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Muse interview: 'This is going to be our Zoo TV'


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Muse promise to surpass their famed love of spectacle at this weekend’s Emirates Stadium gigs — everyone will say they have gone too far, lead singer Matt Bellamy tells David Smyth.

 

Matt's quotes are in bold.

 

 

 

London’s stadium summer is about to begin and Muse intend to kick off proceedings with a deafening bang. I wouldn’t want to be Rihanna, Green Day, The Killers or Robbie Williams and have to follow the grand-scale spectacle that the Devon trio are promising at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

 

For Muse are the biggest band in the world right now — perhaps not quite the most commercially popular, but certainly the largest in terms of the size of their concert productions, the galaxy-crushing rock of their six albums and their ambition to make audiences feel like the world is coming to an end every time they play.

 

After a lengthy arena tour last autumn and a slot at the Olympics closing ceremony concert last summer (playing their menacing, utterly bonkers official anthem, Survival) these beasts that walk the earth are back in their natural habitat. If you believe their 34-year-old singer and guitarist, Matt Bellamy, it could be the last time.

 

“As a band I think we’re at the moment of collapse,” he tells me. “We’re at the point of being forced to go back to the basics.”

 

This isn’t the first time he has threatened to break out the acoustic guitars and start making campfire music, of course. But there’s something about the way he speaks of this stadium tour that suggests Muse are about to reach their peak.

 

“This is going to be our Zoo TV,” he says, referring to U2’s extravagant early Nineties tour featuring suspended Trabant cars, endless flashing TV sets, Bono’s turn as The Fly and live satellite link-ups with Sarajevo. “This will be the tour when everyone goes, ‘You’ve gone too far, you shouldn’t have done that’. I’m pretty confident about that, and I’m glad. It’s a totally different show from the arena tour. I feel like we’ve scaled up and scaled up every time and I’m very confident that this is as far as you can go.”

 

I’m not sure whether to believe him when I ask what we can expect from the show. If he’s telling the truth, it will certainly live long in the memory. “We’ve got a 20ft robot called Charles who’s going to go around the stadium barking at everyone, then he’s going to go outside and cause traffic jams. We’ve got an actor playing a banker who’s going to have a banking crisis on stage as we do our own version of quantitative easing, and spray the audience with millions of euros. We might have a businesswoman drinking petrol. The stage is basically a giant futuristic industrial power station polluting the world.”

 

The set-up is inspired by the main theme of their most recent album, The 2nd Law. It’s named after the second law of thermodynamics, which is not easy to grasp but which is partly explained by a sampled female voice on the song Unsustainable: “The fundamental laws of thermodynamics will place fixed limits on technological innovation and human advancement. In an isolated system the entropy can only increase. A species set on endless growth is unsustainable.”

 

So it’s the story of the planet, and the financial system, although Bellamy insists that unlike U2, his band aren’t out to preach. “There have always been elements of message in our music, but we don’t make music for the message,” he says. “I don’t think we’re trying to take a stance on anything. I think we’re trying to honestly express some of the confusion of what it is to live in these times. I’m yet to get up on a pedestal and say, ‘This is what needs to happen’.”

 

He’s aware, too, that the theme also reflects his band’s exponential growth from easily dismissed Radiohead and Jeff Buckley copyists around the time of their 1999 debut, Showbiz, to uniquely overblown space rockers adored for putting on a show like no one else.

 

He sounds like a reluctant environmentalist. “We all want to escape off the planet in spaceships and live like Star Trek but that appears not to be happening. Instead we’re being told we’ve got to go backwards. That’s a depressing thought. So as much as I love the idea of a sustainable future and all the environmental stuff, there is still a part of me that just wants to go [blows giant raspberry] f*** it all, and push for progress.”

 

Even so, he still promises a quieter future. I mention that the last time I saw Muse live was at a War Child charity show in the relatively minuscule space of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in February.

 

“That was a totally different feeling, although we were still doing the big rock songs. I loved it so much that I think on the next tour, every city we go to, I wouldn’t mind pulling a Prince. Do the arena gig and then show up in some little club late at night.”

 

It might be the one area where a band that could be said to have done it all still have things to do. “We have work to do with intimacy, connection, stripped-down organic stuff and all those warm fuzzy words. There’s definitely something in that department that we want to explore.”

 

It’s understandable that the trio might want to calm down a bit as they approach elder statesmanship. Bellamy and bassist Chris Wolstenholme have young families. Bellamy’s son Bing with his wife, Hollywood actress Kate Hudson, is almost two and fascinated by the work of Muse drummer Dom Howard. “Bing is obsessed with drumming. He loves hitting things.”

 

Wolstenholme has also reached a more serene space after going through rehab in 2009, having spent most of the band’s existence as an alcoholic. He wrote and sang two songs on The 2nd Law, Save Me and Liquid State, the latter containing the lyrics: “The iniquity has died inside and left a scar/I’m all red and done/Bring me peace and wash away my dirt.”

 

“On this last tour it’s like he’s a different person,” says Bellamy. “He’s totally sunny now and it reminds us of when we first got together. He’s got that youthful energy back. It makes it a lot more fun being on the road. There’s no one who’s down and wants to go home.”

 

He says the band would have split altogether before they’d have kicked Wolstenholme out. It’s easy to forget, as they stand astride laser cannons and conduct the most apocalyptic rock show in existence, that Muse are just three school friends from Teignmouth. If they do make the long-threatened return to their roots after one last stadium blowout, they’ll have earned a bit of peace and quiet.

