gai Posted June 24, 2016 Share Posted June 24, 2016 Chris Martin: ‘Coldplay are saying the opposite of walls and Brexit’ The Glastonbury Sunday headliners get emotional about the power of music and their quest for the perfect hook Coldplay performing in Las Vegas. Photograph: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia It is rather gratifying, when meeting a band who have sold 80m albums and are about to headline the world’s biggest music festival for the fourth time, in front of a global audience of millions, to find out that things were not always like this. Chris Martin, sitting backstage at a Zurich stadium on Coldplay’s world tour in mid June, tells me that he never got to go to Glastonbury before performing there, because of school terms and university exams. “The closest I got was in 1997. I was on a train; I’d just been to Devon to get braces fitted. I felt so self conscious, I was like: ‘Shit, what am I going to do? I’m 19 and I’ve got braces.’ Then the train stopped at Castle Cary, and everybody from Glastonbury got on. And I just melted in the corner.” He laughs. Did they all seem cool? “They seemed so cool! I was just like: ‘Shit, how do you get that cool?’ So that was my closest experience to Glastonbury; being on a train and feeling like the nerdiest of nerds, because my mum had told me to get my wonky teeth fixed.” Coldplay’s drummer, Will Champion, meanwhile, had a mum who was an archaeologist by day but DJed at parties by night and went to Glastonbury with her mates every year, always bringing him back a poster. “I had them all up in my room. Wincanton Town Band on the Pyramid – I still remember that name. It sounded so exciting. I thought, ‘OK, that would be cool to go there.’” Then he finally did, aged about 17, had a great time, got sunburned, “and then, before the Sunday-night headliners, me and my friends drove off home. We thought that was what you did.” But then, of course, that’s the point with Coldplay – they were always not like this, and they’re still not like this – not otherworldly, not starry. When Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow consciously uncoupled, it felt like Britain thought he could now go back to being just some English bloke and eating chips. FacebookTwitterPinterest Coldplay (left to right): Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin and Guy Berryman. Photograph: James Marcus Haney It turns out this notion is utterly wrong, because when Martin walks into a room, I am rather startled to find that a stellar quality enters with him. His energy hits you from across the room: the intense stare, the piercing blue eyes, the feet that are usually barefoot nowadays. I understand now why his T-shirts are constantly riding up his chest on stage – his muscles are so big, in the flesh, that his shoulders look like two Tonka trucks battling it out. He lives in LA now – well, the nearby beach town Malibu – and speaks about the Sufi guy he worked with “to kind of look at life a bit differently, four years ago, when lots of things were changing in my life”. He talks about gratitude; Viktor Frankl’s theories of finding the meaning in life; Rumi’s poetry. Clearly, this is not a man whose divorce liberated him to sit round watching Soccer AM in his underpants and cursing the existence of Goop. And though he is not here to talk about relationships, he also has a new girlfriend, the British actor Annabelle Wallis, who is currently shooting a remake of The Mummy with Tom Cruise. He seems happy – is he? “Well, it’s a state of mind. If you want to be depressed every day, there’s plenty of material. The world is crazy. Even today, I’m like, why has some guy walked into a nightclub in Orlando and – what is the possible meaning of that? Like I’m preaching to myself, trust in the universe, and then that happens …” That night, he will dedicate Coldplay’s show to the victims of the shooting. In fact, he seems prone to melancholy, and says he has been working on his state of mind, because he got to the point of thinking: “I don’t want to go through the whole of my life feeling shitty about myself. Because it’s not making anyone happy.” He explains that “my philosophy at the moment is that I’m great – and so is everybody else. You have to fit your own oxygen mask. That’s really my philosophy now: our band is the best band in the world. And so are all the other bands.” We laugh a bit – he knows it sounds faintly silly. But if he sticks to that frame of mind, “then I don’t have to feel threatened by any other bands. I enjoy it a lot more”. FacebookTwitterPinterest Watch Coldplay performing Viva La Vida at Glastonbury in 2011 And so he studies songs by other artists, to work out why they are so great, his current favourite being one by Mike Posner that goes “I took a pill in Ibiza, just to show Avicii I was cool”, which I am certain is the worst song ever written. Surely he’s joking. “I’m not! The Seeb remix of it. I want to write a song as good as that.” But your songs are all better than that. “Yeah, but you guys, music journalists, your job is to think in the cerebral all the time, you have to analyse. It’s very hard for you to say, ‘This song makes me feel a certain way.’” Oh, but I can do that, Chris. That Ibiza song makes me feel horrible. “That song, or One Dance, that new Drake song, they just get me. In my body … sometimes it’s that indefinable quality – it always fascinated me.” He looks a bit wild-eyed now. “This person loves tangerines, this person loves raspberries, and my son won’t even look at berries. Isn’t that amazing? And so I have to apply that to music, otherwise I would always hide in a hole, because of all the people that don’t like Coldplay.” Do they get to you? “No, I really don’t mind it,” he insists, smiling joyfully. How long did it take not to mind it? “It took a while. Yeah. Because when you first make music, you’re not making it to annoy anybody. You’re not saying, let’s write a really catchy song so that this guy will only give us one star in whatever newspaper. No one is motivated by that. Then you become successful and suddenly there’s this volley of arrows coming back at you, and you go: ‘What? I thought we were giving sweets out, we weren’t trying to hurt anybody.’ So, for everybody, there’s a period of how to cope with that … especially in the internet era.” He says it must be the same for journalists. I agree that the comments under articles can get us down. “You should never read them,” he says. I promise not to. I must admit, I am feeling quite uplifted by the Tao of Chris. FacebookTwitterPinterest Will Champion (front) with bassist Guy Berryman. Photograph: Alamy Sitting down for a separate chat with Will Champion, he explains that his life in Coldplay is very different from Martin’s. He is avuncular, a very friendly sort, who instantly puts you at ease, and tells me that he loves being able to disappear back to his three children, who are all studying Suzuki-method violin, and his wife, who sings in Brian Eno’s private choir. When things get very intense with fans or paparazzi, such as on their recent South American tour leg – and he is quick to stress how wonderful their fans are – Champion says that “I do find myself thinking, gosh, I’m glad I’m not Chris. He has to deal with all that. It makes general logistical, practical stuff quite difficult, and that would, I think, drive me crazy. And he’s much better equipped to deal with it, he’s used to it. So I feel I’m incredibly lucky in that respect. That I get to do my absolute dream job, and be with my best friends and play these amazing stadiums all over the world, and then go back to London where my family can have space …” And go to the chip shop. “Absolutely. Actually, the guy in the chip shop does know who I am. But just that guy. About once a month, a stranger will say something to me. I was walking down near where I live and I just heard someone on a building site go: ‘Oi, drummer of Coldplay!’ I loved that. I felt like saying: ‘Hello, builder of houses!’” Champion and his wife dance a lot in their house, “because we like the children to see us enjoying ourselves. Bedroom disco, kitchen disco, as many discos as we can. For the kids’ birthdays, lots of their friends go to these amazing hosted parties in all these places there are in London. Our kids just want to have a disco. So we black out the living room with binbags, get the disco ball up …” And crank up ? “Yeah, that’s the one all the kids want to dance to,” he chuckles. “They are very sweet – I don’t want to feel like we’ve indoctrinated them in any way, but I genuinely feel like they might quite like our band, which is very … well, for young kids to be into a band of some guys who are 40 – it’s quite gratifying.” It is also bittersweet for him, as his own beloved mum, who got him into music in the first place and even employed him as a nine-year-old roadie when she DJed at his school discos, only got to see Coldplay perform once. The reason , released in 2000, is so stark – just Chris walking down the cold beach, looking sad – is because it had to be shot on the day of her funeral. I ask Champion if those early songs still take him back to that time. He says they do, and that the band have recently revived a song called , which is from before Parachutes, when they were all students at UCL. “It reminds me of the first few practises where we were all together. Chris and Jon [buckland] had been writing together for a while, and then Guy [berryman] joined, and we were always hanging out together and they needed a drummer, so I said I would give it a try. I remember being in Jon’s bedroom and those first songs – I’ve always been drawn to folk music, because my mum also sang in Irish folk bands, and I love acoustic songs where you can just get a sense of melody and a song. I just remember listening to Chris play those quiet songs and thinking, ‘These are reallygood. They’re not just – ’” he laughs, “‘ – classic student stuff.’ I felt a great connection with them from the word go.” FacebookTwitterPinterest Watch Coldplay perform The Scientist at Glastonbury in 2011 He knows not everybody agrees; that some men come to their shows only to appease their girlfriends. “But I like the feeling of winning people over, and then looking at people who, initially you think they’re not gonna like us, the guy who’s looking at his phone. And then, by the end of the show, he’s jumping up and down and singing, even crying.” We talk about what it’s like being surrounded by people having an emotional experience, and how it spreads back to the stage. He has burst into tears at the drumkit “once or twice”. The band also feel emotional about what has happened to Kids Company, a charity to which they donated millions of pounds before the organisation’s downfall. “I understand all of the things that happened, but, ultimately, you just feel sorry for the kids, for whom those centres were lifelines. It has overshadowed all the good work that was happening there. It’s dreadfully sad,” says Champion. He says Coldplay are working to stay in a “relationship” with the particular north London centre they sponsored, Treehouse, but he doesn’t give details. “She only ever wanted to do good things,” he adds quietly, referring to its founder Camila Batmanghelidjh. As for Glastonbury, Martin says it will be “magical – even if it rains. We’ve