not a member? click here to sign up
People In Meath
Well, Westmeath to be more precise. Mat Bellamy of Muse explains how the pursuit of baroque goth-opera took them to rural Ireland.
Tanya Sweeney, 30 Oct 2003
A quick listen to Muse’s baroque goth-opera Absolution suggests that the album could have been concocted in some far-off Metropolis/Gotham-type environs, possibly governed by Nostradamus himself and populated largely by sociopath flamethrowers. Imagine hotpress’ surprise, then, to find that the Princes of Sonic Darkness created this opus in the unlikely parallel universe of…Westmeath.
“We started recording in London, but then we wanted to move to a residential place where we could work the hours we wanted to,” Mat Bellamy explains. “Not many bands have been to Grouse Lodge before… we were there for about six weeks and the bulk of the album was done there, the main feeling of the album definitely came from there. We wanted somewhere really quiet where we could just work and there would be no distractions.”
What, so the famous Irish hospitality proved to be little distraction then?
“Grouse Lodge actually has its own pub, which is handy to say the least. We didn’t really venture out to any other bars unfortunately. Actually, I don’t normally drink Guinness, over here in England the Guinness is pretty awful but the stuff over there is ten times better.
“We went on loads of walks in the area, up into all these bogs where you could easily fall into a hole and you wouldn’t get found for a million years. There’s loads of mysterious castles in that area, and we came across a load of wagon wheels which we managed to incorporate into the recording. We found loads of bits and pieces in the castles and used them for percussion sounds… actually, we should probably put them back as we’ve probably moved a load of historical relics or something…”
As to how the famously grandiose nature of the Muse sound (wagon wheels and all) will translate in a live atmosphere, Bellamy remains somewhat pragmatic.
“It’s difficult to capture a sense of spontaneity on the album, so the fact you get a bit extra in a live setting maybe compensates for whatever is lost from the recording. On the main tour, we will do slightly different arrangements. For example on ‘Buffalo & Hurricanes’, we will do a guitar version that is much more heavy… but I will be playing piano, and interchanging with the guitar throughout the songs.”
Bellamy is now, of course, a seasoned touring pro…his antics have long become the stuff of legend.
“Bands go through stages at different times in their life – initially, you’re blown away by the opportunity to travel, but then after a while the travelling becomes really mundane and you go a bit berserk,” he observes. “You kind of lose the plot a bit. We still go out and party, and we really enjoy the good side of touring life, even if it does leave you a little washed out. We’re going to start off by taking it easy, see a little bit of the city we’re in, but we’re going to keep it relaxed as we’ll be on tour for a year and a half.”
Any Spinal Tap tales to tell?
“Last week we did a gig in Paris and it all went a bit tits-up. We didn’t actually do a sound-check, so we hadn’t tested the sound system of the venue, so after one song on stage, the instruments soaked all the power in the venue, and the power went off. We were hanging with the crowd, trying to keep everyone entertained, so we took all the booze from our rider, put it on the amps and started making everyone cocktails. Then the lights went, so I got really pissed off, so what with the cocktails and all, I threw my guitar in the air and it accidentally landed on Dom’s face. He ended up in hospital and he needed to get stitches and a tetanus injection in his arse, which I felt a bit guilty about. ”
No wonder they called the album Absolution…
Muse’s Absolution is available now