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Old article in Guardian

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I found this article from 2001 today...


Matt Bellamy


Matt Bellamy is the slight, angular, 23-year-old lead singer of the rock band Muse. He's sharing a flat in north London with a friend from his hometown of Teignmouth and the band's drummer, Dom. The flat has the air of a temporary home with only the bare necessities present and standard regulation furniture fills up the space between a piano in one corner and a computer in the other. For a flat occupied by three rock'n'roll-involved young men, it's surprisingly clean.


"We've been here a couple of months," says Bellamy, who talks in a rapid monotone. "I lived in Exeter for six months and I'll probably be here for six months before hopefully moving to the States. I'm living my life in six-month chunks at the moment."


Laying down roots is not on the current agenda. "If I'm in the same place for too long, I can't write anything. When things are changing, that's when the writing kicks in, whether that change be moving house, or losing a girlfriend, or making a new bunch of friends. Because that's when I get the urge of wanting to be in touch with the one thing that is constant, which is the feeling I get from making music. That's why the last album was called Origin of Symmetry - it's important to have that base when everything is in flux."


Being a child of the 21st century, Bellamy has dispensed with the notion of a record collection for something far more transportable - music stored on computer. "Since Napster went, the program you need is Morpheus, which can not only download music, but films and other computer programs as well. Perhaps I shouldn't be saying this, but I've got AI and all these films that haven't come out yet downloaded on to my computer. And with songs, you download the ones you want from somebody else's machine and form your own playlist."


When he's away from the computer, Bellamy uses a wristwatch-sized MP3 player to listen to music. "You plug a lead into the computer and put on the songs you want, so you can walk around with this and the quality is brilliant. It costs about £250. I'm on planes a lot and they always tell me to turn off my Walkman during take-off, but this is so small that they can't even see I've got it on. When you put these headphones on, it's absolute cut-off from the outside world. You can't hear kids crying or anything."


On the little MP3 player is a catholic range of music. Along with tracks by Rage Against the Machine, Weezer, American lo-fi favourites Grandaddy and funk-rockers Primus are blues tracks by Robert Johnson and European classical excerpts. "When I was about 10 my dad played me Robert Johnson, and that was the first time I heard music that made me feel something, even though what I'm playing on piano these days isn't blues but music from European history, be it folk, classical, or flamenco. I'm into Jeff Buckley's voice a lot too, as he was one of the first male singers who made me comfortable about singing in a female range."


Another favourite is the Belgian rock band Deus. "One of the best rock bands from Europe. They're too experimental for radio here so they've never made it, but they're huge in Belgium. They jump across all kinds of styles and will play anything from blues to disco in the same track. They've been around for about 10 years, and they did a tour supporting PJ Harvey in England, but apart from that, they've never had much exposure."


All of this feeds into Muse's own sound - emotional, heartfelt rock popular with troubled young men. "Chris, the bass player, is into his metal, and for some reason he's also obsessed by the Beach Boys, and he's got all those outtakes of Beach Boys tracks that you can get. Dom's into percussive things like Buddy Miles and the Aphex Twin. We all like Rage Against the Machine, while I listen to a lot of classical music and the other two don't really go there. We meet in the middle of all our tastes with what we do in the band."


From playing us noisy American rock on his computer, Bellamy goes to knocking out some astonishingly accomplished classical piano. "I play piano for ages because I enjoy the experience of doing it. It's always been something of an escape, if you like," he says. "Then something will come from that and there will be the start of a new song, even if at that point it's just expressing a state of mind, a feeling of loneliness or whatever. I wrote a lot of the last album on tour, so I would often find a piano backstage at a venue, and just play it all day."


Occasionally, there's time for that most traditional of listening pleasures, the record. "Our producer, John Leckie, has opened me up to people like Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, and even Jimi Hendrix who I don't think I would have listened to otherwise. After a day's session he would pull out a few records and play them in the dark. It was cool."


source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2001/aug/17/artsfeatures.muse?INTCMP=SRCH

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