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    Parachutes is now 10 years old! We look back on a special NME Coldplay interview from July 2000...

    parachutes1.jpgOver the weekend, Coldplay's debut album, Parachutes, celebrated the 10th anniversary since its release way back on 10th July 2000.


    You can look back at our countdown to the 10 year anniversary of Parachutes at the Coldplay forum - includes Ken Nelson's interview and some video interviews. Recently added are superb video performances from Netherlands and Australia, with 2 Meter Sessies and the Big Day Out festival respectively. As part of Coldplaying's memoirs of the first album era, we also look back on a special interview of the band, courtesy of NME, at a time when the music magazine used to like Coldplay, of course...


    Chris Martin stumbles into the pub in King's Cross, leans on the door for support and squints into the beer garden. His eyes are bloodshot saucers and he runs a nail-bitten, dirt-stained hand across his three-day old stubble. He spots NME and approaches. "Sorry I'm late," he slurs, the stench of alcohol on his breath forcing us to wince. "Haven't slept since Glasgow. Fuck knows when that was. But you know how it is on tour, eh? Lots of distractions, know what I mean?" And with that he sit down, fishes in his pocket for a half-smoked spliff and promptly sparks up. One minute later, he's fast asleep.

    Thought you knew Coldplay then, did you? Had them marked down as the indie Westlife. Travis junior. Nice chaps with nice songs. Well-spoken young men with a past so wholesomely squeaky clean it would have Enid Blyton reaching for the crack pipe. That's the power of media representation. And although the band's singer and chief songwriter Chris Martin didn't really introduce himself in such a positively insalubrious fashion (that was a horrid joke; he bounds in beaming, looking sickeningly healthy), the fact is that while the Coldplay record might be hithero untarnished, it's nevertheless a record that needs to be set straight.


    "Apparently," sighs drummer Will Champion, cradling an orange juice and lemonade in the concrete surrounds of the Lucas Arms' beer garden on the hottest day of the year, "we're all teetotalists from Oxford who don't drink or don't smoke and we're doing our Oxford finals."


    He picks out a Marlboro Light and joins guitarist Jon Buckland and Guy Berryman in the joys of nicotine addiction. "Interviews always focus on the backgrounds," he adds, "and that's quite annoying because then you start having to validate where you come from."


    "In an ideal world there would be no need for this," agrees Chris. "Our problem is we have that posture: it's far more rock'n'roll for us to be honest and, you know, we haven't had a particularly rock'n'roll upbringing. It's just hard to validate why we're here, and I hate that. It's much better that we're honest about it," says Will. "There's nothing worse than people pretending to be something they aren't. You've got to be true to what you are. Shouldn't have to feel guilty about where you come from."


    "The problem," Chris considers, "is you mention the word 'university' and you're just screwed. Well, not screwed, I mean, we'll transcend it. Our dilemma is that we'll always be honest about a question, but we know that can be the noose around our necks."


    Of course, these things shouldn't matter, and to a large extent they don't. But as Coldplay's rapid ascent into the nation's heart continutes apace - first 'Shiver' pierced the Top 40 in Feburary, curent single 'Yellow' is set to do far better, while their forthcoming debut album 'Parachutes', is a thing of considerable, peerless beauty - so their tolerance of media intrusion subsides. It's not that the group are bored after just under a year of constant attention, rather they can't fully comprehend why people would be so interested in them as individuals when the music they make, to them, says everything anyone could possibly want to know. "The only thing that gets in the way with us is the bollocks that goes along with the record," Chris will say, chirpily; himself one of the most endearing and amusing and classically charismatic frontmen we've encountered for some time, and therefore a subject ripe for investigation. And is this is the bollocks, Chris Martin is quite a tease.


    Coldplay could not have wished for a more fruitful seven months. If last October's 'The Blue Room EP', their first single since signing to Parlophone in April 1999, hinted at the band's potential for stadium-destined greatness with a wholly civilised and occasionally dramatic take on the Radiohead/Jeff Buckley melancholic acoustic method of mass seduction, then with 'Parachutes' 11 assured songs we find that potential almost fully realised and a distinctive Coldplay sound developing.


