'We're not the world's most rock'n'roll people'

And yet Coldplay are officially rock'n'roll stars. Nicholas Barber sympathises
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The Independent Culture

Coldplay would seem to have had a smooth journey to pop stardom. Having met at University College, London in 1998, they released their debut album, Parachutes, this July. It went straight to number one. Since then, Parachutes has been on the Mercury Prize shortlist, and the band have been nominated for three Q Awards.

Coldplay would seem to have had a smooth journey to pop stardom. Having met at University College, London in 1998, they released their debut album, Parachutes, this July. It went straight to number one. Since then, Parachutes has been on the Mercury Prize shortlist, and the band have been nominated for three Q Awards.

At the same time, their polite, middle-class demeanours have made them a target for sniping, most infamously from Creation Records founder Alan McGee. Their 23-year-old singer, Chris Martin, is finding the attacks hard to cope with.

Nicholas Barber You've done very well very quickly. Does that put pressure on you?

Chris Martin We're starting to feel that everyone's out to get us. The more people that like us, the more people seem to hate us, and it's something nobody tells you how to deal with. A lot of people seem to take it really personally that we're doing well, and I hate that. I hate being criticised for just doing songs. It's utterly pointless, because that's what we love and that's what people like about us. We're not evil politicians trying to swindle the whole world.

NB But you've had award nominations and your album went to number one. Surely these are concrete signs that things are going well?

CM I suppose so. I really don't know why we've done well. All I know is that we invest everything we do with as much passion as possible. We don't care about the money or the fame - neither of which has really come upon us to anywhere near the extent that people think. Awards and stuff are all very well and good, but it's not what we're in it for, really.

NB Do you wish that success had taken longer?

CM Not at all, but I wish we didn't have to be so involved with it. I love going into a tube station and seeing an advert for the album, because that's your album getting well known, it's not you as a band. I'm not Liam Gallagher and Jonny [Buckland, guitarist] isn't Slash. We're not the world's most rock'n'roll people.

NB Is it hard to ignore everything else and stay focused on the music?

CM No, because that's what we love. We spent all summer trying to be rock'n'roll and thinking, "We've got to look good." And then we found we just hated all that nonsense. When we've got a new song, that's what gets us really excited, that's why nothing else seems to matter. 'Cos we believe in what we do to a ridiculous extent. We'd just rather get on and do it and be left alone, really. Look at bands like Kraftwerk or Radiohead who just retreat. Kraftwerk are amazing and I don't even know what they look like.

NB You don't dream of breaking America or selling millions?

CM We want as many people as possible in the world to love our music. I'm not saying we just want to be indie and lo-fi; I'm saying we want to put all our effort into our music and then have that do all the work. I don't know. It's very hard to interview us at the moment because we're so confused about everything. No wonder people in bands get embittered. No wonder people go mad. The other day I met Liam Gallagher, and I was expecting him to go on about Robbie Williams and the Sun, but he just doesn't give a shit about anything except songs. He loves music. And I thought, that's wicked, that means I don't have to feel any shame about it.

NB What do you plan to do next?

CM We want to make one more record and try to make it the best record ever made, and then retire. I'll become a busker, I think. You get to sing what you like, no one's out to get you. I love music in towns. Especially being in London. I love walking around Piccadilly Circus listening to music. It's just like being in a film. Life takes on a more important meaning, and everything's a story and everything's got a soundtrack. Very important.

NB Who do you like to listen to?

CM At the moment I just can't get enough of Bob Dylan. I'm obsessed. He's just got such amazing tunes. That's why it's cool we're releasing this acoustic CD with the Independent, because that's very much where my head is at the moment. The simplicity of it. We're very happy to be doing this because it's a good idea. Something to listen to while you're working out which supplement to read. We'd much rather do a CD than an interview.

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