A Pleasantly Unassuming Interview with British Rockers Coldplay

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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 shows.

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 sincerity.

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 parents?

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. Right.

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