Scotland's Sunday Mail are backstage at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf (27th August) when rock superstar Chris Martin of Coldplay pops the question. Billy, what do you think we should do next? Where should we go with all this?" he asks.
I almost fall off my chair, scrambling to find words of advice. It's just minutes before Coldplay are to perform before a 50,000 sell-out crowd at the home of German soccer team Fortuna. The singer fixes me a stare but seems satisfied when I tell him to cement his friendship with band members Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion and build on the foundations of the music made so far. Coldplay have sold more than 50 million records and hit Hampden Park in Glasgow on September 16 as part of their latest world tour.
The phenomenal success of their four albums - Parachutes (2000), A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002), X & Y (2005) and Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (2008) - has elevated them to become one of rock's biggest acts. But Chris, 32, is still reaching for new goals. The singer says: "We have to go in a very different direction with our next record. We know what we have to do. The big mistake would be to try to replicate the size of Viva La Vida.We'll probably just rely on the chemistry between us rather than too much musical trickery."
Bassist Guy, 31 - from Kirkcaldy, Fife - is also fired up by the prospect of going back into the studio. He says: "We've already got lists of song ideas. We never stop writing. We go into the studio with all the best laid plans then what we end up with is not what we intended. It's just exciting to wonder what will come out the speakers in a year's time. "We have very exciting things lined up. It's time to take our music down different directions and really explore other avenues."
Backstage in Dusseldorf the vibe is so laid back it's verging on the funereal. Jonny plays in a football match with the road crew. Guy and Will square up for their daily table tennis challenge while Chris gets a haircut. Iggy Pop or Pete Docherty it's not. Chris - who married Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2003 - is the constant focus of paparazzi attention. But the group haven't fallen foul of the sex 'n' drugs rock lifestyle. Chris says: "A lot of those stories of excess were original in the Sixties and Seventies. But if you do all that stuff in 2009 it's a bit cliched. It's cooler if you're not pretending to be anything you're not."
He adds: "We are good friends. The bigger Coldplay become, the more time we spend in our own little world.Today,we've spent seven hours backstage in the 'ColdplayYouth Club', it feels so strange to think there are 50,000 people just 200 metres away waiting to see us. As friends, we're pretty tight."
Guy agrees. He tells me: "We've become much closer. That's usually the opposite to how it works so we've got something very valuable there. We've been doing this for 12 years so it makes friendships much stronger. " Coldplay have elevated their spectacular Viva La Vida arena show to stadium status. Chris says, laughing: "We had to work on our muscles for this tour and Jonny has lost some weight which is always a good thing. "It's our first time in stadiums and the show has been gradually evolving. I looked to Bruce Springsteen for a few tips although he's definitely in a different ball park to us. "What I got from watching him is that it's okay to be full on and proud of what you're doing. I find it hard to be proud. The more I see Bruce I learn to be more self confident that people are there to hear OUR songs."
Chris reveals when he met The Boss he couldn't disguise his hero worship. He says: "The fan came out in me. Even when you don't want it to and you're maybe thinking 'hey, I'm a pop star too'. Did I get my arm signed? Absolutely. You can't help it. I go all sheepish. But it's always important to tell people you think they're great. I used to think you should keep it cool. But when I met Bruce I said, 'You're Bruce Springsteen, right? You're incredible'."
Guy has vivid memories of the first time live music inspired him to become a musician. He says: "The first big gig I saw was Van Halen at Wembley Arena when I was 13. I also went to see Genesis at Knebworth, supported by Lisa Stansfield and The Saw Doctors. "While I definitely had aspirations to be a musician I never thought I'd ever get to that stage."
Chris' first live music experience was watching punk act Mr Obnoxious play in Yeovil, Somerset. He says: "They were a Nirvana tribute band and the singer did a pinpoint Kurt Cobain impression. "All the girls at school went crazy for him. I was 13 and thought, 'Man, this seems better than playing cricket'. It doesn't sound like a big gig now but in our town it was the hugest thing ever. That's where I caught the bug."
For Guy it will be a special moment when he walks out at Hampden. He says: "We always enjoy playing in Scotland because crowds there are always significantly louder than other places. I shall be expecting no different this time. I miss Scotland and don't get the chance to go there as much as I'd like. When I get time off I plan to hire a car, head for the Highlands and rekindle my relationship with my home country."
Chris is also counting the days to the Hampden gig. The singer has a soft spot for Tunnock's Teacakes and Caramel Wafers - but has promised a svelte, new look. He says: "There are certain places which are magic for us and they tend to be either Celtic or Hispanic. I don't know why. Maybe it's the Tunnock's but I've had to cut down severely. I'm down to six teacakes and three caramel wafers for breakfast -followed by a shake for lunch - otherwise the stage wobbles when I jump. While recording our album X & Y I bumped into Mani from The Stone Roses and he was carrying a bag of salad. I said, 'Mani,why are you just having salad?' He replied, 'Chris, no one likes a fat pop star'."
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