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    Chris Martin on 'Coldplay-bashing, Gwyneth and why Mylo Xyloto could be their last album' (Daily Mail)

    6168166542_68de26384d_s.jpgIn another extensive interview published online today, The Daily Mail has been writing about the inner workings of Coldplay from their Bakery/Beehive headquarters in North London. In this remarkably candid interview, Coldplay discuss the trappings of fame and Chris Martin even goes as far as discussing his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow. Other topics include the threat from Justin Bieber – and why they might be about to call it a day (we bet they don't, but NME like to stir shit up so its all over the internet by now). Louise Gannon gets the final word with Coldplay... (Full discussion on this article is at the Coldplay forum now. [thanks Mimixxx])


    Tucked away on the wrong side of a smart north London neighbourhood, flanked by a grim housing estate, lies the small, squat HQ of the most successful band Britain has produced in the past decade: Coldplay. There is absolutely nothing to suggest the building is home to über-rich rock stars and a hangout for Hollywood royalty – Gwyneth Paltrow, the wife of lead singer Chris Martin.

    20111016dlm5.jpgThe cramped lobby is largely taken up by a mountain bike and bits of cycling paraphernalia, and the narrow stairway is sprayed with home-made graffiti (the theme of the band’s new album, Mylo Xyloto). Standing outside, £30 million worth of Coldplay – in the form of drummer Will Champion – is making a call on his mobile. No one at the bus stop opposite even gives him a second glance. As far as X Factor expectations go, Coldplay have done something very, very wrong. These guys are just not living the dream. During the course of the afternoon, three (Martin, Champion and Johnny Buckland) of the four members struggle to think of any big, flash purchase they have made in the past decade (‘I don’t actually own a car,’ says Martin. ‘But then I agree with Noel Gallagher. He once said to me, “Singers just shouldn’t drive. It’s a concentration thing, we’re dreamers”’).


    Buckland says he has bought a scooter. Bassist Guy Berryman (the man Martin describes as ‘fulfilling the rock star fantasies’) cites a 1952 AMI vinyl jukebox as his ‘prize possession’ along with his Apple gadgets. Champion doesn’t even own his own drum kit. ‘They’re too noisy and to be honest it’s not the easiest thing to fit in a home with children. I have them in the studio and Yamaha make them for the tours.’


    All of them cycle round London, do supermarket shops, use buses and Tubes without being recognised. Although Martin has, he admits, managed to do one ‘clichéd rock-star thing’ by marrying a movie star, Paltrow. ‘When we did our last gigs at the O2, I went there by Tube,’ he says. ‘I was with all the Coldplay fans and not one single person recognised me,’ he says. ‘It’s true. When I’m on my own it just doesn’t happen. In fact the other day this cab driver stopped me by our office and said, “You know, you look a lot like that singer, Chris Martin.”


    'For some reason I just said, “Do you know what, I am him.” He then went, “Ha, ha, ha… You know he lives round here, don’t you?” I swear on my life that’s true.’


    But this is the very point of Coldplay. They play to sell-out venues around the world, they sell albums (50 million record sales), they are one of the very few UK bands to win Grammys (seven), they headline Glastonbury, they turn down offers worth £52 million from Gap and Diet Coke to use their music in commercials (old-fashioned musical integrity) and (if you listen closely) their tracks are regularly used in the background music of the Today programme. They don’t, however, do celebrity or play up to being rock stars. It’s not hard to work out why Martin goes to such great lengths to avoid hanging out in public with his wife (he’d prefer to be unrecognised than photographed by the paparazzi).


    20111016dlm1.jpgAny mention of Paltrow is usually banned from interviews with the band. But it’s worth a try. There has been much speculation about their marriage. The fact that Martin is rarely pictured with her and never talks about her has led to rumours of rifts appearing in celebrity magazines on a regular basis. Martin has told me I am only one of three people to have heard the complete new album days ahead of its release. But some weeks ago Paltrow tweeted: ‘Who do I have to bang around here to get an advance copy of the Coldplay album?’


    Does this mean Paltrow – mother of his two children, Apple and Moses – is one of the three? Martin shakes his head with a slight smile: ‘That comment created a few ripples. She’s very good on Twitter. But no she hasn’t got an album.’ He pauses. ‘She and all our wives hear things in their very raw form, on the piano or whatever. But the people you love, you don’t want to play them anything until you think it’s worth playing.’


    I ask him whether he watches her movies when he is away on tour to remind him of her. ‘Well, she’s a good actress. I am biased but I am also right. The Royal Tenenbaums is one of her best performances.’


    Just the day before we meet, Paltrow – who plays a woman having an affair with a married man in her new movie Contagion – hit the headlines by admitting to being a ‘romantic and realist’, adding: ‘I know people that I respect and admire and look up to who have had extra-marital affairs. If death by virus was a punishment for extra-marital affairs there would only be three dudes left in this world right now.’


    It was a comment that sparked even more speculation about their marriage. To ask him about it is a true test of a rock-star ego. Many would storm out of the room. Martin looks slightly stunned. ‘Did she say that? I don’t read any of these things.’


    Then he pauses and grins. ‘Right, well, I’m a notorious love rat and I think that’s what she’s going on about.’


    He laughs, to make the point he’s sending himself up. Scratch the surface and underneath you’ll find an eternal student who just won’t let himself fall down the celebrity well. On stage they are gods; off stage they are determined to remain just four ordinary blokes. If they don’t (and Martin admits he is usually the culprit) he has invented a self-imposed punishment – getting horribly drunk on gin and Ribena. It was a measure put into place in 1999 when he tried to sack Champion. ‘I have my moments – usually twice every album – when I basically lose it. Someone gets through your armour and one of the guys pulls me back. We all know each other so well, we keep each other in check.’


