Some interesting bits are…Apparently also Matt stalks us on the boards and Twitter. I hope he’s alright after that lol. And also at least some of the songs played during the Psycho tour will make it to the Drones tour. There’s also a bit where I can’t figure out what Matt is saying about piano because he’s talking at the same time as Dom (of course). I hope he's saying that there is piano, and not that there isn’t. *crosses fingers*
Also I haven’t really properly checked this over because I’m quite tired tonight, so sorry about any wackiness in the transcript. (Come back tomorrow for both parts of the Sixx Sense interview. :D)
The embed code didn’t work so click here to listen to it.
Muse Talk ‘Drones’ for the first time.
We're in the Alt98.7 studio with two very special guests. We have Matt and Dom from the band Muse. Fellas, thank you for being here.
Matt: Thanks for having us. How are you?
I'm great, I'm great. It's an exciting time. Drones, your brand new record is coming out on June 9th. This is a… This is a record with a complicated story.
I was hoping that you guys could, maybe in some way shape or form uh, break it down in as layman terms as possible.
Matt: Yeah, in the most layman’s terms, this is basically… I’m interested in what drones represent, y’know, from a technological point of view, y’know? It’s kind of like a point in, sort of, time, where these machines are starting to emerge. It’s the kind of things, where, we grew up watching films like Terminator 2, and you’d see these kinds of things happening in the future. But we are kinda there now, y’know? So I just kinda thought it was an interesting topic to sing about and talk about. Just what it means, and what it means for humans’ involvement, humans’ emotions being taken out of the equation in things like warfare and so on. So uh, I just thought it was an interesting topic to tackle with this album. But also, the album, you don’t need to know that to enjoy the album.
Matt: There’s a bunch of cool riffs on there, man. [laughs]
Yeah, absolutely. Is it… I mean, would you call it a concept record? Is that the term?
Matt: Yeah, pretty much. I’d say it is, but again, I’d say it’s, in a way, it’s not a strict concept in the way Pink Floyd ‘The Wall’ did it. It’s more like um, the songs work in their own way all independently, y’know? But they also have a sort of, they gel together based on the concept of drones.
Sure. Is it the sort of thing where the story is so broad that there is additional music that couldn’t fit on one record, or is this story kind of told, encompassed the entire album?
Matt: It’s pretty much, the current vague narrative is a kind of protagonist who goes through this journey of like, losing everything and sort of feeling like being brainwashed, being drawn into the military, and becoming sort of a person that feels like they’ve lost their soul, and eventually rediscovering it, coming back, and sort of, y’know, fighting back against the systems that opressed him. That journey takes across the first eight songs of the album. And um, and then the ending of the album is sort of a separate epilogue of sorts, y’know. Um… does that answer the question? I’m not sure. [laughs]
It sort of does. Like I said, I asked for it in layman’s terms and it’s still super complicated and very in-depth.
Matt: No, no, it’s basically… imagine like, imagine the journey of a person going into war or something, and then feeling like they don’t know what they’re fighting for, and then sort of fighting back against the people that sent them, y’know? It’s that kind of journey, in a very simplistic way.
Would you call it a pessimistic record or—
Matt: No, I’d say the beginning of the album goes very dark, y’know, ’cause you feel like this person is being drawn into something they don’t want to be drawn into. And they’re being, y’know. But then, the album has a very optimistic moment around— There’s a track called JFK where we actually use a JFK speech. Very sort of uplifting and positive about human strength, human spirit and the desire we all have for freedom, y’know? And essentially after that the album takes on a very positive turn, and y’know the idea of the album inspires the idea that as an individual—as a free individual—you actually can take down huge, complex systems. And I think that’s the general message of the album.
Is there a personal level to the album? Is there anything that you guys draw on from your personal lives that makes its way into the music, or is it all centered around this specific story?
