Matt Bellamy tells us about going solo, Muse’s next move and “embracing the simple life” of lockdown
Matt Bellamy has been enjoying the quiet life. Yes, really. The eccentric Muse frontman, famed for his love of high tech and a fascination with outer space and conspiracy theories, seems to have been brought back down to earth by the coronavirus lockdown.
Aside from encouraging fans to support healthcare workers in this trying time, he tells us that he’s been rather into cleaning out his garage, cooking more, home-schooling his son and “growing carrots and stuff like that”. But fear not – domesticity has not destroyed the rockstar within Bellamy, but instead inspired him to take a different path with his music. Case in point: his blissed-out new solo song ‘Tomorrow’s World‘; a stripped back orchestral piece where the singer simply concludes, “Our world could be so full of joy –don’t you waste it.”
“The lyrics are just about what it feels like to be going through lockdown and trying to convert that into an appreciation of living the simple life a little bit more,” Bellamy tells NME from lockdown in L.A. “It’s about to trying to embrace it rather than fighting against it.”
This marks Bellamy’s second solo outing since releasing ‘Pray (High Valyrian)’ from the Game Of Thrones soundtrack last year – so does this mean he’s going it alone? To find out, we had a quick chat about quarantine inspiration, the band’s next move, Muse’s new live film which they describe as “their version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and what’s in store his rock’n’roll covers supergroup The Jaded Hearts Club
Hello Matt. Tell us a little bit of where ‘Tomorrow’s World’ came from?
“I’ve always had these pieces of music, usually piano-based, that are these meandering-dreamy things that I write but don’t always fit with Muse. I just put them to one side and think, ‘That could work for a film soundtrack one day’. ‘Tomorrow’s World’ was one of them, and then during lockdown I just started singing on it.”
And it didn’t feel right as a Muse song?
“Muse will always be my priority, but the lockdown really pushed me into a place of questioning, ‘What would I do if I was alone? What kind of music would I be into?’ The answer is songs like this. I’ve basically connected with my inner Enya! I’ve realised that without Dom [Howard] thrashing on the drums and without Chris’ [Wolstenholme] menacing bass-playing, I probably tend to lean more into the ethereal and dreamy world of music. That fits what it feels like at this time to be in your head.”
Would you consider making a solo album?
“I can imagine myself putting out more songs this year. I don’t have any plans to get a record deal or do an album. I don’t have any plans to really heavily market anything. It’s just me tinkering about on my own at home.”
Do you feel as if there’s anything you can’t say in Muse’s music, but can as a solo artist?
“This song probably does represent the kind of thing that I wouldn’t want to do with Muse because it is just me and it’s very personal. I can really see myself wanting to do more intimate and soft songs and not inflict them on Dom and Chris! If you look at Muse over the years, there have been times when I’ve brought more ethereal, soundtrack-y kind of music into it. When we play live that stuff it doesn’t always fit in, so I do see myself carving out a space for more of the acoustic and mellow stuff. Mainly right now, it’s just something to do. If anything, it’ll probably help me frame what Muse really is – it’s a band, it’s harder, it’s more bombastic.”
So what’s next for Muse?
“I’ve been chatting to Dom and Chris about it. I like the idea of totally resetting and going back to where we come from. As in, physically moving back to our hometown [Teignmouth, Devon] and getting back to how we used to be at square one. We’re likely to get in the studio next year to make a new album of some kind and then tour after that, depending on the travel restrictions. For us, 2020 was always going to be a year to contemplate being off work and off the road. Muse have never done that in the 20 odd years we’ve been going.”
Do you think the coronavirus crisis will change the way you look at touring?
“It’s too early to say for us. We didn’t have plans to tour until 2022. We may have done a few shows next year, but we’re lucky to not have many commitments at the moment so we can just watch and see what happens. If festivals like Glastonbury come back next year, will people go? I feel like it could go either way. People could be scared permanently from this or they could be so ready to celebrate that festivals become the best thing ever. They might be such amazing experiences. It’s too early to call. I saw the stuff online about the drive-in gigs in Scandinavia which I thought was pretty weird, but could be funny and interesting.”
Next year marks 20 years of your second album ‘Origin Of Symmetry’. That album holds a special place in fans’ hearts. Are you planning anything to celebrate it?
“The fans loved the box set of our early stuff [2019’s NME-Award-winning ‘Origin Of Muse’]. A lot of them said they couldn’t get it, so I’m wondering if we should just make a bunch more. If the live scene exists next year, we could do a special show to celebrate it in some way. I wouldn’t be against that. As soon as concerts open up again, Muse will be keen to do something. We were supposed to play the Global Citizen Concert in Berlin and something else that I can’t talk about – so if they get pushed to next year then we might be kicking around anyway.”
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What more can you tell us about Muse’s new concert-meets-blockbuster movie?
“It’s a cool film set in the ‘80s sci-fi world of the last album. We made it before all this happened, but it does contain themes about a virus taking over people’s reality. We planned for it to be a cinema release in the summer, but now we’re probably pivoting it to be a download or streaming thing. We’re also researching whether drive-through cinemas will be happening too. I can’t say much more about it yet, sadly.”
Can we expect to see The Jaded Hearts Club touring in future?
“I’d love to that for a laugh. We had three shows booked for the end of March, but the lockdown happened a few days before we were going to announce them. We’re going to put out a few more songs this year and we’ve got an album coming out in October. That’s all a cool combo of interesting obscure cover songs. We got most of the recording done before lockdown and we’ve been finishing some of the mixing since. We’re pretty much finishing it this week and we’ll try put out a track each month. Graham Coxon is on most the album, with Miles Kane and Nic Cester from Jet doing most of the lead vocals. There might even be one or two songs that I attempt to sing on too! Watch this space.”
Matt Bellamy’s new solo single ‘Tomorrow’s World’ is out now.