Coldplay: ‘Glastonbury Is A Homecoming Gig’

Coldplay are now set to be the only act in Glastonbury’s 46-year history to headline the Pyramid Stage four times. In a new interview due to be published in this Friday’s free NME magazine, Chris Martin said, Worthy Farm is “the closest thing to a homecoming gig” the band have got. “I’d play there every day if we were allowed to,” he added.

Here, in an excerpt from the interview, Chris and the band discuss what it’s actually like to be onstage at such a humungous gig, and why for years it was always so tough to actually enjoy the moment.

Can you actually see anything from the stage when you’re up there?

Chris Martin: “It really depends. Sometimes we ask to see. You know, ‘Can we turn the lights up, Graham?’ Because Graham’s our [lighting] guy. That’s really all we can see. I think one of the reasons why award shows or TV shows feel a bit different is because you’re much more aware of the audience being there than you are in a regular gig. I think that’s why it takes a while to get used to. People will often say that it’s a weird vibe when you go straight into playing at the BRITs, or whatever.”

Do you get more nervous when you’re within spitting distance of the audience?

Chris: “Well, the truth is, for the first few albums if I looked out I’d be worried that I’d see someone who wasn’t into it, so I stopped looking at people.”

So you’d just look into the distance?

Chris: “Yeah, I’d just have a vague area with a vague look. And then after our third album, ‘X&Y’, it wasn’t making me very happy so I thought, you know, ‘We’re selling out these places, and I’m not… I’m still kind of depressed’. So for various reasons, over the last six or seven years, I really try and find people. I think it came from watching Jay-Z’s shows where at the end he’d always point people out and say, ‘I see you with the sunglasses’ or ‘I see you in the One Direction t-shirt’. He put the lights up! And I thought, ‘That’s cool, to connect.’ That was in about 2009. I really do find people and consciously look at them. Just to have a connection.”

What makes Glastonbury different to all the other festivals?

Jonny Buckland (guitar): “We just love that place so much. It’s such a musical Mecca. We’ll come back until they beg us not to. The scale, the amount of different stuff happening – not just music, all the other stuff. I think we’ll try and stay [for the whole weekend].”

Chris, you were 25 when you first headlined. Looking back, can you believe you pulled it off so young?

Chris: “Yeah, I can’t believe that. Thank goodness there wasn’t much internet then, ‘cause I’m sure there were some people who weren’t that happy about it! I love it.”

There’s a stigma that’s attached to your shows now, in a way – every tour you do has to be amazing and better than the last, because the last few have been so good striking.

Chris: “This one’s gonna be fun. If you like Coldplay it’s gonna be really good. That’s my poster quote! No, my point is that it’s really exciting putting it together and planning it out.”

Are you gonna be bringing back the LED lights from the last tour?

Guy Berryman (bass): “That idea stemmed from something we saw Robbie Williams do once, where he got everyone to take a picture at a gig. And when you see the footage of all those cameras going off, it’s like, ‘Fuck, that was really clever’. So I think we invented those wristbands as a way of doing that in a much more controlled manner. And then other people started using them, so now we’re like, ‘We’ve gotta step up our game a bit!’ This time, I think they’re gonna do ‘other’ things too.”

You’re so big these days. Who do you look to for inspiration for massive shows?

Chris: “Well, Bruce Springsteen has quote which is, ‘More than rich, more than famous, I just wanted to be great’ [sic]. And that’s really what I think. Bigness, popularity, all that… That comes and goes, you know? What can you do but make sure what you’re doing is something you can really stand behind, or what you’re singing is something you really need?”

Read the full interview with Coldplay in this week’s NME, which is handed out free this Friday.