Melody Maker 1999-06 – Interview

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This transcription may be inaccurate as we have not seen an original copy.

Best to get it out of the way immediately. Comparisons are bound to come flying as soon as people grab hold of the first few bars of Muse's first widely available single, "Uno".

Muse, I put it to you, that on occasion you sound more than a little bit like those prog-rock behemoths, the once-mighty Radiohead. A lazy link perhaps, but one that you're going to have to get used to fielding. How, then, do you plead?

"Well, we obviously can't deny it totally," shrugs lead singer and chief songwriter Matthew Bellamy. "There is a similarity there, but we're much more than just a fill-in until their next album comes out. We're really not in the business of just peddling some lame pastiche. We're Muse, not Radiohead de-caff."

Spun like a true professional. Matthew Bellamy, it is sobering to note, as with the other two members of the band, Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard, is 20 years old. 0nly 10 years old when Madchester reigned, the current Mondays reunion must seem like karaoke night down the local social club to them. Shaun Ryder has bruises older than this lot. Schoolmates hailing from the sleepy coastal town of Teignmouth, you can't help but identify in Muse's music the ennui and sanity-stripping boredom that comes from living in a quintessentially English seaside resort.

"It can be mind-numbing," recalls Matthew with a shudder. "In the winter it's a ghost town. Everywhere's closed and there really isn't anything to do. Come the summer though, and I don't know which is worse, all these tourists descending upon us like a swarm of flies. You just end up staying in all year round. Music is the only obvious means of escape when you're a kid."

There's a hundred new bands out there that sound like Radiohead - most of them as worthwhile as a can of carbonated dog piss - what sets Muse apart from all those tired copyists is what first alerted us to the fact that Thom and the boys were more than just one-hit wonders. They will genuinely move you. They will make you feel almost uncomfortable when exposed to the naked emotion and raw sincerity that pumps through the 80 or so songs they've already stockpiled.

"For us," explains Matthew again, "the only two groups to have really meant anything in the Nineties have been Radiohead and Nirvana. Radiohead around about when 'The Bends' came out, though. There was a genuine vulnerability and sense of innovation about those two bands that set them apart. You got the impression that they were genuinely exploring themselves, rather than just their big brother's record collection. Britpop was just an exercise in imitation. 'Tonight, Matthew we are also going to be The Small Faces!' Utterly pointless."

Muse are more than just Thom/Kurt copyists. They articulate emotions that will draw you in and they have even better tunes, if the handful of songs they've released so far are anything to go by. Listening to current single " Uno" and other tracks like " Muscle Museum" and " Instant Messenger", you're more than likely to pick up on the odd little strands of melody that give the songs a distinctly exotic edge. Matthew?

"I spent some time travelling, just bumming around Europe when I left college. I think it's good to expose yourself to other influences other than just the small narrow-minded few that too many people content themselves with. It makes things more interesting."

So when you realise you haven't felt tempted to listen to "OK Computer" in the last 12 months because it's so self indulgent, turn instead to Muse. You'll wonder how people this young can sound so heartbreakingly lovelorn and lovely. F*** knows what state they'll be in when they hit 30.

Sean Price

See also

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