Interview (20061117 BBC Radio Nottingham appearance)

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An interview prior to the 17th November 2006 Nottingham Arena performance.

Host: They hooked up with us for a quick chat and a quick cup of tea, because that's what we do with Muse isn't it, drink tea.

Host #2: Yeah

Host: Welcome back to Nottingham, bit of a nightmare journey by all accounts.

Howard: Sure you know, just traffic issues, but uh, you know, we eventually got here.

Host: But no soundtrack tonight

Howard: No, no, we're kind of, you know our crew are pretty good. We've got a lot of trust in our crew so we can just turn up and it's normally fine, but you know I say that now, and it might all go all wrong tonight. But probably not, [host laughs] I'm sure it's going to be good.

Host: Every time we meet, um I wonder if things have plateued for Muse with, we've been with you all the way, and I remember joking about you playing the arena some time ago and here you are. And yet every time it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and it's difficult to know where you go from here really.

Howard: Um, yeah it's hard to know where to go. I mean this is certainly the biggest tour we've ever done you know, and we're doing it, I think maybe we played here once before in this arena, but um, you know we're just kinda doing, you know, multiple nights here and there and in certain places and in cities, and bigger gigs in other countries as well, so I mean it's still growing, which is amazing, you know, it's amazing to see and it all sold out really quickly, but, I think it's just a healthy sign of live music you know, 'cause I think record companies and the industry are certainly feeling problems of, you know, technology probably moving quicker than them, but you know, it's still means that live music is healthy and people still like to watch it you know, and that's good for us. [laughs]

Host: This ability to interchange information as well is great isn't it. Because, you know, for Muse it's your reputation isn't it, and I still think it's largely word of mouth, because people come to see you, they love the experience and they want to come back again.

Howard: That seems to be the case, that seems to be what occured, and you know, what I've heard from people, which is ... again, that feels great 'cause it feels like we're still, uh, providing something or producing something that's still fresh and exciting and new, and it certainly is for us, I mean obviously helps when you've got a new album out, 'cause you're excited about your new songs, but er, it's, you know, we're always trying to like change the set or, you know, change production and make sure it's er, something very different to what we've ever done before.

Host: And what an album it is aswell, yet another twist in Muse's direction really, and it's very difficult to plot where you're going next, which is one of the things I enjoy about the band really, because I think, I reckon this is your fourth morphism since we've been following you really.

Howard: Um yeah, it's, I think, you know, the face of the band is, is changed again in some kind of way. I think this time we definitely experimented a lot more it seems, in the studio that we had done in the past, we certainly spent a lot more time recording this album, that we had done in the past, but we also approached it very differently. We approached it without, thinking about, anything to do with what we'd done in the past, particularly live or any tours or anything like that. We just wanted to go down the studio and just make an album, purely for ourselves, which is kinda like what we always do but this time it was more about stripping everything back from the band and, um, kinda getting you know, back to basics, and getting back to how we used to feel when we made music when we were kids you know, just, making music for no other reason, not to play it on stage or anything like that just, making music, that makes us feel good, and inspires something. So, it took a lot longer because of that, because we experimented a lot more, but at the same time we fired a whole lot of new directions by doing so, so uh, you know, there's lots of new things that we never thought we could do on this new album certainly, maybe even afraid to do in the past that we've done this time round, so it's uh, [undecipherable]

Host: Black Holes and Revelations sounds like an album that will be uh, successful in the States as well. Is that the early feedback that you're getting?

Howard: Yeah, we'll see. It's uh, seems to be just working the same way it has done over here in Europe you know, every time we go back we do big gigs, so it's just growing, it's not like anything, it's like blown up out of nowhere, it's just gradually you know, getting bigger, so we started from playing you know, tiny little clubs to 400 people to playing, 1000 people, 4000 people, 6000 people, and I think when we go back to the West coast, we're gonna do something a bit more like this.

[Starlight is played]

Host: The last time you were here you managed to shrink the venue, which I thought was interesting, by using those giant balloons which give the whole thing a smaller feel, and it is, and I've said this a number of times, it's the best gig I've ever seen in this venue, the last time you were here, and I think it was because you achieved that because uh, the venue can feel a little bit hollow and the band can seem a little bit distant, and for three people to fill the stage is a tricky thing to do. Are you using any ploys like that this time around? Or can't we ask that?

