Q 2006-11 – Best Live Act

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An interview with Matthew Bellamy in the November 2006 issue of Q.

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Best Live Act

Voted by the readers of Q

"I think one of Girls Aloud just winked at me." Matt Bellamy strides into the Q Awards backstage enclosure - straight past a boozy huddle consisting of Bono, Noel Gallagher and Arctic Monkeys - and grabs a flute of champagne. He puggs out his cheeks, momentarily downcast. "It was only the ginger one, sadly."
    It's a disarming statement. Somehow you expect the famously eccentric Muse frontman, with his reputation for grandiose gestures and outlandish conspiracy theories, to be removed from such concerns. Yet these days Muse are very much at home among the A-list glitterati. Because 2006 has been their year. Fourth album Black Holes And Revelations, released in July, went to Number 1 in nine countries, a triumph consolidated by the trio's epic headline sets at the Reading and Leeds festivals.
    Previously a cult concern in America, Muse's celebrity fans now include Justin Timberlake, The Sixth Sense star Haley Joel Osment and Paris Hilton, who turned up to a recent LA show hoping to meet the band. She missed out. "We couldn't be bothered to talk to her in the end," shrugs Bellamy.
    Unfortunately, Muse - completed by bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dom Howard - can't stay to toast their Q Award for Best Live Act. Having chartered a private jet especially to attend the ceremony, they're due onstage in Toulouse at 9pm tonight. But Bellamy is engaging the company nonetheless. Less pale and wiry than he once was, the 5'8"-ish singer looks tanned and dapper in black shirt and knee-length black jacket.
    Constantly clicking his freakishly long, thin fingers, the 28-year-old talks at pace about everything from the new series of Lost ("I just want some fucking answers now") to gigs on the moon.

You presented the Q Legend award to The Who earlier today, Are you a fan?

MATT BELLAMY: Definitely. I do the windmill onstage, so I owe them that much! But it probably goes deeper than that. When we were touring the second album [2001's Origin Of Symmetry] we had a live Who video that we watched endlessly. It made us realise we had to kick our live show into gear. It inspired us to be more full-on.

Any other heroes in the room today?

MB:U2 are a band that I've got into recently. I saw them live this year in Milan, and it was the best gig I'd ever seen. I'd never really seen a stadium show, and I was blown away by it. Plus it's good to catch up with Razorlight, who we're good friends with. But mainly I just want to corner Michael Eavis, to try and blag a headline spot for next year.

But you've already headlined Glastonbury, You're running out of big gigs to play.

MB: [Laughs] Well, there's always Wembley Stadium...

Tell us about your new arena show. We hear it involves a spaceship.
MB: Not quite. The stage set is modeled on a US government installation called HAARP, or High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. It's based on hundreds of high-frequency antennas set up in fields near Gakona, Alaska. No one knows what it does. Some people think it's designed to tap into the ionosphere to control the weather. Others think it's there to diffuse UFO beams, or to send out microwaves to control our thoughts.
    Basically it just looks really cool, so we based the stage set on these weird pylon shapes. We've got two of those, with electrical cables hanging between them. There's also an octagon-shaped, '30s-looking satellite, which moves up and down with Dom drumming inside.

Is that all? At Motley Crue gigs a few years ago Tommy Lee's drums used to spin upside down in a cage that moved out over the crowd.

MB: True. We could have gone further. But we're saving the really extreme stuff for the outdoor shows we're planning for next year.

Imagine money is no object. What would your dream gig involve?

MB: [Leaning forward, suddenly animated] Well, ultimately, you've got to start getting into hot air balloons and helicopters, don't you? I would love to have a giant UFO descending on the crowd, We'd disappear, reappear in the middle of the crowd... and this vast UFO would descend on us and send out beams of light. That would be quite cool.

You're known for your conspiracy theories. Any current favourites?

MB: I like the one about how the pyramids were built. All the pyramids are laid out in a specific correlation relating to the position of the stars... it's one big star map, essentially. And there's an obelisk that points directly to where we came from, or where our gods came from. That's the kind of heavyweight conspiracy theory I enjoy.
    Also, there's a theory that there are easy solutions to global warming - alternative energy sources and so on - but the energy giants have bought the patents and hidden them all away, in a secret room on a shelf. It's obvious that we're headed for dark times. I think we're entering a global recession, which will lead to a new world war. Things are going to get intense.

You recently said 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government. Do you really believe that's true?

MB: Absolutely. The official version of events simply hasn't been proven. All these clandestine organisations like MI5, MI6, NSA, CIA... they peddle information to the media, which is told to us as fact, when in reality there's no evidence to back any of it up. People are only now discovering the manipulations that go on.

Is is true your uncle was a victim of terrorism?

MB: [Visibly uncomfortable] Yeah... my dad's brother was in the British army - the SAS actually, although we didn't find that out till after his death. He was assassinated by the IRA in the '80s. My mum's from Belfast, so that stuff has always been a part of our family, although we don't talk about it a lot.

You used to be quite a hedonist. Still burning the midnight oil?

MB: Well, the magic mushrooms have made a comeback recently. We had a day off in Las Vegas so we bought a bouncy castle and drove out to the desert with the girls from [youthful garage rock trio] The Like. We took a load of mushrooms, dressed the girls up in space costumes, and went nuts on this bouncy castle. It was brilliant. Any inter-band romance? [A devilish cackle] No, no, the girls are all lovely... but we're perfect gentlemen.

Plus, your girlfriend probably wouldn't approve of any shenanigans.

MB: No, perhaps not.

Any other grand plans? I can picture you as the first rock star on the moon.

MB: I'd definitely be up for a trip to Mars. I'd love to record an album at zero gravity. Or at least go up there and do a vocal take. The area of Cydonia [on Mars, celebrated in Muse's track Knights Of Cydonia] is very interesting, there are parts of it that resemble abandoned civilisations.

Virgin Galactic are taking bookings...

MB: [Conspiratorially] Actually, I've got an inside connection on the front. I know the guy who funded the X-Prize [a foundation that offers multi-million dollar prizes to private individuals who make innovations which benefit humanity], I've talked it over with him, and I'm hoping I'll be one of the first people to get up there.

Or at least get a nice discount on the price of the flight.

MB: Well, you'd hope so.

As he stands up to leave, Bono approaches and shakes Bellamy's hand. They're already acquaintances and the U2 frontman is effusive in his praise. "Muse are a band who are just coming into their own, finding their sound," he tells me. "They're on a journey, which is far more interesting than a band who start out great and then coast. Plus, Matt can really play. It's the kind of talent that can make you lazy. But Muse keep challenging themselves, reaching higher."
    We turn to include Bellamy in the conversation but he's already out the door, fingers clicking, jacket tails swishing, mad-professor cackle echoing down the corridor.

Image caption: 'Cheers!' Bellamy celebrates and (inset) Muse with their award presenter Emily Eavis...

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