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The evolution of Coldplay
It’s been a long time in coming and we’ve been patient … for 18 months. While the foursome from the U.K., known as Coldplay, (frontman Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman) were in serious lock-down mode at their Liverpool studio recording tracks for their upcoming album X&Y, Coldplay fans everywhere waited and not without their share of heavy expectations. The group’s anthem record, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), was a virtual overnight success — having sold almost 4 million copies in the U.S alone — and positioned the band as one of the biggest and brightest pop rock exports. (U2, who?).
However, with triumph came high hopes and the band found themselves facing a harsh reality. The third album is, undoubtedly, the most difficult to pull off. It is the point in which a group defines their sound and (hopefully) solidifies their presence on the music scene. For Coldplay, it was a feat not easily accomplished. “We try to push ourselves as far as we can musically,” says Guy Berryman. “And through this process (in making albums) we find ourselves in an up-hill climb that gets steeper and steeper and therefore a bit scarier to pull off.”
Scary indeed. Coldplay’s long, and rumoured arduous recording process gave the paparazzi plenty of time to dish out heaps of gossip in the tabloids. Amidst the talks of the celebrity marriage, (lead singer Chris Martin wed high-profile Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow in a hush-hush ceremony in 2003), there were reports of internal strife between band mates, a friction so severe that there was speculation that X&Y could be the third and final album produced by the group. The four-member phenomenon that was known as Coldplay started to morph into the Chris Martin Band. “It’s such a process to drum into people that we are a four-piece band and that it’s not all about Chris (Martin),” says Berryman.”It takes years and years to shift this ideology.”
Combine all of this drama and the boys found themselves on shaky ground when it came to their public image and overall sense of identity. Although all of this media hype was, in some ways, making Coldplay a household name, it wasn’t exactly helping them either. “We lost the sense of community that we had,” says Berryman. “We found ourselves going into the studio and doing our own stuff individually. Chris (Martin) would come in on his own, Jonny (Buckland) would add his bits later. It was just very far removed from how we started which was, more or less, us just sitting in a room and playing together.”As a result, Coldplay found themselves at square one. “After a year of recording,” says Berryman, “we were in a situation where we were listening to songs we recorded but never actually played as a group.” By the summer of 2004, changes were made. Danton Supple, a producer who had mixed A Rush of Blood to the Head, ended up recording some of their new tracks. This, coupled with the band’s musical influences, Brian Eno, David Bowie and Kraftwerk — who makes a surprise appearance in the form of a riff in Talk — brought a new, complex sound while still carrying the raw emotional melody that is Coldplay’s signature. Songs like What If, A Message and Square One carry earnest lyrics sure to pluck the heartstrings of every listener.
In May, the band hit Toronto for three days, the lone Canadian stop prior to the June 7th release of their album, and went on a whirlwind of press
meet-and-greets. There were stops at MuchMusic, radio station 102.1 The Edge and the cherry on top of it all, an exclusive gig at one of Toronto’s most popular concert venues, The Kool Haus (Ron Sexsmith and k-os were just some of the Canadian music notables in attendance for the show). Although the U.K boasts a bevy of talented rockers (the invasion is far from over), this type of hardlined promotional wherewithal is what has put Coldplay dead centre on the global musical map. “It’s really important for us to create a buzz,” says Berryman. “We want to say ‘hi’, we’re back and we’re ready. We want there to be excitement.”
Although self-proclaimed as one of the best bands in the world, Coldplay remains humble in the sense that they do not carry the stereotypes often associated with big name rockstars. They’re attitude-free, they don’t have a group of girls in the wings (all, except Jonny who lives with his girlfriend, are married) and as it stands now, they haven’t wreaked havoc on any hotel rooms they’ve stayed in. So, what are you left with? Simply put, a band of four university buddies, who, despite the incessant publicity, just like to make good tunes. “We’re inspired to make solid music,” says Berryman. “Being a part of Coldplay is not a job for me, it’s not a job for any of us. It’s just a way of life.”
Coldplay has two Canadian stops for their world tour of X&Y:
Toronto, Ont.: August 2nd, 2005 at the Air Canada Centre
Montréal, QC: August 8th, 2005 at the Bell Centre
For more information on the band and tour dates, go to www.coldplay.com