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Gulfnews.com Interview with Chris & Guy


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Out of the cold


As Coldplay prepare to take on the elements in the UAE again, Chris Martin and Guy Berryman say not much has changed, apart from the thicker skins they've developed



You heard it here first.


More than 50 million records sold, tours selling out in seconds and stadiums full of adoring fans, it's hard to believe the only thing that's changed for the boys from Coldplay is what they eat backstage.


"We're getting older, so we can't eat as many Mars bars as we used to be able to," joked lead singer Chris Martin.


"Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hob Nobs was our main sustenance in those days," he continued, his voice with an edge of longing. "If you keep that up, you have to waddle or be rolled on stage. Now it's more like celery sticks," he said before immediately taking back the lie just told. "It's definitely less fried chicken."


Bassist Guy Berryman was in full agreement. "It used to be all burger, chips and lager to get us through a show," he said.


It was just 15 years ago Coldplay burst onto the scene with the single Shiver. Little did the boys know the rock 'n' roll world of the music industry would mean giving up the good stuff.


"You think it's what you need to sustain the high energy levels, but it doesn't last long. As you get older you have to look after yourself," said Berryman, who gave up alcohol three years ago.


That, a love of "true music" and the fact they play side by side in the same band is about all the two band mates and friends first appear to have in common.




But while they lead different lives — Martin constantly in the spotlight, partly due to his marriage to actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and Berryman still able to walk the streets relatively undetected — the boys are more alike then even they know.


Berryman lives the life Martin wishes he could. He gets to express himself creatively, take home a hefty pay cheque — split equally four ways — but rarely has his life dissected by media outlets the world over.


Scheduling interviews for Coldplay's management first means a day of negotiation to find houses willing to interview anyone other than Martin. "Chris acts as a shield for us," said Berryman, gloating a little. "The three other members of Coldplay are quite private and that's the way we like it. Chris gets 90 per cent of the attention but he also has to deal with horrible s**t that it brings too."


"It's only because I'm friends with people who are much more talented than me," pipes up Martin. "Life keeps you humble. The internet keeps you humble. No matter how big your head gets, you just have to look on the internet and someone makes it small again for you."


Martin is often described as a slippery fish when it comes to the media, avoiding questions, storming out of interviews are just a few of the incidents reported over the years. Yet a conversation with the Brit boy reveals more an unexpected shy side rather than attitude.


He says his energetic antics on stage are down to "no confidence in your songs", and five albums which have all topped the US and UK charts credited to "a lot of luck and good marketing".




Coldplay seem to winningly fuse the tension between not wanting to be one of the best bands in the world and having to settle for being one of the biggest, almost perfectly.


"Everything has changed and nothing all at the same time," said Martin. "We're just people having just as much fun, maybe more."


It's true they love what they do, even if they don't love the attention. In 15 years the group has enjoyed just four weeks off in total.


"We've never really stopped to look back," said Berryman. "It would be great to take some time soon and live a little. We're always looking ahead at what we're recording, but it just comes. We carry on while we're all happy. I think we're in the best place we've ever been in. Everyone is very happy and content. Maybe soon we'll stop to look back and see what we've achieved."


From the start, Coldplay have been very much a foursome. Martin, the main songwriter, calls it "musical democracy" with each member taking home a 25 per cent share of earnings.


Martin, Berryman, 33, from Fife via Canterbury; Buckland, 33, from London via north Wales; and Champion, 33, from Southampton, met in their first year at University College London, in 1996. The current line-up was formalised in late 1997, and in February 1998 they played their first gig in a Camden pub, pausing briefly to take their degrees — Martin, ancient history; Champion, anthropology; and Buckland, maths and astronomy. Berryman had dropped out of engineering.


Clearly a match made on long nights over essays and dissertations, but one which has resulted in one of the strongest collections of songs of the past decades.


Martin's insecurity is a funny thing. He simply can't fathom a band with him in it currently outsells Radiohead, U2, REM and Oasis. He still seems almost embarrassed by his status as one of the planet's most recognisable rock stars saying, "If anyone's there we'll definitely be greeting people," talking about his upcoming gig in Abu Dhabi on New Year's Eve.




"The UAE is a gig we'll never forget," said Berryman. "I got lost a few times in that Emirates Palace. It was the longest walk back to my room I've ever had. I was shattered," he laughed.


Promised sun, sea and sand, Coldplay went down as one of the most memorable concerts in UAE history with sheet lightning, rain and bursts of thunder as the guys belted out Viva la Vida.


"They said, ‘If there's one place in the world you don't have to worry about rain, it's Abu Dhabi,'" Martin recalled. "We weren't prepared for it, but I'll also never forget it."


Berryman is a busy boy, always in need of entertaining. Running marathons, restoring First World War aircraft — namely a Tigermoth and Spitfire — he is also learning to fly.


"Maybe one day you'll see me buzzing over the UK skies," he laughs.


Rounding off another successful year and after much deliberation Coldplay performed live on the final of this year's UK X Factor, a live final at Wembley Stadium, London.


"We ummed and ahhhed about it actually," admitted Berryman. "We couldn't decide if it was cool or not," he continued. "We eventually remembered we lost the ‘cool police' an awful long time ago and went for it. Many of the people who watch X Factor think guitars are some kind of mythical instrument. It was great to show our music to a completely new generation of people."


Being married to Paltrow and somehow becoming a member of the Hollywood super league — Steven Spielberg is now his godfather-in-law — Martin has come a long way in developing a thicker skin.


"Eventually, whatever you do you become comfortable with the fact that someone will hate your guts," he said. "That's okay with me now."


Don't miss it

Coldplay perform at the Volvo Ocean Race on New Year's Eve at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater. Fan pit early access tickets are Dh995; fan pit regular is Dh695; grandstand reserved seating, Dh495; general admission standing, Dh325. There are also VIP tables with varying packages available, starting at Dh15,000. Call 800-FLASH. There is a park-and-ride service from Abu Dhabi Corniche, and a bus service from Dubai to the venue, Dh85 return. Organisers Flash recommend wearing sensible shoes and dressing up warm.






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