I’m speaking with a “pretty good, chilled” Dominic Howard as he enjoys some touring respite at the south of France.
Last time we spoke, the Muse drummer was in the hungover nexus of the band’s Olympics-closing performance and the imminent touring cycle of new album 'The 2nd Law'. Back then, he assured us that the all-conquering UK trio would touch down in Australia towards the end of 2013. And waddaya know, they made good on their promise.
'The 2nd Law', Muse’s typically bombastic sixth studio LP, will have reached its first birthday by the time it arrives in the live setting on Australian shores, representing the measured touring approach of one of the world’s biggest bands.
“We’ve been touring, just really busy since the album came out in September,” Dominic recalls. “We did a few special shows in smaller venues, then we hit the road in October with the bigger production. We’ve been all over Europe, the States, all over Asia, now we’re just coming towards the end of the European stadium tour, which is amazing. This summer’s been awesome, we’ve been outdoors in these football stadiums playing these huge shows – 60 to 70 thousand people, that type of vibe. But we’re coming towards the end of that, then loads more touring for the rest of the year, and next year.”
The stadium-sized Australian tour is a far cry from their first visit to our land over a decade ago, where they plugged away at the entry-level echelon of relatively quaint pubs. As Dominic explains, the band still manages to fit in more diminutive-sized performances along the way.
“They’re great, really cool. Just recently we did one in Shepards Bush as a charity gig for War Child. We haven’t really played a venue like that in a while, and it was great to get in there and play a theatre without any massive production and floating pyramids. It was so great to be close to the fans. We came out of that gig thinking it would be great to do a whole lot more of that in the future, somehow. We might go for a few little special gigs next year. The band is actually going to be 20 [years old] next year, so we plan to do something special.”
Close to clocking up that 20 year mark, why is it that Muse are one of the very few to have maintained the same line-up from inception through to unimaginable success?
“Shit, I dunno,” Dominic answers. “It’s partly to do with the fact we’re schoolmates and we’ve known each other for so long. It’s partly to do with where we’ve come from as well. Teignmouth, Devon is a very small town and detached from the music scene, so we were left to our own devices. It’s not a place where anything can happen particularly quickly. I think we’ve just had this feeling like we’re a gang, we stick together, and we believe in the music. We want to take it as far as possible. That, and we are like, ‘What the bloody hell else are we going to do?’” he chuckles.
“I can’t see us being in any other bands. We’ve become institutionalised within ourselves. We’ve definitely had ups and downs as a band, but we all know that it’s this or nothing. People in other bands probably don’t think like that – [they’re probably] thinking, ‘Let’s do this for a bit, then fuck it, let’s split up, join another band, do a solo project.’ For us, it’s either this or go back to Devon and become a painter and decorator, or clean out caravans, which is what we used to do before we signed as a band. So this is it, our life is to keep Muse going. And we’re doing a pretty good job of it so far.”
Muse play the Brisbane Entertainment Centre Tuesday December 10.