 

Muse play Emirates Stadium, N5, 08444 999 990, muse.mu, Sat May 25 and Sun May 26.

 

 

 

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Thanks for posting.

 

“That was a totally different feeling, although we were still doing the big rock songs. I loved it so much that I think on the next tour, every city we go to, I wouldn’t mind pulling a Prince. Do the arena gig and then show up in some little club late at night.”

 

“We have work to do with intimacy, connection, stripped-down organic stuff and all those warm fuzzy words. There’s definitely something in that department that we want to explore.”

 

They keep saying this, hopefully it happens.

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“This will be the tour when everyone goes, ‘You’ve gone too far, you shouldn’t have done that’."

Good to know that he realised this. :chuckle:

 

Muse - trolling their fans since 1994.

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I think they won't do that kind of gigs in America :)

 

I don't think they would need to, really.

Their popularity here isn't nearly stable enough to rule out them downscaling venues in the future, in general.

At least in most of the cities. There seem to be a few areas that sell out and have multiple shows, while a lot of the rest of them sit around 5-6k tickets.

 

But, going back to the UK and Europe... Ticketing would either be a complete nightmare, gigs would be secret/exclusive enough to be a pain, or ticket prices would be quite high, imo.

 

Using the Prince example, he's playing a series of small gigs here, atm, and the tickets are actually up around $300.

 

Unless we assume from that article that Matt thinks they are sabotaging their own careers, so they can intentionally downscale. :LOL:

 

As for being sad, yeah, but it's something I've had to deal with being a fan of Muse since the beginning. If I missed a gig (which I had to do twice) it was going to be three years or so before I had another chance, and I've always felt like if their popularity starts to wane, they won't come here anymore at all. :(

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Yeah! throw originallity away, it's perfect! But if they want to compare themselves with other band, why choose the most unoriginal, dull and talentless? It's because they spent some millions in a cool, circular stage?

 

C'mon, Muse is Muse, the most imaginative band of the last decade, why try to follow the steps of others? And those others are U2 no less, Queen, Pink Floyd, Smashing Pumpkings, Arcade Fire, even Coldplay, and a lot of other bands are around here, and they choose U2. :stunned:

 

Hope is not for real and is just more trolling of a boring Matt, or something.

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Not really

 

Probably an exaggeration, but one of the most for sure, Origin, check, Absolution, check, even BHaR have his moments (Knights, Take A Bow), Resistance have Exogenesis (very uncommon in popular music this days), and T2L have ace songs like Supremacy, Survival, Animals and T2L.

 

Also their live shows are there.

 

But U2, one chiche rock song and ten uninspired synth crap for every album. YEAH! Good role to follow

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and T2L have ace songs like Supremacy, Survival, Animals and T2L.
Being "ace" doesn't make them imaginative though.

 

If your statement was about popular music alone then I might have agreed a bit, but as it is now, no damn way. I'm just gonna wait for Haze to see it so he can post some examples.

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It's not going to be their ZooTV. ZooTV revolutionized the stadium concerts,. They played awesome selection of songs, Bono wasn't lazy with his vocals, they reworked some of the older songs to be even more awesome, the stuff like the Mirrorball Man and ZooTV confessionals weren't some completely dumb and unnecessary shit like the gas pump idiocracy and they reinvented themselves as a band, not used the same acrobatics shit again for the third tour in a row. So Matthew Bellamy, how exactly is this your ZooTV?

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How do you know? By judging the first concert of this tour? Seems legit.

 

Oh come on, it's Muse. Like they have ever made any drastic changes. U2 had already developed a better concept by the time they hit stadiums. Judging by what they've done in the past, not much is going to change. I hope to be proven wrong.

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Oh come on, it's Muse. Like they have ever made any drastic changes..

 

Yeah, I know. It's not like Muse brought back Micro Cuts, Dead Star and a reworked version of Falling Down or having the best stadium set up in their career this stadium tour.

 

You just don't notice these improvements, because you take them for granted.

Edited by Strangeseas
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Yeah, I know. It's not like Muse brought back Micro Cuts, Dead Star and a reworked version of Falling Down or having the best stadium set up in their career this stadium tour.

 

You just don't notice these improvements, because you take them for granted.

 

Playing Micro Cuts once, playing Dead Star cause the fans started huge petitions for it and shouted the name during the singalong of another song. Not much of a difference. Oh, and replacing guitar with piano isn't much of a rework

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Playing Micro Cuts once, playing Dead Star cause the fans started huge petitions for it and shouted the name during the singalong of another song. Not much of a difference. Oh, and replacing guitar with piano isn't much of a rework

 

Nah it was Jamie who brought back Dead Star.

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They played awesome selection of songs
What, an entire tour of covers? Seems quite overkill.
Bono wasn't lazy with his vocals
Neither is Matt.
they reworked some of the older songs to be even more awesome
RBS and Falling Down? And Unintended is also reworked, if it's better is quite individual.
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Playing Micro Cuts once, playing Dead Star cause the fans started huge petitions for it and shouted the name during the singalong of another song. Not much of a difference. Oh, and replacing guitar with piano isn't much of a rework

So far we've had Sunburn, Micro Cuts, Falling Down, Dead Star, Unintended, Blackout and RBS. And would you please explain why bringing back a song that the crowd has requested can be used AGAINST Muse?

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