Coldplay look to 'outsiders' for inspiration
It has taken Coldplay four albums and 10 years to get around to it, but the band have confirmed they are finally on the verge of releasing their "concept" album.
The as-yet-untitled record is being produced by Brian Eno and Marcus Dravs - the same team behind the band's last album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.
"It's from the point of view of two people who are a bit lost," says frontman Chris Martin.
"Two like-minded outsiders who meet in a very difficult environment and therefore have a journey together."
Viva La Vida was seen by critics as a return to form after a more muted response for their previous effort - the equally commercially successful X&Y.
While Viva La Vida explored grander sweeping themes of love and war, Martin said the new album will be more intimate by comparison.
"It's a concept album but it's supposed to be very personal within a big framework. Does that make sense?"
Much of Viva La Vida's musical experimentation came from producer Brian Eno, who began his career with Roxy Music and has produced artists including David Bowie and Talking Head's David Byrne.
"Brian is the sower of seeds and ideas and experimenting, which is very liberating. Then Marcus's job is to come in after all that's been done and try and sculpt it into some kind of releasable format.
"They're like a tag team," says Martin.
The chaotic recording sessions left them with a lot of half-formed and half-completed tracks, he adds.
"We spent a year making a lot of noise. You know those things in a fairground where you have bran in a tub and in there are some hidden prizes? That's sort of where we are at," says Martin.
"Like a lucky dip?," clarifies his bandmate, guitarist Jonny Buckland.
"Yeah, a lucky dip," Martin agrees.
While the music remains a collaborative effort between musicians and producers, the songwriting is still very much up to Martin.
The singer admits bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion can be brutal in their assessment of his new lyrics.
"Jonny's delightful, he's the easiest to convince," he smiles. "It's when you have to take a verse to Guy or Will that things become very tearful.
"I think Guy isn't too savage with your lyrics, it's Will really," adds Buckland. "He's savage."
Yet internal squabbles over lyrics aside, Martin insists he is grateful for such candour.
"I'm so lucky that we have that group, in as much as there are a lot of people who don't like us in the world, but there would be a lot more without this filtering system.
"Think of the rubbish that doesn't get out, if you don't like the stuff that does."
Later this month, Coldplay will play two sold-out gigs for UK homeless charity Crisis - a cause long-supported by the band.
"I think it will be good for us to get our gig feet on for a couple of days because sometimes you can get very institutionalised in the studio," says Martin.
"There's a danger that you forget that you're going to have to play this for people and that's when music can become a little bit silly."
Buckland agrees that the months the four-piece have spent in the studio have taken their toll: "You can forget that there are other people in the world, you can become so focused on the small group that's around you.
"It's very much like I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here in our studio," says Martin. "A lot of difficult tasks and people that you find it hard to get along with, i.e. me."
Martin and Buckland say they don't have a definite date for release of the new album but add dryly that it will be "some time in the future".
Rather too self-deprecatingly given their past chart success, Martin suggests that he would like to avoid a potential battle with another big UK band.
"Preferably not the same week Take That are doing anything.
"Nowadays, if Gary says he might be possibly playing piano on a certain day, we just say, 'Ok we'll go and work in Germany that day, there's no point in us being here.'"
Coldplay's new single Christmas Lights is out now.