Many of us learned it on our first job. If you sweep the stock room really fast, you're in trouble because you've just raised the boss' expectations and now he's gonna pile on the work. British quartet Coldplay experienced a musical equivalent of this when its 2000 debut, "Parachutes," exceeded everyone's expectations.
Sure, the earlier singles were well-reviewed and Chris Martin and gang were all the buzz, but the emotive, stripped-down pop songs of "Parachutes," including the powerful "Trouble" and the infectious "Yellow," made Coldplay superstars at home and a hot ticket in the U.S. Even American tours undermined by illness couldn't stop the Coldplay express.
So, when it came time to keep the momentum going with a follow-up, how on earth could these guys do it?
"There was a feeling it was almost going too smoothly," guitarist Jonny Buckland has said. "We were pleased with it, but then we took a step back and realised that it wasn't right. It would have been easy to say we'd done enough, to release an album to keep up the momentum, but we didn't. And I'm glad because now we have something we'll be happy to tour with for two years."
"I think we day-jobbed it a bit,' Martin agreed. "It was good, but not good enough. So we went back to Liverpool, to the tiny studio where we did a lot of the last album. Just the four of us and (the producers), a little gang. Songs like "Daylight," "The Whisper" and "The Scientist" splurged out over two weeks, and we recorded them very quickly. We just felt completely inspired, and felt we could do anything we liked. We didn't have to do the acoustic thing, we didn't have to do a loud rock thing, we didn't have to react against anything. We started seeing a lot of (Echo & the Bunnymen's) Ian McCulloch, and he was saying, 'Try this, try that.' Brilliant!"
The resulting record, "A Rush of Blood to the Head," released last spring, was indeed brilliant. More urgent, more addictive (if that's possible) than "Parachutes," the new record also has a more "live" feel. It also spawned "In My Place," which was something of a European -- and American -- summer anthem last year.
Coldplay was formed in London by four musicians from around the UK. Martin is from Devon and Buckland from north Wales. Scottish bassist Guy Berryman joined later and drummer Will Champion -- originally a guitar player -- is from Southampton.
Not long after their first gig, the four were signed by an indie and released an EP, which led to their deal with Parlophone/EMI.
"We were determined to do it, from the start," Buckland said. "And from the moment I met Chris I really did think that we could go all the way. Do something."
Best of all, Coldplay has done it all -- including winning two Grammys this year -- on its own terms. Despite the lure of advertising money, the band has declined offers to use its songs in commercials or on film soundtracks.
We have 100 per cent control over any aspect of whatever we do, and that's really important to who we are and the music we make," Champion said. "We take control of the recording, the videos, the artwork. We're not a band that can be pushed around."
For more on Coldplay, visit www.coldplay.com. See them when they make their first Milwaukee appearance, Wed., March 12 at The Rave at 8 p.m. Also performing is England's The Music, whose debut disc is out now.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.