Will Champion, drummer with the world-dominating nominees, on a diary full of highs, from the Super Bowl to Glasto.
The Super Bowl, a Glastonbury headline gig and three sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium: business as usual. INTERVIEW: NIALL DOHERTY
Coldplay started 2016 as they meant to go on. Their performance at the Super Bowl halftime show was a kaleidoscopic extravaganza that set the tone for a year of euphoric stadium shows. After the low-key dates around their 2014 album Ghost Stories, 2016 was about re-establishing themselves as one of the world’s biggest bands. Their Super Bowl stint was watched by upwards of 115.5 million people and featured guest appearances from Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson. They followed it up by illuminating gigantic venues around the globe with the flashing “Xyloband” gizmos they hand out to the audience, rescuing Glastonbury from a post-Brexit stupor and headlining three nights at Wembley Stadium. Drummer Will Champion is a little dazed as he reflects on all of this from the homely comfort of his London kitchen. He is currently on some downtime before the band begin the next leg of the tour. “It’s been a good one,” he says, “but it’s difficult to work out what happened when and to remember that all of this happened in one year…”
TOUCHDOWN AT THE SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW
“The Super Bowl was such a surreal, whirlwind experience. It took up so much of our brain-space for the six months leading up to it and for the two weeks beforehand we were there rehearsing and everything had to go like clockwork. It was the most Coldplay-type show that we could get away with in terms of doing something that’s on primetime telly. I was really happy with the way it went. It was so much fun, we got to know Beyoncé and Bruno and his gang and it was so nice to hang out with those guys for a few weeks. There were a lot of things Chris had to remember, like marks on the floor at
certain points and being in the right place for a big camera swoop to come in. He did a brilliant job.”
TAKING THE FAMILY TO SOUTH AMERICA
“We try and do a lot of touring during the school holidays so our kids can come with us. We had a great trip to South America to start the tour and it was such a wonderful way to start. The shows were fantastic and the crowds were extraordinary and we had our kids with us; it was a lovely feeling. It set the tone for the tour, that we’re all happy doing what we’re doing because we’re pacing ourselves in a way that is sustainable and we’re not away from our families for months on end. It keeps the music fresh and sounding good and we’re enjoying being on tour.”
HELLO, WEMBLEY! COLDPLAY COME HOME
“It’s a real thrill to play in London and it does feel like a homecoming. You feel the warmth that people are really happy to be there. After one of the shows, I did a runner straight from the stage. I had to get home with my kids and I was at home in 20 minutes when people were probably still standing in front of the stage waiting to get out of the stadium. That was one of the weirdest moments I’ve had actually, it was a really strange feeling, to be back in my home helping my kids get into bed and then just being in a completely quiet, empty house 20 minutes after having come off the stage at Wembley Stadium.”
SAVING THE DAY AT GLASTONBURY
“Obviously, this year was strange because of the timing of the referendum. It seemed to cast a bit of a shadow over things and it was one of the rainier ones. Those are the environments we love playing in. It’s like a big football match when the weather is against you and form is against you and you wanna just play the best possible match that you can and get the right result. That kind of thing suits us perfectly. I hit myself in the eyeball with a drumstick on the penultimate song. I couldn’t see out of my left eye, so I was a little bit worried. Afterwards, everyone else was high-fiving and saying, ‘It was amazing!’ and I was sort of cowering, thinking, ‘I’ve blinded myself…’ During the song we did with Michael Eavis, I had to have my eyes closed for the whole thing cos my eye was bleeding. It was a little bit of a comedown.”
The drummer jokes that he is about to launch a line of Will Champion Drumming Goggles to protect his eyes in future. After three weeks off, he’s preparing to head to Australia and New Zealand for the next batch of stadium dates. He says that staggering the tour has been the key to Coldplay’s triumphant year. “It’s made all this possible, knowing we’re not all going to be burnt out,” he says. “I’m ready to go again. We’re having a great time.”
“I hit myself in the eyeball with a drumstick.”
In the pink: “2016 has been a good one,” says Coldplay drummer Will Champion.
On the up and up: Coldplay performing with Beyoncé and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show, February 2016.