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The Sun: Muse - Dubstep is heavy.


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Muse: Dubstep is heavy. When it really kicks in and the bass drops it’s like metal

 

LATE evening in north London’s Air Studios and Muse are tap-tapping away on their laptops and iPads.

Amid a flurry of emails, the rock trio — singer Matt Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard — are digging deep, answering fans’ tweets while playing back tracks from their sixth album The 2nd Law.

There’s a lot of laughter between the three band members as fans enquire, joke and pry. Asking about their shaving habits and whether they’ve ever dressed up as girls — plus a few marriage proposals for drummer Dom.

But it’s all fun at the end of a long day rehearsing for this Sunday’s iTunes Festival finale.

“It’s good just to play the new songs,” says Matt, 34. “Last night we did Later With Jools Holland alongside the Beach Boys. That was cool and we got to take our photo with Brian Wilson who’s a real hero of ours.”

Chirpier than you’d expect considering he’s just back from a weekend in New York with fiancée and Hollywood actress Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn.

“Kate’s doing an HBO film with (Curb Your Enthusiasm’s) Larry David, so she’s been laughing her head off with him all week. I was only there for a couple of days.

 

“Popping to the US for a couple of days isn’t too bad. It’s when you go for a week and have to adjust to the time change that makes the jet lag hard.”

I chat to Matt, then Dom and Chris individually. It is the way Muse do interviews.

They’re three friends from Teignmouth in Devon who went on to be the world’s biggest live band.

The last time SFTW were in their company they had just headlined to 75,000 people in the middle of the Californian desert at Coachella in 2010.

“A lot has changed since then,” says Matt.

“I’ve always sung about what’s going on around me, my perceptions of the world and feelings at that time. So obviously something had changed when it came to writing this album. I’d just had a baby.”

Follow Me was written about Matt’s son Bingham and includes a recording of his heartbeat in Kate’s tummy just before he was born.

Matt says: “That wasn’t the intention. A couple of days before Kate gave birth we went for a check-up and I recorded it on my iPhone as I thought it was an amazing sound.

“I found it three months later and plugged it in to the recording system, recorded a tempo and the orchestral piece around it.

“Then I wrote the lyrics about wanting to lead and protect, all the feelings that having a kid evokes.”

 

The title The 2nd Law and the album’s final two tracks, The 2nd Law: Unsustainable and The 2nd Law: Isolated System, come from Matt’s interest in the second law of thermodynamics and “Wanting to celebrate the strength we have in ourselves to grow, expand and survive and at the same time of hitting this wall of environmental consequences and being told the world is overpopulated”.

He says: “Our human life is a battle against that inevitable end. I’m battling with those ideas in myself. I love the idea of progress and evolving so we can do things like go into space but things like the financial crisis and the environmental problems seem to be putting limitations on the future.

“When I was growing up the future seemed like a sci-fi movie. Now, for the first time it seems the future may be something different.”

When I sit down with drummer Dom, 34, he tells me: “It took us a while to get this album right. Matt brought in the idea of a newsreader talking about the second law. With Muse, concepts and lyrics come at the end because we always work on the music with no vocals.

“We’ve done that since we started in 1994 and used to rehearse in the Bishopsteignton Community Centre.

“We were too noisy to have a microphone so we’d get to a level which was good enough, then think about the lyrics.”

Muse have pushed the boundaries, even by their standards, on The 2nd Law. Dubstep, funk, electropop and rock are all on there.

“Yep, funk!” laughs Dom. “What are we doing?! But Panic Station is a track that reminds me of my youth. Prince, Primus and Michael Jackson all influenced that song.”

So where did the idea of Muse doing dubstep come from?

Matt says: “I’d been to see Skrillex and so had this idea. The thing about dubstep is it’s really heavy. When it really kicks and the bass drops, it’s like heavy metal with these big build-ups and a big riff that kicks in.

“For Unsustainable I wanted to write the idea electronically and then when we came to record it we did it with real, organic instruments and we got a real orchestra in. We were trying to see if real instruments could make a sound like electronica. A lot of people were sceptical about it but it works.”

Another first on The 2nd Law are two songs NOT written or sung by Matt Bellamy.

Save Me and Liquid State are both by bassist Chris Wolstenholme, 33 — who has endured a painful battle with alcoholism.

Now dry and looking a good few stone lighter than when we last saw him, the father of six says writing helped keep him off the booze.

“When I was going through the tough time and stopped drinking, I just threw myself into writing in the studio.

“Over the years as the drinking got worse, I became detached from the band. I never questioned if I wanted to be in the band but once I cleaned myself up I realised how much I loved music.

“It was the only thing which could take my mind off drinking.

“I’ve been lucky. A lot of people don’t get out of that hole. My dad was one of those people. He sadly passed away back in 1995. He was only 40.”

A pub landlord who drank himself to death, his dad’s premature passing was a stark reminder to Chris. He adds: “I was going the same way. When I hit 30 and glanced over the past ten years of my life, I realised how quickly it had all gone and how quickly I’d be 40. And the way I was going, I maybe wouldn’t even get that far.

“I had to stop and I’m just happy now. I don’t need drugs, alcohol or any of that. All it does is give you a very false sense of security and inevitably shortens your life.”

Taking the lead and playing his songs to the band was a step up for him. He says: “After five albums of one songwriter, suddenly the roles changed for those songs.

“It was hard having to take the lead a little more.”

But performing in front of an audience has been an amazing experience. He says: “I’ve done it once in Cologne. And I was so f***ing scared! Afterwards, Matt said, ‘Now you know how I’ve felt for the previous 13 years!’

“Most people start their singing career playing in pubs to nobody — or at best to 50 or 60 people. Unfortunately, I’ve decided to do it in front of tens of thousands of people with my soul on display to the whole world.”

The 2nd Law is Muse’s first album since 2009’s chart-topping The Resistance and includes tracks that have already made their mark.

The Led Zeppelin influenced Supremacy is a Muse rock anthem, while the minimal Madness is the best thing they have done in years.

The song is influenced by a row with Kate. Matt says: “The madness is the to-ing and fro-ing in a relationship. It just came out of a little spat and fight we had.

“The song is the transition of having the fight, digging my heels in and then after a few hours realising she’s probably right.”

Playing the Olympics closing ceremony — the song Survival on the album was the official Olympic song — and the few shows they’ve played since have given the trio a desire to get back on the road.

Matt says: “Making this album, we were thinking about playing it on stage. That’s where Muse really connect. There are bands out there who have sold millions more albums than us who can’t play stadiums.

“I find that quite unusual. We’ve just got a really strong live fanbase.” Dom adds: “The Olympics was something we were so proud to be involved in.”

Chris says: “When we did the Olympic Torch Relay in Teignmouth, I could have run the whole distance. There were old teachers and family friends lined up along the street but somehow I managed to pick out my daughter there waving her flag. It choked me up.”

How will Matt cope being away from his new family commitments when the boys are on the road?

He says: “It will be hard as Bing is 15 months now and at the age where his personality is starting to come through.

“He loves music and banging on the piano. He has Kate’s personality. He’s so funny. But we manage it all pretty well.

“And Kate’s looking forward to coming on tour with the kids. Ryder (Kate’s son with ex-husband and Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson) is eight now and it will be cool to have them on tour.

“Chris has his own tour bus for his six kids. It will be great when we have all the kids on tour.”

 

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/sftw/4561213/Muse-Dubstep-is-heavy-When-it-really-kicks-in-and-the-bass-drops-its-like-metal.html

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