    Which is why, back at Coldplay HQ, rules are in place to make sure Martin – lead singer, husband of Paltrow, friend of Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Rihanna, the one everyone wants to talk to – is given the same treatment as every other band member. Like REM and U2, Coldplay operate as a democracy; all profits are shared equally (though Martin writes most of the songs) and in photographs or interviews, Martin refuses to be singled out. You talk to the band together or not at all. In this setting, with the three men he met aged 18 at University College London, he is entirely comfortable. He is bigger, more gym-fit than he seems in pictures, and he looks younger than his 33 years.


    Martin and Buckland clicked when they worked as cleaners to get extra cash. ‘We bonded on a level of, “God, these sheets smell disgusting,”’ says Martin. ‘And, “Do I really have to clean this toilet?”’ laughs Buckland. ‘We were like, “Man, we’ve got to get a band together instead of this,”’ finishes Martin. All four were middle-class, privately educated boys with a passion for music. This makes them sound cool. Martin laughs. ‘Not cool. Ever. I’ve never been cool and I don’t really care about being cool. It’s just an awful lot of time and hair gel wasted. At school I was a medium-clever geek. If you’re at public school (he was at Sherbourne) and you’re not that good at rugby, you spend quite a few important years of your life feeling like a real loser. We’ve never been about cool. What’s happened to us is more about showing that the geeks at school can get there in the end. And you have to stay true to who you are. The root of all this is to do with our friendship. There’s a song on the album called Us Against The World, and that’s definitely the feeling at the moment. We’ve been though every single cliché that a band goes through, from addictions to film-star marriages.’


    Addictions? This is a band with a rule that any member using hard drugs will be kicked out. The handsome, chiselled Berryman volunteers: ‘I was probably the most extreme. We’ve done all those things, had a great amount of fun, but times are different now. We’re all a bit older and wiser.’


    Martin shakes his head. ‘We don’t really talk about that kind of thing. But I always feel I’m three friends away from it being just me and my keyboard on a P&O ferry, so for me this has always been about keeping us together. Friends.’


    Their friendship has of course been staggeringly successful. The band’s last album, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, was the best-selling album of 2008, and before that their three previous albums, from Parachutes to X&Y, have achieved the sort of dizzying worldwide sales figures that a band like Oasis could only dream of. However, they seem genuinely nervous about how the new album will be received. Martin shrugs. ‘Normally any time we do something good we can rest assure there will be thousands of people who will happily tell us how bad it is.’


    It is true. Coldplay as a band does get a battering from the cool crowd, from Liam Gallagher (‘I ******* hate Coldplay’) to Martin’s hero, Bono. They get accused of being too middle-class, too middle-of-the-road, too worthy (Martin is a vegetarian, the band off-set their carbon imprint and do huge amounts for Fairtrade and poverty charities). ‘There was even a joke on Peep Show about how millions of people like Coldplay and millions of people like the Nazis,’ says Martin. Did it get to him? ‘Yes. I’ve got to be honest, it brings you right down.’


    You wonder why on Earth he doesn’t just think of all his millions and shrug it off? I think it’s part of being English, particularly if you are middle-class – you’re always looking to be reminded that you are no good and you are always actually embarrassed about being successful.’ Champion adds: ‘We have a British insecurity, like we’re doing all right but we could be doing better.‘


    ‘And I definitely think people aren’t going to buy your record because your last one was good,’ adds Martin. ‘This could be our last album. It’s the distillation of three years’ work and right now I can’t imagine where another one would come from. Now we have Justin Bieber and Adele to compete with and they’re a lot younger. We have to have the energy to put as much effort into our work as they do. If it’s over, it’s over and I can live with that. The most important thing always is to proceed as if every album is the last and not expect anything more.’


    So no chance of getting close to a 50th anniversary like the Rolling Stones? Martin laughs. ‘Maybe it would be Hawthorne Cider Presents… at some pub in Dorset, just not necessarily Wembley Stadium, but I think we’re all OK with that.’


    It would be wrong, however, to entirely fall for the idea that Coldplay are the most humble band in rock. And while Champion describes them as ‘not being imprisoned by the trappings of fame’, Martin himself is happy to admit to enjoying flying by private jet. ‘It is actually awesome – but we do also do a lot of international flights. We are the ones in security taking ages putting on our shoes because we always wear ones with tons of laces and end up annoying everyone.’


    Rihanna performs on the new album, doing the vocals for Princess Of China (Martin says he ‘spluttered like Hugh Grant’ when he asked her personally to do it) and Martin has become a new darling of the American music scene, working with Jay-Z and hanging out on yachts. He and Paltrow have been asked to be godparents to Beyoncé’s baby, which is due in February. As Martin relaxes, he is more open about the glamorous side of his life. ‘Their fame is more a real thing. And with people like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga… well it’s different for girls. If you’re very attractive you get more attention, you need more attention – like Beyoncé. People would stare at her if she was a bus driver.’ He looks up, turquoise eyes widened.


    ‘I’m telling you, it isn’t like that for me – for us. People walk right past us. I’m not complaining. It may seem weird but I wouldn’t want it any other way.’




    October 2011: Your One-Stop-Shop for Coldplay Info! [thanks ApproximatelyInfinite]




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