Muse (Chris Wolstenholme)
Love it or hate it, Muse the most popular rock band of the moment. Each album of the British band is a challenge for the listener, and "The 2nd Law" won't be any less so. SpazioRock had the chance to talk about Muse sixth album directly with one of the masterminds, bassist Chris Wolstenholme! Enjoy the interview!
Article by Alessandra Leoni - Publish on: 17/09/12

Questions by Fabio Rigamonti and Annalisa Russo


"Diverse. Positive. Random. Even though I think that "random" and "diverse" might mean the same thing".

Chris Wolstenholme laughs after having tried to define "The 2nd Law" with just three words - and in this case we can assure you this is a rather difficult task to accomplish. It's a quite relaxed afternoon in Milan and the acclaimed British band Muse is here to meet the press and the other media for the release of their sixth album "The 2nd Law" (out on 2nd October via Warner Music).

"I think this is the most diverse collection of music we made" said Wolstenholme "There are so many influences on this album. Starting from songs like "Survival" which is a bombastic song, and "Supremacy" follows on. There are some moments where everything is just stripped and minimal, like "Madness" or even "Animals", that sounds like we are just the three of us, something we have done for a while. We recorded each song with a total different approach". Each different approach to recording lead to quite different results and the general feeling that I had after having listened to Muse sixth album is definitely overwhelming. At first, it's quite natural to feel puzzled, as Matt, Dom and Chris seem to have put too many irons in the fire this time around - but, honestly, did they ever skimp on their creativity? Not really. But then, there comes rather a pleasant feeling, the one that makes the listener hum a tune or keep the tempo with hands or feet. However, these are only mere impressions after just one listening session and our readers will read a more exhaustive - and much more detailed - review about "The 2nd Law" on this very website in the following weeks.

What's clear, though, is that Muse wanted to experiment with sounds - even if that was a process that has already started a few years ago. "I think it's something we have done also in the last couple of albums" Chris says ""The Resistance" was the first album we produced ourselves. It was a bit of a shock, because when you produce and album yourself, all of a sudden you realise how much a producer does. If you want a certain sound, you just ask the producer to have that kind of sound and he does it for you. Well, when we were working on "The Resistance" we had to do that on our own, we had to try and try again with sounds. We learned a lot with that album and I think that with "The 2nd Law" we knew enough to be really experimental and mess with things around us". "We really spent much more time in the studio than before. "The Resistance" was quite difficult to record, as Matt lived in Italy, I was living in Devon, and Dom was living in France. So, getting recording session was quite difficult at that time. We had to get a lot of work done in a short space of time. This time we lived all near the studio and we went there whenever we felt like doing it, almost everyday! We were really happy to go in the studio everytime, and that positivity in the air was really strong, something I personally haven't felt for quite a few years".

muse_intervista_2012_02Talking about experimenting with sounds, it's pretty much obvious to talk about the dubstep influence that has been dividing fans - and some of them are literally terrified that Muse sold its rock soul to dubstep or heavy electronic music, just to be the "new Skrillex". "As I said before, we have always been keen on electronic music. I don't think what we've put on our album sounds too much dubstep. It's just a part of the sonic possibilities that we wanted to try. Dubstep hasn't been a major influence on our album, definitely, I only think that electronic music in general has been a considerable influence, yes. "Unsustainable" I think is the anti-electronic song, because it's all made with real instruments in that particular section. It kinda proves that you can do things with a guitar, without the help of a computer. Some parts of the album are blatantly electronic - there are things that you can't create with a guitar, but we really tried to embrace as much as we could, combining bits of our personal influences together". Once the dubstep issue was put aside, another pretty much inevitable issue is Muse influenced by Queen, or even Led Zeppelin and U2 this time around. "I mean, sometimes things are accidental, and sometimes you're just inspired by a song and you deliberately try to have that sound on your songs. But this is not necessairly a bad thing. You have to be influenced by something, and it's good, then, if you create something on your own. I think there is nothing wrong to have a particular influence you want to try".

Moreover, what's really new in this record, is definitely Chris' contribution. For the first time he wrote and sang two songs included on "The 2nd Law": "Save Me" and "Liquid State". ""Save Me" is a sort of a love song and I think it's the more positive among the two" he explains "It's about having a difficult time and having a person in your life who can pull you through - my wife, in my case. I guess it's all about searching stability, finding it through the person you love". It is curious to hear that the song has been influenced by one of Chris' favourite bands ever, The Beach Boys: "This band has stayed with me throughout time and I can listen to the The Beach Boys anytime. I really like that kind of naïf sound they had in "Pet Sounds" or "Smiley Smile" - and I really like the production of those albums. I wanted my songs to be organic as that kind of production". ""Liquid State" is more angry, an anger towards myself, the conflicts I had and all I have been through" Wolstenholme adds "When I wrote those lyrics I was in a quite bad mood, I can remember me just scribbling down my thoughts and it all just pieced together. I only wanted a ballsy riff and a heavy song!". For sure, it has been a tough challenge for the bassist to sing his own lines, as he never developed his singing skills. "It has been brand new for me" he admitted "And it has been quite strange for me, I have been in this band for such a long time. Being at the level we're at, all of a sudden I found myself playing a new instrument that I wasn't so conscious to have. It was difficult. I didn't really have time to develop my voice. Matt had the chance to develop his voice when he was 15 or 16 and he had time to deal with his insecurities. I didn't have that luxury. But it's something I have to get used to, especially in front of the fans that will come to see us on tour!".

Talking about the upcoming tour, the band is working and rehearsing hard pretty much everyday, as it kicks off next October. Chris doesn't really want to give away too many details of the show: "It's going to be a completely different show compared to the previous tour. No towers this time. We're focusing on this kind of pyramid that hangs from the ceiling and it kinda of invert in itself and it can break itself into many different pieces. The main video is going to be build around that kind of structure. It's going to be quite an impressive thing to look at, anyway".

The last words are all for the recent performance at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in London, where Muse performed "Survival", supported by an amazing choir: "It was amazing. The buzz around the Olympic Games was simply great. I was glad to be in London at the time of the games. There was this positivity in the air that you don't usually associate to London - as it can be quite a jaded city. Being a part of it was wonderful. It has been a strange day as well, as there were many British artist mixed together, Brian and Roger from Queen, The Who... And... I don't think we will ever perform with Spice Girls ever again!".

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