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Muse exclusive: Alcoholism,test cricket and Glastonbury
« en: Mié, 17 de Jul del 2013, a las 17:35:25 »
Larga, pero interesante entrevista con Chris:

Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme chats to DAVID SWAN about the upcoming tour, his crippling battle with alcoholism, new album plans, and Ashton Agar’s stunning test cricket debut.

Space-rock stadium fillers Muse have a long tradition of defying expectations, so it’s rather fitting that one of rock’s most out-of-this-world bands has one of its most down-to-earth bassists. It’s refreshing, and even a little surprising to talk cricket and family with someone who spends his nights among a stratospheric live show singing about outer-space and the end of the world.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme has been part of the Muse journey since the band’s inception in 1994, watching them go from high school garage band to world-beating Glastonbury headliners. The next part of the band’s journey will include a trip to Australia in November for an arena tour, their first visit since 2010. Ever the rockstar, Wolstenholme spoke to FL after a busy day cleaning the barbeque and tidying the mess from his son’s birthday.

What have you been up to, have you been watching the cricket?
I did watch a bit today yeah, I’ve been having it on in the background. It’s been a bit of a crazy few days, hasn’t it? It’s been quite mental actually. I can’t work out whether it’s great or whether we’re both just shit [laughs].

Yeah, I’d go with that I think.
I wasn’t particularly happy with that new kid, what’s his name, Agar, that was a hell of a knock for a kid on debut [Agar made 98].

It was fantastic, wasn’t it. What about the last few weeks, what have you been up to? Touring?
Yeah, we’ve been doing a stadium tour in Europe, we just started back in May with that, we’ve got about four or five more shows and then we have a break for a little bit.

Can we expect the same stage setup in Australia as what you’re doing now in Europe?
No, it’s going to be different. The stage that we’re bringing, we have actually used it before. We toured Europe with it already. It’s the same tour we did in Europe when the album came out, and also what we did in America as well. So we built that specifically for indoor arenas, with the stadium we had to kind of rethink the whole thing. Obviously it’s a much bigger space, and no roof means you can’t hang anything from the ceiling, so obviously you have to rethink the stadium big time. But I’m looking forward to getting the arena show back out there actually. We’ve been doing the stadiums for quite a long time now and it’ll be nice to change it up a little bit and go back indoors again.

Does the setlist change as well, when the stage set up changes, and how do you work it out?
It’s kind of difficult, because the production side of things is so intense with us, all the video stuff and the light show and all that. It’s very difficult when you’ve got all that going on to change the set too much. I think also we’ve been playing quite long sets, on the stadium tour we’ve been playing for about two hours and 10 minutes, and I think on the arena tour we play for about an hour and 50. So you’re pretty much playing most of your best songs anyway [laughs].

The thing is, no matter what you do, there’s always a bunch of people in the crowd that want to hear some crazy old B-side you can’t remember how to play. But there’s always a little part in the set – I think it’s six or seven songs – that we always try and rotate a little bit so it’s not exactly the same every night.

You’ve been to Australia quite a number of times, when you come down do you have a set routine, certain restaurants you visit or maybe friends you catch up with?
It’s usually straight to the beach! Where I used to live in Devon, it was right by the beach, and I’ve not had that for a few years since living in London, and obviously the water’s just freezing cold in England. I think that’s fine when you’re a kid but once you get past the age of 20, all of a sudden that water is like five degrees colder for some reason. So I think for us, the weather’s pretty crap here and coming to Australia, even in the winter, it’s really good. You can always go to the beach. Usually our first day, we arrive early in the morning, you’re totally jet-lagged and you’ve got to try and stay awake all day so usually as soon as we arrive, we get to the hotel, drop our bags, and go straight to the nearest beach and rent some surfboards.

