Interview with Matt Bellamy and Dominic Howard by Warner Music Spain
This interview was made by Warner Music Spain and released in the digital version of the Spanish newspaper EL PAÍS on the 15th October 2009.
MUSE: The Resistance
The new album comes out on the 15th September.
- Question: The Resistance is your new album. What are the differences regarding the previous albums?
Bellamy: I think what we wanted to change is that we wanted to produce an album alone. And we wanted to work in a home studio so we had no pressures of time. This is quite different to everything we have done before because we had absolutely no outside influences at all: no producer, no record company, no management, nothing. We were left to our own devices, to do our own ideas. And this way we came with an album which is very pure to Muse, very more like… maybe in some ways return to normality from the last album. But also, at the same time, we did discover some new things which we never tried before like the symphonic music but also some electronic things like Undisclosed Desires. It was a nice discovery, and I think we surprised ourselves that producing ourselves actually created an interesting result.
- Question: Is The Resistance a renovation of Muse’s sound or a continuation of Black Holes and Revelations?
Bellamy: For me is like renewed because… the first album, the second album was quite easy ‘cause we had many many ideas. The third album, the fourth album was a little bit more… a little bit more of a battle to find something new but we got surprised as with this album the ideas came very easily and recording process was… We had some difficulties but we were much more sure of ourselves, we were much more sure about what we wanted to be and what we anted to do. So, I think it’s a nice surprise that, in some ways, the fifth album was easier to make than the last album and it’s giving me a lot of… so, it makes me feel like we are very reg… very refreshed and renewed a little bit.
Howard: It was almost… I think we were just, in comparison to the last album, this time we were very relaxed. I felt we were kind of stressed last time in comparison and that… You know, having your own studio and more time to do things but I think that being in a more relaxed environment it seemed to help with the kind of speed of the recording and the kind of decision making of ideas and feeling confident enough to finish the song… ‘Cause that was pretty… It’s kind of hard to finish songs sometimes and I think last time we went around in lots of circles trying to discover ideas but what we learned from that is this time to be quite… a bit kind of more disciplined or strict with ourselves: finish a track and… and, you know…
Bellamy: And live with what we’ve done.
Howard: And live with what we’ve done, yeah.
- Question: Tell us about Uprising, the first single and the album’s first song. Does it have any Glam Rock influences?
Howard: It… yeah, that’s… that’s kind of quite influenced by a bit of almost like T-Rex or Glam Rock or something like that. So, I guess, you know that song musically, that song is very kind of like positive and uppie and kind of fun really. I don’t think we’ve done anything that’s sounds as uppie as that really.
Bellamy: I mean, I think there is an interesting contrast with the lyrics. The lyrics are quite political, you know. So I think it’s quite interesting mix, mixing this kind of Glam Rock quite fun, sort of pop thing, with some quite serious lyrics. It’s quite an interesting contrast.
- Question: You have recorded the new album in your studio in Lake Como (Italy) in a very relaxed environment. How did that feel during the recording?
Bellamy: I think… I think it had as well as being a little bit relaxed and a little bit separate of normal life, it had another strange influence in the… I’ve realised I miss England quite a lot and I found myself watching a lot of English news and reading English newspapers. I found myself following the political situation in England quite close, maybe because I’m far away. So I think that… some kind of objective feeling of missing England which is come out in the album a little bit.
- Question: In the album there’s a more important use of electronic, and you’ve also used large orchestras.
Bellamy: I think it’s natural. It feels like a natural progression as you’re growing old you’re looking forward something new, something new to interest yourself, also something to challenge yourself, you know, I mean, doing orchestrations was… it takes a lot of time and you have to learn to respect other musicians way of playing, you know. And this is a different kind of challenge to working with just synthesizers which is just like a machine. They do exactly as they are told, never… Working with orchestrations is a different type of challenge all together. Also, electronics… electronics [Looks to Dom].
Howard: We did lots of … I mean, Undisclosed is a quite very influenced electronic song and for me it feels like something… it’s very different than what we’ve done before in the band. And that was all new for us. It was kind of new programming the drums, and working with samples and synths and things like that. It was something that was new for the band and myself trying to do.
Oh, yeah, Supermassive Black Hole is kind of, you know, was looking in that direction. But I think with Undisclosed we took that kind of concept of working with electronics a little bit further with this song. And it was definitely pretty… a bit challenging. I think Undisclosed is one of the songs we thought we definitely needed help with from a producer. And I think we kept pushing it to one side, thinking “we will do it a little bit later” but it reached a point where we said to finish it*. And I think that once we did, I think… it’s got a pretty fresh sound because of it, because for us is a very new thing to discover.
- Question: It looks like there are lot’s of influences from the Brit Rock of the 70’s: Queen, David Bowie, …
Bellamy: I think… I think we’ve always felt a connection with Queen because they are interested in rock music and classical music, you know. And I think it’s something we have in common, you know. I think Eurasia is the most Queen-influenced song, you know… Bowie… I think maybe we listened to a little bit of Bowie when we were working on Undisclosed, which had like this kind of slap bass style which is something a little bit similar to Scary Monsters by Bowie. I think this album was one that we listened to a little bit when we were making the album.
Bellamy: The song is… Eurasia is kind of a little bit ironic because it starts with the idea of peace and unification and by the time the song gets the end, it’s become a scary national anthem to a new superpower like, you know… This kind of place with a paradox: wanting unification, wanting peace but also the fear of creating some kind of a new superpower just more powerful than America, you know. The song is definitely influenced by geopolitics. The Grand Chessboard is a book which I read around the time of making the songs so that book definitely had an influence on the song.
- Question: Is there any similitude between the lyrics of this album and the previous one?
Bellamy: Yeah, it has some lyrical connections definitely. But I think there’s like… more, more of an emerging defiance. Or like a… like an optimism for change and like the strength to make that change. I think that comes through more in the new album than the last album. Maybe… I think… [Laughs]
- Question: Did you conceive The Resistance as a conceptual album before recording it? Did you think of releasing it in a different way?
Howard: I think… Well, I think that probably before we started making the album we were unsure to how it was gonna sound but also how we were going to release the music or let the music go. I think there was a time we were talking about releasing, you know, kind of groups of songs* and releasing it individually rather than altogether but…
Bellamy: You know, we still… we’re gonna release… I think it was going to be… I think we’re going to put at least two songs… Two songs are going to come out before the album, probably Eurasia an maybe Uprising, we will be almost like two separate singles at the same tine before… But really, when we started working we realised that the album was a good piece of work like an album, so we decided to go with the album.
Howard: Yes. It just felt like when we were* gathering all the songs together, it floated nicely together… You know, the tracks just, as much as the tracks had their own personality and they sound very very different from each other, as one it just seemed to work. So, I mean, we had to release them altogether again. [Laughs]
- Question: Do you feel influenced by any current band?
Howard: I think the music we’ve made is always been kind of quite different from the contemporary music scene, you know, and as much as we’ve changed over the years it’s, you know, we always kind of felt on the outside of what seems to be happening, particularly in the U.K.
Bellamy: Knights of Cydonia is quite influenced by the music of my father who was in a band called The Tornados from the 1960’s. Yeah, yeah, The Tornados, that was my father’s band and it was like a sort of space surf – surf rock in the 1950’s.
* The transcriptions in these parts might be inaccurate.