Chris Martin Q&A: 'I Always Feel Like Each Record Is Our Last'
After hearing eight songs recorded for
Let's talk about some specific songs. "Major Minus" is a real beast and sort of keeps the listener off-guard.
Should that go on, then?
In my opinion it should. Why, is it one you think might not make it?
I don't know; at the moment there's about four different incarnations in the track listing, and it's four very different [ones]. I remember on our first album, we went to Paris and a guy had a version of "Parachutes" that was in a different order, and he basically said, "this album is so depressing." So I was like, "oh fuck," and we changed the sequencing around to make it a bit more optimistic. And at the moment we have a group of songs there's sort of three different routes from beginning to end, and I'm a little bit lost today on what to leave off.
Performing "Major Minus" Live
Personally I would hope "Major Minus" is not one that's left off.
I don't think we'll leave that one off, because it's supposed to be a sort of villainous, dark piece. The baddie. The Bond villain, an Orwellian thing. It came from reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.
There's almost a feeling of paranoia there.
Very much so. It's the idea of two people running away from a Kafka environment, or an Orwellian thing.
That song and other new ones seemed to fit nicely alongside the older material at Glastonbury.
Glastonbury to us is kind of Mecca. All our songs are almost designed to be played there.
I guess one risk of playing songs live early in the process is you might mess up on them, as you did on "Us Against the World" at Glastonbury, a real beauty.
We just finished the mix of that today with Spike [engineer Mark Stent]. That's a keeper, for sure. We did f*ck that up in Glastonbury.
How do you feel Coldplay fits into the tapestry of contemporary bands today? Is there a kinship with other bands?
I think within a certain group of bands there's a real community. I definitely feel that within the world of musicians. I guess maybe because the industry's been struggling and you don't sell 50 million on your first, all the numbers are different from when we all started. I find there's quite a good camaraderie. You obviously get some people that want to get set aside from it. I don't know about musically, but backstage or in airports, everyone seems to get on pretty well.
Coldplay Performing 'Clocks' at Lollapalooza
I would think that would be a rewarding thing, not unlike the '60s or early '70s.
Yes, when the Beatles were writing for the Stones, that sort of thing. And we've been set a really good example, because a lot of people that we love have been very nice to us and generous to us. For example, when we got a Grammy one time we got a letter from Radiohead and that just meant the world, for them to say "well done." They didn't need to do that. I feel like everyone's sticking together. Everyone wants to f*cking kill each other in terms of competitiveness, but to me it feels like a healthy competitiveness.
From the video I've seen there seems to be no rust on Coldplay. Does it feel good right now?
We're just so grateful and very driven. How long that will last I don't know. I don't know how long you can maintain that kind of focus, but we definitely all have it at the same time at the moment, which is unusual.
The band is working very hard on the set-up of this record, and it's a long set-up.
Yeah. But it really involves just playing music.
Now you're on the brink of a long tour...
A possible tour. It's not confirmed or anything. I'm sorry, I interrupted you.
You do intend to tour, don't you?
We'll see. I'm just one of a few decision-makers.
So it's a total democracy?
Pretty much, yeah, when it comes to things like that.
But Coldplay is a live band.
And always has been.
Yes. Maybe you could just say that on your way out.
Provided you do tour, are you looking forward to getting out and playing these songs all over the world?
Well, in the immediate future I'm looking forward to trying to finish them. I find it very hard to deliver an album.
How do you know when a record is done?
When I see it in the bargain bin. Then I know it's over. When is it done? When it's taken from our grasp, unwillingly. Every time, we think we'll be done in two weeks, and every time it's right up to the last minute. We know we want it to come out in October, so whenever the last moment that's possible, that will be when it has to be.
Are you satisfied with this band's output over the last decade?
Eighty percent, yeah.
I'm not just talking about quality, but how prolific you've been.
That's just the way it is these days. We could have done 15 albums, but the good songs would be spread over them. If you're lucky enough to do OK with an album, then it's silly to come back with another one too soon. Everyone needs a bit of a break, not the band, the audience.
Some bands learn that the hard way.
It's a choice, I think, isn't it? Some people have their routine and they want to hit the album every year or two years. We like to do it to its maximum, then step away and sort of rethink everything.
Today do you feel good about being in Coldplay and what this band can do?
I still can't really believe it. But everyone looks fired up to me. We've been together long enough that I know how everyone else is feeling, and it makes me excited when I can feel that the others are excited. Maybe I speak too soon, but they don't seem unexcited. They seem pretty fired up. I think we have a lot to prove to ourselves; this is our fifth record and there's no point in not going for it.
I know you've got a show to do, so I appreciate you taking the time to do this.
No, I appreciate it, too, man. It's the same for writers, everyone in music has to stick together a bit these days, don't you think?
It's a different form of expression. I'll be writing about you, I doubt you'll be writing about me.
Cut we need you, everyone needs each other. That's how I feel about it. It's just not the 'take-it-for-granted juggernaut' that it was in the '80s or '90s. We need each other.