jmag 2009-06-24 – Viva la Resistance!

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They sing about supermassive black holes, mix space-age riffery with western gunslingers (check the 'Knights Of Cydonia' clip) and inspire their very own sexy fan-literature, aka Muselash. Let's face it: MUSE are H.O.T. Frontman Matt Bellamy dropped jmag an email from a secret underground bunker (aka a recording studio in his hometown of Lake Como, Italy), where he's finalising touches alongside drummer Dominic Howard and bassist Chris Wolstenholme. Just what we can expect when the British trio drop their brand new record, The Resistance, due out in September? Read on...

I'm betting the new Muse album will be stripped back, recorded on four-tracks with a mix like a muddy Ramones disc... just how wrong am I?
We've always been into using whatever is the latest technologies and recording methods. To be honest, we are not keen at all on deliberate lo-fi recording techniques, as this seems to be a tribute to the past. I'm more interested in the future. So the album sounds contemporary, not retro!

Can you talk us through what sort of studio set-up you guys have over there in Italy?
It's set up in a series of underground bunker type rooms, constructed inside a mountain with a lift required to get down to the rooms. It would be possible to survive a direct hit from a nuclear bomb if you were in the deepest room with a few cans of baked beans and a gas mask. We don't have any large live rooms, just lots of small rooms, so, for example, we have one room full of guitar amps, one room full of bass rigs, one room full of tinned food, etc... with some windows connecting some of the rooms.

What are some of the studio tricks you've learnt from making Showbiz to Black Holes And Revelations? What have you learnt not to do to avoid studio madness?
To avoid madness we have learned to get on with it and not dwell over one particular aspect for too long. We actually did go mad when working on Black Holes... as sometimes we spent days doing things that should have taken minutes. A fast flow of ideas "getting to tape" is more important than technical perfection.

What's the ethos to production and mixing this time 'round - who are you working with?
Our general approach to production is that anything goes. Also, musicians tend to make the best producers as they're able to audio-visualise precisely how to solve a problem. This is why we're self-producing; in a way we've always self produced since the first album. We are working with Adrian Bushby, who is a great engineer and we are currently mixing with Spike Stent, which [sic] who is making things sound fresh, fat and aggro.

Does winning "Sexiest Male" at the NME Awards means you're only gonna write about being a sex symbol now? Or are there other themes popping up on new tracks?
Not sure what happened there - I think some of our hardcore messageboard fans ganged up on the NME voting website to wind me up! The album contains the usual mix of song themes, from desire for political change to love songs to songs about bankers hanging from lampposts.

We're told the new record will be "orchestral". Which means what, exactly? Church organs and batons, or...
There is only really one track (in 3 x 4 minute sections) at the end of the album, which could be called symphonic due to presence of an orchestra throughout. The church organ is on one of the "normal" songs.

There are 120 pages of speculation on the Muse messageboard about the new record (including photos of llamas). How do you feel about so much speculation? Does it put any pressure on, or could you really not give a toss?
Not sure how they found out that llama toenails are back after a long hiatus. We used them on Origin Of Symmetry, but they are back with a vengeance on this album. It doesn't put on pressure - it's nice to know people are interested!

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