Kaotican Alphabet

Shearwater interview

We chat to Coldplay's current support act

With Austin swoon-rockers Shearwater supporting Coldplay on the opening four dates of the tour, called up frontman Jonathan Meiburg ahead of the first LA show, to find out a little bit more about them.

Photo by Stephen Dewall

Hi Jonathan. Are you looking forward to the dates with Coldplay?
Oh heavens, yes. We’ve never done shows on this scale before. We’re really, tremendously excited about it.

How do you prepare for shows in bigger venues like these?

Well, I’ll just try to keep the guitar in tune and I’m gonna make sure I don’t wear my glasses so I can’t see anything. But, really, we’re all just gonna try to do our jobs as best we can. I can’t wait.

Are you a fan of Coldplay’s music?
Yeah. Actually, I was just thinking of all the different places and times that I’ve listened to Coldplay. I remember listening to them at an albatross colony in New Zealand a couple of years ago.

Ah, so you take your name from a bird because you really are bird watchers?

Yeah, I am. But I try to be surreptitious about it and not let on to people.

Which Coldplay song works best in an albatross colony?

Oh boy, I think it was maybe Clocks.

On headphones, or blasting it out for the albatrosses to hear?
Well albatrosses make enough noise on their own. They’re really not quiet birds. They make all these strange guttural, choking sounds.They’re very, very weird.

When you play as a support act, do you have to approach it differently to a headline show?
Um, it’s sort of like a nice challenge. It’s nice to think that these are people who don’t know anything about you and this is your chance to really show them a range of what you can do. It’s a good kind of pressure.

Will you adjust your set for the Coldplay audience?
No, you can spend too much time thinking about that sort of thing. We’re just gonna try to play the set that flows best and that we’re least likely to screw up.

For those who don’t know Shearwater’s music, can you tell us what it’s like?
I would say it’s sort of lyrical, mystical art-rock for fans of natural history museums.

Do they have good natural history museums in America?
Oh, they’re fantastic. When we’re on tour, if we ever have a day off in a city that’s got one, I always go there. Washington’s got a great one, as has New York and we passed one today in Los Angeles that I’ve never been to, so I might try to get to that. Plus LA has La Brea, which isthe site of the famous tar pits where there were so many interesting animals preserved.

You’re with Coldplay in Las Vegas too. That doesn’t sound like a natural history museum kind of place.
No, it’s not very natural any more. I think some people would argue that Vegas is more of a museum for the misery of the human condition.

What will be on your rider for the Coldplay shows?
I’m afraid our rider is a bit boring; a lot of bottled water and fruit. The things that kill you on tour are all the things that you want to do. It’s so easy to not eat very well, drink a lot and not get enough sleep. So we tend to try to go against that. We sleep a lot, don’t drink very much and eat hippy food.

Have you seen Coldplay live before?
No, I haven’t. I’m really looking forward to it. From the footage I’ve seen of the shows they’ve played so far, I think these shows are gonna be something special.

Watch out for the magic balls. Word has it they cost £900,000.
Oh my God, really? I’ll give those a wide birth backstage then.

Finally, what is your favourite Coldplay song?
Probably Yellow, just because it’s the first I heard of them, as it was for a lot of people. I think you often get the most emotional associations with the song that you hear first. I love it.

Shearwater are supporting Coldplay in LA, San Jose and Las Vegas. To find out more about the band, click here to check out their official site and here for their MySpace