Muse Unplugs From the Real World On New LP 'Simulation Theory': 'When You Escape Reality, Everybody's Lovely'


Catching up with frontman Matt Bellamy about VR headsets, Burning Man, and the brand new album that dropped immediately.

Here's how Muse does press: The British rock trio holes up in a constructing for hours on finish with a revolving door of reporters coming in to talk to a member of the band for a quick time; frontman Matthew Bellamy speaks at a tempo that means he's nervous the planet will run out of oxygen; and alternatives to get into nuances are in brief provide. “We did one within the U.Okay. lately -- 25 interviews in in the future,” Bellamy says, poised for his subsequent appointment.

Today it's not as intense. Bellamy is alone, perched on a sofa inside Warner's L.A. headquarters, prepared to advertise Muse's eighth album, Simulation Theory. Despite being collectively for over 20 years, successful two Grammys and promoting greater than 20 million albums worldwide, that is the primary time they've invited so many producers into the combination: Rich Costey, Mike Elizondo, Shellback and hip-hop maestro Timbaland. It even options backing vocals from Swedish pop star Tove Lo (“Get Up And Fight”).

As a outcome, the LP pivots away from the extra conventional rock of their final album, 2015's Drones -- additionally the group's first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart -- and embraces a synth-heavy, '80s-indebted sound. Simulation opens with a Vangelis-esque tune titled “Algorithm,” which comprises orchestral strings amongst a barrage of synthesizers. It sounds costly and extreme. The artwork reminds -- generously -- of the poster from the Ryan Gosling flick Drive. The themes are much less darkish and paranoid than earlier data, which have been structured round warfare, surveillance, and governmental oppression.

Bellamy attributes this optimistic outlook to his new life-style: “I am going to a variety of events,” he says. “Well, I don't go to a variety of events, however I really feel like I'm within the hedonistic ‘80s.” Now based mostly within the Hollywood Hills, he attracts parallels between 2018 and an period by which the Cold War generated concern among the many plenty, and the elite selected escapism. “There's a nostalgia for a way free individuals appeared again then, not nervous about local weather change or political landscapes. That innocence was misplaced within the ‘90s and 2000s. People will say, ‘I want I may put on a pair of Nike trainers, drink a Coke, dance to chill music and never give a shit,’” he says. Bellamy insists he's observed it extra as he's pulled means from a chaotic and detrimental information cycle.

“There's sure Twitter accounts, and when you didn't comply with them, you'd have a extra peaceable life,” he argues. “These thought contagions come into our minds, get us riled and pissed off. If you disconnect from it -- get pleasure from your self, go to a celebration, placed on a VR headset, go for a run, let months drift by -- then swap the noise again on, you notice nothing's modified. It's the identical grind, arguments and debates that no person's ever gonna win. Ultimately beneath all of it, there's not a right away direct menace to our lives. Only a small share of the noise is actual.”

Of course, a few of that might be wealthy white male privilege speaking -- not everybody feels they've the luxurious of not paying consideration. His breathless musings about synthetic intelligence, robots, and area don't precisely assist his case. (“Technology is a brand new silicone based mostly life type that's rising in entrance of us and is actually unstoppable," he says at one level. "Its means to outlive in area is superior, and our greatest guess is to create a symbiosis with it. If we attempt to battle it, we're gonna lose.”) And his arguments about social media appear much less sturdy as soon as he admits to not utilizing it as a type of two-way communication -- he solely follows 33 individuals. He employs Twitter and Instagram to “talk what I wish to say.” He doesn't obtain info there.

In reality, he doesn't obtain a lot info wherever. “I used to observe information lots,” he says. “I discovered myself having fun with turning it off, checking in perhaps as soon as a month. They discuss the identical stuff time and again. There's no decision.” The place the place Bellamy discovered decision was in VR gaming. He did a variety of it whereas scripting this LP. “You're speaking to random individuals throughout -- some Russian man, somebody in Surrey, somebody in Australia, enjoying some Star Trek sport collectively, flying a ship. It gave me hope about people.” He had the same epiphany at Burning Man, which he's been to 4 occasions since Drones’ launch. “When you escape actuality, all people's pretty,” he says, laughing. “There's no police, no legislation, nothing. No one's speaking about bizarre politics. Put people outdoors actuality, they usually have a good time with no wars. Bring them again to actuality, and it's problematic. In the longer term we are going to spend much more time in VR. In 10 to 20 years, it's gonna be actually there.”

Bellamy takes a second for air. I prod him on a number of the apparent criticisms of this standpoint: There's a difficulty with Burning Man and VR, proper? They're the priority of the time- and money-rich. There's a large accessibility downside. Bellamy concedes a bit. “I'm not saying that VR or Burning Man is gonna remedy any political points,” he says. “I'm speaking about what it's to flee from actuality, then come again to it and notice that the discourse just isn't going wherever.” He additional defends his place by speaking up his skepticism with know-how on previous albums equivalent to Drones and The 2nd Law. “I'm uninterested in speaking about how know-how goes to destroy our lives. I've chosen to ask in regards to the constructive aspect. What if we may use nanotechnology to construct some form of big pair of sun shades for the earth?”

Still, regardless of his curiosity in specializing in the positives, it's nonetheless a Muse file -- which suggests there's nonetheless a ton of tension on the album. Bellamy has already revealed the observe “Dig Down” is a response to the Brexit vote within the U.Okay. On “The Dark Side” he sings, “I've lived with darkness for all my life.” It appears to be a uncommon second of non-public vulnerability. “That's been a journey all my life,” he says. “In my teenage years I used to be extra introverted. Being on this band has been a journey of confronting that.”

What's probably the most enlightening factor Bellamy's discovered about himself prior to now three years? He hesitates. “There's been a variety of emphasis on groove, creating extra of a vibe,” he says, deflecting the main target outward. “I wouldn't say it's dance music, but it surely's been good for me to get pleasure from music at a base degree of dancing.”