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COMING IN FROM THE COLD

There's a lot to be said for clean socks -- just in case you're asked to remove your shoes at the door. And far be it from me to argue with the world's biggest band. Besides, it's all part of the fun that comes with stepping into The Bakery, Coldplay's home-from-home in Camden.

This is where the magic happens, and seated in a trendy lounge area upstairs, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland are happy to take a break from finishing their fifth studio album. Which, at the time, is but two days away from completion.

Buckland -- the band's own Edge -- is terrified about the deadline. Enigmatic frontman (and resident Bono) Martin appears relaxed, and is by far the more talkative of the two.

"We're trying to find things to do so we don't have to hand it in," he laughs.

Indeed, Mylo Xyloto (or what I've heard of it) is the distinct sound of a band pushing as hard as they can to recreate the magic of their previous studio offering, 2008's massive-selling Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends -- a record that cemented the British quartet's status as the Undefeated Heavyweight Champions of Arena-Filling (Soft) Rock. So, there's plenty to talk about, but I should really ask about that name: Mylo Xyloto.



ridiculous

"I'm fully aware that for a few months it will seem ridiculous," says Martin.

"It's funny," says Buckland, "because to us it seems perfectly normal. We've been living with it for so long, we forget that no-one else has a f**king clue what we're talking about!"

Apparently, the band wanted some fresh words "that don't mean anything except that bunch of songs". Their goal? For the name to be acceptable in Scrabble.

Last time around, Martin (34) spoke of how the band couldn't get any bigger (or so they thought) and instead, concentrated on getting better. For this record (a "story album", as he describes it), Brian Eno returned to assist the band, as did award-winning producer Markus Dravs. Oh, and Rihanna is in there, too. Bigger and better again, so.

"I think we wanted to go places we'd never been before," says Buckland (34). "We wanted to expand in every way and not be afraid of anything."

Martin agrees: "What we have to try and do is forget that we're in a band called Coldplay who some people like or don't like, and just try and make something that feels colourful and fresh and has no link necessarily to anything we've done before. The one great benefit of having a history is that we get to work with such great people and have our own studio -- so there's really no excuse for not trying to make something great.

"We gained quite a lot of confidence on the last tour, and we also took a bit of crap here and there from people suing us and what have you, so it added a bit of fire to everything. So we also feel like we have quite a lot to prove."

In 2008, US guitarist Joe Satriani filed suit against the band claiming that Viva la Vida contained "substantial, original portions" of a Satriani original, 2004's If I Could Fly. Coldplay denied the allegations, but the case was settled out of court. Yet, stealing another musician's work is not something you'd expect these lads to do. Indeed, the band that people love to hate are too . . . nice. And being the world's friendliest, clean living rock star isn't something that Martin is ashamed of.

"I don't wanna be known as a c**t," he says. "I mean, we all are nasty people -- bits of us --but I don't think there's any need to show that side of myself to you. Unless you say something highly offensive, in which case I'll smack you about the chops".



joking

Of course, he's joking. Thankfully, the man whom Bono once dubbed a "cretin" is really pleasant. Just don't ask about his wife, Academy Award-winning Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow. That's personal, man.

Talk turns to the band's Oxegen appearance and their collaboration with Christy Moore. It was drummer Will Champion who introduced them to Christy's music.

"We were just super thrilled," says Martin. "I like it when you're doing a concert and you know you have something great up your sleeve like that. It also meant a lot because of Will's mum, who passed away, was a diehard Christy fan, and so it was quite emotional."

There has been talk of Martin working on a solo record. Any truth in it?

"I don't think it's necessary. I'm fully aware that I'm better in small doses, so even on a Coldplay album you get a break from me!" he laughs. "On a solo record, you just wouldn't, and that would be terrible for the world. I love being in a band -- it's the best thing out there."

When asked about the level of attention they receive from fans (a home-made card from one sits on the table between us) they explain how it's a privilege to have such a dedicated following.

"Sometimes," says Martin, "when you sleep with a fan, you think 'was that the right thing to do?' And then you think, 'you know what? It probably was!'"

An eruption of laughter fills the room. "That's a joke, by the way . . ." he smiles.

But do they ever wish they could trade it all for something quieter?

"I wouldn't trade anything for anything," says Martin, "I wouldn't swap with anyone else. Ever."

Mylo Xyloto is out on Friday