Sonicnet 1999-09-20 – webchat

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

A webchat with Matthew Bellamy.

MATT - Hello there, I'm Matt from Muse and I'm traveling between Albany and Providence, doing some promotion.

rocknroll_insider_gil: I saw the guys at CMJ in New York last week in a triumphant show at S.O.B.'s. So, how did your CMJ showcase go? I know you guys played last year as well.

MATT - It went pretty well. We used all hired equipment, so there were a few tech glitches, but that's to be expected. The gig went well, we played with Feeder, it was great.

rocknroll_insider_michael: It's often hard for English bands to break big in the US. Does that worry you?

MATT - Not really, because the reason that usually happens is because they have to become famous in England at first. A lot of English bands, like Oasis, played stadiums in the UK, and then had to initially play smaller venues. Maverick will have us over here a lot. We will be touring extensively. In this country, that show definitely brought us the attention.

rocknroll_insider_gil: You guys are all pretty young, is this your first band, and tell us a bit about how you got started?

MATT - This is my third or fourth band. I was in a band called Carnage Mayhem when I was 12 or 13 (laughs). Dominic was in a band called Gothic Plague. They were like the cool band in school, that everyone wanted to be in. I ended up joining Dom's band. I got them to kick their guitarist out! Chris was in a band called Fixed Penalty. We used to do gigs together with Gothic Plague. So, it was like a school band thing. The sound was like angry Sonic Youth stuff. It was quite punk. All those bands split up, and me Dom and Chris decided to carry on together. Muse was originally called Rocket Babydolls, that was like, the first gig we did was a battle of the bands. We wore loads of goth makeup and dyed our hair, played about six songs and smashed all the equipment. We got all our mates to invade the stage! It was a real sorta rock and roll show! All the other bands we were competing with were older and their music was boring compared to our, so we wound up winning the competition. So it was quite strange to win and it didn't go down very well with the older, local bands. So, we learned that it wasn't about just being a technically competent musician, it's more about vibe, feel and performance. Just really expressing stuff, with real emotions. About a month later, we changed to Muse, because we won instruments, so we decided to take music a bit more seriously. From then on, we started writing songs and playing a few gigs.

rocknroll_insider_gil: It sounds like you took all that theatricality and put it into the music, instead of the make-up and stage show. Why the switch? Was there anything, personally, that helped you make that decision to refocus?

MATT - It's realizing that you want to communicate through your songs. People could see that we wanted to make a statement with the show. We wanted the people to relate to it. We were about 16 at the time. At that time, you're growing up, you're dealing with girlfriends, so were able to grow and change the music.

rocknroll_insider_michael: What was the inspiration for the song "Muscle Museum"?

MATT - It's about the conflict between the body and the soul or mind. It's how sometimes one element of your being will not allow something to happen. For example, say your body wants to have sex with a girl but your mind reminds you that you have a girlfriend. It's that inner conflict.

rocknroll_insider_michael: More generally, what kinds of things inspire you to write songs, and can you give me some examples?

MATT - It's usually personal experience. I feel that religion doesn't answer a lot of questions that we have today. The song "showbiz" is about how we all have an inside personality that we sort of hide from the outside. There's a few unintended love songs as well. The song I wrote about the girl was written in the studio after a phone conversation with her. We called it "Unintended" because it came out of nowhere, and I didn't mean it to happen, all of these feelings for this girl.

rocknroll_insider_gil: There are definitely aspects of glam rock and very emotionally-rich 70s rock on songs like "Sunburn," but also more contemporary '90s band, such as Radiohead. What kinds of bands did you listen to as a kid that inspired your current sound?

MATT - For me, Spanish and a South American composer called Villa-Lobos. He wrote some amazing, compassionate, Spanish folk music - influenced music. He influenced me at an early age. At the same time, I was really into Nirvana when they first came out. Also bands like Primus, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, and I was also into singers like Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone. I used to listen to a lot of choir music by a composer called Palestrina. So I think it was a combination of the really heavy guitar rock and the angelic vocals. And also, the passion of the Spanish music was definitely a big thing when I was growing up.

rocknroll_insider_gil: With songs that are so emotional and powerful, is it hard for you to summon the energy to perform them night after night? How do you stay inspired?

MATT - At the moment, while we're on tour, meeting tons of people, it's quite strange. The only thing that is reality for me is playing the music, it's the one thing during the day when I truly feel like I'm being myself.

rocknroll_insider_gil: Do you find yourself being so lost in the music you sometimes forget where you are?

MATT - Oh yeah. I've had out of body experiences at times. When I sing certain notes that take so much physical force to get out, it can feel like you're floating, moving out of the body, it's quite strange. When it's good, that's what it feels like.

rocknroll_insider_gil: Where do you go when you leave your body? Can you recall any of the places you've been, or if you brought something back that ended up in a song?

MATT - (laughing) Sometimes when I'm playing a song live, I can experience what it was that inspired me when I wrote it. It can be experiencing a particular experience with a particular person.

rocknroll_insider_gil: How have British audiences responded to this album? And is the American response any different?