It’s been a year since The 2nd Law came out; have your feelings on it changed after living with it for a year and playing the songs live?
I don’t think so, no, to be honest I’ve not really listened to it. When you’re in the studio you spend so much time listening to it, and then when you’re mixing it you spend so much time listening to it. When we get to that point when the album’s finished and we start rehearsing to play it live, you kind of have to forget about the album. You forget about what you did on the album, because obviously you’ve got to work out how you’re going to pull out these songs live, and it’s a bit different sometimes. I think sometimes it’s good to get out of the zone of making the album and look at the live thing as a total new thing. I think it keeps it fresh.

I don’t think there’s any regrets about the album, I know it’s a pretty mixed bag of songs, I think it’s pretty much the same as most of our albums. Some people love it and some people hate it, you know. I think that’s the sort of band we are. And I think we’ve always preferred those kinds of extreme reactions to just moderate reactions.

Is it as different as you’d wanted though? I mean if you had your time again would you bring certain elements out even further, and go a bit more extreme with it?
I think to some degree you always look back and think, I look back to the first album [Showbiz] and think if we made that album now it’d sound really different. It’s important not to get caught up in that, and not to have too many regrets. As long as you’re confident in what you’re doing in that particular moment, and you have faith in it, then at least you can always look back and think “Well, it was right at the time.” We felt like that was a good representation of what the band was at that moment in time. And that’s all an album is.

Some albums are timeless, and some albums not so much, but for many bands, their point of view is the best thing you can hope for is that you were happy with it when you made it. And for that reason you shouldn’t ever look back and think “I’d do that differently if I was to do it now”, because you didn’t. And you can’t change that. Rather than think about “Well should we re-record an album two years later”, of course you wouldn’t, because you’d just want to move onto the next phase of your career and look to the future.

You contributed more to this album than the last one, I was reading you were really grappling with alcoholism during the writing and recording of The Resistance [2009] and weren’t really contributing at all. Do you still feel as connected with those songs?
Yeah, I don’t really distinguish much between it. Obviously I’ve spoken quite openly about what happened while we were recording The Resistance. All I can say is I definitely enjoyed the studio experience a hell of a lot more on this album than I have on any other album. I have a new focus in life, there were so many years where I was just clouded by booze, and I kind of isolated myself without realising I’d isolated myself. I think in terms of the album, I definitely feel proud of this album, because I was definitely a part of making it. But I think when you play live, particularly with the older songs, I think the emotional connection is with the crowd. People ask me if it’s difficult to play songs like ‘Save Me’ and ‘Liquid State’ [Wolstenholme’s two songwriting contributions to The 2nd Law ] and I’ve got to be honest, when I’m singing the lyrics I’m not thinking about what the lyrics mean or what I went through, I don’t think about it at all. It doesn’t jog any memories. I’m just looking at the crowd, and thinking “Do they like it?” [laughs].

Are booze and smoking still daily struggles for you, or are you at the point where it’s a non-issue?
I’d say 99 percent of the time it’s fine. I think you go through a period of time where you have to re-train yourself to live, you know. Just being with other people in certain situations, I think that’s the hardest part. I think for the first year I found it really difficult, I just couldn’t go to the pub. I found it really difficult to even go to a restaurant. All the people I was with, whether it was my family or the band, everybody said “We won’t drink around you”, “We’ll clear the tour bus of alcohol”, but I never wanted that, I didn’t want to spoil everybody else’s fun, and I was always of the opinion that at some point in my life I’m going to have to face it. I’m going to have to be around people having a drink, otherwise I’m going to have to stay in all the time. I’d have to never go out or do anything.

That first year and when we first started touring The Resistance it was really difficult. There were times I didn’t want to be on tour. I couldn’t handle the social side of things, but at the same time you’re just re-training yourself to fit in socially, just without a drug. And I think over time you learn how to do that. And once you get to that point, it’s fine. And it’s been four-and-a-half years now. I live my life perfectly normally, and I don’t worry too much about it. I won’t lie, there’s the odd occasion where, for instance going to the cricket, where you’d think, not necessarily “I want to get totally smashed”, but “I’d like a cold beer out in the sun.” I miss things like that, but I don’t sweat on it. It’ll be a fleeting thought, but tough shit, you can’t. And that’s that.

