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"It's really odd. We're trying to get passionate music into the mainstream. But it does feel like we're the only vegetarians at a meat-eating conference," he says. "And let me say once and for all that we're as rock 'n' roll as anyone. Rock 'n' roll isn't dressing up in leather and trashing hotel rooms or snorting coke off the back of a hooker with the guitarist from Spinecracker. Rock 'n' roll is doing what you want. Independence of mind and spirit."
At this point, Martin gets up from the floor, picks up the Dictaphone and proceeds to crouch atop the coffee table, holding the recording device in his hand for the remainder of the interview. With anybody else, it would be studied eccentricity, or even genuine madness ("Look, I'm a monkey!"). With Martin, it seems entirely normal. If this is manipulation, it's masterfully done, even when debating the future or the burdens of success.
"All we have to deal with is the responsibility for the fate of middle-class white-boy music. And even that drives me a bit nuts," he says. "It's not like being George Bush and shouldering the responsibility of being so stupid you might destroy the whole world. As long as we realize [success] is all fundamentally bullshit, it's fine.
"We're working on some rockier numbers. I've started playing electric guitar onstage," he adds. "We've got to move on. Life is about being as un-Coldplay as possible."
Still, life as Coldplay hasn't gone so badly: Last year's wusses are now this year's winners. The band has been nominated for a Brit in the U.K. and a Grammy in America. And while the next few months will be packed with U.S. dates, Martin doesn't envision a time when the band will alter its aesthetic – or its approach – to better suit American sensibilities.
"We're a more English version of Incubus," he says, warming to a theme. "They come on in a tee shirt and then reveal their bare chests; we come on in jackets and then reveal our tee shirts. It is very English, because it was decreed in the Beatles book of law that thou shalt not take off thy tee shirt. The day we appear bare-topped is the day we've completely lost the plot."