you seen us enough times? I’m sorry I’ve got nine things to do. Everyone forgets we’ve got a gig to play.” The show is triumphant, Martin introduces a new song, ‘Moses’ to rapturous applause. He entertains. “We’re a young English band and this is bonkers…if you came to see Cher, that was last night but we’ll be doing her hits later. This is our last gig in America for a long, long time.” For the second encore they play ‘Lips Like Sugar’, an Echo and the Bunnymen song, in tribute to Ian McCulloch, who acted as a mentor on ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’. There is an end-of-tour party at the fashionable Joe’s Pub in the East Villiage. Somehow, Martin’s dad turns up not only with one of his younger sons - a drum’n’bass DJ in Manchester - but also a radiant Rachel Weisz ( :wink3: I wonder if Mrs Martin knows about this!) This is the actress Martin publicly talked about fancying for some time. During the evening Mike Myers, David Blaine and Woody Harrelson turn up too. Guy is making the girls squeal just by looking at them, Will is DJing, Jonny is on the street smoking with Rachel Weisz. He is a little shell-shocked. David Bowie came to the dressing room before the gig. “He said he never usually goes to big gigs; the last time he came to the Garden was in 1972 to see Elvis. What were we supposed to do after that?” He sucks hard on his cigarette, has a swig of beer. “David Blaine was talking about suspending himself in a bubble above the Thames…very weird. Oh yeah, and Mike Myers. He is SO shy. He can barely have a conversation. Unbelievable.” Jonny shakes his head. There are plenty of celebrities in Joe’s Pub but the stars of the evening are nowhere to be seen. Finally, after midnight, Chris Martin turns up with a beautiful blonde woman on his arm. He is dressed in the black uniform, she wears tight jeans and a white vest. A ripple passes around the dark room. He doesn’t even notice Rachel Weisz. The couple stay for less than half an hour. Then they are gone and the party gets underway. Q+A What do you miss most when you are on the road? Will: Girlfriend. Without a doubt. Guy: My Girlfriend. If I don’t say that, I’ll be in deep trouble. Ha ha ha. Chris: Um. Well. Sometimes she comes with me. Jonny: [very long pause] What I like about being home is not travelling. (Aw, Jonny is all alone :( ) Do you steal things from hotels? Will: Sometimes, if my soap runs out. Nothing malicious. No TV’s. Guy: Yep. Internet cables. Robes. I take all the toiletries. Chris: Never. I always leave money for the cleaners. If I don’t I feel really bad. I haven’t always done it; it’s a recent thing. Absolutely it’s a guilt thing. I always wish I could take the pens but something in my brain won’t let me. I always have this dialogue in my mind: “Go on, take it, it’s just a Biro. No! I can’t.” I took shampoo once but I had no use for it so didn’t do it again ( :huh: No use for it?? Chris you wash your hair with it!!) Jonny: Not really. Only complimentary items. Do you have heightened dreams or nightmares on the road? Will: Sometimes I have anxiety dreams. I was late for a gig and they’d started without me. I got behind the kit, the crowd walked onstage and some guy was leaning on my drums so I couldn’t play. All hell broke loose and there was a big fight. Guy: When I’m on the road I usually pass out ( :lol: haahaa!) Chris: We were onstage , trying to play a song and something was fucking up. The whole crowd was made up of middle-aged couples who just weren’t into Coldplay. They were facing the other way. I kept saying, “Excuse me, can you listen to us?” But they just weren’t into it. Jonny: If I’m on the bus, yes, absolutely. Mainly claustrophobic dreams. I had this mad dream before Glastonbury where everyone was onstage in a tent but I couldn’t get on. No one had turned up to watch us. All I had to wear was this brown suit and gold waistcoat. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met on the road? Will: Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl. I think he’s a little more…fragile than he was. But he still has this amazing life in his eyes. We asked him if he enjoyed the gig. He said “I fucking loved it!” Wow! How cool. He’s inspired more people than most. Guy: We toured with The Music and they were great. Four whippersnappers from up North. Chris: [big sigh, long pause] A photographer called Taryn Simon who’s a friend of my girlf…well, anyway, I know her. She’s done this whole project on wrongly convicted Americans called ‘The Innocents’. Absolutely fascinating and totally tragic. Jonny: Meeting Brian Wilson was a real moment. Touring with bands like Ash and Grandaddy. We’ve learned a hell of a lot from the bands we’ve toured with. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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