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Sydney Morning Herald: "Muse - Living A Dream"


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An interview with Matt here (looks like it was over the phone):





Muse frontman Matt Bellamy is no stranger to grandiose visions - and neither is his music.


MATT Bellamy likes the drama. You can hear it in the melodramatic music of his band, Muse. You can see it in the pomp and theatre of their visceral live shows. And, if you were to be snide, you could say his dating of actor Kate Hudson is further evidence.


The 32-year-old is, of course, frontman and songwriter-in-chief for one of the biggest bands in the world. The English trio - Bellamy, drummer Dominic Howard and bassist Chris Wolstenholme - met as teenagers in Devon and have expanded their fan base with each of their five albums.


Initially dismissed as ''Radiohead-lite'', since their 1999 debut Showbiz, each Muse album has had more pomp, campness and sheer liberty than its predecessor.

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In conversation, the diminutive Bellamy is polite and relatively modest. He is a little diffident in explaining the creation of the 15-minute, three-part centrepiece that defined Muse's 2009 blockbuster album, The Resistance.


What Muse have become and the role Bellamy has played in that requires something more than a polite phone manner and faux modesty, however. And it's telling that as a child, Bellamy experienced what he thought at the time were random dreams. In these, he could graphically see himself playing on the big stages of the world, headlining huge stadium gigs. Today, he can vividly recall being 18 and thinking about holding court on the stage of a stadium. Doesn't every music fan have those dreams?


''Yes but when they come true, you look back and think about it,'' he says. ''You think, is the dream seeing the future or just having the confidence, believing in it and just making it happen? It's weird. I so clearly saw some things that actually happened, certain concerts and moments, and I felt like I knew that was going to happen. It was either arrogance or predicting the future.''


The Resistance, a massive commercial success, divided critics. A common query - aside from whether Bellamy is bonkers - is whether he is, in fact, taking the piss. The album features an orchestra, operatic tracks and air-combat sound effects. There are tales of civil unrest, the rise of a shadowy superpower and the so-called cowardly resistance to corporatisation. Oh and a love story: a romantic narrative transforms into a reflection on life, using love as a key to escaping the world's problems at large.


''I like the album,'' he says. ''It's got some very different things on it and they seemed to work.''


Much of the album was written in the throes of England's current economic crisis. Bellamy's London flat is close to the US embassy and he would watch each week as the protests grew larger and larger.


It also motivated him to revisit George Orwell's 1984 novel, the first time he had read it since high school. In fact, Resistance was based on the book's narrative; the theme was a love story against a backdrop of civil unrest.


''That definitely had an impact,'' he says. ''There was a sense of uprising and a feeling that people might crack. Like what happened in Greece, for example. England was quite close to that. There was a feeling that it was time to rise up against the bankers and politicians and make change.''


The Resistance did not generate the hit singles of previous Muse albums. It did, however, help the band grow their fan base.


This past European summer, the band headlined nine stadium shows, averaging crowds of about 70,000. They have closed stages at Wembley, Stade de France, Coachella and Glastonbury, where Muse were set to face off against U2 before Bono's back ailment put paid to the Irish rockers' headlining performance.


''I was nervous,'' Bellamy says. ''When we found out U2 weren't playing, I thought I'd get Edge involved and do a U2 tribute, because a lot of the crowd bought their tickets expecting to see U2. I was blown away that he was into the idea.''


Bellamy says the band also learnt from their slots supporting U2 last year.


''A lot of bands treat the people they work with like shit,'' he says. ''U2 don't do that. We're more like that with our crew now.''


He also studied U2's stagecraft. This coming tour, for instance, will be Muse's first experience of playing in the round at arenas.


Bellamy's mind began to wander as they toured with U2. Could Muse cope with being as big as the Irish superstars? You adapt, sure. But to play a show every night in which the band pushes itself emotionally and also ups its showmanship is daunting.


''I'd be into it for sure,'' he says. ''I've always been one where we have to rise to different challenges as a band every year. You raise the bar and go with it. You think it might all go wrong but often you want to even prove yourself wrong.''


There's also the small matter of proving others wrong. Like, say, Bellamy's infatuation with conspiracy theories.


When you write a song that explores ''megalomaniacal'' foreign policy makers that he believes view the world as a chessboard to be manoeuvred, you have to be prepared for some blowback.


''From day one, we've had screaming, negative abuse and everything in between,'' he says. ''If you let that influence you, you start to let it affect your writing and then it's not coming from a real place.''


Daunting to follow up?


''All our albums have done a bit better than the one before. It's been gradual. This album did well but it wasn't like our debut was massive and everything is in its shadow. So none of those fears ever come.''


Muse play Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena on December 14 and 15.


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