You did sing those two tracks on The 2nd Law. Is that something you can see happening more or do you think you’ll leave the vocals to Matt [Bellamy]?
I don’t know really, it’s a difficult one because obviously I don’t want to sing too many songs. I think it’d completely and utterly change what Muse is all about. I think you have to be careful, if I was to start singing half the songs on the album it would create a bit of a divide between the fans. I think one or two songs is fine, you know. Hopefully it’s something I’ll do more of. I’d have to write some songs first, but the thing is if the songs are good enough then hopefully they’ll go on the next album.

For me it was more about the songwriting than the singing, I was never really into singing. It wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do. It was just that the lyrics were so personal, I think Matt would have felt incredibly awkward singing them. It wouldn’t have been right at all for Matt to sing those songs. And it was a decision that was made once the music had been recorded. I’d recorded demos with me singing them, and then once the music was recorded we had a chat about it, and Matt said “I really think you should sing these songs”, at which point I nearly had a heart attack, and locked myself in the studio for a week and tried to learn how to sing.

NME described the Olympics as annoying. Do you think they’re annoying?
Definitely not, no! The Olympics were amazing. I think the first day of the Olympics, the cycling road race came right through the village I live in. Where I live it’s deathly quiet, you very rarely see people out on the streets. It’s a super quiet place, and we went to the end of my road and there’s like 2000 people there, just waiting for people to come past on some bikes. It was weird because I didn’t really get caught up in the Olympic thing until it happened, and then all of a sudden several hundred people came whizzing through on their bikes, and everyone was cheering. It was amazing. And all it was was people on their bikes, but there was a feeling in the air, of just this positivity, and everyone got super excited.

It was incredible, and obviously to be a part of it and play at the closing ceremony, it’s a bit of a cliche but it’s the kind of thing you tell your grandkids about. They’re the kind of memories you’ll cherish when you’re older. And for me, that’s what being in a band’s all about, the experiences you pick up along the way. Obviously the music’s a massive part of it, but in the years to come you look back and think “I’ve traveled the world, I’ve been to all these amazing places I would’ve never got to had it not been for the band”.

Speaking of family I read that you’re pretty much the “family man” of the group. What’s been your most un-rockstar moment at home?
I had one today actually cleaning the barbeque. I had my son’s birthday party, it was his birthday like three days ago and he had all his friends around, and I was in charge of barbeque duties. I was kind of enjoying flipping the burgers and chucking the sausages on, but then everything’s cleared up and it’s time to scrape all that grease off the grill, and everything seems baked on. And it takes you like an hour to get all this gack off. And you sit there with oven cleaner, spraying it, and using a scourer, and that’s when you think “I thought I was a fucking rockstar” [laughs].

Do you ever do your chores around the house really epically, like maybe chuck one of your songs on and dance around? Or do you try and keep your work life separate from your family life?
It’s pretty separate. The only thing is I’ve got a studio in the house. Quite often if I’m down there and I’m doing something and I’m pretty excited I’ll come running downstairs and drag my wife down to have a listen to it. But generally it’s pretty separate, when you come home, once you get older you kind of like the peace and quiet a little bit. And sometimes it’s just the little things, like coming home and laying down and watching the cricket for the rest of the day, you know. You come to appreciate that.

Is there anything in the works for Muse, have you been writing?
We’re talking about it at the moment, you sort of get to that stage where you’ve been touring an album for a year and we know that after Australia, that could potentially be the end of the touring for this album. I think we may do a few bits and pieces next year, maybe in January and February, but we’re not that far away now from the end of the touring cycle. You get to that point and you start thinking about what’s next. What are we going to do for the next album? When are we going to make it? Are we going to have some time off? That’s all very much up in the air at the moment, we’re still in the talking stage, not in the doing stage.

