MUSE have spent the last year holed up in recording studios across the world working on the follow-up to their massive-selling 2001 album, "Origin of Symmetry". With a working title of "The Smallprint", the band originally planned to record an uplifting album with massive orchestration. Then the Uk and Us went to war with Iraq and everything changed. Here in the exclusive first interview since finishing the album, singer Matthew Bellamy speaks to NME about Muse's new album, downloading free music, and that Nescafe advert.
Matt Bellamy: "It's pretty much done. We started off woth a full orchestra, pushing it right over the Queen mark - 98 backing vocals, 32 piece orchestra and all sorts! We did two songs like that and kinda lost our minds. We ended deciding to get back to basics and hooked up with Rich Costey who's worked with people like Phillip Glass, Fiona Apple and Rage Against the Machine. We're somewhere in-between all that! We did the whole album and re-recorded some of the stuff with the orchestra, toned it down a little bit."
"It sounds a lot harder now than I expected. In terms of genetal context, the world's changed in the last year, the world events of the last year and a half. It's not that we're a political band but i think it's impossible to avoid those things. They've all come into everyone's life whether they like it or not. I think there's a lot of apocalyptic stuff going on in a lot of the songs. While we were recording all the war (with Iraq) was coming out and we were in the process of recording while watching that. The direction definately took a pretty harsh change in the middle of it all.
"You hang around in England and see these massive protests all over Europe and the whole place is going wild and then you go to America and everyone's eating burgers and driving around in big fucking Suv's! No one gives a toss! I think there's a lot of people in America that do give a toss but they're too scared to speak up about it. I think it's a bit crass when people who haven't really got a political background start talking about politics and for that reason I've tended to avoid it in the past. But in the last year and a half it's been impossible to avoid the fact that the world is generally going in the wrong direction and America is gradually building an empire, and Tony Blair is just licking George Bush's arse."
"In relation to the album it's come across more as a general fear and mistrust of the people in power. It's about moments of extreme fear, and a fair bit of end of the world talk."
"They asked us to do the advert and we said "no". And it just turned up on TV. We said, "This is ridiculous, can you take it off?" They did and then replaced it with some bloody crappy version of the song which is even more of a wind up! We got some money but we're going to give it to charity. A large percentage of that will go to someone like Oxfam (who run the Make Trade Fair campaign helping independent coffee producers among others), and then the rest to some local charities near where we're from in Devon."
"You have to be careful, I'm not necessarily against adverts, as long as it's something we agree with, be it the company or the product that we would ourselves use. A nice, decent, fast car wouldn't be bad! [laughs]"
"People always want to get things on the internet before the album comes out these days. I think it's a case of knowing the internet is a major way to promote this new stuff. We're going to put a song out there that we probably wouldn't release as a normal single. It's about six minutes long and it's pretty fucking cool! There'll be a normal single when the album comes out too. A lot of people who are into our band use the internet for getting songs rather than HMV."
"I've got an iPod and everything. I think it's something that should be used as a way of promoting bands. You can't fight against it. I'm always downloading stuff. I'm guilty!"
'Stockholme Syndrome' will be available via the band's website www.muse-official.com from July 7. Fans are advised to check the website on July 1 for download details. A single is planned for August, with the album following that. Fan club shows will take place in September, with a massive European tour in the autumn.
MUSE are currently putting the finishing touches to their third studio album, due for release in September.
The as yet untitled follow up to last year's platinum selling album 'Origin of Symmetry' sees the band expand their trademark histrionics and classical flourishes into a weightier rock groove that looks to see Muse at their heaviest, most diverse and accessible yet.
"It's fat as Fuck", says front man Matt bellamy. "Rich Costey kept telling us to make our riffs "more fucking heavy. I think we'll be pulling out the stadium rocks moves on this one."
Drummer Dom Howard adds : "We wanted to experiment as much as possible with the different sounds and instruments". With the band setting up drums in swimming pools, recording in fields surrounded by cows and ransacking derelict castles for new instruments (including cartwheels and cattleprods), it's clear the sessions have progressed in typically unorthodox Muse fashion.
