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Coldplay: Going Out of My Head

The Brits second disc dodges cliches, captures your heart, and flies a kite for sanity.
by Franklin Cumberbatch

Coldplay (VH1.com)

With 2000�s Parachutes, Coldplay made a debut that sounded much more tender than their somewhat steely attitude would suggest, and around the world lovers of sensitive guitar pop embraced the British band. But what could they do for an

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encore? Exhausted by a year of touring and promotion, Coldplay had but one song, �In My Place,� which they promised to record if it was the last thing they did.

�In My Place� turns out to be one of several gems on the band's terrific A Rush of Blood to the Head. Songwriter Chris Martin broadened the group's emotional scope with songs like the bruising �Politik." And "The Scientist� illustrates how they've resisted resorting to formula. But while it seems like Coldplay have a nice future, VH1 discovered vocalist Martin and guitarist Jon Buckland pondering the band's disintegration. Here they are talking about intermittent self-doubt, licensing rock songs to advertisers, and the therapeutic value of flying kites.

VH1: Did you have sophomore slump pressure after the success of Parachutes?

Chris Martin: We didn�t think about anybody else except the four of us while we were making A Rush of Blood to the Head It�s only now, coming out into the open again, that we�re starting to get really scared! Everyone�s been saying, �What do you think about the pressure?� I�m worn down! Now I think, �Agh!�

VH1: One of your online journals says that you had trouble getting it together in the studio at first.

Jon Buckland: We started recording in London. It was the first time we had been in London for any period of time, so we weren�t really focused.

Chris: We were getting reacquainted with normal life. We hadn�t seen our friends for a long time; there were bills to be paid... So we decided to go to Liverpool where we did some of Parachutes. Once we got up there we became obsessed with recording.

VH1: You've said that to write songs you had to get to a place where you felt sorry for yourself. What�s your ideal writing environment?

Chris: It�s really nice to work when everyone is sleeping or busy doing something else. It feels like you�re doing something in secret. If a song arrives, the most amazing thing for me is running upstairs and getting Jonny to come down and have a listen. In Liverpool, it was often just me and Jonny working on the weekends. Then on Mondays we would have something new to show Guy [Berryman] and Will [Champion], our bassist and drummer. It was really fun. It was back to how it was when we were living together in college, you know?

Jon: We were away from all the record companies and anyone else. We didn�t really go outside.

Chris: Except to go kite flying on Sunday afternoons. My brother gave me a kite and it�s brilliant. It�s so relaxing and powerful. Really we should be shooting up some crack cocaine on a daily basis, but kite flying is just as much of a buzz. Kites: They rock. Watch Clip

VH1: A lot of the love songs on the album, like �In My Place,� sound very personal. Were you going through a heavy relationship at that time?

Chris: Trying to talk about your own songs is like putting your dog for a competition and then judging it yourself. You�re either going to be too harsh or too nice or look at it from too subjective a viewpoint. Some of the songs on the album are about relationships. They�re based on truth, but slightly fictionalized. Songs are like fairy tales: They have a beginning and an end and you can make it all work perfectly. Real life doesn�t work like that. I mean, no one actually says, �Be-bop-a-lula/ She�s my baby.� You have to allow for some musicality to creep in. That�s what we try and do.

VH1: So how did �In My Place� take shape?

Jon: �In My Place� was the first song we wrote after we finished Parachutes. We felt it should be the first single because it was the song that made us want to do a second album. It kept us going and made us think we could still write songs.

Chris: Three months after Parachutes took off, we went through a strange period of not really knowing what we were doing. One thing kept us going: recording �In My Place.� Then other songs started coming. By the time we came to America last summer, we were excited about doing another record. �In My Place� is not the best song on the record, but it�s very important to us. [Watch Clip]

VH1: Why did you decide to make a performance video for the song?

Chris: We wanted to show off our new haircuts and slimmed-down personas! It was like doing a new passport photograph. You�ve got to be able to put the face behind the band. We know it�s not the greatest performance video of all time. But it was important to say, �That�s what we look like. He plays guitar and I do this ...�

VH1: What�s going to be the next single?

Chris: We think the next single will be �The Scientist.� The song was a turning point. I don�t think we�ll ever top it, which is why we probably won�t do another record! It was inspired by George Harrison�s All Things Must Pass. We really wanted to do a piano ballad with loud guitars at the end, because we didn�t think many people had tried that, so Jon put this really distorted guitar on the end of it.

VH1: You turned down a lot of advertisers who wanted to use your songs. Why?

Chris: We want to hold out against using our music to sell something that we couldn�t really care less about, be it a car or a pair of shoes. I know we did that ABC thing [the ABC television network used �Yellow� as part of an ad campaign. - Ed.] It did us a lot of good. I could understand why we would do commercials if we didn�t get any radio play. But it�s so sad when you see a total legend like David Bowie advertising a satellite radio service. It�s horrible that people can be bought like that. We don�t want to be bought by a fizzy drink company. Not yet anyway! [Watch Clip]

VH1: You spent a lot of time on the road promoting Parachutes. Are you ready to do it all over again?

Jon: By the time we finished the album, we were desperate to be back on the road again.

Chris: It�s great to be playing, but it�s like waiting for exam results for us at the moment. It�s nerve-wracking. We put so much passion and effort and love into something for a year. Then it�s finished, we hand it over, and somebody listens to it once and gives it a mark. It means nothing on the grand scale of things, but we�re petrified! We�ve only got two-and-a-half weeks to go before we know it�s a flop. Then we can retire and raise our kids!

VH1: You�re always hinting that maybe this might be the last Coldplay record.

Chris: We�ll wait and see. I sometimes think we�re just a one-hit wonder and that�s it for us. Other times I know that it�s not true. Being in Coldplay is what I live for, and I�d be gutted if people didn�t want us around. This is getting depressing! This is going to be on VH1�s 100 Saddest Stories: the day we gave up because no one liked us. Get Joe Satriani to comment on that!

VH1: So what does the future hold?

Chris: I doubt if there will ever be another Coldplay record. But that�s the way you should feel. Making albums is like having babies. If you go up to a mother right after she�s just given birth and say, �Are you going to have another baby?� they�ll hit you. That�s how it feels for us. Let�s just have this one for a while. Then we�ll release the greatest hits - one song long!