Performing in Coldplay - performing in the world’s biggest band - could get comfy. Too comfy, even.
For bassist Guy Berryman, though, the nightly thrill is intact. Even after all the massive stadium shows, all the mega festivals, stepping on stage still brings a tingle - that rush of blood, you might call it.
“I don’t get nervous anymore. But I still get that great sense of excitement,” he says. “I love that moment right before we go on, that anticipation of the lights coming down. It never tires for me.”
Coldplay is on a global tour supporting “Vida La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” the British band’s fourth album of moody, edge-of-artsy piano rock. In a year of music industry struggles, the album is a big-time standout, having enjoyed the biggest debut yet for Berryman, vocalist-pianist Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckman and drummer Will Champion: In the United States alone, the album sold 720,000 copies its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan - more than 300,000 of them on the first day.
With sales of the album continuing to pile up, the band has been on the road nearly nonstop since June, including a U.S. summer sprint.
“We’ve got four records now, so we have to get the balance right between the new album and the old songs people want to hear,” he says. “We try to make it as dynamic as possible from beginning to end. It took us awhile - it took most of the first American tour to knock that into shape. The show pretty much runs in the same order now, because it’s working.”
A revamped production team has brought a new visual look to Coldplay’s stage production, and even introduced what Berryman describes as “a few things people haven’t seen before at other concerts.”
For the decade-old band, life on the road is low-key these days. Berryman says he has learned to pace himself to endure the rigors of touring, eschewing the high life in favor of stints in the gym and daily jogs. Hopping from hotel to hotel, spending long stretches in air-conditioned spaces, it’s too easy to get ill. And “it’s not fun having a cold on tour - you can’t call in sick.”
“We destroyed ourselves a few times by not looking after ourselves - partying every night, staying up late,” he says, recalling the band’s early days. “Certainly, for me in particular, we’re really just trying to keep healthy. It’s that age-old thing: healthy body, healthy mind. I’d have laughed at myself a few years ago if I could hear myself saying that. But it’s true.”
Coldplay will wrap up its year of touring with a series of U.K. dates in December. After a month break, the band will regroup in the studio to begin cutting material for a fifth album.
“The plan, in an ideal world, is to have something finished by the end of 2009,” says Berryman.
That would mark a notably fast turnaround for a band that’s been known to take its time between records, including three-year gaps between each of the band’s past three albums. And fans even get a treat in the interim: the Nov. 25 release of “Prospekt’s March,” an eight-song EP featuring material left over from the “Vida” sessions and a new version of the single “Lost,” remixed by fellow A-lister Jay-Z.
Coldplay has been quick to stress that these aren’t throwaway tracks. Indeed, says Berryman, much of the material could have fit seamlessly on “Vida.”
“We didn’t want to make the album too long. We thought the third record was too long, and we didn’t want to make that mistake again. But these songs were too good just to be B-sides on singles,” he says. “It’s kind of meant to be an amendment to ‘Vida La Vida.’ We wanted people to hear that record as a standalone first, and not bombard them. We’re really proud of it.”
// Notes from the Road
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