Kerrang! TV 2005 – Inside Trax

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This was an interview and commentary of Muse' videography from Showbiz to Absolution aired by Kerrang television in 2005. This needs transcribing. The portions that have been transcribed may be and probably are inaccurate.

Matthew Bellamy: I was in one of the less cool bands of the school and Dom was in the kind of, the band that, you know, they had had a kind of, that kind of look. They had a vibe, you know and... people would go to their gigs and they'd all be dancing around and luckily, a coincidence, one of their, one of their band members left and he happened to be a guitarist, I was learning learning the guitar so I, I started blagging Dom and he got me in there an' uh, so I ended up, I ended up in the kind of semi-cool band you know. But I mean, looking back it wasn't that cool really, trust me. [laughs]

Dominic Howard: The uh, the Gothic Plague was uh, the band that Matt joined that I was in...

Bellamy: I moved up in the world from Carnage Mayhem, into, into Gothic Plague.

Howard: ...and uh, Chris was in a band called Fixed Penalty and really, it was those two band that were the kind of coolest, our band and Chris' band. Chris' second band or something like that. We were the, we were the bands that started playing cooler cover songs, I think and started actually doing gigs together, like making an effort to rent out the local community centre or something and try and put on a gig.

Bellamy: [laughs]

Narrator: As more members left both Gothic Plague and Fixed Penalty, Matt and Dom invited Chris to join them in a new band, with a much more... interesting name.

Bellamy: There happened to be a battle of the bands going on and um, we just kind of decided to put together our concept, a thing called Rocket Baby Dolls which was uh, wasn't really necessarily what we were taking seriously but you know, put on this black makeup, all this kind of stuff. I suppose we looked like The Cure but we sounded like Rush. [laughs] Something like that. Got all our mates in to come and invade the stage, trashed the gear, wasn't even our gear. We ended up winning the competition, I think it was because everyone saw the whole thing as a bit of a joke anyway and the fact that we took the piss out of it I think, that's why we ended up winning.

Howard: I think you know, after that competition, I think we just suddenly realised that, it's pretty cool playing our own songs and inspired us to take it you know, more seriously and... you know, work hard on the music.

Bellamy: I don't think we actually found the word Muse until a year later, 'cause only when we sort of had the prospect of doing a couple of gigs, we decided to look for a name.

Narrator: With an ever growing stash of original material, Muse hooked up with the owner of a local recording studio and recorded two self-financed EPs, which the band sold at gigs and in local shops. The second of these, the 'Muscle Museum' EP, got the band their first radio play.

Bellamy: I took, I took a few to London and I dropped them of at, you know, the receptionist at Radio 1 and I said "Give these to Steve Lamacq" and uh, somehow, miraculously a few months later, he actually played on of the songs off it. I actually heard it purely by chance, I couldn't believe it,

Christopher Wolstenholme: I did as well.

Bellamy: Which was a big surprise you know. Then the next thing I heard was that all the CDs had sold out of all the shops and suddenly I had like, a little chart position in indie charts, it was um, it was nice surprise really. Thanks Lamacq. [laughs]

Narrator: Following a punishing year of touring Europe and USA, including an audition performance for Madonna's label Maverick in LA, Muse signed no less than five record deals and set about working on their first album 'Showbiz', the fruits of which was the June 1999 release of Uno. A re-release of a track from one of their self-financed EPs. Uno marked the band's first experience of making a video, an experience they seem to enjoy.

Bellamy: Oh, dear dear, what video have you got. We've done two videos of that. One of them is acceptable and one of them was quite simply, shameful. [laughs] It can never be shown. Please. Please.

Wolstenholme: I'm sure some guy just picked us up and said we're just going to go down Tower Bridge and took a camera out and just...

Bellamy: Just stood...

Wolstenholme: With an earphone hanging out your ear or something

Bellamy: Just stood on, just stood on Tower Bridge, that was it, that was the video and it was the first time we'd ever, I suppose it was the first time we'd ever, was that the first time we'd ever made a video?

Wolstenholme: Yeah yeah yeah.

Howard: It's amazing how much you don't about...

Bellamy: The performance side is just a sound-check. Just doing a sound check for the song and someone just filmed it and then they said let's just get in a car and drive down the road.

Howard: It was like there was, no thought that had gone into it, whatsoever.