    Recorded between tours "in spits and spats between September and April" at Rockfield Studios in Wales, Par Street in Liverpool and Highbury, North London, and produced by Ken Nelson (of Gomez and Badly Drawn Boy fame), 'Parachutes' is an album shot through with the band's infectious optimism and keen ear for melody.


    "I can't believe we finished it," Chris says, at least twice. "It was hard work," confirms Will.


    "Well, not hard work like being a miner," the singer says. "But in terms of music it was the hardest thing we've ever had to do, and in terms of friendship and our commitment. It was more a case of frustration. Some of the album's really good. But we're ready to move on. The most important thing is that every song, we've really got a feeling into it. And that's the first priority. I'm happy we've got as much feeling into it as possible. Obviously music-wise or song-wise or tempo-wise, you're never gonna be happy with it."


    And if you thought the searing speldour of 'Yellow' was Coldplay's finest track to date, wait 'til you hear the unarguably beautiful likes of 'Don't Panic' and 'Trouble.' Of course, if you've seen Coldplay's astonishing live shows, you already know what we're talking about. But, what about parachutes? Well, they're famously useful objects...


    "They get you out of a bad situation," says Chris. "So some of our songs you jump out of a plane and everything looks bleak, you know, and then you pull the parachute and you enjoy it: 'Aahhh, it's not so bad.' But that is bollocks. It's called 'Parachutes' because we had to decide a title. But it works, it fits. Often the things that fit best are things that have to be decided very quickly, or a bit of an accident. A good analogy is when you've got to rush out of the house and get something to wear, you often pick up the first thing that looks any good and it sticks."


    This year, Coldplay haven't had much time to think about anything. Tonight they play the final gig - and their biggest headlining show - of their fourth UK tour this year at King's Cross Scala in front of a typically cynical 800-strong London crowd who will leave the venue grinning like Cheshire cats, heads spinning. They touring began in January with a stint on the NME Premier Tour alongside Shack, Campag Velocet and Les Rythmes Digitales. They then paired up with bright new hopes, Terris and in May, supported Muse. But it's with their own string of shows that everything's finally started to slot into place.


    "We're made up! This is the first tour we're not losing money on. Apart from the first show, they've been sold out, sold out, sold out, sold out! Wicked!" Chris gushes. "Can't believe it! You know, we got to Manchester yesterday and the student union was dead 'cos no-one was there but it was sold out! Wicked! It's very exciting you know."


    Chris Martin, 23, doesn't drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take drugs. He's pretty unusual. The others? Sure, they like a drink and chug away merrily on Marlboro Lights, but as a band they're completely anti-cocaine. Chris, too, has a Christian-like zeal about him, as if he's very much enamoured by life and it's myriad opportunites. Tall, eminently engaging and blessed with a dry sense of humour (he slips into a faltering Harry Hill voice when describing sticky situations; his Alan Partridge is fast becoming legendary), Chris was raised in a small Devon village called Whitestone, halfway between Exeter and Okehampton. His mother's a teacher, father a chartered accountant. His teenage years were spent at public school in Dorset (he won't say which one "it's honest enough to say I went to public school") but four years in London, at University College where he read Ancient History have shaved the aitches from his regionless accent. Chris loves cricket, swimming and "running around in general." Come to think of it, Chris loves everything. Enquire about the Velcro support on his right wrist and he'll say "It's just for the show. I'm trying to be like Jonny Greenwood."


    It was at UCL that he met Will, Jon and Guy. They all lived together in Ramsey Hall, all played instruments and met "just through the standard inane way you meet people in halls." In their case, that involved such wholesome activities such as siting in stairwells playing Simon & Garfunkel songs and "obscure Irish folk stuff that Will knows." But that was OK because it was the reason the four came to London in the first place; Will from Southampton, Jon from North Wales and Guy from Canterbury. They all had "real Dick Whittington-type ambitions", according to Chris: "Go to London, make your fortune. Well, sort of. And when you go to college you've got a clean slate, no-one knows who you are and you've kind of decided pretty much who you want to be." The four bonded over a love of "music that's quite soulful and emotive. Real. Timeless"; bands like The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, The Verve and Mercury Rev. "In a way," says Will, "we've all been influenced by everything we've ever heard."


