Coldplay: The Billboard Cover Story
As Coldplay finishes the new "Mylo Xyloto," a candid and detailed conversation with Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland and manager Dave Holmes about harvesting the best songs, executing a bold global plan-and choosing to create without fear.
He offers a Perrier. In his dressing room, prior to a gig at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center,
Martin says when the band finished 'Viva la Vida,' "we were all feeling pretty pleased with ourselves when it was like No. 1 or whatever." But he says a letter from Eno put things in perspective. "It said, 'Dear Coldplay. I really think we've made a good record here. But I do think we can do a lot better, and I feel we all need to get back to work as soon as possible, because I feel like Jonny especially is on the route to something and he hasn't got there yet.' We're like, 'Ah, fucking hell, man.' This was like a week after the record came out. So we took the challenge and I feel very proud of [Buckland]. He's pushed himself a lot."
Buckland is characteristically understated about his fretwork. "I think I've gotten quite a bit more confident," he says. "A few years ago I had tendonitis in my wrist, so I stuck to playing simple things that I could keep going through. I had an operation, and I can play a bit more now."
Asked how he knows a record is done, Martin says, "When it's taken from our grasp, unwillingly. Every time, we think we'll be done in two weeks, and every time it's right up to the last minute. We know we want it to come out in October, so whenever the last moment that's possible, that will be when it has to be. I find it very hard to deliver an album."
That's not an exaggeration, Holmes says. "Our delivery date is Sept. 9, and they will be in the studio until midnight Sept. 8."
THE NEXT PHASE
"They have the ability to surpass the success they've had, and that's taking into consideration the decline in the market," Parlophone's Leonard says. "They've delivered a unique, special record indeed."
Martin will not forecast what the future might hold for Coldplay. "I always feel like each record is our last, but at the moment I'm in the stage where I really mean it," he says. "I just can't imagine how we would do another one, because we've thrown everything [into this one]. When it's finished, which hopefully should be pretty soon-it has to be pretty soon-we won't have been able to put more work into it, which I guess is the only thing we can really do."
Asked if in two years he'll feel like embarking on this entire process again, Martin says, "I don't know. But I never know. I think it would be bad if I was like, 'Yeah, we've got 15 songs up our sleeves.' I don't have anything left. I feel proud of our band at the moment. We're just so grateful, and very driven. How long that will last, I don't know. I don't know how long you can maintain that kind of focus."
And the pressures Martin feels in creating a new record aren't commercial, or even artistic. "The honest answer is, I want anyone who spends money on us to be really pleased with their purchase," he says. "If you want to speak purely? How I really feel is, we don't make it for us. We don't make it to sell millions, we don't make it to answer critics. We make it so that if you're in a store and you buy our record, or a ticket - like a good sandwich - you go, 'That's good!' That's all it is. And I look to my heroes on both record and live and I think that the people I like the most are the people that are really working for their audience. Bruce [Springsteen] being the No. 1 example. I don't really like the whole, 'We're just doing this and if you like it, great.' I don't subscribe to that."