Bellamy: It was embarrassing yeah, 'cause I, I remember standing on a box and seeing all these suits, the idea that everyone's walking in the opposite direction I think it was a certain rush hour point or something. and uh, I just stood there just singing like a... it was worse than that 'cause I had a pair of, I think I had one headphones in the Walkman so I was like stood there and they could see me there just going, they were like walking past me.

Howard: I'm seriously embarrassed by that.

Wolstenholme: [laughs]

Howard. By those early days.

[Uno video plays]

Bellamy: A few months later we did a proper video, which was um, which we did in Germany, 'cause the first one was so embarrassing. But for some reason people in Australia liked it, that's what we heard. Do you remember that?

Wolstenholme: [laughs]

We were like, we were like in Australia they were playing it.

Narrator: Perhaps due to their experiences on Tower Bridge, the band elected not to make a video for their second single Cave. However, Muse's third single, a re-worked version of Muscle Museum, was by way of a contrast to Uno promoted by a very high budget video.

Bellamy: Yeah, that was uh, that was Maverick [laughs] and in the States, it was all a bit weird over there, 'cause they kind of saw us as a big thing, but um, we weren't. You know, we were just like you know, a bunch of kids I suppose, like making dodgy indie videos on Tower Bridge, you know and I think that they, tried to over hype it and we ended up making this ridiculous video that was extremely expensive,

Howard: Again, that was just a, quite an embarrassing video.

Wolstenholme: [laughs]

Howard: There was people crying and stuff and it was...

Bellamy: The original idea for the video we thought was quite good, I think the idea is that people were, struggling to maintain menial daily tasks, whatever, doing everyday things and they suddenly broke down, it wasn't constantly crying all the way through, do you know what I mean? I think that just kind of uh, you know, ruined everything that kind of thing so, I don't know. These things happen.

[Muscle Museum video plays]

The early days were quite difficult for us I think, because we were young, we were very young and we were learning everything for the first time and we didn't really... and because we were on so many different labels it was all just so confusing, we didn't really have the time to get a grip on what was going on, so we were just doing things very randomly and uh... and I don't think we were happy with any videos we made on the, on the first album really.

Narrator: For the fourth single from Showbiz, Muse chose Sunburn, a track which saw Matt developing the band's sound and introducing piano to the recording.

Bellamy: Sunburn was probably, probably my favourite song on the first album I think, because it was the first we did an experiment with piano. It was the first time we even used the piano. Um, uh in terms of like the lead of a song, but I'd never really, I've played piano when I was younger but I kind of gave it up for a large number of years, but I kind of came back to it when we started getting the chance to go into a recording studio for the first time, 'cause obviously there's a piano there, there's always pianos in studios, so I started just tinkering around on it and uh and Sunburn I just kind of translated the guitar part onto the piano, kind of worked on it for a while, I remember I kind of, when I worked it out I was quite happy with it 'cause to me it sounded quite, something quite new sounding for its, around that time, something I'd never heard before and um, I was quite, quite happy with it, yeah.

Narrator: Unlike previous videos, with Sunburn the band seemed to relish their dramatic input. This time terrifying a young girl.

Bellamy: It was supposed to be a baby sitter.

Wolstenholme: Yeah. I think the idea is that she's in, you know, she's in someone else's house and baby sitting this young lad and kind of goes up and starts having a nosey round in the bedroom, starts nicking stuff and we're kind of, like her guilty conscience in the mirror, playing tricks with her mind. [laughs]

Bellamy: [laughs]

Howard: Oh dear.

Bellamy: I think she's in Eastenders.

Wolstenholme: Yeah, she's in Eastenders now.

Bellamy: I never actually sang at her, she was, I don't think she was ever actually there. I just sang at the camera actually really and I think the power of suggestion. I was just kind of I suppose a bit nervous and I just kind of going bloody hell, this is a bit weird, isn't it.

Narrator: Nerves aside, Matt seems particularly of his performance in this video.

Bellamy: In my GCSEs I got a, I got an A star for drama actually, I'll have you know, but um I think, I think you can tell that my skills don't go further than GCSE level in pretty much all our videos. [laughs]

[Sunburn video plays]

Narrator: For the final single off Showbiz, Muse released Unintended. After Matt's dramatic tour de force in the video for Sunburn, this time it was Dom's turn to shine.

Howard: I think I was probably just looking bored in that video.

Wolstenholme: [laughs]

Bellamy: He's doing it right now, like, it killed me, it killed me, terrible.

