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Visions - Planet Muse (2006) (translation)


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I've been translating this interview in my spare time… I'm still learning German and am not fluent at all so sorry about any mistakes. :$ Anyway, it's by the same person that did this awesome interview/game, and while it's not nearly as funny, I hope it's still an interesting read, even if all the information is old.



---source: http://www.visions.de/artists/stories/4050/1/muse---



by Sascha Krüger


Much these days is said and written about the new Muse album, “Black Holes & Revelations”, especially about innovations, variations, revolutions. Fact is, in the four years since “Absolution,” the three main actors have developed enormously—as musicians, characters, and people. From that tells this story. Three personal interviews with drummer Dominic Howard, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and frontman Matthew Bellamy were the basis for this, whose central message here should stand for themselves. Three actors and their way with Muse, their roles, their interests and their relationship to each other.



Dominic - the sudden adult

Originally we didn't want it, but then it came this way anyway: We toured with “Absolution” at the end of another two years, with many good, but also difficult moments. For me quite particularly, because my father died almost exactly in the middle of this time. As a result, I am going back and forth between the extremes of pure joy and lightheartedness over it, what befell us, to the moment of deep sorrow and acute crises of the mind. But the day of his death is exemplary: after a really overwhelming gig I came from the stage and got the terrible news. Surreal—there's no other way to describe this feeling. The good from this was that I really got to know my friends—it was really amazing how much my so-called friends did not know. Chris was a notable support in this time—he lost his father when he was 17, and therefore he knew that one didn't need to say anything; it is enough that someone is there and takes you in the arm when you need it. And in a strange way, I had become more confident from this death because when you lose someone who stood so close, then you learn to appreciate all the more what you have.


But other things were also intense. On this tour were more injuries; for example, Matt tore half his lip on our first gig in our first US tour in five years, so we had to cancel the next few gigs. This had us so pulled down, we thought seriously that it was a sign that we should check off America. Just a few weeks later Chris broke his left hand, and we had to grapple with a backup bassist. It was terrible—and this was when we headlined V Festival. We sounded like a piece of shit. And during a gig as Matt, in mania, just missed a few cuts on my face with his guitar neck, we thought for a moment: okay, we should really let the tour go. This was all very tragic for the band.


The trick is to learn to see the positive in all the tragedy, and in that concern, I have definitely matured. Without this knowledge I would have become very sad for a very long time. Quite concretely the band had helped me through this—by the concerts that we played, and the feedback that came back. Through this I have learned above all the simple aspect of time: that one remains to learn to appreciate everything.


When we then subjected ourselves practically directly after the US Tour to France into the dilapidated Château Miraval, all was clear: it had to happen. It must be something new coming, something that surprised ourselves. We have made music back as we did before the debut: simply play, try it out, and talk about it afterwards. At the same time it was quite different, because now existed between us an unconscious level of communication that made talking about many aspects unnecessary. Now we simply knew and felt when something is right.


Quickly we established that the result can only be called versatility. From the moment we had set all this, we pushed this aspect in relation to sound, arrangement, production techniques, and influences. At the end of every single song there existed a complete individual recording setup with instruments, effects, and even the recording rooms included. It had never yielded so many experiments from us before—experiments with a totally clear objective, however.


What else will I accomplish someday? I would like to, for example, eventually make my diving instructor’s certificate. Diving is my new passion. One cannot find a closer feeling to the endless expanse of the universe. Such a foreign world exists underwater directly on this planet. And it is so good to feel yourself weightless, which is a state that I would love to feel continuously.



Chris - the down-to-earth one

Nowadays we are not a band who plans the next album with military precision. Perhaps it would be better because we would make ourselves less vulnerable, but we don’t work like this. And I don’t know now if we should; while one composes, one records and recycles. So many unpredictable things happen that are good for the process that a plan would only give yourself unnoticed limitations. The only thing that was clear, and also what we already said to you at the last album, is that this album must sound different. The previous Muse way was definitely exhausted. In retrospect, “Absolution” had turned out to be too thoughtful an album for us; it gave very little room for surprises. We wanted to stay explicitly away from that. An album full of surprises even for ourselves: this seemed the right way to us. And yet it’s all held together, simply because this album represents us in our current situation, which naturally is very different from for four years ago during the time of “Absolution”.


