Matt Bellamy and Dominic Howard joined us to chat about their favourite conspiracy theories, secret side projects and what exactly Thought Contagion is
Thanks guys, we loved your questions. – DH
Really enjoyed talking to you and will continue on Twitter later. – MB
Chris, what’s your favourite young and upcoming band?
Chris isn’t here sadly, but I like that band Judah and the Lion. I heard some artist, I think a bit of a solo act, called Grandson, the other day, and it sounds a bit like weird, heavier Twenty One Pilots, Nine Inch Nails kinda thing, sounds cool. He’s literally just released a few singles. – DH
I quite like the look of that band that played the NME awards, Pale Waves – that was the first time I’d heard of them. – MB
Do you prefer building sandcastles or snowmen?
I build sandcastles on a regular basis so I’m gonna choose snowmen cos I don’t get to do that very often. – MB
I’d probably choose snowmen as well. Trying to think back to the last time I did that… When I was a kid and it rarely snowed I really enjoyed rolling up that huge ball of snow. I once built an igloo with my sister – no shit – and got inside it. – DH
Will the setlists for the next tour provide more room for rarities (Muscle Museum, B&H, Dead Star, Showbiz, etc.) seeming that your fans love older material more? And less filler songs, perhaps, like NKOK, Interlude, Isolated System?
Regarding rarities, it’s more likely that we’ll do occasional shows for the hardcore fans that want rare and early material. Regarding the bigger shows, the majority of the audience don’t respond to the rare deep cuts. And filler songs – sometimes I need a vocal break. – MB
They do like each other but Floyd’s a bit older than Hazel so he’s now ready to chase the girls around a little bit, and Hazelnut’s a bit too young for him, which he recognised when they met, so I was quite proud of him. He was more interested in the older ladies right in front of Hazel. Maybe trying to make her jealous… – DH
Have you ever fallen in a hole?
I have, yeah. It was like a hidden drain or something, my leg went all the way in and I scratched really badly the back of my leg and up my arse. It was pretty disgusting there for a while. – DH
Only dark psychological holes. – MB
Which of the following chocolate bars – Galaxy, Milky Way, Mars – is most likely to crop up in one of your song titles?
Milky Way for sure, firstly because it’s my favourite chocolate bar. Supermassive Black Hole is the centre of the Milky Way, so it’s already featured. Cydonia is a place on Mars… – MB
BumBum Bummy BumBum asks:
Do you miss playing tiny gigs to 50 people in bars and clubs?
Absolutely not! I mean, not to 50 people. With Muse, probably not, I think our music doesn’t really work that well in those venues, but that Dr Pepper’s Jaded Hearts Club thing we did – we did a couple of birthday parties to about 50 people and really enjoyed it actually. – MB
Who is your favourite rapper and why?
I really like Kendrick Lamar, in terms of someone who’s current. His live shows are so theatrical and really thought out and he’s really taking his art seriously. – DH
I’ll go with Zach de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine. – MB
Do you like Bat for Lashes?
Yeah, I really like her a lot! Especially the first two albums. – MB
A recurring theme in your music is outer space – why does it fascinate you so much?
How could anyone not be fascinated by outer space?! I mean, it’s so vast and so crazy and strange, it challenges our logic and what we think, how we came to be. What I’m particularly fascinated by is where the universe came from and what it’s constructed of – these are wild questions to think about. I’m particularly interested in what people like Einstein and other physicists and biophysicists are trying to find out what the algorithmic nature of the universe is, to break it down into maths – what is it? And what I’m fascinated by is when that theory is revealed, we’ll essentially be seeing a programme of sorts – the possibility that the universe is a programme of some kind, I find that to be fascinating. The way that people understand the universe is through pure maths and they’re starting to see a set of rules that if you follow, a universe will come out of it. I’m fascinated by where that comes from – MB
Do you think that the music that the majority of millennials listen to is dumbing down our generation?
No, I don’t think that. I think the 2010s is the decade where it’s the beginning of the end of genre-specific music. Everyone seems to be genre-blending now to the point where there’s no clear separation between genres like there used to be, and I think that’s probably an exciting thing. – MB
Any chance of a UK gig this summer?
