Juice Magazine 2000-06
This transcription may be inaccurate as we have not seen an original copy.
An interview with Matthew Bellamy in the 2000-06 issue of Juice Magazine.
Matthew Bellamy is back at home in Devon, England, after yet another whirlwind tour of the States which saw his band, Muse, supporting the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Soon they'll be playing at all the big UK summer festivals before heading Down Under again in October for a proper tour.
Heralded as the new saviours of UK rock, Muse are a post-Radiohead British trio which comprises Bellamy (guitar and vocals), Chris Wolstenholme (bass) and Dominic Howard (drums). On average, they're around the 20-year-old mark and, according to their frontman, enjoying all the perks their new-found fame is providing. "It's not really bad, is it?" Bellamy chuckles.
Thanks to high rotation on Triple J and a flying, two-gig visit in March to showcase their talents, Muse are starting to gain a following thanks to singles like "Muscle Museum" and "Uno." In the States they're signed to Madonna's label, Maverick, while at home they've been pronounced Best New Band by NME and are routinely being followed on tour by vans loaded with female fans.
For the uninitiated, the sound of Muse lies somewhere between early Radiohead, Nirvana and Jeff Buckley thanks to Bellamy's at-times astonishing voice. Muse's debut, Showbiz, was produced by John Leckie, also responsible for Radiohead's The Bends. Their lead singer has an affection for scuba diving and Nina Simone, but beyond that, just who is Matthew Bellamy? juice finds out.
First, the obvious: why are you called Muse?
"I was in bands from a young age - mostly punk, experimental bands - and they were called things like Gothic Plague, Rocket Baby Dolls, names like that. With those bands I spent time learning different types of guitar, like Spanish, classical, and around that time I was into this theatre thing, which was really weird. We used to go away on trips, and there was a group of girls I was hanging around with, they'd do this dancing and singing. It sounds absolutely weird but I was doing the music for it."
Not like, performance art?
"Yeah, exactly. [Laughs] I heard someone describing these people as "muses" - that was when I found out about the word and what it meant, so I used it. "
Do you believe in the concept of the muse, someone who drives the artist?
"I believe that some of the things that drive you to write music or create is something outside of your body, an influence from outside that's unusual. "
Are you aware of the band's profile growing in the last six months?
"I think everywhere, the band has gone up a bit, but it hasn't been stupid - it hasn't blown up or anything. There's been certain comments in the press where people have suggested it, but I'm glad that hasn't happened. I don't think it will happen, not on this album anyway. "
So do you get lots of groupies?
"Offers, yeah. They say things like, "Can I come back to your bus?" or [adopts an American accent], "Do you wanna come and smoke some pot with us?" That's the most times it's ever happened, in the USA. After the Chili Peppers gigs there would be 30 or 40 girls just waiting to be plucked for them. It was weird. The band members are the ones who don't bother, it's a crew thing. It's bad. "
Do you subscribe to the whole sex, drugs, rock & roll lifestyle?
"I definitely am living the lifestyle, but what the press and media take from it is not really how it is"
What is the character trait that people would identify with you the most?
"Mood swings maybe, or schizophrenia."
Do you have any recurring dreams?
"There's one where I'm eating food and I start to feel sick. An egg comes out of my mouth, like a chicken egg. It cracks open and an animal comes out and it grows really fast. I start to feed it, it grows up really massive, and then it eats me."
What scares you?
What would be your greatest extravagance?
"A paramotor. It's a flying machine I've got, and I'm learning to use it. It costs about the price of a small car but it's a thing you put on your back, and it's got an engine, a propeller and a big parachute, and you fly around. It's really safe and really good fun."
And your idea of absolute hell?
"Have you seen that film, Casino? The bit where the guy gets beaten up by the clubs and then buried alive with his brother? Maybe that."
What would you want people to remember about you?
"That I never settled for the easy option."