Interview: Muse 03/2001
Musing with the best of them

Muse return with their long awaited new single "Plug In Baby" this month - a song which I recently gave only three out of five when I reviewed it and has since grown on me like a month old mushroom. Thankfully drummer Dominic Howard saw it in his heart to forgive this terrible oversight and agreed to answer some deep probing questions. But I asked him these ones instead:

AD: First of all, how come we’ve had to wait so long for "Plug In Baby" to be released?

DH: Er...well it HASN’T been that long has it? I suppose if it seems that way it’s just because we were touring all last year. I mean we did 50 festivals! Plus we were out of the country in Japan and Australia. Japan was amazing because all the fans over there are very full on and very excited. We’d get back to the hotel and there’d be people waiting for you outside;it was really weird. Then Australia was fantastic in other ways because it was really hot and relaxed.

AD: How did it feel, so early in your career as Muse, to be on the cover of the NME being touted as the best new band in Britain and in what way has your life changed since then?

DH: I know it seems like it’s been quick but what people don’t realise is that we’ve been playing together for seven years so it’s never really blown up quickly. We were Gothic Plague and for one gig we were Rocket Baby Dolls. That was for a band competition and we just thought we’d take the piss by wearing really way out white make up and smashed our instruments at the end. We were just trying to make a point by taking the piss out of the competition and we ended up winning it! That was when we realised maybe we were onto something. But yeah it’s always a shock when things like that happen.

AD: It says on the press release that Muse came into being after Matthew "began accompanying the invocational wailings of three local witches." What the hell’s all that about?

DH: Dear oh dear. Press releases eh? Matthew was kind of hanging around with these girls who were massively into the arts, mainly acting and music. Anyway there were three in particular who were really into this strange singing and more occult stuff....

AD: Like running around naked in the garden?

DH: Er...yeah...that kind of thing. Anyway after a while one of them said "A strange muse has descended over the city" and the name kind of stuck.

AD: I noticed on the sleeve notes of "Showbiz" that every track was written by Matthew. Is that the same again this time or is it more of a joint effort as regards songwriting?

DH: It’s pretty much the same again this time but the rest of us work out all the arrangements so it’s always a joint effort in that respect.

AD: If you had to pick a personal favourite Muse track, what would it be and why?

DH: I really like the new stuff actually. I particularly like "Plug In Baby" actually. That song’s about putting emotion into something that has no soul - like a child’s teddy bear or a computer. And also what it would be like if we could genetically engineer puppies that never grow old.

AD: I read on an unofficial website that Matthew thinks you smell of Boots deodorant, so I thought I’d give you the chance to tell the world what you think HE smells of....

DH: Boots deodorant?!!? Ha. In that case he.....smells of rotting feet! Yes, he needs to change his socks more often!!

AD: The charts have been looking pretty promising this year for rock and indie bands. Do you think boy bands really ARE dying out and what do you hope to achieve this year given the upturn in fortunes of guitar laden acts?

DH: I don’t know. I think there’s always a serious change in the look of the charts at the start of a new decade going right back to the fifties and probably even before that. The last five years of the nineties was really pop orientated and I think you have to have that every now and again. It seems to have got a bit extreme right now with bands like Limp Bizkit dominating. We met them at a big LA rock gig and played with them. Anyway I really like bands like the Deftones, Rage Against The Machine, Deus and Soulwax at the moment. Music’s pretty healthy right now. Regarding us, we’re going to take it a little easier this year - we’re certainly not doing fifty festivals again!

AD: Finally, what’s all this about a fight with Liam Gallagher’s bodyguard?

DH: Oh that was in Belgium - we were playing a festival there and we decided to have a game of football. Chris kicked a ball at this window and it turned out to be Oasis in there. Their bodyguard was none too chuffed about it.

Well. I was hoping that was going to end up as "and then we kicked the living daylights out of him culminating in a full blown ruck" but sadly, it just ended with the aforementioned bruiser getting a little stroppy with the younger, more talented band and each going their separate ways. Still, I’m sure a fight will ensue if the new single and album aren’t critically and publicly embraced as they should be.

Interview by Tone.E


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