Fourteen tracks have been recorded in total, 12 of which are expected to make the final cut. Songs are running order are yet to be confirmed, although some current titles are: 'Stockholm Syndrome', 'Our Time Is Running Out'. 'Sing For Absolution', 'Apocalypse, Please', 'Blackout (Arpeggio)' and 'Scaring Me'. To celebrate their first release of 2003, the Teignmouth trio will be releasing a downloadable single on July 7 'Stockholm Syndrome', which will be available through the band's official website, is the first song to be taken from the bands forthcoming album. "It's definately one of the heaviest songs we've done," says frontman Mattew Bellamy.
Log onto www.muse-official.com at the beginning of July for details on how to download the track.
Muse's brand new single "Stockholm Syndrome" is to be released for internet-only download from thier official site from July 7th. Before the large European tour, Muse will be playing "fan club shows" in September...
Interviews (Nme & kerrang) :
Matt : "it's fat as fuck, Rich Costey kept telling us to make our riffs more fucking heavy, i think we'll be pulling out the stadium rock moves with this one"
Dom: "we wanted to experiment as much as possible with diferent sounds and instruments"
Have you got the album that you wanted? "It sounds a lot harder now than i expected. In terms of general context, the world's changed in the last year, the world events of the last year and a half. It's not that we're a political band, but i think that its impossible to avoid those things. They've all come into everyone's life whether they like it or not. I think theres a lot of apocalyptic stuff going on in a lot of the songs. While we were recording all the war was coming out and we were in the process of recording while we were watching that. The direction definately took a pretty harsh change in the middle of it all"
14 songs have been recorded, with the album likely to contain 12.
" Stockholm Syndrome" (Matt:"its definately one of the heaviest songs we've done" )
" Our Time Is Running Out"
" Sing For Absolution"
" Apocalypse, Please"
"The small print"
"Black Out (Arpeggio)"
Muse rejected the use of their recording of the song "Feeling Good" for the coffee advert as they did not want to be associated with it. Muse was unhappy that McCann-Erickson proceeded to air the advert, thus infringing their copyright and moral rights. Muse have settled this matter with McCann-Erickson and they will be forwarding the settlement money to worthy charities including Oxfam.
Q - Ok to get the ball rolling, Crapmetal said that he would like to ask"little black box (not amp channel selector) on his pedal board does and the a/b box on his pedal board and if piano thing was improvised and also "the dead star chorus settings, and fuzz factory settings"
Matt : the black thing is a mains hum questionucer, custom-built piano thing was partly improvised. i think i recorded the guitars through a big muff into chris' bass amps.
Q - do you think as a band the way you come up with new material is easier or bloodly hard to come with a good song like bliss now. or do they take compltly different approch to it all since you started like getting pissed and try to play scales untill you cock up and sounds?
Chris : I think that in a way its been easier on this album purely because we’ve had much more time to spend together as a band and really work on the stuff. Its probably been the first time since being signed that we’ve had regular rehearsals and had our own space to use when we want.
Q - what is the main inspiration for songs, do they just come to you or do they take lots of planning and effort, are you finding it easier to write songs now than before? - also new albulm info purlease!
Matt : hmmm, inspiration for new album has come from many places, some stuff has come from how world events have affected our personal lives and how often when consumed by fear, pure joy can sometimes be found in the simplest things. Some stuff is just pure hatquestion and mistrust for the people of power who are shaping the worlds destiny without our consent and some songs are suggesting that the short time we do have should be enjoyed and exploited to the full.new album should be released in september (apart from USA) and we will be releasing a single (on the internet only) around July and a regular single end of august i think.
Dom : the album will come out in september with a single just before and we will start to tour in sep/oct/nov
Q- matt : how the hell do you stick your hair up like that, what kind of incquestionible hair stuff does that???
Q - Dom : Explain how much fun it was to smash into that bigtable of booze with a quad bike at reading (i think)
Matt: a lot
Dom : it was a whole lot of fun. theres nothing like driving a golf cart into things that you know are definitely going to break. the problem is taking so much pleasure in destroying other peoples belongings.
Q - Chris: does your hair naturally go curly when you grow itor did you get a perm (admit it if you did get a perm!!!! ;-)
Matt : natural
Chris : I swear there is no perm or any other unnatural hair treatments involved
Q - Matt : how the hell do you play plug in baby so fackin fast, i suppose its just practise
Matt : erm
Q - how do you compose your songs?