Probably not because we’re making an album and only doing four or five shows. Next year we’ll be doing a full-on tour so we’ll definitely be through the UK at some point. – MB
Cathy Sharkey asks:
There were rumours of a musical after Drones album, is it still on or have you shelved the idea?
They were nothing to do with us! I guess we’d have to collaborate with some Broadway genius. There’s nothing really there… – MB
Will you ever do another gig playing a lot of rare songs?
Yes, we’re doing one next week in Paris which is by-request – fans can vote for what they want. But – warning – we will be playing Thought Contagion. – MB
What happened to your long red coat with massive black feathers all puffed put on the sleeves from the Resistance album tour? Can I please have it?
I think we’ve got warehouses full of old touring gear and clothes – I feel like we need to go down there and go through it all. We just keep avoiding the clearout – or the clear up. It’s probably buried in a bunch of flight cases somewhere. – MB
Can I have it please? – DH
Matt, was there a specific reason you posted a picture of yourself with puppies before the release of this song?
It’s just a competition between me and Dom about who looks cutest with the puppies. – MB
Which moment of your concerts do you relish the most?
For me it’s that moment when you’re about to go on, the adrenaline, excitement, nervousness combined, and the moment you step on the stage those feelings sort of convert into energy and confidence. Nervousness before to confidence after you walk on – that’s the best feeling for me. – MB
There’s probably some key musical moments in the set that are always exciting, like we played Knights of Cydonia at the end of the set for years now because it seems to be the best closer, that bit at the end where it builds up – that’s always exciting because the crowd always kick off and react, and it’s exciting to see what they’re gonna do when it drops. – DH
Are there any plans to release the Origin of Muse set you mentioned in an interview last year?
We were thinking to get it ready for this year, but because next year is the 20th anniversary of Showbiz we might do it then. – MB
Is the Live Drones Tour release still in development? Or are we getting closer to a release?
Yes, it’s going really well. We’re mixing some augmented reality components with the show, and that’s taking a bit longer than expected. Hopefully some time this year it’ll come out. – MB
Do you guys ever look at the official Muse messageboard?
I used to quite a bit – if you wanna find out some stats about the band it’s a pretty useful place to go because people on there compile everything that we’ve ever done, chart positions, sales, stats, gigs, which can be interesting sometimes. – DH
I used to back when they liked us but zoned out after everyone slagged off Supermassive Black Hole! – MB
What happens to all the guitars that get trashed when you’re on tour?
Most of them get fixed! I’ve very rarely broken a guitar to the point where it can’t be fixed. Worst thing that happens is they get a crack in the back and you glue it back together. It looks like I break a lot but really it’s one that just gets fixed. – MB
If you were convicted of a crime punishable by death, what would you choose as your last meal?
Tacos. – DH
Penne arrabbiata. – MB
Is there any of your recorded songs you would like to delete from memory/existence forever?
No! Not songs because we wouldn’t have recorded or released them if we didn’t like them. But there might be a few music videos… like the first Uno video. A Muscle Museum video that was particularly painful… we just didn’t know what we were doing, we were young kids. Some of the early stuff. I didn’t really think Undisclosed Desires worked out that well – just didn’t look very good in the end. – DH
I thought that was alright! It wasn’t too bad – MB
I drew you, based on Drones, for a college project. It would make my day to know what you think.
Pretty dark! Quite cool. Very creative. – MB
Is Thought Contagion influenced by the 2016 US presidential election?
Probably influenced a bit by the endless news coverage in the US about that – when you watch CNN or MSNBC, all you see is Trump 24-7, it’s like they’re not interested in anything else. Was the song influenced by that? I mean, it’s probably more influenced by Richard Dawkins’ original idea of what he described as a meme, even though that word has changed meaning over time. How he originally meant is was to describe when somebody else’s ideas or beliefs, regardless of validity or accuracy, can have a way of spreading around like genes do, growing in each other’s minds and surviving. Certain ideas are very robust the way genes are robust. He was trying to find a way to describe how thoughts can be contagious and spread and have strength and grow in the way genes do through evolution. And unfortunately it’s particularly true for the people who don’t want empirical evidence applied to their belief systems – and they tend to be the most fervent. Sometimes those belief systems are the ones who spread the most.
