A clip has been unveiled from Coldplay‘s new film ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’, showing the moment that “the band was born”. Watch it on NME first in the video above.
In cinemas for one night only tonight (Wednesday November 14) before hitting Amazon Prime Video on November 16, the film tells the full 20 year history of the band via up-close, personal and unseen footage from the lens of Supersonic director Mat Whitecross – a friend of the band at university.
In the clip above, you seen see the band jamming in their college house and discussing how ‘Coldplay was born’ when drummer Will Champion joined.
“I met the band within a few hours of arriving in London for university,” Whitecross told NME. “You have that whole thing where your parents are helping you carry suitcases and lampshades and that kind of thing. We all lived in the same building, so I must have met them within the first few hours. I don’t know if you can ever say for sure that you’re going to know someone for the rest of your life, but I think we can all say that we gravitated towards each other.”
Whitecross continued: “Chris [Martin, frontman], just then as now, was an extraordinary person. He was someone who was very tall, sweet and gangly. He would always run up to you with a million things in his head and want to know how your life was. At first I didn’t know how to take it or if it was all part of an act, but he really is that warm and lovely.
“I knew he was a musician, but didn’t find out about the others for most of the first year. Someone would pull out a guitar or you’d turn up at a venue and realise these people are all into the same stuff as you, but I got to know them all pretty quickly.”
Speaking of Coldplay’s first ever meeting, Whitecross said: “I remember it was Will who would always get a guitar out. You’d name a tune and he’d just be able to play it. He came from a very musical family. His mum had a musical background, she could play a lot of instruments and was a DJ.
“I just love the environment of the campfire ritual at four or five in the morning when someone would just pull out a guitar and you’d start singing along. It was often Oasis or Embrace in the first year.”
He added: “I’d see that Chris and Johnny [Buckland, guitarist] would go hang out in the basement or in Chris’ room, and you’d hear music pouring out. I loved hanging out with them as an early fan, then I started borrowing my dad’s camera and filming. I’d film all the parties and student demonstrations and everything that was going on. There were about three or four bands that were really good. One would headline one night then they’d swap the next.
“Within a few months of Coldplay forming, it was obvious that there was something special about them. You didn’t know who was going to take over the world in those first few months, but I was just hanging out and clapping along like a hapless Bez.”
The film shows the nerdy and nervous early beginnings of Martin as musician. But when was it that he first started to display the stadium-filling star quality that we see today?
“That’s a really good question, because I still remember the first time that they played on Later… With Jools Holland,” recalled Whitecross. “They played great but Chris just looked nervous. Afterwards he was saying ‘That was a disaster, it’s finished our career’ – but he does say that after a lot of things.
“He grew into himself over a period of 20 years, but I remember going to see them at Shepherds Bush Empire just as the second album [‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’] was about to come out. I ran in just as they started playing ‘Politik’ and it just blew the roof off. He seemed like a different person. He’d shaved his head and all of them just carried themselves in a different way.”
Discussing Martin’s evolution as a frontman, Whitecross said that while his friend’s confidence has blossomed, he still shows crippling bouts of modesty.
“Phil [Harvey, former manager] says in the film that Chris has changed the most out of all of them,” said Whitecross. “He’s the most evolved. It’s true in some ways because as a singer and a frontman, you’re the focus of all the attention. You have to turn yourself into a public figure. There are certain aspects of his character that haven’t changed though.
“Within the early months of knowing him at uni, he once collared me as I was heading into lectures. He had a guitar and he went and sat at one end of this communal bathtub with me at the other. We were both fully-clothed. He played me this beautiful song that I’ve not heard before or since. There was this silence then I said, ‘Oh, did you write that?’ And he was just like, ‘It’s fucking shit’. He’s got this nature of bravado and confidence, coupled with a complete lack of confidence.”
He added: “That hasn’t really changed, to be honest. Being surrounded by Americans in California he’s probably got better at being presented with compliments. In many ways he’s completely different and he’s completely the same.”
Despite this being the definitive portrait of the band, Chris Martin remains determined to not actually watch A Head Full Of Dreams.
“I think he’s determined to never watch it,” said Whitecross. “Life is strange and he might change his mind, but early on he said ‘Look, I hate watching myself, I’ve never seen any of our live stuff, this is going to make me feel too self-conscious’. He compared it to listening to yourself on an answer machine.
“When I talked to Phil at first, he said ‘Send us your worst stuff, send us the stuff that’s going to make us want to quit or cringe’. I sent a bunch of early tapes of clips of them talking about where they’ll be in four years time. There’s braces, there’s oversized t-shirts and they’re all a bit spotty. He rang me back and said ‘Thank god you showed me this, the band can never see this, burn all the tapes’. Then Chris just happened to see him watching it backstage and said ‘This is amazing’, and got really excited about it.
“From that point on, we realised we could do whatever we want.”
With unprecedented access in close quarters, ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ also shows what Whitecross describes as “a fair amount of friction”.
“You’ll get that with any band who’ve spent that much time in and out of each other’s pockets,” he admitted. “You’re inevitably going to have moments where you’re sick of each other or your foibles wind each other up.”
“With any band, where you get to the stage that they’ve been at it for 20 years, you might assume that it was all a foregone conclusion and they’ve always been that way. Maybe you start taking them for granted. When I started making the Oasis one and this I had people going ‘Oh, really? Why?’ What I’m hoping for is that people are reminded why they like the band.”
Whitecross concluded: “We live in very tough and troubled times, but there is a lot to celebrate. This is a story about love and friendship. Chris’ dad told him to never give up, and that’s what the film is all about. There’s a lot of shit going on in the world but you can fight it and come together. There’s more that unites us than divides us.”
- Check back at NME soon for more of our interview with Mat Whitecross
The full ‘Butterfly Package’ of ‘Live In Buenos Aires’ will be released on December 7, and is available to pre-order now as a 2 x DVD / 2 x CD set and a 2 x DVD / 3 x gold vinyl collection. A 2 x CD edition of the ‘Live In Buenos Aires’ album will also be available for fans to buy.