Howard: You can, because we're going to play in a few hours [laughs] but uh, we've still got those balloons, can't let go of 'em.

Host: They're great.

Howard: Yeah, they are. But erm,

Host: I was dissapointed actually, because last time I was seated and I couldn't reach them. I was looking in envy at the people who were standing down there, and just wanted to be with them.

Howard: I know, but they're still fun. Why get rid of something that's fun. But the erm, the whole, the whole stage set has totally changed I mean we've always been really concerned of doing shows this size about you know, trying to incorporate the people who are sitting in, miles away at the back, to make them actually feel like you know, they're a part of the whole show like people down the front. So that kind of thing helps and uh, you know the-the set is probably the most kind of elaborate that we've ever done this time round, and there's lots of kind of, my drums kind of appear from this bizarre satellite-like structure that's covered in video screens, and uh you know, there's lots of screens, and like disappearing video screens hanging around. [laughs] But you know, it definately draws you right into it this time, probably more so than ever.

Host: Excellent. Tricky question. Whats been the highlight of being in Muse so far? Can you identify one moment that really stands out in your mind when you stood back, you thought wow, look at this.

Howard: You know, headlining Reading this year was a huge one. That meant the most to us I think, this ... certainly this year and, I mean the whole of our career I guess because, I mean that was actually the first festival that me, Matt and Tom - a friend of ours who's on the tour with us - uh, that we went to when we were sixteen in like 1994, and er, you know we saw the Chili Peppers headline it I think that year and, and that was just you know blew our minds, that was the first time we'd really seen like, international bands I think, international rock bands anyway, and uh, we continued to go over the years, so it really became a very special moment, and I think it was in 1996 watching Rage Against the Machine, I remember again standing there with Matt, [laughs] going, looking at that big stage and us both kind of like thinking, surely one day we can do this, and this is like, you know, one and a half years since we started Muse and I suppose, but there was a tiny little feeling in the back of our minds that we'd certainly play on that stage and, you know, and even more distant feeling that we'd possibly headline it. So we has this, we both had the same thought, we just knew something, so to go back there and do it ten years later was uh, unbelievable ... and the crowd was amazing.

Host: Do you ever get blause about it when you're standing on that stage, do you ever think 'oh here we go again'?

Howard: Uh, no, not at all. If you're hung over, you know [host laughs] I try to avoid that for a gig but uh, uh not really I mean every show's unique isn't it, you know, and we always get nervous and, the moment you stop getting nervous, then you probably need to readdress what you're doing.

Host: I mentioned a number of different guises, musical guises that you've managed to adopt. Different masks if you like really, but they all merge brilliantly together on the stage. Do you find that there are different ... are the fans zoned in some way? Do you see the fans who liked, I don't know, Origin of Symmetry and then the fans who, you know, can you seem them layered in the audience there

Howard: [laughs] I guess, I can't really feel them, I don't know. I should look harder. But often I can't see the audience but I can't really see them layered in album, but I can see them layered in different musical genres you know, so you've got like, you know the younger girls down the front, and then you've got like the metallers you know [laughs] who just like read Kerrang, and then you've maybe got some NME readers [laughs] around there and then it kind of spreads out into you know, families, older people at the back or wherever, but it definitely seems, we've noticed you know, the people who're coming to see us play, it's certainly not one type of crowd, I mean it seems to be people who like all different types of music. We were actually in London the other day, like the three of us just went out for, four of us went out for a nice Japanese meal, quite a nice place, quite a few suits around central London you know, and this guy turned around in this suit and just looked like a businessman, he was, he was like this Russian businessman, he loved Rachmaninov, and he kind of, knew who we were, and liked our band because of that kind of influence you know, and then kind of payed his respects, it was kind of nice to, it seemed weird coming from someone like that you know, who started quoting all these kind of classical piano influences you know. So, you know. It's all sorts of people I think that like our band.

Host: Well they're out there now, they're waiting for you, thanks very much for talking to me. Have a really great gig tonight.

Howard: Yeah, cheers, thank you.

See also

Back to BBC Radio Nottingham