Filed Under:

Coldplay: Four Best Friends, Powered By Chemistry

In 2002, when the British rock band Coldplay was on tour with its second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, frontman Chris Martin said, "I just want to make the best music of all time with my best friends." Since that time, Coldplay, with Jonny Buckland on guitar, Guy Berryman on bass and Will Champion on drums, has become one of the biggest acts in rock.

NPR's Scott Simon spoke with Martin and Champion on the occasion of their fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, due out this week. Martin says that, at the very least, the part about friends is still true.

"A band's only unique thing is its chemistry, especially if none of you are prodigious players or particularly handsome," Martin says. "The one thing you have is your uniqueness, so we hold on to that."

Champion says he certainly wasn't a prodigious player when he joined the group — in fact, he hadn't intended to join at all before a happy accident convinced the other members he was the man for the job.

"My three friends were starting a band, and they needed a drummer," Champion says. "My flatmate at the time had some drums in our house, and he was a very gifted drummer. They came over to record the drums on some early demos, and when the time came to record them, my flatmate disappeared and went to the pub. So I volunteered my services to play on one song.

"It was the most lazy and technically inept fill-in that I could have possibly managed," he adds, laughing. "But, like Chris says ... it's just about the chemistry."

Martin and Champion say the title Mylo Xyloto (pronounced MY-low ZY-low-toe) doesn't have any special, secret meaning. Instead, it's the band's way of kicking off a new chapter in its career.

"What it is, is an attempt to have a completely fresh start, from our history and from anyone else's recording history, by coming up with two new words," Martin says. "Which of course, for a while, will seem a little pretentious or ridiculous. We were thinking about things like 'Google' and 'Pepsi' — those were also words that made no sense for a while. And, although it's silly, it's what it had to be. We now have to sort of apologize for it for a couple of months, but eventually it'll settle into being the name of that particular group of songs."

Though the band's success has only increased in its 15 years together, Coldplay's members are no strangers to negative feedback. But Martin and Champion both agree that, from time to time, even the harshest critic can make a good point.

"Sometimes we have criticism that is very constructive," Martin says. "Although it's painful at the time, most of the things that people have said about us negatively — some of them are true and you can work on them, and the ones that you don't agree with, you don't work on."

"I think it polarizes you," Champion says. "It makes you examine your insecurities and sometimes unearth something that you secretly feel yourself. Or it makes you totally resolved to disagree with that opinion, and it reinforces your self-belief. I think it's inevitable, and in some ways can be useful."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

The Music And Legacy Of Motown

Motown founder Berry Gordy and director Charles Randolph-Wright of “Motown the Musical" join Diane for a conversation about the history of Detroit's famous sound.

WAMU 88.5

Will Montgomery County Go "Bottoms Up" On Liquor Laws?

Since Prohibition, Montgomery County has held the purse strings on liquor sales, meaning the county sells every drink from beer to bourbon to local bars and restaurants. But local business owners are pushing back from this system, claiming it lacks efficiency and leaves customers waiting. County officials say they are holding out for alternatives that protect those within the industry. We discuss both sides of the issue today.

WAMU 88.5

Exelon's Chief Strategy Officer On Its Proposed Takeover Of Pepco

Kojo chats with Exelon's chief strategy officer about the company's vision for electric service in the Washington region, and its argument for why its acquisition of Pepco is in the best interest of customers.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.