By Nadia Noir
For most bands, there are skeletons in their closet that eventually lead to their sonic demise. For a band like Coldplay though, there’s only their haunting new album Ghost Stories. Friends for eighteen years and a band for fifteen, Coldplay’s Chris Martin tells Kevin & Bean that while other people might sing better or play music better, the guys of Coldplay have one thing going for them: chemistry.
With Ghost Stories, the band is coming up on their sixth album. And while the band is an international success that rocks arenas, burns their way through brilliant television performances, and is generally considered the U2 of the modern age, Coldplay is constantly reinventing themselves. For their latest single off the album, “Sky Full of Stars,” Martin took an idea to EDM mastermind, AVICII.
“What happens with our songs generally is that they get sent from the universe, however they come, I don’t know where they come from, in the middle of the night they come through and I take it to the rest of the band and it gets layered up, like a car being built or something,” explained Martin. But this time around, he took the song straight to AVICII and had it produced. It was the last song they added to the album and the band appreciated the “fresh injection.”
“The rest of the band was very gracious, as usual,” said the very humble Martin. “So they said, ‘We trust you and let’s keep rolling.’”
The band has built up that trust from the very beginning of their careers. While they spend a lot of time apart so that their time together is “more valuable and precious,” they all like each other more now as a band as they were careful to lay down a good foundation when their chemistry was questioned in the beginning. For two days, Martin had fired drummer Will Champion, but woke up one night in a “cold sweat,” called Champion and said, “This is a big mistake.” Champion took that second chance.
“And, so, from that day forward, we’ve always shared all the money and all the credit and that’s why we never fall out about those things which are traditionally how you might end a band,” explained Martin.
Later, he notes that while he may go write songs with other people “just for fun,” that he’s “well-aware” his talented is “best presented with [Coldplay.]” He also “steals” some of those songs back so that Coldplay can work on them. That’s what he did with “Paradise” and he admits that’s what he did with an upcoming song that will be released next year. Martin won’t divulge what it is, but he says he’s hoping to hop on it as a duet because he likes it and so does the band. “I can’t talk about it because people will put it on the internet and stuff,” said Martin, always cognizant of the fact that everything he says will be scrutinized and cataloged.
Throughout the interview, Martin is vague, but sincere and humble. It seems that his acts of rebellion come in the form of his music, such as the critically-surprising downtempo Ghost Stories. Martin said that the band “wanted to make a particular flavor of something.”
“An album that had a particular mood and a particular use for people in a certain situation or in a certain frame of mind,” said Martin mysteriously. He says that people can listen to it when they need it and that maybe because of what some of them were going with their lives, they just needed to write Ghost Stories the way it is.
“I know that because our band [is] a big thing and it’s sometimes surprising when you don’t always go big,” admitted Martin. “It was a definite conscious decision and we’ll see if it resonates with anyone, but for me, we want to make this flavor of ice cream and we understand that not everyone will be into ice cream that day.”
The “quite personal and intimate” nature of Ghost Stories will be translated to an equally personal and intimate eight date tour including a performance this Sunday, May 19th at UCLA’s beautiful Royce Hall.
Instead of touring, Coldplay will be playing their music on an hour long television special this Sunday at 7pm on NBC that will include six songs from the new album, three major hits, and an amazing 360 degree set. Martin said the band put all their energy and money into making this television special and that they were inspired by a popular Los Angeles landmark.
“We always wanted to do this film where we would build a 360 structure in a soundstage, like where they made The Wizard of Oz. And, so we did. And we made with our friends these projections and we just wanted to have an immersive…I think it comes from being up in Griffith Park and going up to the Observatory. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrapped up in something. And it sort of represents the album and it’s the same thing. If you need it, go in there. And if you don’t, don’t worry about it.”
This present-focused attitude and go-with-the-flow mentality is what has driven Coldplay to the level of success that they are currently at, so when Kevin and Bean asks Martin about the future of Coldplay and whether they will retain their success like U2, Martin admits to thinking about everything “day-by-day.”
“Because the world is so crazy and colorful and scary and amazing that I just feel like every day we’re given is a real blessing…This is maybe getting too hippie for you on KROQ,” Martin laughed. “And also, it makes you put everything into that day or that song. So, if we’re in that place in ten years, that’s amazing. But if we’re not, that’s OK.”
Ghost Stories will be available on May 19 via Atlantic Records.