played it in all weathers. We’re in a time when a lot of things separate and divide us – Brexit, walls – so hopefully our concerts are saying the opposite at the moment. Everyone in our band comes from disparate places, but Glastonbury is the one place we all feel we come from.” I think he’s about to launch into a political speech, but no – “I’m really talking about how we’re playing to a lot of hungover people who are a bit muddy. Where we’re at in our minds at the moment, it feels a little freer, and I think we’re really excited about singing together. I don’t think it’s the time to be debuting our noodly B-sides.” (He also admits that, playing at 10:30 on Sunday night, “we could just be soundtracking the exit”.) FacebookTwitterPinterest Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin performing in London in February. Photograph: Nick Pickles/Getty Images I ask them how they write their hit songs. What’s the secret of the hook – that catchy bit that keeps so many people going back to Coldplay’s music? Martin stresses that most of their songs end up left as unreleased demos for ever, “because they don’t have a little bit like that”, even though he sometimes gets up in the night to record sudden ideas on to his phone. Champion says the band get together in the morning to do “musical gym” for two hours, where they just play and see what happens. Thousands of songs get abandoned to an audio archive, sometimes pillaged for spare parts later – the song title “42” was used on many different songs before finding its home on the Viva la Vida album, because, “well, I’m not sure we’re numerologists, per se,” says Champion, “but a whole lot of things have been 42 in this band”. Martin believes everyone can make up songs. “I did this with someone the other day. They said: ‘Oh, I can’t write music.’ I sat them at the piano and said: ‘Well, you’ve got these four notes, I’m gonna play some chords, just see what happens.’ You restrict them at first and, after about 10 minutes, you hear them start to repeat things, because the human ear wants to hear something repetitive and pleasing. Brian Eno was an amazing guide for that; he’ll make you just play the same thing around and around until it becomes super comfortable, the same chord sequence for three hours, so that everything you do on top of it is just natural. “But in terms of writing, I think it’s about not judging what comes through. And that’s how the catchy bits happen. The hooks – I haven’t really tried to explain this before. And I hear other people’s hooks that I think are way catchier than ours, and I think, ‘I wonder how they got there?’ Ha ha.” He says that the age of ringtones has something to do with it, as do emojis. “Someone said that if you send a text with emojis I can’t be friends with you, and I thought, there are some things that I can’t say without emojis. So I hope they don’t go away. Today I was texting someone and I thought, there’s only one emoji that can express what I’m feeling.” The single tear? Fireworks? A turd? “No, what was it today? It was a princess and a heart. I was like, I couldn’t express that in words. So, basically, what I’m trying to say is that I need emojis in interviews, because there are some things I have no words for. How do I write a hook? I’ll tell you. With a musical note, a thumbs up, happy face, and then people clapping. That’s basically it.” Chris Martin on Rihanna … FacebookTwitterPinterest Martin performing with Rihanna at the London Paralympics, 2012. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images “She is the Frank Sinatra of our generation. She can turn anything into gold with that voice. Here’s the thing: if you speak to a good singing teacher about great opera singers, they will talk about consistency of tone. Or there’s a book by Alfred Tomatis about why some people like certain people’s voices and other people hate them, like Bob Dylan or me or whoever, some people say, ‘Oh, I hate that voice’, so there’s a thing about people’s frequency responses – what they are pleased by. Rihanna has this thick tone, so it’s very hard to annoy anybody. It’s like a beautifully squeezed tube of toothpaste. When you think of Rihanna’s voice you think of this whole, rich thing, solid like a tree trunk, and Drake is pretty similar. But Rihanna’s voice is just delicious for your ear. Sinatra had the same thing; anything he sang sounded pleasing to most people.” … and the Super Bowl FacebookTwitterPinterest Dance off: Beyoncé, Chris Martin and Bruno Mars play the Super Bowl in February. Photograph: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Coldplay played the Super Bowl with Beyoncé and Bruno Mars in February “to present something of togetherness,” says Martin. “We thought – this is not going to read so well, but it’s the truth, so I’m going to tell you – we thought: ‘Let’s embrace as much of our world, the musical world, as possible.’ The kids on strings were all from Gustavo Dudamel’s Sistema orchestra in inner-city LA, a programme invented in Venezuela. Bruno is from Hawaii, Beyoncé is from Texas, and she’s the greatest dancer in the world, and the greatest artist, and Bruno’s pretty close. So, really, the idea was to present something of togetherness.” Of different cultures? “Yeah, yeah. And a lot of people focused on the bit you’re talking about with me in the middle, two brilliant dancers and a not-so-good one. But that was deliberate, because I was there to represent everybody who can’t dance. I’m not a great dancer. I’m a great advertisement for freedom of expression. I don’t care what you think, I’m having a great time.” link 7 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now