With the new album, 'A Rush Of Blood to The Head'
set for release, Crud asked Chris Martin and his chums
to take us through the tracks on the new album. Here
are the results. As plain as the nose on your face.
TRACK BY TRACK:
Chris: Ah, that's a good question. You'd have
to ask Phil, he's the, what do we describe him as? He's
the Don Filippo, the Godfather, who runs operations
who nobody ever sees. He said to me ‘Oh, you should
have a song called Politick.' And I said ‘Oh, all right'.
It's as simple as that.' Because if he says something
you do it, unless it's something naff, , but we liked
it because it sounds Eastern.. Russian, sounds (laughter)
is it rubbish? But it is meant to be with a K because
it sounds, it's all right isn't is, we like it as a
Chris: Well we imagine Politick to be your beliefs
about something, your own politic, it's kind of in the
same way on our last record, we had a song called Yellow
which wasn't strictly about the colour yellow. The grammatical
validity of that isn't that apparent I admit but...
John: I agree
Chris: But we like it. It was designed as the
first song. You know as soon as it arrived we said,
that's going to be the first song.
John: Yeah there was never a, that was the only
one that we were sure er the others we were pretty sure,
but that one we were absolutely sure from start to finish
where that was going..
Chris: Because it seemed like a good idea for
a band that everyone thinks does Acoustic songs to have
a record that starts bash bash bash bash with no grace
or beauty whatsoever, It could be done by a bunch of
monkeys. If you put a bunch of monkeys in a room ,before
they typed Shakespeare they'd have come up with the
beginning to Politick. Like bash bash.
IN MY PLACE
Chris: ‘In my Place' is the oldest pivotal song.
Just when we were finishing our last record, ‘Parachutes',
we were in Liverpool in this little room that had been
great on the last record and the record was basically
finished so we were all packing up and ready to go.
And the album was coming out in about a week. It was
a really fine- timing thing, and I was just sat at this
organ that my friend lent me, this pump organ, that
you have to sit and pedal like that, you know, that
was really designed for sea- shanties and drunken sailors
but I wasn't either so I was thinking, let's try a sea-shanty,
I don't know if I have to do the actions, but these
chords just came out and it was at a time when it was
just a bit too late on the last record we suddenly discovered
things like Jimmy Cliff and all that and even ‘Whiter
Shade of Pale'. I'm not saying it's as good as that,
I'm saying it's better, no, I'm not, and so that tune
we've had pretty much since the end of the last record.
But we knew we really liked it and so it's been the
lynchpin of this record. Around which everything else
has been written.
GOD PUT A SMILE UPON YOUR FACE
Guy: When we came to record it in the studio
we struggled because there was something just not quite
right about it and I wasn't happy about where we'd left
it and where we were happy to leave it and we couldn't
put our finger on what it was and so it was a really
nice day one day, me and Chris were just trying, I was
actually just trying to record bass at the time and
me and Chris were just sitting down trying to brainstorm
it and work out what was wrong and so I started trying
to just do a few different bass lines and stuff. Between
the two of us we came up with just this kind of groove,
which stays on the same note as opposed to change, it's
quite technical but it kind of added a bit of bounce
to the song and it made it roll along in a much more
fluid way. It was a bit mechanical before and it's just
interesting how something small like that can really
change the whole vibe of a song. It was just nice because
from there on it was one of our favourite tracks and
it almost didn't get on the record but it's now one
of our favourite tracks.
Chris: When me and John went up to Liverpool
on the train in November and we were listening to the
songs – how many did we have?
John: We had about 8 rough done
Chris: And there was a sort of feeling that it
was I reckon we thought it was alright and then I don't
know what you were doing, maybe you were doing guitar
tracks. I was sitting at the piano, this really old
battered piano that was really out of tune. And I'd
just heard All Things Must Pass by George Harrison ,
there's a song called Isn't it a Pity and there's like
a circular chord sequence. This is all very anal, but
I was thinking I'd really like to have a chord sequence
that goes round and round and you don't know where it
ends and then this chord sequence just arrived and I
thought this is really lovely. And then the whole song
just came out and I don't know where from and we recorded
it then and there and that was, the piano and vocal
is from the day it was written and just that's it that's
what made and the best moment of the entire record for
me was when after Johnny had heard it. This was about
3 weeks later when we'd come back to this song. I just
heard through this wall, l I heard this riff this like
and it was what he does at the end and that's my favourite
bit of music on the record even thought I probably wouldn't
ever listen to it again, probably, but that was a great
moment because he you know he's brilliant.