MATT - The album isn't out yet. It's actually out in France, strangely enough. But the press' response has been really good, we've had some excellent reviews. Not directly. I'm sure that stuff influenced bands that influenced me. I used to like The Clash. My older brother was into them.

rocknroll_insider_michael: Have the Radiohead comparisons bothered you?

MATT - No. There's two things that make me understand why we've been compared. Thom Yorke is influenced by Jeff Buckley, and John Leckie produced "The Bends" and John Leckie also produced our album. But, when people see us live, they see that we're more of a rock band.

rocknroll_insider_gil: What's been your best, most surreal, or most fun experience in the U.S. so far?

MATT - That's difficult to answer, but getting off the plane and getting into a limousine, that was a shock. Driving around drinking champagne was a funny experience, the whole thing was a surreal experience. Woodstock was strange. We were there the day of the riots.

musecaveman: Where can I get Muse EP and Muscle Museum EP from? I've looked everywhere!

MATT - You can try KMA Music 01803-291729, that's in England. I think they're sold out, if not, just look in second-hand record shops in England.

b3autifulfreak: you mentioned in another interview that you used to do a lot of early nineties covers, is there any chance of you releasing any of these at a later date?

MATT - Um, maybe. Maybe as b-sides, but I don't think for this album. Maybe in the future, after the second or third album, we may do something.

musecaveman : Are you looking forward to playing with Skunk Anansie next month?

MATT - Yeah. It'll be the first major tour, playing big venues in England, that we're doing, so we're looking forward to that a lot.

musecaveman: What's the next single going to be after "Cave"?

MATT - Probably "Muscle Museum" (in England).

rocknroll_insider_michael: Are you into Skink Anansie? I mean Skunk...I like some of their stuff.

MATT - They're a very good live band.

XiBe: Did you check about the other (USA) Muse before you took this name ?

MATT - They came to see us play in London, at the Borderline. After we had already had arguments with them about the trademark. But I think they were splitting up and gave up on the trademark. So we've got the Muse trademark for the world, I think, I hope.

strathcarnage : On "sunburn," you seem to complain about corporate shows. Does that mean you're fed up with showcases already?

MATT - No, not really. (laughing) It's just a funny thing to sing when you're doing those things, it's just a joke, really.

cheapandtacky: It might be obvious but is it called Muscle Museum as the letters MUSE appear in it twice or coincidence?

MATT - In most dictionaries, if you look us Muse, you'll find "muscle" above muse, and "museum" directly below it.

strathcarnage: Matt, any wise words for the Mayor of Teignmouth?

MATT - (laughing) Stop worrying about tiny things. That's all he ever does. Try and sort out the e coli in the water!

rocknroll_insider_gil: Are you going to keep touring the U.S., and if so, when?

MATT - Yes. We'll be touring in November. Probably until before Christmas, and then we'll probably in February.

XiBe : Atheism or Agnosticism ?

MATT - Undecided.

cheapandtacky : I first saw you supporting Feeder in Cardiff and you were great....any chance you'll be back in Cardiff as the main act...?

MATT - We're playing Newport with Skunk Anansie. After that, I'm not sure.

CloudKicker2: If you could bang any famous people who would it be?

MATT - Uh, Madonna! (laughing) Um, heh, that'll do! PJ Harvey!

annabel_mariabel : Was a UK indie chart top ten position the point of sending us all to CWNN shops?

MATT - Uh, yes, maybe.

rocknroll_insider_michael: What do you think of the hip-hop/hard rock thing that's popular now in the us, with Korn and Limp Biskit , etc., etc.

MATT - I like Korn's second album. Dom the drummer really likes Limp Bizkit. I'm looking for something new.

scfroggie : If you could quote only one lyric from your songs, what would it be?

MATT - "Come waste your millions here."

torianus: Do you feel that Tony Blair's pro-Oasis stance has hurt British Indie-Pop's political credibility in terms of the emerging EU?

MATT - I don't know, I don't care.

cheapandtacky: How do you manage to get such a full sound with only 3 people, do you ever wish you had 5 members like (dare I say) Radiohead?

MATT - (laughs) We may get a forth person in a few years, probably a piano player. But, at the moment, live I use two guitar amps and the guitar synthesizer as well. So, it sounds like three guitars.

strathcarnage : How come "Balloonatic" became "Twin"?

MATT - How did you know that it used to be called "Balloonatic?" The answer is "Balloonatic" is the name of a children's program that was on TV when we wrote the song. When I did the lyrics, it became "Twin."

musecaveman : Do you often get recognised? Me and my friend recognised you at Leeds Festival and he got you to sign a plate.....

MATT - (laughs hysterically) I do remember that! In the tent, after watching Six by Seven. No, not really, but in venues, gigs and festivals, but not in everyday life.

rocknroll_insider_michael: What have you heard lately that you really dig-- something you consider a "new sound"?

MATT - Uh, good question. Six by Seven, a band called Cable and some of the new stuff that the Deftones are working on. Also, Rage Against The Machine's new stuff. I saw their gig at London's Astoria, and some of the stuff he was doing on the guitar, I've never seen before. (laughs) Thanks, cheers, I'm off now. Bye, buy our album. Thanks!

See also

Go back to Sonicnet