Q&A: Coldplay

The Brit-pop quartet's frontman, Chris Martin, got stared down by Eminem, but he comforted himself in the arms of Sylvia Plath

(L to R) Lead guitarist Jon Buckland, lead singer Chris Martin, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion, from the British rock band 'Coldplay' at the 2002 MTV Europe Music Awards in Barcelona, Spain on November 16th, 2002. Credit: John Rogers/Getty

What would you say if you fronted one of the world's hottest bands and you were dating Gwyneth Paltrow? "Yes," says Coldplay's Chris Martin, "my life is pretty surreal." Despite the fact that his mug appeared in every tabloid as Gwyn's boy toy, Martin, 26, spent 2003 touring incessantly, making his group one of the biggest live draws on the planet — thanks to the emotional beauty of Coldplay's second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and their brilliantly backward video for "The Scientist." Martin also elected himself the mouthpiece of Make Trade Fair, an organization trying to change trade policy on behalf of workers worldwide.

What has been your biggest accomplishment this year?
Playing Madison Square Garden, or getting to go to the World Trade Organization meeting about fair trade. Purely because we sell a lot of records, we were able to mix with politicians and talk about something we care about.

What was your worst gig of the year?
We were in Germany, with Iron Maiden opening for us. There were 70,000 people with their fists in the air and their first and fourth fingers extended. I was like, "OK, they'll be wanting some ballads" [laughs]. Some clever agent probably made a lot of money for throwing us to the lions.

Did you ever freak out onstage?
Well, we were playing the VMAs, and we went out onstage and I saw Eminem, and it seemed he was looking at me in a way that said, "You're shit!" That was my worst moment — then we had to play in front of millions of people. I'm sure he wasn't looking at me, but it threw me.

Because you have so much respect for Eminem?
A hundred million percent. And the Neptunes and Timbaland and the Black Eyed Peas. I think the most important artists in the world are Missy Elliott and Radiohead.

This year there was a story that you smashed the windows of a car owned by a paparazzo who was photographing you while you surfed.
I only encounter those people because of who I go out with.

What happened?
I don't speak about it — it's nothing.

C'mon. You were surfing, he was taking pictures, and you got pissed off and broke his car window with a rock. Is that it?
Anyone who is shit at surfing would understand that you don't want anybody watching you [laughs]. I don't surf like Kelly Slater or have abs like Justin Timberlake. I've got what they call a pre-box David Blaine belly.

What's the best movie you saw this year? Don't tell me it's . . .
I know this is slightly cheesy, but it's a film called Sylvia. Whoever the actress is, she's the best in the world.

What are you looking forward to in 2004?
The American elections and the English elections. I'm looking forward to a new U2 album. I'm looking forward to the second half of Kill Bill, which should, incidentally, be called Kill a Fucking Load of People and Then Perhaps Kill Bill.