Chris: We were just about to hand the record
in but it was sounding rubbish, but we thought oh, we
have to do it because we wanted to release it then and
some of our record company guys came in and basically
everyone decided we'd got to put it back, take a bit
of pressure off and Phil, our figurehead or fifth member,
he said, ‘Listen you should record that song ‘Clocks',
because I was just ‘Oh, no, we're going to save this
one', which is a real mistake to do I reckon because
you know I might be shot tomorrow and so quite rightly
he said, ‘Put that song on because it's good' and that
was the newest to go on, ‘Clocks'. It goes ‘Ding,dong,
ning, nong'. That just arrived. I don't know where that
came from but I do know where the good bit came from
because I was showing it to Johnny. This is the amazing
thing about our band. You play something, you think,
that's all right, I like that like this. I'll keep it
going, and then to Johnny he'll sort of lollop in in
his elephantine, not elephantine, what's the word? gazelle-like
way. He does, quite slowly but with incredible grace
come in like that. You say, ‘Come on. Listen to this
song and you get him in there and if he picks up a guitar
then he likes it and it's good, that's a good sign if
you're playing something and he picks up a guitar. And
then he put on these brilliant chords and then the chorus
came out and it all sparked off and then Guy came in
and put on his bass line and that sparked off another
bit like a big chemical reaction our song- writing process
and it's really exciting and that was the last one to
happen and that was mega, that was really good fun,
you know, because there was no pressure on that song.
We thought you don't have to do it but we finished it
and we thought no, that's got to go on.
John: The instrument on the start of the track
is a Chris: Which track? Daylight? John: Daylight is
a 12 string guitar with a slide like George Harrison
with lots of strings. Chris: And lots of strings John:
And they're all doing the same thing Chris: But what
was amazing is – what you can't hear is there's also
a drone, because that riff is really hard to play. I
don't want to be rude but he struggled to play it for
a bit because he had the melody and stuff so there's
amazing little noises on it and stuff and when you learned
how to play it perfectly it didn't sound as good, so
it's a really early version of John playing the riff
so we don't really know what's in there.
John: I think we're lucky that we've recorded
a lot of stuff straight down as soon as it was written,
because I think half the time you spend your life trying
to recreate the moment when you first wrote something.
Chris: With Daylight we were all sat in a room
and there was the piano track and singing going and
we were all just playing over the top of it And we just
recorded all that with Mark who does all the computer
stuff with us. There were quite a lot of samples in
that really well they're not samples but loops in that
song. And then Daylight is blatantly nicked off The
Cutter. But we shouldn't really have told you that.
Chris: Is that the most personal song on the
album? I don't know. When Pete Waterman sent it to us
we thought what a great song, what a great track, just
put a few sleigh bells on it and we've got a Christmas
No1. But Johnny said no let's do it acoustically like
an old Johnny Cash song and we can pretend that we wrote
it about a girl that we met in America.
John: The royal we?
Chris: (Laughter) which of course is not the
true story. Pete Waterman wrote the song about a girl
that we met in America. When I say ‘we' I mean ‘I'.
(Laughter). But then its got the best licks, that's
the only song that's got guitar licks on the end. We
all like Johnny Cash and when we were in America a lot
of last year and Guy went completely nuts for country
music and so we were we started playing Hank Williams
cover. Johnny started learning that picking you know
and so we really wanted to put something on like that.
Chris: Warning Sign is an old song, and it's
the only song that I didn't want on the record, but
everyone else did, I got outvoted…the reason I don't
like the song Warning Sign is that it makes you feel
sorry for the singer, whereas in fact I know it was
written at a time when I was being a total knob. And
that's the great joy of music is that one can present
oneself as a romantic hero, whereas in fact in real
life, that was written inn one of my immense periods
of being a dickhead. I think Johnny will agree.
John: When was it?
Chris: About …
John: A year and a half..
John: Thought so! (+ laughter)
Chris: The Bunnymen were a big influence on some
of the songs, we started getting into them, and we saw
a lot of Ian McCulloch in Liverpool. He said to me the
reason why the song Whisper's on there is, he said to
me ‘Chris, have you got a ¾ song on there?' And I thought
Shit no we haven't so quickly wrote Whisper. ‘Gotta
have a ¾ song on there' he talks like an MI5 agent you
know, telling you where the secret plans are.
A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD
John: I think I thought, I think we all thought
that it was just a, really it seemed to fit with everything,
it seemed to pull everything together . Chris: It's
about impulsiveness you know, it's about doing things
now and if you Like someone telling them now and it
does fit with everything really.
Chris: You know, certain songs when you're recording
get much more attention than others because they're
much more troublesome or you're much more excited about
them because they're new or whatever. And Amsterdam
and Green Eyes they've just quietly gone on the record
you know and we didn't spend much time on them. That
is, that is pretty much live, and it was just done.
And we did it very quickly and then left it for more
or less 4 months and then came back and mixed it.
John: We did it really quickly
Chris: It took, we did that in about, that was
one of the songs that made it from the first session
that made it through and it was just really quick, And
it's a nice song. It's the only song that I can think
of where the verse and chorus were written 1000+ miles
apart and the end another 1000 miles. I think the end
was written in Iceland. Iceland is the perfect place
to write music I reckon.
Will Jenkins for Crud Magazine© 2002