A Pleasantly Unassuming Interview with British Rockers Coldplay

Written by J.T. Leroy on . Posted in Posts.

When British
bands come here they get all confused. Over there, folks like their rock stars
to boast about being the preeminent band in the universe and compare themselves
favorably to the Beatles. We like our rock stars to be rehearsing for their
VH1 Behind the Music show in a self-effacing Matchbox Twenty kind of
way. Okay, we accepted Oasis, but only after they pulled a fast one with a gorgeous
syrupy love song that tricked us into thinking they had some American God-fearing
humility in their Wallabies. So many blistering UK bands come gloating over
here only to slam against a wall of American disinterest. And the harder they
swagger and lay claim to the rock ’n’ roll throne, the emptier their

And along comes
Coldplay. Even though the UK press has raved enough over these dudes in their
early 20s to grant them permission to be assholes for life, the Coldplay boys
give pleasantly unassuming interviews. The video of their single "Yellow,"
from their album Parachutes, is just of the singer walking alone down
a beach, getting soaked, looking out with a nice smile as if to say, God this
is silly. No bravado, just this sweet Radiohead meets Dave Matthews beauty and

I interviewed
bassist Guy Berryman on the phone.


I know you
heard this a million times, but your album is just magnificent. And the reviews
have been great. How are you handling people giving you all this praise?

Um, well, after
a while it just seems to be so hard to believe. There are only so many times
you can… We just kind of try and keep our own sanity and keep things within
the group. We know our strengths and our weaknesses, and we don’t like
to be affected too much by what people write and what people say, whether it
be good or bad. Because the quality of our music is from us, within the group,
not from anything else. And that’s the way we’re gonna keep it.

Have you
felt like people who knew you from before are any different? Has it made it
worse for relationships? Or better?

Yeah, it does
change. The thing I was kind of slightly disappointed about is the fact that
when I get to see my parents, like if I just want to go and hang out, be there
with my parents for a while just to get away from it all, as soon as I get in
the door I’ve got like 20 questions that are being asked. The band this
and that. And so it’s really hard to escape it sometimes.

From your

Yeah. And I
think I just have to say, Look, I’ve come here to get away from it all,
can you just chill out. And they understand.

Are they
really proud of you?

Yeah. Yeah
they are, and that’s the thing, you know?

Most parents,
their kid tells them he’s a rock musician, you might as well tell them
that you’re into kiddie porn. They freak, because they know you probably
are going nowhere


So, y’all
haven’t really hit the United States before, have you?

Not really,
not really. We played L.A., we played at the L.A. K-ROQ party.

You must
get girls, groupies, all that. How are you dealing with it?

Well it’s
not like… You know, it’s not Spinal Tap by any means. But, no,
we’ve all got girlfriends. We try and keep away from all that to avoid
temptations, as they might say.

Who decided
to make the "Yellow" video the way it is?

Well, we were
all gonna be in it. It was gonna be mostly people on the beach and stuff. But
unfortunately our drummer had to attend a funeral the day it was being filmed,
so he couldn’t be in the video. So we thought it would be weird if it was
all of us in the band except Will. We decided that it just had to be Chris.
And it was going to be a really sunny day, but it wasn’t, it was rain,
so they just decided, All right, let’s just get something down. And it
just turned out really really well.

I think
what I really dig about it is the lack of pretentiousness. He is trying not
to look really cool.

Yeah, right.

Or like
a rock star. I guess the feeling that I get the most from the band is more approachability.
You guys are really human beings. You’re welcoming and you’re real.

Yeah, well
we are. We’re always happy to talk to people that are interested in our
music. I don’t understand the mentality where some musicians don’t
want to speak to their fans. There isn’t a day–if people weren’t
buying the records there wouldn’t be anything. How can you deny that? It
just seems crazy.

Your musical
influences are r&b and that kind of stuff?

Yeah, I like
that stuff. That’s what I used to listen to a lot before I was in the band.
But that doesn’t mean I’m trying to incorporate that sort of music
in the band. As a musician in the band you have to do what’s appropriate
for each song.

I love a
quote from you I saw in some article, where you said about r&b, the bigger
the afro, the better the music–?

–the record.