The reason why we continue to believe absolutely in what we are doing is quite simple: we have endless fun with it. For this reason alone it can’t be wrong. It is amazing, how little has changed fundamentally since we practiced Nirvana songs in the rehearsal room in Devon when we were 15 or 16. The process has literally remained exactly the same. And also fundamentally the same drive: never be too serious or too grim, even if today one hardly still wants to believe. Of course we take our matters seriously, but the background has remained the same: pure fun on matters, new things, new songs, new sounds to try.


In some ways we are now naturally like an old married couple. For example, when we record our albums, for the period of production we always draw back to an extremely quiet spot, somewhere no one can bother us. Exactly as long as until we get on each other’s nerves. And then we change to a big city and record everything under a self-imposed deadline. This time it was three weeks straight in New York, then we had enough songs for a double album in the box. Why do I speak only about the band and not about me here? Quite honestly, I think I am a rather boring type. There is very little that is worth mentioning about me that would distinguish me from an average Joe. I love my children, I love my family, I still like to sit in the front yard of my house in my small hometown and I look forward to weekends on my boat.


In some way I am probably the most necessary balancing opposite to Matt; whenever he works on something or grapples with something intensive , he is truly a mad professor. Naturally that is a special strength of Muse that he always allowed himself. He tries out things that are absolutely and completely crazy and over the top, not to mention mad. Although, instinctively he always knows that these actions can never be a part of our music, but once you balance his first time with my pragmatism, out of that arises a balance that produces something in the end that is not so crazy. Let’s call it simply a marriage of the brilliant with the down-to-earth. It’s not bad when someone clowns around for many hours long with two million synthesizers as long as someone says in the end, “That was all rubbish, except for that one melody.” That is my part.

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Matthew - the alien

Hey man, of course I know that I sometimes go too far with my emotions, and naturally it’s clear to me that some of our music could be completely understood as a parody. To which I reply: it stands and falls with the attitude and the mood of the listener. When you can’t admit as much to yourself, it must appear repulsive or implausible. I can only say I mean all this seriously, but am aware of the fun in things. It is impossible to make music that works for everyone in every situation. Just listen to Wagner or Berlioz: there are a great number of moments where I can laugh loudly to myself because I can’t take it any more. I can understand these feelings so very well, it requires the right mood and situation for that. Otherwise I can’t control myself with Muse.


Take “Knights of Cydonia”: Strictly speaking the only appropriate moment to listen to this song would be when you’re in the 18th century situated on the back of a camel in the Moroccan desert. Hardly possible, and nonetheless it is a good song. What to do? Discard it? It would be a shame. I am very pleased with it, that sometimes such a piece of music just comes to me and is successfully recorded. It is at the end only a song. The special thing about the new album is that there’s not one piano based song. Everything that I wrote on piano that we liked were indeed good, but somehow for first time they wanted to not fit in with the rest. Thus we cut them out. Who knew, maybe some other time we’ll record an exclusively piano song based album, thus an almost classical album. I find that exciting. Perhaps that would be my first solo album. Who knows?


In fact, my first thought was to make a triple-CD: first the rock album, then the piano ballad album, that frays weirdly towards the end, and then the third an album with brain wave frequencies: when one identifies a frequency fed into the left ear and an entirely different one in the right, one can set the brain’s hearing in certain tetra- and delta- oscillatory instabilities that allows oneself to have deep dreams in waking conditions, and with a little practice, even to access one’s subconscious. That’s it. Honestly. Look at mindmachines.com one time: there’s more about it. Bob Moog, the inventor of these synths, found it out. He died from brain cancer. Whatever that means. Yes, I believe such supernatural things, because I am affected by it. So I am convinced that I am pretty good at sensing the thoughts and feelings of people that share a space with me. I am even not too happy over these skills, because much too often it mediates to me all of the strong feelings that surrounds us all, which is generally not right. Very often I have the impression: this whole world hangs wrongly somehow, and it can’t go on much longer until it implodes in some way. I conducted intensive research for a few months, as everything is related. I read very much about it in the moment, through the first book with the title, “Earth Rising”, which employed to me with the force and enormous range of the countless so-called secret societies, whose existence we all know but in principle. Let's just take the fact that in the industrialized world of today, no one was really elected in a traditionally democratic point—the reasons for the relative victory is completely elsewhere.


If one starts for the first time with it, and the transfers on economy, ecology, the distribution of the money in the world and the question of who owns the most power and why, then one begins to believe very strongly in many conspiracy theories. We stand shortly to a massive economic collapse; in that I am sure. Does that mean the end of the world? I don’t know it, but at least I can think about it. When one goes down this road for the first time, it is quite dark. Music, and also the lyrics dealing with these thoughts, are my way. I was alert in any case. I wouldn’t like to sleep and ignore these things.