Matt : there's no formula
Q - do you compose on the sheet, when you're singing or when you're playing guitar?- is it only matt who has ideas for songs?
Matt : no to both
Q- are you writing the lyrics or the music first ?
Matt : music 80% of time
Q - well i know people will ask this/have asked it already in previousinterviews but maybe if you just keep perstering them with the same questions then they'll give a definite answer!!! stupid pillocks.. WHEN THE HELL WILL THEY BLOODY COME TO AMERICA ALREADY??!! IT'S NOT FAIR TO US [Americans and non americans a like..]... well, it is sorta fair, but still!!ask matt what the advantage of having freakishly long fingers is...meh, but that's silly cause we all already know that..
Matt : origin of symmetry didnt get released in america. this is because maverick thought that the album wasn't commercial enough and they wanted us to change it. we said fuck off, they said fuck off and somewhere along the line all touring plans for america were cancelled. our next album will be released on a different record label in the usa (around january 2004) and we are planning to spend alot of 2004 in usa touring.
Dom : the deal with states is, our last album didnt come out over therebecause maverick didnt find it "commercialy viable" and wanted more "radio sigles" - jesus.. they had a period of time to release it and didnt, so we parted company. we've just been meeting new labels in La during the mixing of the album and hope to get album out and tour there at the end of this year or early next year. but we're definitely coming over with this album. i'll leave matts finger legnth up to your own imagination.
Q - Matt, Have you ever considequestion writing tab books to your own songs? That would be absolutely brilliant. A lot of people are disappointed with the current tabs. Some piano songs have been arranged for guitar instead - The Gallery on Hullabaloo for instance and some tabs seem to be done awkwardly. I am not a plagiarist but would love to play all your songs on guitar and piano for myself. Definite favourites are Bliss, Space Dementia, Muscle Museum, Micro Cuts, Dark Shines and too many others I do understand if you don't like people playing your stuff for personal reasons. I just think a lot of money and VERY pleased fans would be on the cards
Matt : i'll look into it
Q - Do you have an address where people can write to you?
Matt : i think so, ask tom
Tom : I’m in the process of sorting out a PO Box and will have a confirmed Muse Address for any post within the next couple of weeks. When it’s set I’ll post it on the news page.
Q - Why didn't you use the piano for Dark Shines on Hullabaloo? (if you did then I apologise because it doesn't sound like you did) I think the piano makes a great sound before you start singing "Darkshines..."
Mat t: i can't run over to the piano then back again quick enough
Q - "What does "H Eight" mean?"
Mat t: Using a microcomputer (Hitachi H8 / 3048F) which can
be built into the industrialmachines, you can learn and understand the inputs /outputs of the microcomputer as a basis of robot control and conduct theexperiments by C-language for steppingmotor control, servomotor control (PWM control) and serial communication. H8 model, a 16-bit microcomputer consists of 32-bit registers, has a flash ROM of 128KB, a RAM of 4KB (SRAM) with external extension of 128KB and 78 I/O terminals with the built-in A/D and D/Aconverters. H8 is a microcomputer usually built into a TV, VTR, mobile-phone and car navigator. Since it has ample I/O terminals, H8 microcomputer is also used as a brain of a small robot.
Q - What kind of digital piano do you use?
Matt : i did use some roland thing, but im getting a new one soon... cant decide between Kawai MP9500 or General Music Promega3
Q - Is it true that you taught yourself to play the guitar? Does that apply for piano as well and if not where did you learn the piano?
Matt : i had a few lessons on spanish guitar, but not on piano
Q - Are you going to ever use the riff that you used to play before sunburn live, in a song? I noticed that the riff from 'get a grip' was used live in between songs from even before OOS came out. I think its the best riff I've ever heard and you would do well to use it.
Matt : isnt it a bit aerosmith?
Dom : we haven’t used it as a full track yet. it was always just a riff to play in a live situation which is where it worked best. i think we tried to play it in a rehearsal situation, but it doesn’t give you the same feeling as when you play it on a stage in front of people with fat sound in your ears. thats when it makes you want to start smashing things up.
Q - What music does the band chill out to...