Matt: Yeah, I mean it’s difficult to talk—I mean, I think all my life experiences, y’know, in lyrics and stuff, y’know, obviously musically it will evolve. But from a lyrical point of view, the, um… All my life experiences are in there. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why I feel so strongly about certain things, y’know? My upbringing, my childhood, where I come from, y’know, what happened in my, y’know family life, schooling, uh, growing up in the world, the world that we live in, y’know, so what happened, all the wars we’ve seen break out in the last few decades… Um, I guess it’s just how you feel in the world is what I’m expressing. So the answer is yes, it’s almost entirely personal. But, I’m singing it through this kind of uh, concept, if you’d like. I’m not very good at this, at giving the answers.
You’re great at it! It’s super interesting and it’s nice to talk to a band that writes songs about these sort of topics, both on the political level and the personal level that you guys do? Not just thinking about chicks—
Matt: [big laugh]
–which is nice. Absolutely. These aren’t just songs about gals. Have you changed as a songwriter since you became a father in any sort of noticeable way for you?
Matt: Em, I think it probably enhanced a little bit the uh… how much you care about the world that we live in and what your kids are gonna grow up into a little bit. So I think it makes you a little more focused on some of those things.</b>
Sure, that makes a lot of sense. Let’s talk about the actual production of the record. You guys recorded in Vancouver. Why that city? It’s beautiful, it’s amazing. Why’d you choose there to make the record?
Dom: Um, there’s just a great studio there called Warehouse Studios that we actually recorded like, half a song in there that we did for that Twilight film, ‘Neutron Star Collision’, a song that wasn’t on an album. And it’s just a really great studio: great sounding room… and we worked with the producer Mutt Lange. And he was familiar with the equipment in that room and I think the room itself, so… y’know, it was uh… That’s why we went there really, ’cause it sounded like a really good idea. And he really wanted to work there, so…
I wanted to talk about the inclusion of Mutt. This is the first time in two records that you guys have used an outside producer. Why bring in Mutt? Why was the right time now?
Dom: Well, we produced the last two albums ourselves, which is great. And that was like a whole, learning experience itself, really, taking the rein somewhat in that area. And um. Why did we do it this time? I don’t know, to felt like to do something different, y’know? We could’ve gone on and produced this album again by ourselves, but the feeling was, why don’t we open up the door a little bit and y’know, have an objective opinion about what we’re doing? By someone else. Which, y’know, is great. And it was, y’know, he brought um, he brought some y’know, great things to the album, when we were first like working on the tracks and recording. He’s y’know, his ideas and suggestions about what we’re doing were all kind of, y’know, valued when they came in.
We don’t need to get too specific, but is there any kind of broad topics or general feelings that he brought that would not have been there if you had self-produced this album?
Matt: Uh, he didn’t get that involved in sort of directing what the concept of the album should be other than helping me focus on that a bit more. So he sensed that there were some things going on there and he was like saying, ‘Be a bit more specific. Try and be a bit more direct what you’re trying to say.’ Y’know, so it’s kind of like what you’re saying. Try and be more clear, y’know? That’s always been a battle, ’cause I tend to be a little lost in the woods with the creative process. So he did a good job of trying to sort of make me make more of an effort to make it more clear. Y’know and certainly ordering the songs in a way that sort of y’know enhances the narrative elements. And uh, yeah, he was great at that. But generally, his focus was on the music performance, the sound, and getting the arrangements of the songs tight in a way that was just um. Cool.
Before you went into recording the album you gave a couple interviews of what the album would maybe be like. One of those said that you’re gonna veer away from some of the orchestration that you had done on the last couple of albums. Were you successful in that, just getting back to the guitar, drums, and bass?
Matt: Yeah, I think generally, the album is pretty guitar heavy. Guitar, drum, and bass heavy, more three-piece-based. There is one track at the end that goes a little bit off-off-off the rails.
So you almost made it!
Matt: Yeah, almost made it, but generally speaking I’d say this is the heaviest rock album we’ve done for at least three albums, I’d say. Something like that.
Dom: Absolutely, yeah. The core of it was all just worked out, structured, from just drums, bass, and guitar. Just jamming out together, really. So way more guitar in this; [Matt: and ???? piano] pretty much every song has some kind of riff on it. Hehe.