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3 heads, 7 questions, 21 moments

1. The most magical moment during the recording of the new album was for you...

Matt: ...In France, when suddenly from the rafters of this ancient house where we lived and worked, several dozen bats flew down on us. That gave the whole work a wonderfully weird note. Musically, it's probably "Invincible," because it is a complete live recording. So what happened was not normal for us. It was night, it was raining: lightning and thunder, and suddenly there was this song on tape, and everyone said, “Yes, that's it. Nothing changes.” For me this is the best moment that ever captured the band as a live performance.


Chris: (Thinks a long time) It is less a moment than the circumstance that I had, for the first time in the studio, felt the songs during their emergence so that even before singing and instrumentation, I could really understand them. I remember a moment when I was back at home for a few days, Matt and I played to the basics of “Soldier's Poem”—that was one of those moments where I thought, “Yes! It can go on! This is a development!” I guess I just had a problem with it, mostly, due to a vague, riff idea than a finished song to me; it was at the time many different songs.


Dom: Most notably I found a few moments of physical performance by us as a band in the studio. If I must decide, I would say the moment when we recorded “Soldier's Poem.” It was really special: We knew for very long that we wanted to make something once, but every time it went down the drain. With this song it was something else—we had not rehearsed even a single time until the moment we recorded ourselves. We built on this old equipment: an old Ludwig Jazz kit, Matt on an old guitar, Chris on a doublebass, and suddenly we found ourselves in a smoky old jazz cellar.


2. Were there moments when you would prefer to have the other two slapped on the wall?

Matt: (Laughs) Not during the recordings, which were peaceful. But if you're crammed for weeks together in a bus driving through the world, there are certainly moments where the other two get on my nerves. But as long as the sun is there, I can bear it. There was a similar moment in the five weeks in France—we had all felt that we had not moved far enough forward, and that had a negative impact on our communication. Because of that, we then flew to New York.


Chris: No, not generally. But I am not an aggressive type—if there is discord between us sometimes, I'm always the one who withdraws first and waits until the bad vibes are gone. Thanks to my family, I always have, in such moments, a good excuse to say, “People, I'm fucking off for a while. See you next week.”


Dom: (Laughs) I would not go that far, but there are between us recurring patterns in the question of which direction a song should take, and these discussions can already be out with the gloves. We need not shred ourselves like some of these classic examples, like The Police. So far we haven't gone there, but hard discussions always develop again, particularly between Matt and me. We are just very different types.


3. Your favorite instrumental part on the new album?

Matt: When I was younger, I was always ashamed of my father, he played in a band, The Tornados, who made very pretentious instrumental music. Last year, I heard the records again and I had to admit: this is in different class than all that I have made until now. As a result “Knights of Cydonia” was created, admittedly a rather lofty song.


Chris: Oh man, that's a hard question. Again, here it is not a single part, but rather a tight teamwork with Dom and what I do with my bass with it. There is a song that will probably not be successful on the album that I am particularly proud of where I play a bass that sounds more like a guitar than a bass, and it reminds me very strongly of a lightning bolt—what I always wanted to manage.


Dom: The whole song, “Knights of Cydonia”. I find the mere fact that a six minute song only has a single refrain super. And the trumpet and guitar solo in the first half are pretty much the maddest thing that has ever crawled out of Matt's brain. For it I love him, if only because we have never made anything comparable yet.


4. A political development of the recent past that made you very engaged or angry?

Matt: I cannot prove it, but I am convinced that we are surrounded by alternative energy sources which are suppressed by the dominant oil giant. For me, this is the most destructive element that surrounds us today. The question of energy has become a central global concern, and it makes me angry to see that a small number dominate the issue with their power instead of engaging in the long-overdue research for alternatives. These oil companies buy innovations and new approaches and simply let them disappear in the drawer. At this I could puke.


Chris: Hardly. Smoking bans in England I find great. But only because I myself have stopped a few months ago. Ah, generally more so what is going on in the world—Blair, Bush, Iraq, globalization: It's all so far away from actual people and their needs... No, I can’t conceive of anything else.


Dom: The re-election of George Bush and everything and what is related as a result of it. At the time we were on tour in the States, and we simply did not understand it. Everyone with whom we have spoken was absolutely against him, and yet he had won. One then has doubts with their rights, if everything had run properly. And when one then asks himself how the elements of the democratic state in the most important country in the world is really ordered, all this can give you quite a nice scare.


