Kaotican Alphabet

Will: “Lyon might’ve been the best gig we’ve done”

11.Sep.2008 catches up with Will

Hello Will. Where are you?
I’m in Paris, in the environs of the Bercy dressing room complex.

How’s the European tour been going so far?
Very well thank you.

Does it feel different to the North American tour?
Yeah, it does. We’ve changed the set slightly. We felt like for the American tour we had to come out guns blazing and we didn’t really feel confident about a couple of the new songs yet. But I think with the record having been out a little longer, people are getting used to its songs. We also had people like Phil saying that Cemeteries Of London, for example, has been going down really well in Europe and online and all that. So we thought, let’s try and branch out a little. We’re doing a couple of newer additions, Cemeteries being the main one.

It must be nice to keep changing things.
Definitely. It keeps it fresh. Our problem in the past was that we’d settle upon a set and love it so much that we didn’t really tend to change it.

Does a European crowd seem noticeably different to an American one?
It’s different fom crowd to crowd, really. But they seem to have really gone for Viva in France. We didn’t really feel that we’d done as well as we could’ve done in France. I think the addition of the French flag on the album cover probably didn’t do too much damage! But Viva really took off when we were in Lyon. Actually, I think that might’ve been the best gig we’ve done, to date. It was really, really good.

In what sense?
Just the general reaction to songs. We’re used to people singing along to the big songs and then politely clapping to the other ones. But in Lyon it was literally like every song was a Number One smash hit. Which is a very good feeling.

Of course the big change for you personally on this tour is that you’re singing.
I am! It’s quite difficult, because that section of the show is logistically tough. It’s hard to get guitars and mics sounding good up there at the back of the crowd. Plus, Chris sings in the first song, then I sing in the second one and he’s got a much stronger voice than I have. So it’s quite difficult to get all the balances and everything right. But it’s coming along.

It must feel quite strange having drummed with the band for ten years to suddenly be singing.
I’ve always sung backing vocals, but, yeah, it is quite odd. I never felt that I had a voice for lead vocals. It’s quite an anonymous voice, I think, that blends well into backing vocals. But I’m trying to expand my repertoire. I haven’t branched out yet, but I’d like to.

What else might we expect from you?
I was thinking perhaps a bit of Bon Jovi.

Could this be the beginning of the Will Champion solo career?
No, indeed not. Probably the end.

So, according to the papers, you chaps made it to the Andorra v England football game before the show in Barcelona on Saturday.

Yes, we saw the first half. We had to go after that. We got back to the venue just before 9pm and we were on stage about half an hour later.

The papers claimed you’d pushed back the gig to see the whole game.
No, not at all. Was that really in the paper? If we’d put it back, we’d have stayed for the whole game and not left at half time!

How was the first half?
Fairly uneventful. It was odd, actually, being at an away game and there being something like ten thousand English people and probably about 500 Andorrans. Great stadium, though. It was the Olympic stadium, up on the hill.

Do you have any advice for England’s manager, Mr Capello?
Um, I think it was obvious where the faults were from the first half and I think he did well to correct them. He brought on Joe Cole on the left side which I thought was a very good move, because Downing wasn’t having a particularly good game. I mean the half we saw, which ended goalless, didn’t instill us with great confidence. But then as Jonny and I discussed at length, it’s almost impossible to play against a team that has ten men behind the ball at all times, who haven’t come to score, let alone win. But England did alright. I don’t think it was as bad as everyone suggested. They still got the win in the end.

Moving back to Coldplay, we spoke to Albert Hammond Jr last week, who was telling us that you pick your own support acts.

Absolutely. Providing they’re available and providing they want to do it. We don’t force people to come on the road with us!

Have you enjoyed the three you’ve had so far? [Albert, Santogold and Shearwater.]
Yeah, they’ve all been brilliant, to be honest. We’ve been very lucky.

And what have you been listening to lately?
Actually, I’ve mainly been listening to Learn Spanish with Michel Thomas.

How’s it going?
Muy bien gracias.

Good work!
I really enjoy trying to speak Spanish. It’s always been a goal for me to speak another language properly, so I’m going to see it through.

Presumably there’s only so far you can go with CD lessons?
Actually, they’re really good. It gives you great confidence right from the very first bit. It’s fantastic.

Have you been listening to any music too?
Eugene Francis Jnr and the Juniors are a great band that I discovered. It’s strange folk-based, slightly electronic stuff, with lots of singing. There’s about nine of them in the band and they’re just fantastic. I highly recommend visiting their website, soonly.

Now, about your drumkit. Are there any changes to it for this tour?
Only in colouration. All of our instruments have been painted by our lovely assistant Vicki. She’s done a fantastic job – far, far above and beyond the call of duty. Every single item that’s painted in our collection of instruments was done by Vicki.

I know. She’s a very talented artist.

Do you get through a lot of drum skins?
Normally they’re changed every other gig, I would say. For some reason I don’t break as many sticks as I used to, though. I used to get through lots of them. I think I must’ve found the right stick.

What sort of sticks do you use?
They are Pro-Mark 5Bs, I believe.

What makes them stand out from another drum stick?
They just seem a lot more sturdy, for some reason. Or maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age.

Well, it sounds like you’re all enjoying the tour.
So far, so good, yeah. We’re just so grateful that the album’s done well and people seem to get it. This would be a very different conversation if it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. And we’re so pleased that Viva is doing well as a single. For a long time, it wasn’t even going to be on the album.

Which would’ve been insane.
Well it was funny, because it took a long time to get it right. It wasn’t until the very end that it actually came good.

And it’s turned out to be your biggest hit.
Yes, ever. Without a shadow of a doubt.

It’s also a classic football chant in the making.
Oh, yeah, definitely. We were saying we want to get the sheet music to whoever it is that plays the trumpet at the England games. I’d love it to be sung on the terraces.

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