A Look At The "Mystery" Of Coldplay

60 Minutes' Steve Kroft Gets A Rare Glimpse At The Inner Workings Of The Popular Band

This story was first published on Feb. 8, 2009. It was updated on Aug. 13, 2009.

The small, exclusive club of rock musicians that can legitimately claim to be among the very best in the world got four new members this past year - the British rock quartet Coldplay, led by singer Chris Martin.

In the midst of a recession, in a music industry fighting for survival, the group's fourth straight multi-platinum album "Viva La Vida" has sold an astounding eight and a half million copies and the bands current world tour is virtually sold out, as 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft first reported in February after following the band from Orlando and Chicago to London and Belfast.



London just before Christmas - the soaring melodies, the thumping beat of the music, and the quirky charisma of lead singer Chris Martin had the crowd on its feet.

"We rely more on enthusiasm than actual skill," he told Kroft. "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically and people will like it more."

"I can't dance like Usher. I can't sing like Beyonce. I can't write songs like Elton John," he said. "But, we can do the best we can with what we've got. …. And so that's what we do. We just go for it."

They're all barely 30, but they have already been together for 12 years; Martin and guitarist Jonny Buckland, bass player Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion.

By the time this tour ends they will have played before three million people, but you wouldn't know it from talking to them. When Kroft first met Martin and Buckland at a pub in northwest London, which served as their first office, we found them modest and self-effacing.

"Look, you guys are one of the biggest groups in the world right now. How did that happen?" Kroft asked.

"There's a lot of people asking the same question," Martin said.

"All we do is, we try really, really hard," Buckland said, laughing.

"And the other reason why we do well is because U2 is still on holiday. So…they're back in March. So, you know, as soon as they come back, we drop down the ladder a bit," Martin joked. "So, we're in our last week of substitute teaching."

The band's life still revolves around the neighborhood where they first met. Four middle class college boys, all sons of teachers, who shared a love of music and a $100 a week flat on Camden Road.

They signed a record deal upon graduation, and most of the songs written there ended up on their debut album, which shot to number one on the British charts.

"Your very first album…you had a world wide hit, in 'Yellow,'" Kroft noted.

"What's it about? F… knows," Martin replied. "I've got no idea. I still think about that every day."

"I love playing it. I love the tune. I love the chords. I love the balloons that we use live. But I still can't quite work out what it's about," he said, laughing.

"Even if I don't really feel like playing it, those guys have paid their ticket money. They wanted to see us play 'Yellow,' so we'll play it," he said.

"You wanta give 'em what they came for," Kroft said.

"And something extra, because when we look from the stage, you can't really see people so much, but you can see the light of the doorway of all the exits so the way to tell at the beginning of a tour, which songs are working, and which ones aren't, is if you see people it - people's silhouettes in the exits, then it means you're probably not playin' the right song, 'cause a lot of people are goin' to get a hot dog, or whatever. So I know we're doing okay, when all the exits are clear. That's my way of judge it. The silhouette factor," Martin said.

There was certainly no one leaving after the first few notes of "Clocks," their Grammy winning record of the year for 2003 and one of the hits off their second album.

All exceptional musicians, their distinctive, alternative rock sound has found a huge mainstream audience that spans several generations of fans. Not even Chris Martin quite knows how to classify the music, the band or himself as we found out.

"And you decided to be a rock star, when?" Kroft asked.

"Well, I don't like the word 'rock star,' the two words, 'rock star.' Not even 'soft rock star,'" Martin replied, laughing. "Not even limestone star. I don't like those words."

Asked why, Martin told Kroft, "Because I don't wear the right pants for that. You gotta wear the right trousers if you're gonna be a rock star."

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