Back in August, MUSE reporter Matt Donnelly sat down with Coldplay drummer Will Champion before they returned to Boston for their 2008/2009 Viva La Vida tour to discuss keeping energy up on tour, working with U2’s go-to producer Brian Eno and The Simpsons.
The MUSE: You’ve been touring for more than a year now and have been all over the world. You’ve only got a couple of months left and you’re in the-middle of-nowhere, Massachusetts. How do you keep your energy up?
Will Champion: I think you have to imagine that there’s someone in the audience who’s probably seeing this for the first time. I don’t think that we ever take our audience for granted, and we know that we want to give everyone as good a time as possible. I think it’s easy to become a bit jaded when you’re on the road, but ultimately, it’s our dream job to play music. Me and my friends go around the world playing music together, so it’s pretty great. When you put it into perspective, it instantly makes you energized – how could I possibly be cynical or complain about this?
TM: Brian Eno worked with you on your most recent album, Viva la Vida. Obviously he’s a huge producer whose name is all over U2. How did you get in touch with him? Did the partnership change the recording process and would your album have been different without his perspective?
WC: We had met him once or twice before –– he came in for a day or two on the last record just to say hello. We’d met him through a few different avenues. Originally we said, “We’re looking for the next Brian Eno” –– someone who could have the same effect on us as Brian did on U2. He said, “Well, I’ll do it.” We were just expecting him to recommend us another person, but he said he would like to have a go. It did make things very different –– he turned the process on its head, really. He made us do things we would never normally do and made us approach writing in a very different way, and I can honestly say the album would have been hugely different without his influence. He was very crucial in the way that it was born and the way it was recorded.
TM: You’ve recently lent your voices to an upcoming episode of The Simpsons. What was that like?
WC: We actually went to a read-through for an episode about seven years ago. We were staying in Los Angeles and our friend –– our manager –– I think knows someone to do with the whole program. So we just went down and had a listen, while all the actors were reading their lines, and we were just blown away that we were even there. From then, we just thought it would be amazing to make it on an episode. It’s definitely one of those moments where you have to pinch yourself. It’s been around for so long.
TM: We’ve heard that Coldplay are into sewing while on the road. Could you tell us about that?
WC: That story I think comes from the fact that we certainly had a large part in making our stage clothes. We found a load of people to help us actually make the clothes, and we embellished them by kind of finding old patches and weird bits of material and flags and ripping them up. It was all done in our studio in London –– so we have our recording studio on the first floor and then an art studio.
TM: We’ve read that you collaborated with British pop singer Kylie Minogue on a song that was never released.
WC: Yeah, actually we wrote a song called “Lhuna.” We wanted a female voice to sing part of it and Kylie actually did come in to record the vocal. One of these new internet music providers had a launch and we gave them that song to help out. It seems to be fairly low-key and not many people have heard it.
TM: Anyone else the band would like to work with?
WC: So many people. The people I’m most excited about recently are a band called Rodrigo y Gabriela who play traditional Mexican guitar and they have a very heavy, kind-of-metal background. So they’re playing and it’s just like ferocious –– it’s absolutely amazing. So we’re thinking we might have a chance to work with them one day.
TM: What can a crowd expect to see at a show on this tour?
WC: There’s a couple of things that just work and have worked for a long time –– so we’re keeping them in. There’s a couple of new things –– lots of spherical objects, as a cryptic clue. What we try to achieve is trying to get that idea of intimacy, even when there’s however-many-thousand people here –– we try and make sure we reach as many people as possible. That’s the aim, and hopefully we manage to pull that off.
Photos of Coldplay at Goffertpark, Nijmegen, Netherlands (9 September 2009):