Guy Berryman - Bass Guitar
Jonny Buckland - Lead Guitar
Will Champion - Drums
Chris Martin - Guitars, Piano, Voice
"We're trying to say that there is an alternative," says Chris. "That you can be catchy without being slick, poppy without being pop, and you can be uplifting without being pompous. We wanted to be a reaction against soulless rubbish."
Chris Martin grew up in Devon, Will Champion in Southampton, Guy Berryman in Scotland (and later Kent) and Jonny Buckland in North Wales. They came together as undergraduates at University College London in 1996 and quickly started playing as a group. All four shared a passion for music, and a quiet determination to be as good as they possibly could be. They rehearsed almost every night: "We used to play in bathrooms, the basement, even in the park, laughs Chris. "Anywhere we could find to play."
They already knew they were onto something special. "We were determined to do it from the start," says Jonny. "From the moment I met Chris I really did think that we could go all the way. Do something."
Eventually agreeing on the name Coldplay, in May 1998 they recorded the three-track Safety EP and pressed 500 copies. Safety got the band a gig in a Cuban Cafe at In The city in Manchester in late 1998. In the audience was A&R scout Debs Wild who tipped off Caroline Elleray at BMG Publishing. Caroline brought them to the attention of Dan Keeling of Parlophone Records A&R, who began to follow Coldplay's progress. A subsequent gig at The Falcon in Camden was witnessed by Simon Williams of the NME who was sufficiently impressed to write both a glowing review and offer the band the chance to record a single for his Fierce Panda label. Brothers & Sisters emerged in early 1999, and soon after Coldplay signed to Parlophone. In October, following appearances in the Glastonbury and Reading festivals, Parlophone released the limited (5,000 copies) The Blue Room EP, while the band concentrated on recording their debut LP.
Coldplay began the year 2000 bottom of the bill on the NME Brats tour, though the fact that most venues were already full by the time they took the stage signalled that they wouldn't be in that position for long. Their first Parlophone single, "Shiver," made the Top 40 in February, but it was the anthemic "Yellow" in June that propelled Coldplay into the spotlight when it entered the charts at No. 4. With its happy-sad refrain and perfectly pitched video -- a soggy Chris stumbling across a British beach, from sunrise to sunset -- the song became a universal touchstone. That summer, "Yellow" was everywhere, ensuring Coldplay's mid-afternoon Glastonbury slot was as packed as it was celebratory.
Debut album Parachutes did even better, entering the charts at Number One that July. Bucking against a climate of emotionally empty lad-rock, it connected on a big scale -- 11 songs of acoustic-fed beauty that earned superlative reviews and seemed to touch everyone who heard them. Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, by the end of 2000 it had gone four-times platinum.
The band spent much of 2001 away from Britain. They toured Parachutes around the world, notably across America, where they became a rare UK success story -- and wrote material for their next album. Expectations on the band were high, not least from Coldplay themselves. At the time, Chris told the press that if their new songs weren't up to standard, they would call it a day.
A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay's second album, was recorded in London and Liverpool, once again with Ken Nelson and the band co-producing. It marked a significant move forward, adding a more powerful sound to their arsenal. Future stadium anthems "In My Place" and "Clocks" were there, alongside wiry piano ballad "The Scientist," a song that would come to surpass even "Yellow" as an emphatic tour de force.
With Coldplay raising the bar with their music, the world was happy to see if the band could rise to new challenges, too. A headline slot at Glastonbury isn't the easiest place to debut new material, but taking to the main stage on June 29 2002, Chris greeted 100,000 excited punters with a cheery "OK?" and led the group into thunderous opener "Politik." Few who walked away from the encore an hour and a half later doubted that this was a band now capable of being a global concern.
When it was released in August, A Rush of Blood To the Head got universally enthusiastic reviews and entered the UK charts at 1 and the US charts at 5. By the start of 2004, it had sold 9 million copies and earned the band 17 major accolades, including three Grammys, numerous MTV Video Music Awards and an Ivor Novello Award for Songwriters of the Year. Consolidating their earlier US success, Coldplay now soared in America -- setting themselves a punishing schedule from May 2002 to August 2003 that saw them criss-crossing the continent six times, performing 155 shows in places like Calgary and Albuquerque, as well as wooing increasingly starry audiences in Los Angeles and New York, where they sold out the legendary venues The Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Gardens. "Once you're established in Britain, you become kind of uncool," says Guy. "But it's not such a bad thing. It makes you work even harder."
Names as disparate as Bono, Mos Def, Beth Orton, P. Diddy, PJ Harvey and Jake Gyllenhaal started to sing Coldplay's praises (and sometimes sing on stage with them, too) as they toured A Rush of Blood... throughout 2003. The band also got to meet and write with the late Johnny Cash.
Coldplay have used their position as one of the world's biggest bands as a platform to campaign for a number of charitable, environmental and anti-globalisation groups. Chris has visited Haiti and the Dominican Republic with Oxfam to witness how the poor are affected by inequitable global trade rules, raising awareness for the Make Trade Fair campaign. It's a cause the whole band supports. "What people don't understand is that rock 'n' roll is doing exactly what you want," says Chris. "One of the most rock 'n' roll things we've done is get involved with Fair Trade."
Coldplay are currently recording their third album.
--- from the official Coldplay website