Liverpool Echo 2009-10-30 – MUSE: From Starlight to bright lights

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An article-come interview with Christopher Wolstenholme, running up to the 5th November concert inside Echo Arena, Liverpool.

MUSE: From Starlight to bright lights

Oct 30 2009 by Jade Wright, Liverpool Echo

IT’S been a decade since Muse first burst onto the music scene, proudly picking up the prog rock mantle where ELO left off.

With bright, space age sounds and orchestral rock configurations, they bagged a clutch of gongs – five MTV Europe Music Awards, five Q Awards, six NME Awards, two BRIT awards and four Kerrang! Awards.

They’ve played all over the world, headlined more festivals than they can remember and even been awarded honorary doctorates for their contribution to music.

But one thing has been sadly lacking...

“I don’t think we’ve done a big show in Liverpool since 1999,” admits Chris Wolstenholme, the band’s bass player and backing vocalist.

We played the Royal Court with Skunk Anansie and had an amazing time. So I can’t work out why we haven’t been back sooner.

“I like Liverpool. There’s a perception that maybe it’s a bit scary, a tough city. But that’s rubbish. Everyone I’ve met has been really friendly.

“But I think maybe part of the problem was that you didn’t have an arena. We tended to play Manchester because there was a space that would work for our shows. Now that you have that in Liverpool, we can’t wait to come back.”

Expect fireworks when the band play on November 5. And not just because it’s bonfire night.

The Muse stage show has passed into music legend. With spectacular lightshows, flames, fireworks, glitter and acrobatic dancers, it’s a feast as much for the eyes as for the ears.

“If you’re going to play to more than about 5,000 people you need to put on a massive show,” explains Chris.

“Once you get past the point where not everyone can see what you’re doing on stage, you have to do something extra special.

“We’ve all been to those gigs where there are no screens, no lightshow and from the back you can’t see a thing. I’d rather sit at home with my iPod than go out to a gig like that.”

The band are touring to promote their new album, The Resistance, which sees them take their sound to greater heights.

“This is the first one we’ve produced ourselves, so we’re extra proud of it,” laughs Chris.

Its title sees the band tackling the media coverage of global events. Its contents are even less subtle, with singer Matt screaming “I want the truth,” on Unnatural Selection, while, on MK Ultra, he begs the question [sic] “How much deception can you take, how many lies can you make?”

“I suppose it’s about wanting people to wake up,” says Matt. “But I think that’s happening anyway. With the globalisation effect of the internet, people are more conscious about what’s happening in the world, and what’s being carried out in their name.

“This was definitely the most fun we’ve had making a record,” says Matt. “The music might be heavy, but the experience of making it was very light-hearted.

“We were making Undisclosed Desires and Chris just started playing slap bass, like some awful 80s funk bassist. It was one of those moments where we looked at each other and just fell about laughing,” he says.

“But then we thought if we were laughing it must be good, or at least entertaining, so we went with it. It ended up being lower in the final mix, though. We don’t want to sound like Level 42.”

But as well as the technical demands, being their own producers meant they had to take criticism from each other.

“It’s a bit like teaching your girlfriend how to drive,” laughs Chris.

“You have to be able to criticise each other and take it as it’s meant. I had to accept that if I did a take and it was rubbish the others would tell me.

“Thankfully we’re good enough friends to be able to do that.”

Muse play the ECHO arena on November 5, 0844 800 3680

See also

Go back to Liverpool Echo