Does sound come into the conversation yet, what direction you’d want to go, or does that come later in the process?
It does, yeah. Quite often you think about how certain things are being received on the previous album, and you do talk about what do you think people want to hear. And I think it’s difficult for us sometimes, because when you ask the question “What kind of band are we?”, it’s very difficult to answer that. Everybody’s got very different opinions about what are the better Muse songs, some people love ‘Plug In Baby’, some people like ‘New Born’, some people like ‘Madness’. Some like ‘Exogenesis’. All very very different sides of the band, you know.

It’s very difficult to know what it is we do really well. But I think in a way it also keeps you inventive, because we’ve always been the kind of band that our albums have been relatively diverse, pretty much from the start, and got even more so where we’re in a lucky situation where we can expand on an album, because I think that’s what people expect us to do now. They know when a new Muse album comes out, it’s not going to be like the last one. It’s going to have some twists and turns. It’s always going to be a shock.

Maybe one day we won’t do that, maybe one day we might just make a really predictable Muse album, I don’t know. But a lot of it is very hard to tell until you get into the studio, I know there are certain songs you think you have a very clear idea of what direction they’re going, and then you listen to them when they’re finished and you think “Wow, how did it end up there, it’s totally different to how it started.” And sometimes you’ve got a song and it’s really obvious what it should be, and you go out into the studio and bang it out in five takes and it’s ready to mix. I think we just generally keep an open mind when we’re in the studio, and try not to commit to much to what we think we should do too far in advance.

I read Matt said you “bring the rock” to Muse. Do you keep the band grounded in rock?
I know Matt said I’m the one that keeps the rock in there, I think it’s just the way I play. It’s probably because of the things I listened to when I was younger. The bands that you listen to at the time when you start learning your instrument are key to how your own identifiable style works out in the end. And I think at the time I started learning to play the bass I was listening to a lot of Nirvana, a lot of Rage Against the Machine, bands like Helmet, you know. Fairly heavy bands that have really super-tight rhythm sections. Even though I don’t necessarily listen to those bands a lot anymore, I guess they still influence me today. So when Matt’s got an idea for a song, and I go in and play the bass, I kind of play it my way, you know. And that usually means it’s going to be relatively heavy [laughs].

The band was voted in a Gigwise poll to be the reader’s choice for favourites to headline Glastonbury next year, could that potentially happen?
I don’t know, I think that would probably be around the sort of time we’d be wrapping up, we may have already wrapped up by that point. But the thing is with Glastonbury, it’s one of those things that when it comes along, it’s very hard to say no to. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of touring, or in the middle of a six month break, every time we’ve played Glastonbury – whether it’s headlining the main stage or playing at 11 o’clock in the morning on the new band stage – it’s always been amazing. It’s got a feeling about it that I don’t think any other festival has. Just to be a part of it, to be able to go around and check out the other bands, particularly if the weather’s great, which it isn’t that often, that always helps. It’s always a very difficult one to say no to, if the opportunity turns up, but as I said we may be in the studio by that point. You just don’t know.

David Bowie came in at number two in that poll. What makes you guys better than Bowie?
I don’t think we are better than David Bowie! I don’t think I can answer that one. Obviously it’s very flattering, but I don’t think you can put people like us and David Bowie in the same poll really. I think that people that have been around as long as he has, I think you can’t help but admire that. To still be knocking out great songs after so many years, that’s something most musicians can only dream of. I think particularly in this day and age music has such a short shelf life, and even in the period that we’ve been together, which is 20 years next year, we’ve seen so many things come and go. I think anybody that can be around as long as he has, and bands like U2, who have had a phenomenal career that’s spanned over decades, I don’t think you can put us in the same league as them.

Not yet, anyway.
Maybe in 20 years time [laughs].

 

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