Such a big part of the Muse experience is seeing you guys live and it’s such a gigantic production. Writing and recording these songs… do you keep a live show kind of in mind as you’re making the songs, ideas of what you wanna do and how you wanna play these songs?
Matt: Uh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean obviously the… that was another appeal of going on the drones route. Because we always liked to use modern technology where we can in our shows, y’know. So we’ve always used the latest sort of video screens or light shows or lasers or whatever it is that’s out there that we can use. ‘Drones’ is obviously a, a; interesting thing to try and attempt to bring into the live show. There’s gonna be some difficulty with y’know, red tape of… health and safety about flying things over people’s exactly.
Matt: Haha, yeah, but the general idea is that as the tour starts we’ll be using flying objects and uh, yeah.
You guys have already gotten down playing some of these songs live from smaller songs back in the UK. For a band that likes to make as big a production as you guys do, what’s it like going back to those smaller venues?
Dom: It was great! It was fun. We um, we did this gig in Shepherd’s Bush Empire a couple of years ago and it was about 2000 people or 1500 people or something. And we hadn’t played in that venue for a very long time. So, the experience of that was just so great. And y’know, it’s a different kind of energy in a room like that where you can really see the audience, y’know, and you don’t have all the big production and it really is just about you, us on stage, and the music we’re playing. And we just enjoyed that so much, which is why we kind of went on, we thought, ‘let’s try and do some more of this in the future.’ That’s why we booked that tour. But yeah, the tour itself was great. The crowds went off, like went crazy—
I can imagine
Dom: —pretty much, and y’know we played like uh, two new songs, three on the last show. Uh, and ‘Psycho’, that track, which got released y’know, that went down so well. Everyone’s like singing the riff and jumpin’ up and down y’know, so. It was a really, really fun tour actually. I’m sure we’d like to do more of that kind of stuff in the future.
Well, that was gonna be my next question. Are there any plans in the US to do any kind of smaller shows like that? I know fans here, we]d go bananas over that.
Matt: Uh, we might do something in LA. Yeah, um, not sure when. We might do something like before the summer even, just something, because we’d like to get at that feel over here. But yeah, we don’t have any plans to do a tour like that, but some point I would love to, yeah.
Oh, the setlist for those shows include a lot of rarities, b-sides, stuff that you guys have not played in quite some time. Is that an indication of maybe some of the stuff that you would play on a tour behind this record?
Matt: Uh, yeah, it was great to play a bunch of these really old tracks that some of the hardcore fans that we have have been asking for for a long time. And so we felt like in this small theatre tour that we did in the UK, that’d be a good chance to try them out. We tried out probably about 10 or so songs that we haven’t played for about nearly 10 years or so. And out of those there’s two or three that I thought, y’know what? These are great tracks. We should incorporate them in the setlist more often. So the answer’s yes. Not all of them, but there’ll be a few that start to appear a bit more often.
I’m glad you brought up the hardcore fans, because there’s no shortage of them for Muse. there’s a whole community of message boards and twitter and all of that. Do you ever monitor those from a distant place, kind of the chatter there about the band and what’s going on? Maybe see specific songs that people want played and put them in the setlist?
Matt: Yeah, occasionally I’ve looked, and I think when you release something new, the first few days off I tend to look on things, see what people are saying. And um, it’s nice… obviously on things like Twitter you can see streams of people discussing songs and stuff like that. So it’s always good. And as you’ve said, um, the setlist thing. Obviously a lot of the setlist we played on the UK tour were based on some of the comments we were reading online on the songs that people wanted to hear.
So what’s the timetable as we both lead up to the June 9 release and then plans for after the record comes out? What are we doing?
Dom: Lots of this. Chit and chat. We’re kind of getting ready for the uh, for the tour, really. We start touring properly in the summertime in Europe doing festivals, which is gonna be great, so we kinda getting ready for that rehearsing, and just excited to be playing the new songs. We got some rehearsals in a couple of weeks. And y’know, we need to kind of rattle through the whole album, but to be honest, I think we could probably play every song on the album. So it’s gonna be difficult to not play every track off the new album live. So y’know, so I think we’re just gonna want to. ’Cause it’s new, it’s exciting, and that kind of, y’know, the we can actually play them. [laughs].
