Interview: Coldplay

[First published in Concrete, Oct 28, 2011]


What is it like coming back and playing a small venue? I mean, that was a really small venue that you played this morning. (Coldplay recorded a live lounge for Radio 1 in the Blue Bar).
Well it’s wonderful. It’s humbling and it reminds you why you’re doing it. If you still enjoy that, then you’re still in the right job. Do you know what I mean? Without all the smoke and the mirrors and thousands of people watching… We realise that actually we’re a little band and we just love playing… To a load of pissed students!

Do you ever get up on stage and think, “ahhh it’s just another 30,000 people”? Do you become numb to it?
No, not at all. Even if you’re feeling terrible, there’s an adrenaline that kicks in as soon as you think that anyone has paid or made an effort to be there. Something in your brain just switches on, I can’t really explain it. I’ve had a few gigs where I’ve thought, “oh I won’t really try”, because I’m not feeling well. But, when it comes down to it, you can’t help but go for it which is why sometimes you end up getting sick or something.

Have there been many times that you’ve been poorly and you’ve had to go on?
Not that many, touch wood. Look at like what Adele has to do, she has to do it all on her own, she doesn’t have a band. So she has, like, four times the workload. The only thing that stops someone is when their body kind of collapses, but the brain never does. I never feel like I don’t want to do this.

Is it true that Norwich was one of your first gigs as a band out of uni?
Yeah it is true. In fact, it was in the same room downstairs where we were sound checking just now…

The LCR?
Right. We realised that there were more people in our sound check just now than there were when we first played here.

We heard that the doors weren’t even open by the time you first started playing…

Were you supporting someone?
We were supporting THREE people…

Oh right, so you were bottom of the bill?
Yeah, we were opening for the openers of the openers…

And now look at you!
Well what’s funny is that it’s still the same four/five people, you know? That’s what makes it fun.

How have you kept that going? So many bands fall apart or at least a couple of members drop off…
We share credit. And we share money.

You promote Fair Trade and equality. Does this ethic extend to the working of the band?

In 80% of what we do, yes.

So there’s no animosity?
No there’s no animosity at all over money. If one of you is much, much richer than the other and arrives to work on a skateboard whilst another one lands on the roof in a helicopter…it’s going to cause problems… I’m sorry for eating whilst talking to you by the way. (Chris is eating his dinner: chunky vegetable soup.)

It’s fine! Keep going. How do you feel when you listen to Parachutes…
I don’t.

(Laughter)…not that it’s a condensed album, but it’s stripped down. And now that you’ve got bigger as a band, your sound has evolved hugely. Is that something that you’ve done consciously because you’ve been playing to bigger and bigger audiences?
We’re always doing what we think we like. On our new record there are some stripped down moments but we haven’t done a whole stripped down record since then.

Would you like to do another one?
I don’t know. I like varying it. I like jumping from small to big and from big to small. I think since Parachutes you could probably make another whole album that sounded like it by taking bits off the other records. Each time we just follow what we’re excited by.

What are you excited by?
It could a keyboard sound. Or, it could be the idea of playing Glastonbury…

What was it like playing Glastonbury? What went through your head as you stepped on stage? Because that’s something that we, well, never say never, but…we’re probably not going to experience.
That for us is as close as we can get to having a home, albeit one that only exists once a year. But often when we’re writing and we’re putting stuff together, when we close our eyes, that is the view that we see, in terms of a frame for how the music is going to be. So that has an influence on certain choices of songs. We’ve written an awful lot of acoustic things but in my head I’m always conscious of the Glastonbury stage. So the things that I don’t think would work there don’t make it. It’s a wonderful place because it’s so natural and so un-corporate. It’s still a family event, as in it’s still run by Michael and Emily.

The album hasn’t been out long… But, where are you going to go from here?
I don’t know… maybe nowhere.

Is it possible to get bigger and better?
No. In this day and age it’s only possible to get smaller, which I’m sure we’ll do, and worse, which hopefully we won’t. Hopefully we’ll get smaller and better. Well, hopefully not smaller, but you know what I mean, bands aren’t as much of a big deal as they once were. However, like I said, we love it, be it in a student union or headlining Glastonbury. If someone’s interested in listening, we’re interested in playing.



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