The kiss of death: Chris Martin promises that Coldplay will never break up.

But as they hang backstage, reports are bouncing all over that they're about to break up: Martin, 31, told a British newspaper that he was treating 2009 as Coldplay's final year. But he didn't quite mean it: He explains that Coldplay have the ambitious plan of recording and releasing a Viva la Vida follow-up next year (they hope to work again with the production team of Brian Eno and Markus Dravs), and setting an end date is meant to keep them focused.

"We're proceeding as if it's our last, because it's the only way to proceed," Martin says. "You've got to have deadlines, you know. What that means is we're going to pour everything we can into next year and not think beyond that. We always say that and we always mean it. But every time we say it, someone writes that it's over. I don't think we'll ever split up, but we have to do a lot before we're 33." The band is about to release the last of its Viva la Vida leftovers in a deluxe reissue of the album, so the new record will consist of more recently written tunes — which Coldplay have already begun experimenting with in various studios. "I would like to build on what we've just done," says Martin, "and deliver something short and optimistic."