Dom! Matt has his Beatles cover band now, do you have any of your own side projects that we can look forward to?
You cheated on Muse before I did! – MB
Well I did a couple of gigs with a friend’s band once, I just played live, so no, not really. But the Beatles band, I’m like the stand-in drummer whenever the other guy can’t make it, it seems… – DH
Which is your favourite episode of Black Mirror?
My favourite episode of Black Mirror is USS Callister. An amazing concept but our new music video, Thought Contagion, has a little bit of influence from another one, San Junipero. I really liked the virtual reality stuff, the idea that we can go back to the 80s and pretend we’re all living in the 80s. – MB
ryan robertson asks:
Out of all your album artwork, which is the best?
Maybe one of my favourites is Absolution. We did quite a few bits of artwork with Storm Thorgerson, a pretty well known, respected artist who sadly passed away. And he was an interesting guy – very opinionated but always had crazy, surreal ideas and I always thought Absolution really conjured up something. You looked at it and didn’t know what was going on with the people flying above. – DH
Is Augmented Flex the name of the new album?
When will the new album come out?
We haven’t decided yet – either later this year or early next year. – MB
What is your favourite conspiracy theory?
I read somewhere that there’s some people that believe the moon is hollow – that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever read. Is that a conspiracy theory? I’m a bit out of touch. – MB
Is this upcoming album going to be a more varied experimental body of work and can some heavier sounds (instrumentally) can be expected on some tracks?
It’s gonna be varied, definitely, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it experimental. The 2nd Law was a very experimental album. We’re hoping to end up with 10 or 12 great songs that are all varied in style but sound good. We’ll be doing lots of genre-blending and era-blending. -MB
What is your favourite Mexican food?
Tacos – shrimp. But all tacos, really. You obviously get great Mexican food in California where we spend a great deal of time. Possibly my favourite food… DH
Burrito! – MB
Will you have collaborations with an artist on your new album?
Maybe! We haven’t decided yet but we like the idea of doing something like that. We haven’t done it yet though. – MB
Dom, you finally got to play Glorious last summer!! Any luck convincing Matt to keep it on the setlist more permanently?
Yeah, we played it at Shepherds Bush Empire for the first time in about 12 years, and it was actually great – we kind of gave it away to the fans for Christmas so I’d love to play it more. I think Matt should say yes. – DH
Maybe… – MB
Matt you told that you would like to do Muse tour around regions in Russia? When are you gonna do it or was it joke?
No it wasn’t a joke – I like the idea of doing that one day. We just haven’t really got as far as investigating the trucking routing and all that stuff. It’s a big place – turns out some of those cities are thousands of miles apart. We love the idea of it though. I’ve always wanted to do a tour of Eurasia where we start in Europe and then work our way across Russia and end up in Asia. – MB
Has Matt discussed a Trent Reznor production credit with him on a future release while bumping into him on the school run? Would love to hear what that sounded like!
No I haven’t but our kids share a cubby together, they’re in the same class so his son and my son are buddies. You never know, something could happen. – MB
But I’m a massive NIN fan, so it could be cool. – DH
Apparently Muse never sleep: five months after they signed off touring for 2017, the Devonshire band are back. Their new single Thought Contagion will be unveiled this Thursday – and fans can grill frontman Matt Bellamy and drummer Dominic Howard all about it in a webchat from 12.00pm GMT on Friday 16 February.
Muse have been cagey about what fans can expect from the follow-up to their 2015 album, Drones. This new release might not even be an album, but a series of EPs and standalone singles in the vein of last year’s Dig Down. In 2017, Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme said the band were conscious of how fans consume music in the streaming age: “There’s so much emphasis on individual songs, that there was no reason why we couldn’t do that,” he told Music Feeds.