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[Interview] “Ghost Stories” with Coldplay’s Chris Martin

British rock band, Coldplay recently released their sixth album, “Ghost Stories” on 19 May 2014 which includes chart topping singles, “A Sky Full of Stars” and “True Love”, but the band has more in store, says Chris Martin.

Formed in 1997 by lead vocalist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London (UCL), the band consists of two other members; bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion and the band shows no signs of slowing down as they loom towards the 20-year career mark.

That’s not it for the band for this year, as it has been revealed that for the month of Christmas, Coldplay will also release a Live Recording of “Ghost Stories” in CD and DVD formats.
Official cover of "Ghost Stories"

In a recent interview with the lead vocalist of Coldplay, Chris Martin, the soulful singer reflects on what it’s like making music for all these years and still going at it.

So how has it been playing with the same guys for almost 20 years? Will has been sort of the rationality of the group. 
The more that time goes on the more I begin to appreciate the chemistry of our group because it becomes apparent to what all our strengths are - like Will’s is really kind of an anchoring. When I think of him I think of something heavy and granite-like, in a great way; like the base of a statue. Without that, the thing topples. While sometimes we can fall out, ultimately that chemistry is what keeps us together.

What about the other members’ roles within the group?
Johnny is really so sweet and I’d say he and Phil are the antidotes to any trouble that might arise between the rest of us. Johnny’s only lost his temper to me once which is really incredible.

Lead singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin (Photo Source: rumorfix.com)

The whole band feels like they're hugging you in this record. You guys sound amazing! Did you do anything to improve upon your sound?
We’re very very tight at the moment. I know that I’m the frontman and the one that’s on the magazines and stuff, but with everything that we’ve been blessed with, what we constantly come back to is this relationship because none of us are prodigies or virtuosos and we’ve seen lots of bands come and go in the time we’ve been around. We’ve worked really hard to communicate with each other in a way that brings the best out of everybody and that started when we started working with Brian Eno. He’d say we really would have to respect the chemistry between everybody.

Were there any drastic measures that Brian Eno imposed to help you guys out?
There was a time when he kicked me out of the band for a few weeks to get everybody else’s confidence up because at that time I could be quite strong minded and so he gave more flexibility and let everyone get to the end of their idea before any judgement is passed. So when Brian came in I was so grateful because it felt like we had a teacher. I was not aware that you could keep learning after college finished before I met him.

So what is Guy’s role in Coldplay?
Well Guy is the sort of the hi-fi. In Ghost Stories he was the one who saw all the mixes home and the mastering. He really cares about the details and so for a long long time I’ve been begging the band to please could someone else start the song. Then one day last Feb, he very quietly came over to me in the studio and said ‘oh Chris you know we did this jam yesterday and I think you should listen to it’ and it was the beginning of the song, “Magic”. I was so grateful and it made me so happy and it was like a symbol to the whole album.

Guy Berryman, bassist of Coldplay. (Photo Source: profil-artis.blogspot.com)

Was it important to have a direction for ‘Ghost Stories’? Is there a general theme to the album?
There were lots of songs written, but the way that we wanted to put it together was to be a journey from looking at everything going through with your life, be it good or bad, and thinking, am I going to run away from it or deny it or is there a way by really opening yourself right up to it that you might actually get to a more joyful place. I don’t know if it’s an English thing, or a religious guilt thing, but up to a certain point in my life I was not completely vulnerable and it caused some problems. If you don’t let love in then you can’t give it back. So for me, ‘Ghost stories’ is you got to open yourself up to love. And if you do, of course it’s going to be painful sometimes but it will be great.

What’s the meaning behind ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’?
That’s like ‘okay, just approach everything with love and see what happens’. Don’t worry too much. Life is so scary. There’s planes going missing, there are people getting shot, there’s wars going on, and anytime where you get thousands of people in a field jumping up and down that is the most beautiful feeling.

What should we take out from ‘Magic’?
Although it starts seeming like a heartbreak records its actually a joyful realization that you can’t escape from what life’s going to throw at you so just enjoy it. You know when you’re in the gym and you have to do an hour on the treadmill, and you’re looking for any excuse to get out of it, but then after you do it you’re like ‘Im so glad I did that’, thats what the album is. It’s basically 42 minutes on an emotional treadmill.

What is your writing process? Do you have a routine when it comes to songwriting?
In my phone I’ll write titles and then I’ll feel like I like a title that would fit with what I’m feeling, and around 11pm I'll see if I get called with whatever thing calls you. Sometimes I’d go sit and ‘fish’ and there are thousands and thousands of voice memos that sound awful (laughs).

How do you feel when you finish a song?
Well I think these songs are very much my friends, and they have been for a couple of years as they’ve been coming and I feel very grateful for them. No one really knows where songs come from, and for all the technique in the world sometimes you just don’t get any good ones and I feel like, wow, I got sent some really nice ones recently.

What was Avicii like when working on a sky full of stars?
I was at the piano and this song just fell out and came right through and the rest of the band weren’t here, and a bit naughtily I called Tim (Avicii) and asked if there was any way he could set up and record a demo of this. Tim is very lovely and very talented and he just made these great piano and synth sounds, and the song took ages to finish because we were trying to blend two worlds.

So what’s next for you and Coldplay?
Well I feel grateful for every day on earth so I don’t know what’s next. I feel grateful to be alive, and between all of us, I would say I am very proud of it and I feel so grateful for the brotherhood, and I’m thankful for all the family around us. Basically I’m doing an Oscar speech but a real one. So am I happy that it’s done? Yes, because it’s exactly what we wanted to do.

Their latest album “Ghost Stories” can be pre-ordered from iTunes at itunes.com/coldplay alongside a new single entitled “Magic” which can be streamed at youtube.com/coldplay.

(Interview courtesy of Warner Music Malaysia)

“A Sky Full of Stars” official video

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