Radioundecover - interview (1999) with Chris

Teignmouth, Devon is finally on the map has a generator of international rock acts. The town's first major claim to fame is 3 piece Muse. Guitarist Matthew Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenhome and drummer Dominic Howard are three friends who have been playing together since they were 13. The press make comparisons to Radiohead, you can make up your own mind. Chris spoke with Undercover's Tim Cashmere

TC> Well, we're here with Chris from the band Muse, and I guess we'll move straight into the album Showbiz. You've co-produced four songs on there, are you all studio literate? 
C> Um, not really, sort of, to an extent. That was done because originally the songs that we did were done before we had actually recorded the album and we did two limited edition EP's and some of those songs were from that. So it was basically an engineer that we knew, he just came in and we co-produced it with him and it wasn't any major production on it really. It was mainly ideas and things like that it wasn't so much the mix or anything like that, mainly just ideas and stuff like that. TC> Is there anyone you've modeled your production work on? C> Not really! [laughs] [laughs some more] 

TC> Well an interesting statistic, and it's from your bio, so bio's are usually full of shit, but you've got eighty songs written, is that true!? 
C> Yeah, but we've been together for like six years, so if you talk about every single song we've ever done it would probably go over a hundred. But some of them are absolute shit so, but I think probably we've got about twenty or thirty that we play and rotate around the set. We've got the songs off the album and the B-sides and stuff, and a few new tracks as well. 

TC> So does that mean that you don't have to write anything for the next six albums? 
C> It would all be totally new stuff, but if we were to go and do an album now, it would probably be half brand new stuff and half old stuff. But we'd rather wait until we've got all completely new stuff. 

TC> Well you've mentioned a few of the great bands of the nineties as your influences but the two that seem to have stuck out... 
C> Radiohead and Nirvana? [laughing] 

TC> Gee, no... no... ahhh... 
C> That biography really has changed. It was done about a year and a half ago. It was all pretty. We got an NME journalist to do it and he took us for coffee and we did it and it just came out crap. But we're going to change it too, because everyone still thinks we're all twenty as well because that's what it says on the bio, where me and Matt are actually twenty one and Dom's twenty two now, so it needs really updating. 

TC> It sure does! Well who are some of your favorite bands around now? 
C> Um... Rage Against The Machine, Primus, Nirvana, they're good. With the Nirvana and Radiohead thing, what we were actually talking about in the bio was the fact that they were probably the two most influential bands of the decade for most bands. Not necessarily for us, they were just the two biggest guitar bands around really. We were into Nirvana when we were younger, when we were in previous bands we did covers of their stuff, it was what got us into bands really, it was what made us want to be in bands. 

TC> That was the cover band Gothic Plague, or was that wrong in the bio too? 
C> No there were two bands. Matt's band was Gothic Plague, my band was Fixed Penalty. 

TC> So they were cover bands? 
C> Yeah they were cover bands. We did Nirvana and Sonic Youth and a lot of early nineties English bands like The Sexist Things and Mega City Four and stuff like that.

TC> I've been there done that, at the parties in the backyard! 
C> That's it, yep. 

TC> Well you've had ridiculous amounts of press exposure, that's your pile of press exposure there [pointing to a 3cm thick pile of Muse articles in my bag]. I've never seen anything like that. Can you remember the first time you read an article or a review of your band? 
C> Yeah it was probably like local stuff. There's a few local magazines where we're from and they occasionally did a review of the stuff. I can't remember which one, probably when we first did a gig at the Cavern in Exeter, which is like the local venue, probably back in '94 or '95, before we were signed. That was probably one of the first, and it was quite weird because we were all just dead chuffed that our name was printed in a magazine, even though it had a circulation of about twenty. 

TC> What about the radio, have you heard yourself there? Well, I'm sure you have. 
C> I haven't heard it on the radio a lot. I don't really listen to the radio much to be honest, but it was quite weird the first time I heard it on radio, and I was just listening to... do you know Steve LeMac? The evening session in England? 

TC> Can't say I do. 
C> Well he was playing it and I was just sitting at home with my girlfriend and it came on over the radio and it was really weird. 

TC> Well you're quite a young band, although older than your bio is letting out to be. Do you get a lot of people saying "Ahh, they're just kids!"? 
C> Not really, I think in England especially there was a scene of a lot of teenage bands, teen acts sort of stuff and a lot of eighteen and nineteen year olds were in punk bands, bands like Ash and Symposium and bands like that. We got signed, I think we just sort of escaped that, being labeled with that, and the band itself has been together for six years, so even though we're young the band is not young, it's six years old the band, so I think in that sense the sound is older than we are I think. 

TC> Like dog years! Well, Muscle Museum is the next single, as I understand. Why was that song chosen? 
C> We're not really all that fussy with singles to be honest, because we're not a pop band really it doesn't really matter what songs turn out as singles. I think any song on the album could turn out as singles. It's not a pop album really, it's not like there's any real pop songs on there, so I don't think it matters too much what the singles are. 

TC> Well what about the name Muse. Where did that come from? 
C> Um, I think Matt and Dom did art at school and they had an art teacher and they were talking about art and she just started talking about Muse's and inspiration and things like that and Matt and Dom went away and looked it up in the dictionary what it meant and we just sort of just thought yeah it sounds like a cool name and it's nice and short, and it looks big when you put it on posters as well. To fill up the space it has to be big, so everyone can always see it. 
TC> Muse is quite a big word now that you mention it. I never thought of that, anyway. Do people recognize you when you walk down the street? 
C> I think the only time it's happened was once in France and it's different from country to country really, I mean now and again, but not very often. 

TC> What about muse-official.com, tell us about that. 
C> It's all right... We've got to sort out the website, we went over to America and got it set up and paid ridiculous amounts of money to get it set up and it's never really been updated since then so we're in the process of trying to get the website back to England and getting someone else to do it, although the fan sites are usually better than our own, so musescjb.net or something like that, that's a really good one.

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