After hearing eight songs recorded for Coldplay\'s fifth album, "Mylo Xyloto," Billboard\'s Ray Waddell had the chance to discuss the project with the band\'s Chris Martin backstage at the Los Angeles Tennis Center prior to an Aug. 3 performance. What follows is the transcript of that conversation, where Martin weighs in on baptisms by fire, the art of making a good sandwich, and why Coldplay would have kicked ass in the 1840s.
In listening to the new music, it seems like there is a lot going on, a lot of forces pulling in opposite directions. It\'s a restless-sounding album that doesn\'t stay in one place very long. Did you have a goal or theme starting out, or does that find its legs as you progress?
Because we haven\'t sequenced it yet, the goal is to leave it in a peaceful place when we finish it. The hope for the record is to be free from any musical kind of box. It very much comes from the Brian Eno professorship of \'go anywhere. As long as it\'s you guys, you can go anywhere.\' [There is] also a story, supposed to be loosely a kind of romance in an oppressive environment. It\'s sort of a love story. It will have a happy ending, so you either didn\'t hear that song today or you didn\'t hear it in the right sequence.
It does seem you\'re in a narrator role at times, particularly in a song like "Paradise." That\'s something you don\'t always do.
I started that listening to Bruce [Springsteen] and Bob [Dylan]. I\'m still in the middle of it, so I haven\'t had any time to sit back and work out how to talk about it. Which is bad news for this interview.
It\'s nice to be in on it early. Was the process of recording this record different from previous albums?
Only in that we\'ve tried not to be scared. We accept now that anything we do will invite a certain degree of negativity, so instead of letting that constrain us, this time out, it\'s \'well, f*ck it. We\'ll just go for it.\'
Negativity from whom?
Our career has happened at the same time as the rise of the Internet and everyone having an opinion. The shock of that wore off in about 2006, because at first it was like "what the hell is this? Thousands of people who hate you." But then you forget about the people who really like what you do. So the combination of getting over that worry, and working with [producers] Brian Eno and Markus Dravs, familiar people, made us feel like we\'ll just run with it this time and worry about what everyone says later.
You\'re at this stage in "band years" where perhaps it\'s time to throw caution to the wind. Do you feel that way?
Yes, I do. I always feel like each record is our last, but at the moment I\'m in the stage where I really mean it. I just can\'t imagine how we would do another one, because we\'ve thrown everything. 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.
So in two years will you feel like doing all this again?
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.
But you\'re only going to put 10 or so on the record, and haven\'t you recorded like 50?
No, no. We\'re going to finish 13. We\'ve started like 490 or something crazy. But it\'s such a harsh culling process within the group, because it\'s such a democracy, that a lot of songs don\'t even make it \'til the end of Thursday.