Coldplay reveals secret to the band’s success: optimism

Christian Schultz

Offenback, Germany — – British rock band Coldplay started its career as a shy, but acclaimed indie outfit. Now, the musicians easily fill stadiums across the world. Bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion tell dpa about their new album, “A Head Full of Dreams,” which contains the secret to the band’s long-running success: optimism.

dpa: Let’s talk about your new album. How would you describe it in a few words?

Champion: I would describe it as colorful and positive. It has some wonderful people on it that we really respect. Some guest artists — people that helped us out with guitar solos and backing vocals and some guest singers.

So it’s really full of influences and different textures for the ear.

The previous album, “Ghost Stories,” was more quiet and gloomy. Why this change in style?

Berryman: When we were making “Ghost Stories, we had a collection of songs that seemed to be one thing, which became that album. We were in a certain mood and we knew we weren’t going to go out on tour.

But we also had another collection of songs, which we knew after we’d made “Ghost Stories” would form the basis of “A Head Full of Dreams.” So we really had all of the songs and they got split into these two very different categories.

It sounds the way it does partly because we knew we were going to be playing lots of live shows. When you play live shows, you want songs where the energy level is up and people can sing them back.

Champion: We always knew that there was something coming after “Ghost Stories.”

Would you say that gloomy music is not so easy to sell?

Champion: I couldn’t tell you about what sells. Who knows? We always imagined that “Ghost Stories” would be listened to by people on headphones in a bedroom.

We wanted this album (“A Head Full of Dreams”) to be listened to in big places, where a lot of people come together to have a great communal experience.

What kind of role can optimistic music play in these difficult times following the terrorist attacks in Paris?

Berryman: I think we’re definitely surrounded by a lot of negativity at the moment. It’s important to retain an element of hope in our lives individually and within society as a whole so as not to get too weighed down by things.

Music can only play so much of a part in that. There are a lot of political things which need to happen. But I’m proud of the fact that we’ve had a very optimistic and hopeful sounding record.

You said you really enjoy touring and playing together. How does a band stay successful after so many years?

Champion: A healthy working relationship. It depends on everyone feeling that they’ve got enough time to themselves. We take frequent breaks and make sure we’re not touring for too long at any one time.

We all have other responsibilities — our families and other various things. We always make sure that everyone has enough time off to keep them happy so that we’re keen to come back and play together.

Any relationship goes through ups and downs, just like a marriage. It requires constant maintenance and work.

Is it true that you once wrote down a set of rules on getting along with each other?

Berryman: That was a myth.

Champion: But we do communicate a lot. We’re always talking about how we move forward, both musically and as a band — what we want to achieve and how we’re going to stay sane and together in this business which can mess people up.

It can be hard for bands to stay together. Many bands split up for money or for musical differences or whatever. So we’re very keen to work hard on keeping it all together.

What does it mean to play at the Super Bowl?

Berryman: It’s incredible. We’re very humbled and honored to be asked to do it. We feel like we’ve got a big challenge.

We need to really be on our A-game and make it special, so that nothing goes wrong and we don’t forget the words — especially being a band from outside of the U.S. The Super Bowl is probably the biggest event of the year in America.

Champion: It’s a huge musical opportunity to play to that many people.

There’s a great proportion of those people will never have heard of our band, I think. It’s an amazing opportunity to show people what we do.