By anyone's standards, the last twelve months have been nothing short of incredible for Muse. From brushing off the Radiohead-wannabes tag to sold out shows at the Astoria, two hit singles, a gold album and triumphant festival appearances. Not bad for starters but you sense Muse are itching for part two. Their virtual non-stop touring schedule is finally coming to a halt with just a month long Japanese and Australian leg to go. Then Matt, Chris and Dom head back into the studio to start work on the follow up to 'Showbiz'.
Apparently you've done 50 festivals this summer?
Matt "I've heard a rumour"
Dom "Apparently we have done about fifty. We've been everywhere, all over Europe, Japan"
Matt "...most countries Europe's got to offer"
Chris "...the states in March touring with the Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters"
Dom "...it's been non-stop for a year and a half."
So how are you feeling now?
Matt "A bit blurry, it's a good feeling. Confused, I don't really understand what's happening. No, I do. I don't know what it is. I think we're being controlled by a force; some sort of alien being is controlling us all on a delta force. You get those different wavelengths to be on. I'm not sure what purpose I'm being controlled for and I'm trying to discover the answer to that."
Is this level a good one?
Matt "We're not on that one, we're on the level below that but I don't remember what they call it. It feels like something's driving you and you're not sure why."
What's the reaction been like to you in places you're played?
Chris "Mostly good. There are a lot of places we're only been to once or twice. France, Germany we're done tours there. Italy we've only played twice and last time we played there it was really good, we played to 60,000 people at this festival. We went to Portugal for the first time and loads of little places."
What's the reaction to the record around the world?
Matt "Sales are close to half a million. The way it is in the UK is pretty similar in the whole of Europe, more so in France. Japan and Australia are the same as well. The USA we've got a lot of work to do there."
It must have been an amazing 12 months?
Matt "Yeah. I'm up for making a second album now. A lot of mistakes were made along the way that you don't know about until they happen. On a worldwide scale it's difficult to comprehend but hopefully we'll be ready for it second time round."
You must have played virtually the set during this period. Does it become a drag?
Chris "We've put new stuff into the set. We've never played exactly the same set, we've always changed it. Obviously some of the songs we play more than others but we change it all the time."
'Muscle Museum' is coming out again?
Dom "We made an EP with it on and only released it locally at gigs, years ago.
Matt "It was given away really"
Was there a discussion about releasing another single or did you just want to do another album?
Matt "The discussion was 'do you want to do it' and we said 'no'. And they say 'well we'll do it anyway' so we said 'right we're off to Japan'..."
A feature recently said that megstardom is beckoning for Muse. Does it feel like that for you?
Matt "Not right now, no. If anything bigger than what's happened to us so far, had happen quicker, I think we'd have trouble dealing with it. It's happening at a reasonably steady pace. I think it does beckon...but not right now."
Do you want that?
Matt "Yeah - very much"
You've said you feel like you've got no souls anymore. It must take it out of you?
Matt "I say a lot of things. It's all definition of words. Who knows what we are as a being. A soul is something I felt a lack of at that particular point. It can take a lot out of you."
Dom "Sometimes it's very hard to comprehend what you're actually doing and where you are. You never really see what's going on until you move away from the whole thing. Like touring - we haven't really moved away from at the moment. We're still going. Hopefully we'll sit back and reflect."
What's the next stage for Muse?
Matt "We've started work on the new album and we've record a few songs. We're going to Japan and Australia for a month to tour and then Dublin and some Scandinavian gigs which takes us up to early November. We're going to take some time off and then December time make the album."
How much time do you get off? Six months might be in order.
Matt "I'm arguing about that at the moment. I want a couple of weeks. I enjoy the work. If you can't do it when you're young when can you do it?"
What's the situation with the next album? Any titles?
Matt "The first new single will be early next year sometime, January, February. There are a few loose titles floating round. Very positive words."
How is it different to 'Showbiz'?
Matt "The stuff I'm doing now speaks to me more. The first album was a lot to do with fears, fears of the unknown. I've realised a lot of them and faced up to them. I've realised a lot about the outside world and people in general and how we exist. I've taken a lot of the situation onboard and I can sing a bit more clearly about it. When I hear it back now I can feel it, whereas before I was confused, now it's more focused."
You said it was coming out a bit more positive...
Matt "There's a couple of songs that I'd say the vibe that we're laid down, the three of us, is more positive, more confident. We're done some work with David Bottrill (Tool, deus) but we'll be doing the remainder of the album with John Leckie. There are a lot of people we'd like to work with."
What were Muse's influences when you formed?
Dom "It started off with Primus, bit of Nirvana, early English bands like Senseless Things and Mega City Four..."
Matt "...this is when we were 13 and 14. Around that time it was all 'Fraggle Rock' type music Wedding Present, early bits of Sonic Youth were coming through. That was the stuff that got us going. I learnt some Spanish guitar music that opened up a world of different harmonies and making music and a different sort of passion, very heavy music but it hasn't got a distortion pedal. Then I got into some blues music and Jimi Hendrix Experience"
What about Radiohead?
Matt (laughs) "I think, in the last 10 years, they are probably one of the best English bands around"
What do you think of their new album?
Dom "It's ok. It sounds very much like Aphex Twin to me."
Matt "It's Aphex Twin, DJ Shadow. I think they are very concerned with being at the cutting edge of what new music is and people like Aphex Twin, to DJ Shadow and even Moby are doing modern things, mixing techniques with real live music. They are very paranoid of ever being seen as just an old guitar rock band...which I can understand."
They seem to want to withdraw from the situation they put themselves in. You said you were up for superstardom. Can you see this happening to you?
Matt "I don't know until it happens. I've still got a thirst for knowledge in general and thirst for the world. I enjoy going out and playing and I like getting lost and f**ked. So who knows where that will take me"?
The Astoria webcast we're re-showing ended in a fantastic destruction of the stage. Do you do that every night?
Chris "Around that time we were doing it every night but then we ran out of gear and had to stop"
Didn't you smash someone else's gear up recently?
Matt "It was my mistake. I thought it was our own bass amp. I was on it and pushing it over. This guy told me to get off and was giving me loads of shit. I told him to piss off and it turned out to be his amp. I felt really bad for a few days. That was the realisation that maybe it was time to slow down in that department"
Dom "It all came to a head when you (Matt) smashed up a Wurlitzer"
Matt "It's nice to get carried away on stage, do what ever you want and be free. That can involve getting violent or emotional. You're seeing the true self"
Is it good fun?
Chris "Yeah really good fun. Too much fun that's why it's difficult to stop"
Matt "We've started smashing each other up. Chris usually picks me up and lobs me on Dom"
Is there anything you're listening to that will affect the new album?
Matt "For me...Tom Waits, Daft Punk, Hendrix, Rage Against the Machine"
What did you make of the Mercury Prize? Are you bothered about not being nominated?
Matt "I only recently found out what it was so I don't care. I'd never heard of them"
Chris "It's a big industry thing. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the public. It seems like a pointless thing. It's an excuse for the record companies to get together and kiss each other's arses"
Matt "I honestly wasn't aware of it. I heard that Badly Drawn Boy had won and Coldplay were up for it and that was the first I'd heard of it."