Anyway, there’s no new information in this article but it’s just nice to see Muse in the press again. Also, we have a new tag! Drones Era is officially begun woo!!!!
The scans for this one can be found here on the .mu boards
ATTACK OF THE DRONES
When Muse announced a surprise UK tour last week to introduce new album Drones, it was just the latest in a long line of out-of-the-box thinking from rock’s most enigmatic of bands. Ian Winwood shines a light on their secret history…
On the week beginning March 8, 2015, the tectonic plates that hold the world of mainstream rock music in place shuddered and shook to the rhythms of a monumental earthquake. With the status of Planet Earth’s truly global guitar superstars as slumbersome as it has been for some time – Metallica are still ensconced in creative hiatus; Green Day are said to be taking time to regroup following a troublesome year – Muse returned to active service. In doing so, the Teignmouth trio – Matt Bellamy on vocals, guitar and piano; Chris Wolstenholme on bass guitar; Dom Howard on drums – have picked the perfect time to unveil Psycho, the earth-shifting lead-off track from their forthcoming album, Drones, which will drop like a bomb on innocent civilians in June.
In preparation for this, last week Muse announced a pop-up tour of medium-sized halls that hits the road this week, the six dates of which sold out in the time it takes to gasp in disbelief. Come the summer, the trio will grace Download Festival as Saturday-night headliners, the first time the group have stood on the stage of the spiritual home of muscular rock, Donington Park.
Like a baby in a royal womb, it may look as if Muse were always destined to reign over us. This, though, is far, far from the case. When the group released their debut album, Showbiz, in 1999, most of the tastemakers in the nation’s music press were quick to dismiss them as being nothing more than provincial Radiohead clones. In the United States, the Englishmen toured arenas as the special guests of Red Hot Chili Peppers, but on home soil critical praise was slow to arrive.
Not that it mattered. For in the time it took the media to belatedly catch on, and up, to the berserk genius of the trio’s music, Muse became a Fan’s Band. With an audience unwilling to be told what it was they should and should not like, Showbiz sold an impressive 180,000 copies during its initial run, while Plug In Baby, the deathless lead-off single from second album Origin Of Symmetry released in 2001, was added to Radio 1’s ‘A’ playlist, guaranteeing the track at least 30 plays each week.
“On the first album, everyone thought we were copyists,” Matt Bellamy told Kerrang! at the time, unaware of just how quickly this perception would change. As ever, here Muse found themselves ahead of the chattering pack. “It’ll take time for people to see us as we want them to see us,” he said, adding that, “I want us to be seen as an alternative to what everyone is doing at the moment.”
It didn’t take much time, mind, for people to see this band as they desired to be seen, and for some it didn’t take any time at all. Having profiled the group earlier in their career, this magazine became the first nationwide publication in the country, and thus the world, to place Muse on its front cover. This was before the release of Origin Of Symmetry, in 2001, a time during which word on the ground was beginning to spread like an airborne disease. By the end of the year, the group would headline their first UK arena show, on November 13, at London’s Docklands Arena.
By now, Muse had easily shed the baby-fat of young and self-conscious musicians that had somehow dared to bother listeners with their sound. Nowhere was this more obvious than on tour. In a remarkable feature harvested by former K! editor Paul Brannigan in Copenhagen in 2001, the band confessed that “we like to get as many women in the shower as possible” - that from Dom Howard – while Matt Bellamy happily opined that “any man that doesn’t want to fuck around isn’t a real man”. As if this weren’t enough, in the back lounge of the band’s tour bus, the intimate action in the company of female Danes became so inappropriate as to cause our reporter to blush. “I’d love to tell you the full intimate details of how the night unfolds, I really would,” wrote Paul, before confessing that, “as things start to heat up… I make my excuses and leave with a face burning with embarrassment.”
Collecting their first K! Award the following year, from the stage Muse thanked Kerrang! and its editor for profiling their band better than any journalist had done before.
There is a story regarding Matt Bellamy that sounds so unlikely as to be apocryphal. Despite this, the source is good. The tale has it that, as a schoolboy, Matt was challenged by a fellow pupil to learn a piece of classical music, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. This the musician did, in his lunch hour. He then performed the piece backwards.
Matt Bellamy began playing the piano when he was 10, and, with a precocity that would eventually be seen by the world, quickly learned songs by jazz legend Ray Charles. He turned to guitar a couple-three years later, and used the instrument as a bulwark against the harsh realities of his parents’ separation. His father, George Bellamy, was himself a musician, who, as a member of the Tornados, in 1960 became the first British act to attain a U.S. Number One with the smash-hit single Telstar.
Now a member of a fractured home, Matt lived with his mother, Marilyn, and brother, Paul. The three of them would wile away the hours not in front of the telly, but over a Ouija board. Matt’s job was to spell out the letters as they appeared on the board. Marilyn Bellamy became sufficiently skilled as a conduit for the messages being received as to not require a Ouija board at all, had she opted to. Matt was well up for a bit of that, but his mother called time on the practice. As her son said, “I actually do think that she was very able to do it, it’s just that she could see that me and my brother were becoming unnaturally keen. I mean, I was only very young at the time.”
Aged 18, Matt moved from Teignmouth to Exeter and worked as a painter and decorator. He shared a flat with a drug dealer who ended up in prison. The residence was “like a scene from Trainspotting”, he recalled, “with white powders and mirrors and needles and tin-foil everywhere”. Rather than succumb to the treacherous temptations of Class A narcotics, however, instead Matt went the organic route and imbibed “bags and bags and bags” of magic mushrooms, which, at the time, were entirely legal.