Howard: 'cause what happened, it was meant to be some kind of performance, but for some reason, the director forgot to get a drum kit and he went: oh well, right, well we haven't got a kit so, I dunno, you just sit over there and, just get your sticks out

Wolstenholme [laughs]

Howard: Do you know what I mean, like twiddle them around and you know, Matt had a guit... did you have a guitar? No, but Chris had a bass, at least, to hide behind. So I was just sitting on the chair like, fiddling my drum sticks trying to look meaningful, but I think that video was more about, just the kind of uh, uh just the way it looks, really, rather than the actual...

Bellamy: [?] with that video really

Howard: No.

Bellamy: It's like Chris is with a double bass with a couple of women twisting around him.

Howard: Yeah, it was more about the actual...

Bellamy: You were on a bed looking like, moody with the drumsticks just going, this is just so deep man an' um, yeah it was just, just generally an all round embarrassing experience you know. There you go, that's what being in a band is, especially in the early days. [laughs] Um, I remember when we first got that video out on tour somewhere, someone played the video and I just, ah the pain.

Howard: Believe me I got the piss taken out of me for a while, by these two.

Wolstenholme: [laughs]

Howard: But, you know. It was just, but again you know, it wasn't really about the idea of, the kind of though behind the video was more about, the way it looked I think and the, the kind of effect in twisting these people around various objects, you know. That's my excuse.

[Unintended video plays]

Narrator: After the critical success of Muse's first album Showbiz, the band went on the road to promote the record. After nearly a year of constant gigging, the band started working on their second album Origin of Symmetry. Thanks in part to refining their live sound, the album had a much harder rock feel.

Howard: Most of it was kind of written and recorded during, in between tours and during touring, so I think it reflected how we were feeling at that time and also how we sounded at that time as well and yeah, I think it definitely captured the heavier side of the band which is something I think we've always had, but didn't particularly capture on the first album.

Narrator: Origin of Symmetry's more rocking sound was impressively shown off by the hard riffing sound of first single, Plug In Baby.

Bellamy: I think that song's actually influenced by like, DJ Shadow or something, it went [sings tune] I think I heard that and I thought [sings transition tune] I sort of found it there and thought right, there's something there and when it started off it was like, it was supposed to be a much more mellow track you know, but the guitar went into it, but it just ended up more, punchy and raw sounding than what it was originally intended to be, but I think that's a good thing, I think that's one of the things that, that makes us what we are. Howard Greenhalgh made uh, he made the Unintended video and uh, we weren't sure about that video, we decided to work with him again on uh, on Plug In Baby and um, we kind of noticed a certain, um theme that he likes to work with and that is just, get a load of models in...

Howard: ...and started putting some of them in baths and filming them and I think we were just kind of hanging around, getting drunk, trying to put up. That's probably about it really.

[Plug In Baby video plays]

Wolstenholme: I dunno, I think originally it was supposed to be like limbs, kind of just like an arm, or a foot just sort of crawling all over us and for some reason that just didn't happen, it's just like another one of those videos that came out completely different to how we imagined it in the first place.

Bellamy: I think that video was supposed to be just like a basic concept, kind of performance video really with a few kind of, you know, limbs crawling around, like suggesting some kind of robotic android sex machine.

Narrator: The band followed up Plug In Baby with the staggeringly ambitious New Born. A track that combined the dreamy sound of Showbiz, with their new gig hardened rock sound.

Bellamy: It had an interesting beginning, it was kind of, it was kind of, the reason I put that piano bit at the start was to try and reflect the beginning of the first album, but to show that it was gonna go into a much more rocky direction by sort of cutting off the piano bit half way through and sort of just going into a kind of, riff you know, that kind of thing. It was a kind of surprise you know, really a surprise element. Um, but I don't really seem, I'm sure Dire Straits have done that haven't they, with their Money for Nothing, keyboards at the start and then the riff comes in. To me it didn't seem like anything completely like, groundbreaking you know, but it was, it was something I thought was you know, was alright.

Narrator: When it came to shooting the promo for New Born, the band chose to match their ambitious new sound with an equally ambitious video director.

Bellamy: It was the first video we made with David Slade and we uh, this was a guy that ended up making pretty much all the videos after that on Origin of Symmetry, uh, with David Slade. The original idea was supposed to be, we were like, there was a bunch of like, kids, like getting into it in like, some back alley and there's a wall there and we're just playing on the wall sideways like that and um, so they built a whole wall and [?] on the floor and they filmed everything at like ninety degrees. But it just came out, it just came out looking like just a, just a regular video and no one really, no one really got that bit. I think it was because we didn't really have the, we didn't really have the crowd there, we had to do the crowd separately with a blue screen, we had to merge them together and something went wrong, blah blah blah, a compromise was made, but we ended up with something reasonable. We ended up with something reasonably good I think... and I think that was the first video that we were actually kind of quite happy with.

