Exclusive! Coldplay Interview
MTV News spoke to Coldplay about their love of Rihanna, working with Kylie and their awesome new album
MTV News: When and how did you decide to start this new album?
Chris Martin: What normally happens with us and what definitely happened this time is as soon as we finish one record, we think we can do better and so we start working on another one because we feel like we have everything to prove again. You know what I mean? So as soon as we finished X&Y, we got straight back to work because we knew we could do something better.
How do you go about writing as a group?
CM: We have a team of 8 year olds who work in a factory just outside London all the time and we go there and see what they got, and often they have hits, and we take them.
CM: We try to take influences from everywhere and we try and not use any formulas especially on this record well, all the records weve done. But once youve done three albums theres a danger of falling into formula and so we tried to avoid that at all costs.
Is there a temptation to reinvent yourselves?
CM: I think as much as possible we look at what other people are doing and try and steal all the good bits from all of them. So you look at Umbrella by Rihanna and you think oh that drum beats good and you look at Stronger by Kanye West and think oh those glasses are good and then you look at Greenday.so we are affected by everythings thats going on but we steal from so many different places that hopefully it becomes untraceable.
So then do you think lets pick a producer? For instance, Brian [Eno]? Tell us how that came about?
CM: We called up Brian to see if he knew anybody who could produce us. The words of the phone call were. Please can you come in for a sandwich and tell us if you think you know anyone that could help us improve. And he said, Well I definitely agree you can improve and I think I can do it for you. To which we said Greatwhat flavour sandwich do you want? and that was the beginning of the worst year of his life (laughs).
What was it like working with him?
Johnny Buckland: Well hes an incredibly enthusiastic person, he just is full of energy for new ideas and new things, hes not at all affected by
CM: The Weather
JB: Yeah, or his past achievements,
CM: He never mentions his past achievements
CM: So when youre working with someone like Brian who doesnt mention his past achievements, youd feel silly if you mentioned yours so its a good kind of restart. We thought God weve gotta try and impress Brian today, you know, and he doesnt care how many Grammys youve won or whatever. In fact he couldnt care less, so thats quite liberating in a way, cos hes not concerned with your past at all.
According to reports he had to bring you back togetherany truth in that?
JB: I mean for me, he didnt really fulfill that role. I think Phil our fifth member, if anything, he came back to us to working with us again, and that really brought us together, hes like. If anyones ever upset or angry, hes always there to put his arm around us, calm us down, bring us back.
CM: Our fifth member PhilI dont know if youve seen that Metallica film Some kind of monster, hes like the therapist in that. Except, weve known him since we were kids. Every good band should have somebody like that.
How do you decide on the name of the album?
JB: We were on tour in South America last year and in Mexico we went to Frida Kahlos house and you saw that painting didnt you? Called
CM: Viva la Vida. And I saw this painting, and Frida Kahlo is this, shes not alive anymore, but she was a Mexican Artist who paints in very bright colours, but theres always real life within it and sadness and darkness, but it always looks very uplifting. And so when I saw that picture I thought, well thats kinda what were trying to write about at the moment. And then a little voice in my head said, Well it does sound like Ricky Martin and another voice said, Well, dont worry about it. So its always been called Viva La Vida, despite everyones protestations, but thats just what it had to be called.
Did that influence the artwork on the website etc?
CM:We had this idea for artwork that um, sort of felt that about our own band that we wanted to kill it and start it again, so we thought well how would it be in a revolution when people break in to a palace and get rid of the old institution? And we thought, maybe theyd paint over all the pictures and just kinda trash the place. So thats where the idea for our Album cover came from, ruining a great masterpiece by scribbling on it.
Did that lead you to making your first track available for free on download?
JB: We made our first track downloadable for free because we didnt want to be taking all the time. When you release an album, it can sometimes feel like youre, you know, on the hard sell. So, I think we wanted to give something back to people who supported us
Weve heard stories that some of the vocals were recorded in a Spanish church?
JB: We went on a kind of field trip to Barcelona to record some vocals. We wanted to do lots of group singing, lots of chanting and things. We wanted to do it somewhere sunny and interesting, so yeah we just decided to go to Spain and we found a really amazing old nunnery and we did some singing in it. CM: we didnt find any nuns though
CM: We did try and invoke the spirit of a choir of nuns while doing those vocals.
JB: whats that film?
CM: The sound of music?
JB: no with the choir of nuns
CM: Sister Act. And Sister Act 2 with Lauryn Hill. Thats classic.
Is there anything different about this album?
CM: the way we feel about our new album is that weve kind of thrown away our old tricks which makes us a bit nervous but its also potentially more exciting in the long run. Weve tried very hard to write songs that people will want to sing along to but hopefully present them in a colourful way.
Whats the idea between the couple of ones that are like 2 tracks in 1?
JB: We limited ourselves to sort of 45 minutes of music on this album and so we wanted to fit in as many ideas as possible and do slightly more unexpected things so theres some songs have complete right turns to somewhere else. We didnt want to do a standard song structure every time.
CM: Also, we used to work in shops when we were younger and I noticed that every time they did a, I worked in a supermarket, and every time they had a packet of biscuits or something and did a special offer where you buy one packet and get another one free everybody liked those biscuits more, so we thought lets try that with the album in a couple of places, well have a buy one get one free.
Do you still get nervous when youre about to release something?
CM: The answer tot hat question is " were more terrified than ever. Only because we tried really hard.
JB: Waiting for the release of this album is probably more nerve-racking than it ever has been. Im not sure hwy. I dont think well ever enjoy this period.
CM: imagine, you know how in Rocky, you have the trainer Mickey. Imagine he felt like how we feel. You train something; youve done all you can on it then you have to let it go. So youre just like ok fingers crossed. But we definitely couldnt have put anymore love into it than we did.
What can fans expect form this new series of live shows?
CM: think were mainly gonna play Bon Jovi songs and a couple of our B-sides. Its not an essential night out. I take that back, it is an essential night out. Were such hit whores. If we have the slightest hint of a hit then well play it, you know. Its about trying to make the perfect nights entertainment. In all seriousness were putting this concert together and were trying to make it as entertaining as anything that you can go and see and that obviously involves playing songs that people like.
What do you make of the Jay-Z headlining Glastonbury debate?
JB: I dont know why there is a debate about whether its right or wrong that Jay Z should be playing, its ridiculous.
CM: I think its a bit like people complaining about Mozart playing the Camden Falcon. Its like yeah its pretty different but dont we want to go and see him? Hes brilliant! Theres not really any issue, only unfamiliarity. Anyone who isnt into it is probably a c**t.
Is there anyone at the moment who youre particular fans of?
CM: From our point of view since weve last been around, Amy Winehouse has appeared, who is the best singer Ive heard in my life apart form Beyonce. Who else? We like a lot of things. We like the ting tings, we probably like the same stuff you do.
CM: Rihanna of course, who else?
Another female, Kylie, you did a track together.It didnt quite make it on the album. Is that true?
JB: Kylie sang on a track we did but we havent finished it.
CM: we just havent finished it. It will definitely come out one day. Its pretty sexy. I just dont know why we havent finished it yet. I do know why actually cos were waiting for one line of words.
CM: No No. I just cant come up with it.