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The Devon-upon-Entire Universe trio Muse have been coming here for years, and though they’ve been progressively growing in stature and nipping at U2’s heels in the So Big It’s Ridiculous Stakes, their performances have never been anything less than amazing.

The band will be back in the antipodes with their mind-bending, visually arresting and American-conquering Resistance tour in the next month. Drummer and occasional fake frontman Dominic Howard phoned in from New York to tell fans what to expect this time around, why rotating 360-degree risers aren’t as fun as they look and how recording bass drum sounds in a swimming pool is a totally legitimate thing to do, even when said pool is full.

“Well, you know, arenas, not stadiums. Like what they play basketball in and stuff.” There is, apparently a difference. Howard, humble rock star that he is, would like to point out that Muse are currently playing an arena, rather than a stadium tour across the US of A. Not that it makes much difference when you consider the kind of set-up the band has going at the moment. For Howard and bandmates Matt Bellamy and Chris Wolstenholme to put their current show on the road, they need no less than eighty crew members travelling with a custom-made stage. “Sometimes you can turn up and the stage is already there,” Dom jokes, “but that doesn’t work for us.” That might have something to do with the ridiculous set-up the boys have going at the moment, which includes purpose-built skyscrapers for each player, enough lights to blind an entire invading alien army and, you know, a giant UFO with an acrobat inside it.

“So it’s actually a massive helium sphere,” explains Dom, “which is controlled by two guys with ropes because naturally it just wants to float off back into space. It looks so cool and it looks good for us, too, because we have something to get distracted with given that nobody’s looking at us at that point in the song!” The subtle difference between a stadium and an arena tour, then, “is the amount of crazy shit we get to pull off. Like in Europe, we had this massive spaceship docking on the stage and we’d walk out of it.” Howard is nevertheless wary about the prospect of bringing the UFO to Australia, “We are doing one outdoor gig in Perth, though, so they might get lucky.” The rest of the bells and whistles, however, are on their way over, including the best ‘party trick’ of all, the skyscrapers.

Nobody has it worse (or better, depending on your ability to deal with heights and motion sickness) than Howard, whose drum riser not only propels up to five metres off the ground, but also spins around, while he’s playing. “When they stop [at the top] they kind of shake and wobble…it was slightly nauseating,” he says, “The whole drum riser also rotates around 360, so I can face the entire audience who are behind the stage; to be honest, that’s a bit weird. Looks cool, but it really puts me off a bit. Most times I just try to close my eyes, try and remember where the drums are!”

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squagz said on the 18th Nov, 2010

cool, not a fan of muse but awesome bits of info you picked out about them to include in here. Specially the bass drum in the pool room. Spose I would have known about that if I was a fan.


sarahanne said on the 18th Nov, 2010

Love this interview Jonno!


chico21 said on the 19th Nov, 2010

muse fans: does anyone else think the start to Stockholm Syndrome and Assassin are similar? It's just the build up to the first verse.


POF13 said on the 19th Nov, 2010

saw muse @ providence center, new jersey a couple of weeks ago. first time i had seen them do their own show - it was spectacular and would advise to get a gig now !


POF13 said on the 19th Nov, 2010

saw muse @ providence center, new jersey a couple of weeks ago. first time i had seen them do their own show - it was spectacular and would advise to get a gig now !


demonofthefall said on the 19th Nov, 2010

They're not bringing the UFO to Australia?! Damn. Great interview though!


toxikon said on the 19th Nov, 2010

so are they bringing the resistance tour stage or the augmented reality stage?


justindoubt said on the 20th Nov, 2010

resistance tour stage. ufo is for stadiums whilst the skyscrapers are arenas.


Atomic said on the 22nd Nov, 2010

I've already packed my fisheye lens into my camera bag to make sure I can capture the enormity of their stage set .


Symphonies said on the 22nd Jul, 2013

don't u think all their albums are the same


gumbuoy said on the 23rd Jul, 2013

epic bump dude,

but you should listen to Sunburn and then Madness, and then try to say "all their albums sound the same" with a straight face


lineofbestfit said on the 23rd Jul, 2013

muse fans, why are muse the suckiest sucks that ever did suck?


shazie said on the 23rd Jul, 2013

They were trying to imitate their hero, Ben Gibbard.


lineofbestfit said on the 23rd Jul, 2013

shazie how can you think matt belamey is talented seriously?


gumbuoy said on the 23rd Jul, 2013

Since when were you interested in a serious conversation about music, bestie?


AnnySi said on the 25th Jul, 2013

excellent! i adore them!