[New Born video plays]

Bellamy: We enjoyed the fact that David Slayer always used to make us wear loads of yellow makeup and we didn't, we didn't trust him, but he used to just make us, he used to paint us all yellow and say like, trust me, and we always looked like in the mirror, you know, just like, ridiculous and then when we, we, we sort of trusted him an' then - and then like, when you film it it kind of, it kind of makes everything kind of gold, it makes all the colours look kind of weird and yellow and gold so, your actual skin doesn't actually look unusual, but we were completely florescent yellow. So all the videos we've ever made with David Slade,

Narrator: Having been impressed by the video for New Born, the band once again decided to work with David Slade on the video for their next single, Bliss. Bliss proved to be their most ambitious video yet.

Bellamy: His ideas were often way above and beyond what was even achievable within the realms of the film industry, do you know what I mean and it's uh, I kind of liked his, I liked his ideas, like his idea for that video was act... originally was uh, a person falling through space uh, towards planet Earth and then Earth just gets bigger and you just kind of, go, falling towards the ground and you think the person's gonna hit the ground and die, but they actually just go through the ground and end up going through the centre of the Earth and coming out the other side. It just sounded like a weird idea you know, so we ended up talking about trying to make a video that did that. But obviously, planet Earth was a bit difficult to conjure up, so we ended up sort of settling for a kind of, death star, yeah, 'cause that was easier to make little models of, um, so we could film little models of it and then like graft me in afterwards. We spend the whole video just with a sort of harness on, hanging from the ceiling all day and I was, I was pretty knackered and uh, yeah. It was alright, you know. It was just David's mad ideas and we just, we just trusted him. We went with it, yeah?

Howard: For the majority of the day, we sat around, doing nothing. Watching Matt swing around, on his uh, on his harness, but yeah we did get up in the harness for a while and we both... 'cause me and Chris were like in these weird little pods, trapped within, the uh, the kind of, the outside of the tube that Matt was falling through, looking at him going 'No! What are you doing!' Um, but we did, we kind of spun around a bit, but we watched him fall and that was about, our only appearance in that video.

[Bliss video plays]

Narrator: For their next single, Muse chose to release a double A-side, seemingly unusually sounding Hyper Music, with a surprise cover version of Nina Simone's Feeling Good.

Bellamy: I kind of always liked Nina Simone's version of the song and uh, Nina Simone generally as a, as an artist I've always, think that she has an amazing voice and that kind of thing, I think I've always been influenced by that... kind of singing, I like that style of singing you know, very expressive you know that kind of thing and at that time I'd never written a song that's purely piano based, so I just did a cover song, 'cause it kind of made it easier to kind of find a way of how, how can a piano work in a three-piece band and um, I've always sort of had the idea of that ver... that version of, Nina Simone's version of Feeling Good could always be quite a heavy song, quite a um, quite uh, with the distortion sound on uh, on a keyboard and uh, so I kind of had this thing in my mind that it has to have distortion on it to be, to sound big enough to kind of fill a three piece band and it just kind of worked so... and it that was kind of uh, it was kind of an introduction, a way of introducing the piano into our live gigs really. That and New Born, yeah.

Narrator: Once again, David Slade directed the video for Feeling Good and Hyper Music, this time casting the band's fans as extras.

Wolstenholme: I think it's, it's just quite funny. I think, I think we put something up on the message board and just sort of said, anyone who wants to come to a video shoot, just come down, 'cause we just need people to be in it. I don't think we were really sure what it was gonna look like because, you know, the, 'cause obviously it's not real, you know. So we didn't really know what was gonna go on and then you know, you know we did this thing afterwards and you know, stretched all these people's faces an', I remember it was quite, I can remember it was quite a good day when we did that, 'cause obviously all the people that came down were fans and it seemed like, you know, there was a lot of people just kind of mingling around an' having a laugh.

[Feeling Good video plays]

Bellamy: I think David picked out the people that he thought were most likely to be morphed, you know, in as disturbing way as possible. I think people were mainly well aware that that was what was gonna happen to their faces, you know.


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