Matt : chill out zone 2 / palestrina benedictus, Ocean sounds all played at the same time whilst watching the blue planet.
Chris : four freshmen, god speed you black emporer, the oxes, palestrina
Q - What was matts and chris's first guitar/bass and amp???
Matt : carlsboro stingray, trucker bass amp
Chris :I used to use an old carlsbro stingray amp that was actually a guitar amp but it was so heavy i couldn’t lift it into a car on my own so i ended up getting a little marshall combo
Q - How long have they all been playing their instruments..
Matt : 10 years
Dom : 10 years
Chris : 9 years
Q - Do they have any advise for people like me.. who have been playing a few years... and still are crap
Matt : don’t give up?
Q - What was the best thing Matt ever did to help with his guitar handling technique??
Matt : gave up guitar lessons
Q - What are the big tickertape filled balloon's all about?
Matt : check out a 70s cult TV program called ‘Prisoner’
Q - which is the best; Playstation, X box, Gamecube, nice book ?
Chris : xbox
Dom : splinter cell
Q - Questions for dom: What drummers are better than you?
Dom : theres too many to list.
Q - Who inspiquestion you to take up drumming?
Dom : stewart copeland, dave grohl, buddy rich.
Q - Out of all the instruments in a band, is drumming is probably the easiest?
Dom : its the easiest for me.
Q - Questions for chris : Do you get headaches from all that head bobbing?
Chris : I get frequent neck spasms but nothing to worry about
Q - Questions for matt: Who are your favorite band at the moment?
Matt : the yeah yeah yeah’s
Q - What was "muscle musuem SCREAMING" all about, very funny, possible drug involvement. find it on microcuts.net?
Matt : not sure what you mean
Q - who you most like to just smack across the face?
Matt : george bush
Q - what is you opinion of the band "busted"?
Matt : don’t know them
Q - Why did they stop visiting the board officially and do they visit unofficially sometimes?
Matt : there has been the odd unofficial visit, but we've been too involved in making the 3rd album, when we start touring again more website activity will commence.
Dom : we all visit the board quite a lot, we just haven’t posted on it for while. its going to kick off.
Q - Oh, I wanted to ask something similar to cookie Are you still going to interact with your fans or you're too busy / too big for it? Remember, they used to visit this place, took part in chats, invited fans for their parties, videos etc.
Dom : we will allways try and interact with fans as much as possible. I dont think any band is too big for their fans and as soon as you think you are, you end up looking like the singer out of Live.
Q - Should we expect any changes on stage? E.g. more spectacular show, different instruments?
Matt : yes, you'll have to wait and see...
Dom : there are definitely going to be changes on stage which we're working on at the moment, and of course its going to be bigger and more spectacular. I think with this album we will all have to push ourselves further on stage with more instrumentation.
Q - Do you like playing bigger or smaller venues and why?
Matt : dunno, sometimes the sound is crap in really small places but it can be a more intimate atmosphere than a large venue. but there is a kind of excitement in a large venue which can be spectacular.
Chris : I think both venues are good for different reasons. Small gigs are grat because of the intimacy. I think some of the best gigs ive ever seen have been at small venues. But big gigs are cool too purely because of the amount of people that you are palying too. Its a great view.
Dom : i like both for different reasons. its amazing to play in a large venue in front of thousands of people. to comprehend that many people coming to see us play, what they look like from the stage and what is sounds like when thousands of people respond to our songs, is a really amazing experience. But when we play in smaller venues there is a raw, intermit and spontaneous energy that can lack in large venues.
Q - Matt : When was the last time you took magic mushrooms ?
Matt : last year
Q - All : Who came up with the name "Orange in a Cemetary"
Matt : you?
Q - Matt : How did he come up with the ideas in what effects to put in his Mansun guitars, and why. Plus why didn’t he use the black one more on the hullabaloo that’s well his best one.
Matt : i put effects in the guitar so i can do certain effects when i am away from the pedal board. the black one probably is the best, i might use it a bit more live. but im thinking of getting a new one
Q - Marmite: Love it or hate it ?
Matt : chris : heaven matt : ive just been sick dom : im a poof
Chris: Love it
Dom: i used to hate it, now i love it.