Coldplay, winners last week of NME Awards for best new artist and best single (“Yellow”), is England’s hottest musical import since … well, uh, Travis.
The accolades continue to pour in: Q Magazine named the London alt-rock quartet’s Nettwerk/Capitol debut, “Parachutes,” the best album of 2000; the LP finished in Spin’s Top 20 for the year; “Parachutes” is making a steady climb up the Billboard chart, now at No. 61, while “Yellow” is firmly ensconced in the Top 10 on the modern rock tracks chart.
It has been nonstop radio promotion, press interviews and touring, getting in and out of buses and on and off planes, for singer Chris Martin, bassist Guy Berryman, guitarist Jonny Buckland and drummer Will Champion since “Yellow” took the United Kingdom by storm last spring.
And just how high have they set the bar for themselves with “Parachutes”? The album entered the U.K. charts at No. 1 and sold more than 70,000 copes in its first week.
All of which makes it surprising to hear Berryman say that he can’t think about Coldplay’s future beyond one more album.
“I think we’ll do one more record, and after that I don’t know,” he said during a recent tour stop in Australia. “I’m not looking any further than one more record, to be honest. You start to feel like you’re a prostitute; you’re just going around to all these places, doing so many interviews. It feels like you’re a product of a company and not individuals.
“I can’t remember the last time we all sat down in a room and made music together. We’ve been touring constantly. The only time we had off was over the Christmas period, and we didn’t see each other because we just went and did our own things and had a bit of a rest. And now we’re back on the road again. We’ve been touring for over a year.”
Berryman’s not complaining, mind you; he’s just pointing out the inherent pressures that come with instant success.
“It can be much,” he said. “A couple of days ago, I got woken up by a Canadian DJ who called and he was live on the air. This was an interview that I wasn’t aware of. I was all croaky and hoarse, and to be put live on the air with no notice on a radio station that has thousands of listeners is a bit crazy. I got straight onto the phone with our manager and he had his tail between his legs. It was probably something really important for us to do, but it gets like that. You’ve got to take it with a pinch of salt; it’s not like working down in a mine. We have a pretty good life.”
Four 22- and 23-year-olds couldn’t ask for a better life. They met at University College in London in 1996 and formed Coldplay two years later, catching the attention of a talent scout from Parlophone Records at their first gig. The word spread with “The Blue Room” EP in October 1999, and shortly thereafter, they went into the studio to co-produce “Parachutes” with Ken Nelson (Gomez, Badly Drawn Boy).
“We just wanted to make a record that’s as much enjoyment to people as some records that people have given to us,” Berryman said. “The way I see it, records are a way of documenting your life; if I hear something old, it’ll trigger something in my brain, like ‘Oh, yeah, that reminds me of a certain time and place in my life.’ “
Coldplay is reminding people of lighter versions of Radiohead, The Verve and Jeff Buckley, spiked by Martin’s sweeping falsetto and the band’s melodic guitar rock.
In the land of ‘N Sync, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, it’s all the more shocking that Coldplay has become such a hot commodity in America, admittedly a tough nut to crack for any overseas artist.
“It must be that time, where someone needed to make a decision up there, like the media, to start putting good songs on the radio before people come completely disillusioned with music,” Berryman said. “It’s probably more timing than anything else. Maybe radio stations and the people just weren’t ready to accept groups like Travis this time last year, whereas they are now. I’d like to think it’s because the music’s strong and good.
“We’re lucky because we’ve skipped out on the whole stage of the fan thing, playing in venues where nobody’s watching you and going around in a ratty old van. Now that we’re finally coming over to the states, all our shows have been upgraded to larger venues and they’re all sold-out already. It’s going to be a quite comfortable entry into the American touring circuit.”
Getting heavy rotation on MTV and having “Yellow” added to radio stations all over the country (and with more singles to choose from in the future) only confirms for Berryman that America is ready for Coldplay.
“I just can’t believe that everyone in America listens to and enjoys listening to rap-metal and the manufactured boy bands,” he said. “I personally don’t get any musical pleasure from listening to that music. I think people are getting fed up with it all and they want something new. That’s why the song and the album are doing so well.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: ” ‘Cut the Cake’ by the Average White Band. I’ve always been into those funky records.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “I got taken to a Genesis concert at Knebworth when I was about 13. It was huge. I remember there was something like 100,000 people and I was in this huge sea of people. I enjoyed the support acts better than Genesis.”
THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: ” ‘Shotgun Willie’ by Willie Nelson. I love it. It has the Memphis Horns on there and it was amazingly produced. Right now, though, my big passion is Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. I’ve got all his records. I love his whole story, about his family and his life; it’s such a tragic story. I think it’s some of the greatest music ever written.”
BWF (before we forget): Warm up to Coldplay on the Web @ www.coldplay.com or www.coldplay.vze.com. For complete Coldplay lyrics, go to Song Lyrics Collection.
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