Sure. Any good Mutt Lange stories?
Matt: Well. I mean, what can I say? I mean, he is a—I mean he is a… slave driver might be the term? I mean he pushed us over the edge. Y’know, I’ve never known anything like it. I mean, he is… his perfectionism does borderline on what is… needs to be reined in a little bit, y’know. I mean he makes us perform songs 35 times y’know, and by the time you get to like, take 20, you’re just done. Just exhausted. And he just keeps going and keeps going and keeps going and keeps going. So he’s um, he’s a very interesting person, y’know. I’d say that he’s right on that borderline of genius and madness.
I’m glad you brought up the edge. You ever at some point just go, ‘Dude, I’m Matt Bellamy. I’m in Muse. I got it. I’m sure it’s fine.’
Matt: I tried that once, yeah yeah, and he was like, he was like, ‘I worked with people way, way, bigger than you.’ [laughs] And he was right.
You guys, looks like you guys just got done filming the video for ‘Dead Inside’, and from what I could tell, it was very Mad Maxie, there was a lot of dust. Can you tell us about the concept behind that?
Matt: Yeah, it’s a pretty simple concept. It’s um, it’s just um, we found these two great dancers that were… one of them, where he won one of the seasons of So You Can Dance. His partner was second or third or something. And they’re doing some style of dance called lyrical hip-hop which I like a lot, which is a mixture of contemporary and hip-hop dance, so it has the emotional elements of contemporary but also the edge of hip-hop. And basically they’re kind of acting out the narrative of the song a little bit, and we’re just kind of jammin’ out, y’know? It’s a pretty straight concept, I mean…
You guys are doing what you do. Yeah, that makes sense. Absolutely. Um, did you go to Coachella?
Matt: Yeah! We were there.</b>
Oh, how was it?
Matt: It was great. We had an amazing time, yeah. I loved it ’cause it’s my first time going to a festival in a long time and just as a ?????, just to watch. I mean, ’cause we’ve played so many festivals. It’s been a while since I’ve been just out in the crowd enjoying it. And I was blown away by AC/DC. Jack White was amazing as well.
Anybody else stand out to you? I think getting a compliment about your live show from the band Muse is about as big a compliment as you can get, so dish ’em out if you saw anybody else!
Dom: We saw a bit of Tame Impala which was great, big fan of that band. Saw a bit of Nero, who…
Dom: Alt-J were really good first time we seen them, and yeah, AC/DC. But Jack White really kind of blew me away. I’ve seen him a few times in various different bands that he’s played in, and I’m always kind of blown away by his guitar skills.
Do you share his passions for wanting the crowd to put down their phones and just enjoy the show without the digital aspect of it?
Matt: Um, I’m interested in that idea. I mean obviously related to what I was thinking about the album about y’know, humanity should be seen as superior to technology and we‘re reaching a time where people are not thinking that way anymore. But yeah, I’m definitely behind that way of thinking. But at the same time I’m not the kind of person to tell anybody what to do. I’m not gonna start telling the crowd how to enjoy themselves. I just think people should do what they want to do. But, same time, y’know, it would be nice if people were a bit more engaged than filming, but I guess they’re filming because they want to remember it, and they want to show their friends, they want to share it. So y’know a lot of that stuff is about sharing, so y’know. There’s a good side to it.
Sure. Is there anything about the album that I didn’t ask about that I couldn’t have known about that we should talk about right now?
Matt: Um… I don’t know. You’ve covered it pretty well actually. Good, comprehensive range of questions there, yeah. You’ve done your research.
Appreciate that, thank you very much. We could not be more excited. A new Muse album is an event. A Muse tour, which we have established is coming afterwards, is also an event. Thank you so much for being here, fellas. Absolutely. Matt and Dom. Drones is the name of the new album. It will be out on June 9th.