Chill factor

Coldplay acclimates to reputation as one of Britain's hottest bands

Like the title of its most recent album, Coldplay is enjoying "A Rush of Blood to the Head."

Call it the dizzying feeling of becoming an "instant" superstar mere months after the release of its 2000 debut: the multiplatinum, Grammy-winning "Parachutes," which featured the blissful radio staple "Yellow."

With its sophomore record, the quartet succeeds Radiohead and Oasis before it as THE British import of the moment. A fair assessment, considering this emotionally mature songwriting unit makes most American radio acts look like the teenyboppers they truly are.

Adding to the ensemble's burgeoning notoriety is lead singer Chris Martin's ongoing romance with Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the two having met backstage at a Coldplay show last summer. Now the band finds itself in the pages of People as often as Spin.

As an inevitable result, the group's friendly reputation isn't protecting it from occasional condemnation. Alan McGee, the powerful producer who discovered Oasis and founded Creation Records, dismissed Coldplay in the British press as "boring bed-wetters who cared more about passing their exams."

True, the members (singer/pianist Martin, guitarist Jon Buckland, drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman) did meet in 1996 as schoolmates while attending University College of London. But so far the graduates have been concentrating more on courses in the music world than on advancing their academics.

According to bass player Berryman, the lone Scotsman in the London-based quartet, the inescapable criticisms and comparisons seem to roll off the band.

"People have been saying some NICE stuff about us," he says. "We've been selling out shows and selling records, so that's a pretty good indication."


Special to the Journal-World

Coldplay members Jon Buckland, left, Guy Berryman, Chris Martin and Will Champion recently released their sophomore album "A Rush of Blood to the Head."

The Coldplay member phones from a hotel in Houston while in the midst of a tour that still has three months and seven more countries to go. Right now it's "wet and raining" when Berryman calls, though he says the dreary weather "reminds me of home."

Q: Everything seems to have happened so fast for Coldplay. Have you had time to stop and enjoy what you've accomplished?

A: "A lot of people say it's happened quickly for us. But we've been doing this for five years now. For us it doesn't really seem that way. When people in America for example become aware of us -- because we're on MTV and the radio and stuff -- to the listeners it's like, 'This band has suddenly appeared.' But what they don't realize is that before we came to America we were touring for three years around Britain and Europe. There's a lot of work that goes into it. You invest a lot of time, especially in the states where you have to treat each state as a different country.

Q: You've gotten big enough now that people who haven't really heard your music know who the band is because of Chris' relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow. Is that odd for the other members of the band?

A: "Slightly odd. What we're aiming to do is become a big successful band, and you just got to accept the fact that things like that are going to happen. We don't all have these massive egos and 'crave the most attention.' It's not like that."

Q: So there are some positive aspects to that as well, I would imagine?

A: "Well, there's A LOT of publicity involved. It would be interesting to know how many little press clippings and mentions of what is going on right now are out there. News like that spreads like wildfire, doesn't it?"

Q: Do you get along with Gwyneth?

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A: "Yeah, she's cool. She's out on tour with us now, actually."

Q: What can we expect from your live show on the "Rush" tour?

A: "The live show we've tried to make interesting the whole way through for everyone, whether you're standing in the front or the back. We've got a good light show, a good set of songs, some projection screens, video cameras on stage so people in back can see what's going on."

Q: What was your last job before going full time in the band?

A: "I was managing a student bar in London at the university."


Special to the Journal-World

Coldplay's "A Rush of Blood to the Head" is a follow-up to the band's Grammy-winning "Parachutes."

Q: Have you applied any of the skills you learned from that to being a rock star?

A: "I don't think so. There's not a lot of skill involved in being a bar manager."

Q: Can you characterize some of the differences between the British press and the American press?

A: "The British press are a bit more cutthroat. They like to be in control of a band's success or demise. A lot of times with the British press they'll build you up, but you should always be prepared for a backlash in the British press. They're quite happy to cut you down if you pissed them off in any way. That doesn't tend to happen over here."

Q: Are you to the point where you're experiencing the backlash over there?

A: "No, we're doing OK. That hasn't happened yet, and fingers crossed it never will."

Q: Do you have a muse or anything that is a source of inspiration for your creativity?

A: "Just good music really. Between the four of us we listen to pretty much everything: gospel, country, electronic music. Within all these different genres of music there's always something there to inspire you."

Q: What's the last great song you've heard on the radio?

A: "I don't listen to the radio -- especially not in America."


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