5. One thing that has influenced you in being creative that has always been strong?

Matt: The 50's. The whole thing: B-Movies, the Cold War, nuclear armament, that they all believed in UFOs, the music. Why? Because I believe that our world moves in cycles and we are entering a time that is again very close to their fifties.


Chris: Older rock music, 60s and 70s. I think it can be heard even since the debut. The longer we continue, the more I get the impression that we are guided back—now even in the pre-rock and pre-electronic phase. Also, classical, strictly speaking. Also, the technical development: how much we have discussed about vintage recording and production, what were the instruments’ function in those days—that goes back a long way to what has taken place before the great rock and roll revolution.


Dom: In general, the chance for search and discovery. It feels extremely good to have no limits when one takes on the creative path. Despite the fear of redundancy, or perhaps because of it we try out even things that feel impossible for the band. What probably is the key aspect for the new album is this realization: for now, anything goes. Time will show where we end. It's good to understand: It is quite unimportant what the outcome will be, because the way is more important. And what one learns by it.


6. The best day in the last three years that you can remember?

Matt: It was a day during my vacation in Bhutan. We got to know a very old mountain guide there who was traveling with us through the Himalayas. We climbed a 5,000 meter high mountain, which in itself was a very uplifting moment. And at the same time this old man was telling incredible stories from his life. It was incredible.


Chris: Quite clear: the birth of my youngest son and third child. Whether I want more, I cannot say at present—he is now two and a half and so is just getting out of the very busy baby phase. Now he has my wife and I taking part three times in quick succession, and really: for the moment I have enough of changing diapers. Really.


Dom: Our return to America after the first attempt, which had not gone smoothly at all. One more time a fully new world opened for us as a brand new band playing in nightclubs that were as big as this room here. San Diego was such an evening: a pickepackevoller, a tiny shop with a few hundred people, with a tremendous energy, where the people were positively bouncing off the wall as if on a trampoline. This was perhaps our sweatiest gig ever. And in that moment I felt like ten years ago, when we performed for the first time at the Cavern Club in Exeter.


7. The one thing you most love of Muse...

Matt: ...It's the fact that with the band we are now at a point where we have complete creative freedom. We have achieved a status in which people literally expect that we change and develop. This is great because if you want to continue to enjoy what you do, you need that freedom. I could not imagine anything worse than to be a Rolling Stone, where others only expect you to always make the same album with slight shifts in emphasis for a lifetime.


Chris: Here I could say many things, but what counts for me the most is that after all these years, experiences and foremost, trips is still one: very close friendship. For me, this is also the central aspect of why Muse works. As different as we are as musicians and also people, in the end it can all be traced back to this friendship. We could not see each other for a year, and yet we would, when we meet again, from the very first moment, behave like that time in Devon, when we were together in school. Everyone does his part, and together we laugh about life—what more you can offer a band?


Dom: …It's the fact that we have all characteristics. That we are not related to any scene or trend that we have identified with, thus in no way associated with their premises or assumptions. And that we manage it, and we constantly question ourselves and create the conditions to break new ground.

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Great job of translating the interviews!

Thank you so much.:kiss: They are very insightful and revealed more personal side of the three.


So I am convinced that I am pretty good at sensing the thoughts and feelings of people that share a space with me

Is Matt hinting that he is an empath or clairvoyance? I'm interested to find out if he has made a similar statement before.

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Great job of translating the interviews!

Thank you so much.:kiss: They are very insightful and revealed more personal side of the three.


Is Matt hinting that he is an empath or clairvoyance? I'm interested to find out if he has made a similar statement before.


Yeah, that part got me really curious, too. It's the first I've heard of it anyway.

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There was a mention of family seance times when he was very young. I may have missed anything related to his sensitivity, but it's been speculated. :ninja:


It might explain the whole talking to dead people thing. :eek: Didn't his parents do that with Ouija boards?

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The one thing you most love of Muse...

Chris: Here I could say many things, but what counts for me the most is that after all these years, experiences and foremost, trips is still one: very close friendship. For me, this is also the central aspect of why Muse works. As different as we are as musicians and also people, in the end it can all be traced back to this friendship. We could not see each other for a year, and yet we would, when we meet again, from the very first moment, behave like that time in Devon, when we were together in school. Everyone does his part, and together we laugh about life—what more you can offer a band?




Thanks so much for that epic translation! That would've taken aaages :eek: So thanks :thumbsup:

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