“I guess the point of doing [mushrooms] is to dig into your subconscious,” he told K! in 2002, “to experience something that’s not usually on offer. I’m not afraid of seeing something dark or horrible when I do this. I think the last time I did mushrooms I was actually looking for this to happen. But I think it’s a way of connecting with yourself in a way that you can’t do in everyday situations.”
This instinct would come to serve Matt Bellamy very well indeed, because as his band progressed, the situations in which Muse found themselves were very far indeed from being ordinary.
BY THE TIME the band released their third album, Absolution, in 2003, Muse’s rise was fast becoming stratospheric. On the tour in support of their first proper masterpiece, the trio headlined Wembley Arena for the first time. Following the release of Black Holes and Revelations three years later, the band performed at the same venue on three consecutive nights, as well as headlining New York’s storied Madison Square Garden. By the time of 2009’s The Resistance, the trio were filling arenas all over the U.S. and performing at European stadiums such as the San Siro in Milan and Parc De Princes in Paris. Come the end of June, they will be only the second band (behind Metallica) to have headlined the Leeds and Reading festivals, as well as Glastonbury and Download.
Famously, in the summer of 2007, the group became the first band to headline the then-just-opened Wembley Stadium. They would have been the first act ever to close the show at the billion-pound shed, were it not for George Michael jumping the queue with his own pair of last-minute shows the weekend earlier (a move described by Matt Bellamy as being “pathetic”). But while George Michael got their first, Muse did it best. Amid a production that featured Cirque du Soleil-style performers suspended over the audience’s heads in giant balloons, the band themselves made their appearance not from stage left, but on a hydraulic platform in the middle of the field.
On the day of the first of these performances, Chris Wolstenholme met a party of friends and family that had arrived by coach at the K West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush. Just hours before the most important gig of his band’s career, he found himself in the bar greeting loved ones and drinking beer. His weight had ballooned by two-and-a-half stone and the only exercise he was taking with any regularity was bending his elbow. Something had to change.
“It was becoming such a problem,” he told this reporter in 2010. “I’d stopped going out with [my bandmates] because I was drinking three pints to their every one. It’s difficult to explain to people you’re doing that. So, on tour, I’d just stay in my hotel room so I could drink more. I look at photos of myself from that time… and I can’t believe what I look like.”
But Muse have navigated these bumps in the road with skill and apparent ease, and in doing so have made the tricky transition from being a gang of friends equipped with a measure of talent who happened to get lucky for a time, to that rarest of commodities: a globally successful British rock act, not to mention one for which their home country can, and even should, be proud. They are now grown men who tackle the trivial pursuit that is life in a rock band with glee and aplomb, all the while making music befitting grown-ups. Matt Bellamy is now a father. Chris Wolstenholme lives in the London suburbs with his childhood sweetheart, Kelly, and their children, making sure that he is able to attend as many Rotherham United matches as his schedule will permit. Dom Howard, the group’s most obvious rockstar, divides his time between London’s Belsize Park and Hollywood.
They are set in a musical, personal and financial sense. Those who derided the group as being copyists are left to eat their words, while those who saw the potential right from the start, or later in the game, even, are still free to wonder and marvel at whatever brilliance and, sometimes, madness is ready to burst forth from the group’s fingertips. It is this, and more than this, that makes the not-quite-imminent arrival of Drones by far the most anticipated album release of he year.
And it is this that makes a statement made by Matt Bellamy in 2002 as relevant today as it was then.
“You’ve got to make the most of what you’ve got and spread as much influence as you can,” he said. “You only live through the influence that you spread, whether that means having a kid and giving all your knowledge to your kid, or not having kids and trying to make music.” In terms of the latter, Muse is the musician’s legacy. “Yeah,” comes the nod of agreement. “I suppose we’re trying to leave something behind.”
Take a look. Muse have left plenty behind. And who would doubt that there is still plenty more to come?
MUSE HEADLINE DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL THIS JUNE *too much glare to read the rest*
WHO’S OUT TO GET MATT BELLAMY?
From aliens to government conspiracies, Matt’s held some ‘interesting’ views on the world…
Over the course of Muse’s career, Matt has spoken all manner of outlandish stuff, some of it perfectly bonkers. His most notable outburst concerned his view that the World Trade Center attacks of 2001 were an inside job. He has since withdrawn this statement.
GEORGE W. BUSH!
The then-president of the United States was the subject of Take A Bow, the opening track from Black Holes and Revelations. Rest assured Matt was not at all impressed by the commander in chief, a man who he believed “cast a spell on the country you run” and in doing so will lead bush W to “burn in Hell.”
THE ARMED FORCES
On United States of Eurasia, from 2009’s The Resistance, Matt combined the bleak worldview espoused by George Orwell in 1984 and, er, chess. The subject in hand was human conflict, and “These wars that go on and on and on”. They were going on then, and they’re still going on now.
As if the news in Muse’s music weren’t quite troubled enough, on The 2nd Law: Unsustainable (from 2012’s The 2nd Law album), the word came that the planet is doomed. “Energy is being destroyed,” announces a newscaster, adding that, “an economy based on endless growth is unsustainable.”
Rumours abound that when Matt Bellamy cancelled a press (event ???) in America it was due to a fear that an asteroid was on course for that particular part of Planet Earth. “There’s no doubt that these things happen,” he said, ominously…
As well as being a reader of conspiracy loon David Icke’s works – one of which claims our own queen is a reptilian lizard – Matt’s also a known fan of writer Zecharia Sitchin, who has claimed that evolution was a result of aliens coming to Earth and prodding apes about a bit.