    Two years ago, they self-financed their debut single, the "Safety EP" and last summer released a single, "Brothers & Sisters" for Fierce Panda. A bidding war ensued, with Parlophone the victors. Sensibly the lads knuckled down and completed their finals. And now? Well now they're seen by some as educated middle-class white boys with nothing to say. Which isn't far from the truth. "I hate talking about this. It just doesn't read well, does it?" says Chris sipping his OJ and lemonade. "We met when I was busking. Jon came up and he was another busker."


    "There was a brlliant advert pinned up the other day," he says, steering the conversation elsewhere. "It said, 'Acoustic guitar, good condition, one string broken, £25.' Hahaha!"


    So Chris, are you religious?




    You seem to have a humanist outlook on life. An unfailing optimism which manifests itself in songs like 'Everything's Not Lost' and 'Life Is For Living'.


    "Yeah, but we all do. None of us are hunters. I eat meat just like anyone else. Kill those cows. I mean, I just...dunno. I just don't drink. I hate it."


    (Later on, NME tells Chris that an anagram of Chris Martin is Mr. Christian. He looks at us with pity.)


    Have you ever been drunk?


    "Yeah a couple of times. Had a really bad week in our band last year and largely it was my fault - well it was my fault - there was a lack of communication. And to mark the end of this bad, bad week, the worst week ever, I decided I'd get hammered just to make myself more miserable. It was Guy, Guy was feeding me. I don't know what it was, all I remember is playing harmonica on the street trying to eat his chips and the just sleeping on the bathroom floor with all this weird red stuff. What was that red stuff? Vodka and cranberry...?"


    "Ribena" says Guy,


    "...and then just feeling really not great and trying to sleep in Will's room 'cos he wasn't there. And it was freezing cold."


    "I know it's not normal to drink, but I just don't wanna do it. Why should I have to? Some of our best songs have come out of going home while everyone else is out, just being miserable. But not really. Y'know I have a great time! I mean, it's not like I got, 'Oh I'm not drinking this evening, I'm just gonna read my book.' I have a brilliant time. I see girls just like everyone else."


    Ask Coldplay if they think it odd that people should listen to what they have to say, that people might even expect them to have something to say, and you're greeted with a long pause. Lorries roar past. Mobile phones ring. "Away from the music?" asks Chris. "Yeah, yeah. 'Cos there are people with far better things to say. We're not orators. It's interesting. We all enjoy reading about people we like musically. But we're only young (the others are 22). We've got a lot to see and a lot to learn. Reading an interview with Tom Waits now, 30 years into the music and the things he's done, that's fascinating. Reading about another new band, it's gotta be done, it's not as interesting. In 20 years it'll be really interesting to talk to us. Come back then."


    "We've got a long way to go. Haven't even started yet. It's weird because there's not that much to say about us, that's why I worry because we're extremely nice blokes and extremely interesting when you get to talk to us properly but, you know, I would be fed up to the back teeth of reading, 'Oh they met here, are they the new Radiohead?' Yawn, yawn, yawn, can I got to sleep now please? I find it boring reading about us. But I don't find it boring listening to us or watching us or getting involved with us."


    As if on cue, a white van pulls up outside. 'Yellow' blares from the stereo.


    Chris shakes his head smiling. "Listen to the vocals - too quiet. That's our philosopy: never happy, always aiming for more." Later that day, during the show, it's transparantly obvious that Coldplay are far, far more that this year's next big thing. Even before they've taken to the stage, screams and cheers ring out in fevered anticipation. And when they finally arrive, strumming into 'Spies', they're greeted with the kind of rapturous applause traditionally reserved for bands with years more experience and material. On top of a speaker stack, stage right, is Coldplay's illuminated globe of the world. It travels everywhere with them and appears on the cover of 'Parachutes'.


    "It's our thing," said Chris earlier, by way of explaination.


    And as a modest symbol of the band's ambition, it couldn't be more apt.


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