Chris Martin

Interview: Coldplay’s Chris Martin

It’s lovely to meet you Chris. 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…

Ha!

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… Did you go to it?

(Joe) Yeah I was there! 

It’s wonderful isn’t it?

It’s insane. And you guys were amazing.

Thanks man. We really worked hard for that. What’s so great about Glastonbury is that it’s kind of all the positive things of life. If you don’t like one thing then you go and watch something else. And if you don’t like that then you go watch something else. So you don’t have to moan about anything…

Apart from the mud.

That is true…

The mud is part of it though… Chris, it’s serious question time. Is your favourite colour yellow?

Ha! No.

(Laughter) What IS your favourite colour?

Blue.

Interesting. We’d have said turquoise…

Yeah turquoise I like. Anything kind of marine…

Are you going to be Beyonce and Jay Z’s godfather?

Are you a fucking tabloid journalist?! You’ve gone from a lovely lady into … (laughter)

I’m just throwing it out there! We’re curious…

I have no idea. I’ve never even met them.

Har har.

What I will say about Beyonce is that, at Glastonbury, she was the best thing there. Secondly, she was pregnant and feeling sick and she still beat everyone else into the ground.

She’s phenomenal …

It was phenomenal at the time but after I learned how she was feeling I felt even more depressed. I was like, “we gotta try a lot harder!”

The new album is fantastic. 

Thank you.

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, you know?

Do you feel maybe that you break that mould? You say you’ll become smaller but here at UEA, people queued overnight to get tickets to see you… thanks for the pizza by the way. (Coldplay bought pizza for the dedicated fans who queued overnight to get tickets.)

Yeah, you’re welcome, that was a good idea that. It was our tour manager. I don’t really know how we are, I think if you start taking in all that positive stuff, you have to take in all the negative stuff. So for every new fan you get, you get another person who really thinks you’re shit. And, being British, we’re always very aware of both sides. So we try to put blinkers on.

Does it upset you, even now, when someone says something negative?

No, it doesn’t upset me, I’m just aware of it. I don’t want to get too full of myself because of that faction. I don’t care if someone doesn’t like us, that’s fine. Go watch some TV or listen to Oasis. Whatever. You know what I mean? It’s music, not a fascist regime that we’re trying to impose. So, it’s completely fine not to like us but, like I said, that’s the thing that stops you from being too “rockstar-y”. (A man walks up behind Chris…) This is Kevin by the way, he’s allowed this interview to happen, he is the chief of our label.

Thank you Kevin!

He doesn’t let me speak to anyone!

We are forever indebted, we feel very honoured… A couple of quick fire questions now. What is the best gig you’ve ever done?

Glastonbury, this year 2011.

Who would you say is your biggest influence?

Now? Bruce Springsteen.

Your favourite Coldplay song?

Er … they’re all the same.

Haa that’s a quote right there!

Not like that!

What’s your least favourite Coldplay song?

We don’t play it. It used to be a song called Talk, only because Guy (Coldplay’s bassist) doesn’t like it. So, I don’t like playing it because I know he doesn’t like it. Oh, and Speed of Sound because we never got it right.

Favourite fruit?

(Chris is picking bits of kiwi out of a bowl of fruit salad.) Mango…

Is there any mango on that platter? Nah there’s not. There’s some melon though …

That’s close enough … This is Jonny by the way. (Jonny, the lead guitarist strolls over to see what’s going on.) He plays, um … I think he plays drums but I’m not sure. Ha!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

So do you guys want to do this when you’re older?

That’s the plan …

Do you get to see many people that come through UEA?

Yeah we see a few people when they come to Norwich.

(Hannah) You were bloody hard to get hold of though.

Do you know what it is … it’s because if we do too many bits of talking, we end up saying stupid things. But you grabbed me and asked me so I agreed.

Yeah thank you so much!

And it didn’t take long once you asked me!

No it didn’t!

If you want to do this as a job it’s good to be outgoing and to take your chances … are you wearing wellington boots?!

I am … I was walking my dog on the Norfolk broads earlier today and then I got a text saying I should come and try talk to you. So I came dressed for walking Muffin.

It’s cool, it kinda adds to the local theme.

Well, when in Norfolk after all…

Massive thanks to Chris Martin and Coldplay for agreeing to speak to us – we had to work hard for this, but we got it in the end. Make sure to check out the next issue of Concrete (out on Tuesday 8 November) where we will have a live review of their amazing gig, a feature on the Live Lounge session, as well as the fantastic pictures our photographers managed to grab at the LCR. If you want to hear the full recording of this intense yet light-hearted interview, the audio is below.

 



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