The Best Act In The World Today’s frontman Matt Bellamy has been a busy boy.
Five nights at the O2 and a onesie party in the desert. It’s been a year of cracking extremes for the main Muse man.
Every night on Muse’s all-conquering Drones tour, Matt Bellamy would wait on the lift that elevated him to the stage and wonder if he could do it. For those 30 seconds, doubt would fly through the frontman’s mind. “I don’t know if I’m worthy of this,” he would think, “I don’t know if I can do what people want me to do.” Then the lift would rise, the spotlight would shine on him and Matt Bellamy Muse Frontman would take a Hulk-like hold as he burst into the crunching riff that began their set every night. “Literally, in the space of a few seconds, as the lift comes up, you transition from that to being, ‘I am the fucking king of the world!’” he says. The singer is in a corner of the Roundhouse minutes after Muse have picked up their Q Award for Best Act In The World Today and he’s reflecting on the trio’s most successful year yet. Their record-breaking world tour redefined what a band can do inside an arena (if they have the money) with its revolving 360- degree stage and an array of drone-piloted stage props. At the centre of it all was Bellamy, revelling in his role as the grandmaster of rock’s most theatrical band. “In my everyday life, I’m pretty shy and pretty normal, but there’s something else that comes out when you’re thrown into the pit,” he says. In between multiple nights at enormodomes, headlining Glastonbury and all the accompanying high-flying extras you get from being the Best Act In The World Today, Bellamy has also been honing his drone pilot skills and managed to squeeze in some action-packed family outings. It sounds fun being Matt Bellamy.
HEADLINING FIVE NIGHTS AT THE O2 ARENA
“It was amazing. On one day, I got to walk on the roof of the O2 before the show. That’s the first memory that comes to mind apart from the amazing concerts, hiking up there and the brilliant, amazing views of the Isle Of Dogs and everything. It was nice to sit on top of it and go, ‘Yeah, I’m playing five nights here.’ You can’t argue with that. We did five nights in Milan and Paris too but the O2 was the biggest one. We broke a record there for the highest attendance. We couldn’t have done multiple nights a few years ago because you need to have a lot of songs and a lot of catalogue. We had a lot of these deep cuts that we could throw in, changing two or three songs every night. It sounds cheesy to say, but the last night was probably my favourite cos that was the night we had a party. All the nights before that was playing a show and getting straight in a car and going straight home and being in my apartment looking at the wall going, ‘Oh my God, I just played to 20,000 people, it doesn’t make sense.’ I would just go home and watch The Walking Dead. It was nice cos London is always the place where a bunch of old mates from school that I haven’t seen for years come out and I get to hang out with them. Doing five nights takes the edge off cos we could actually spread the guests out and do them in small doses… ‘Right, now it’s the cousins from Yorkshire, tomorrow is the weird, long-lost Australian family.’ It was nice to have all those nights to see them, even old teachers from school. A whole range of people.”
GOING TO SEE HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD FOR BING’S fifth BIRTHDAY
“With my ex actress Kate Hudson], we’ve managed to keep a good friendship together and we have a great time with the kids and Bing has always been a massive Harry
“If this all doesn’t work out, I’d love to be A drone cameraman.”
Potter fan. We did presents in the morning, I got him a skate ramp to put in the yard area and he loved that, and then we took him out to see Harry Potter And The Cursed Child [ the stage play currently showing in London’s West End]. It was in two parts. It was kind of on the heavy side; I’ll be honest, it’s more aimed at the 10- plus kids and he’s five. It’s definitely got some dark shit in there. There are some really major dad/son issues in that play and part one ended with the dementers literally flying around you. Bing was like, ‘What the fuck!’ and I was pretty freaked out! We went back home, we had a cake that was like a skateboard, a skateboard cake, and we were like, ‘Is he up for it, are we gonna go back for part two?’ and he came down and was like, ‘Let’s do this.’ It was pretty amazing. I recommend it.”
TAKING MY DAD TO PRIME MINISTER’S QUESTIONS
“Basically, our manager Peter Mensch, his wife [ former Conservative MP Louise] used to work there so he got us an in. I was sat in Prime Minister’s Questions on the day that Cameron resigned, the day that he basically was done. It was a great time in Parliament, just sat with all those people. To be honest with you, I was pretty blown away. It was a great day out for my dad cos he’s spent his whole life watching Prime Minister’s Questions. We had a lovely day together. You get in there and you have to go through a security check and stuff, and then there are these real old dudes with the wigs on and everything. They give you the lowdown of what you can and can’t do; you can’t make a noise, you can’t take your phone in, and they walk you through and sit you down and give you a schedule. I was tempted to stand up and start shouting something at one point. When you’re actually in it, you do perceive it differently to how you do on TV. Sometimes you hear about ‘how I met this famous person, some actor or musician and they were just so normal’, but it wasn’t like that when I went there. When I saw all these faces and witnessed what they were actually debating about, the level that they’re operating at, I did go, ‘Wow, these really are quite weird people.’ Looking at it, I wasn’t sure if I could do it.”
a ROAD TRIP IN ICELAND
“We did a concert there so while there, we thought, ‘We might as well go on a trip.’ We went inland, a few hours’ drive away from Reykjavik, to all the volcanic areas, where there are no people around for miles and miles. We climbed mountains, we went into lava caves. Also, it was a chance for me to really learn how to become a drone pilot cos there are no regulations there at all. I could just fly the drone and discover all these amazing things. Some of those things I don’t think have ever been filmed before; there’s this one waterfall and it was in the middle of nowhere. It’s a temporary waterfall that only occurs when the glacier melts at certain points in the year. We had these big off-road vehicles, so we drove as close as we could get to it and then I got the drone out and starting filming. I felt like I was David Attenborough. If this all doesn’t work out, I’d love to be a drone
“We went to a onesie party: we dressed up in onesies. I was a tiger and we had hooks on our tails and we danced around.”
cameraman. When you have a couple of days off, you’ve got to explore. That’s the whole point of touring, I think.”
MY SECOND TIME AT BURNING MAN FESTIVAL
“You know, when you see pictures of Woodstock and how crazy that seemed, and now we live in an age where festivals are not quite like that? Well, Burning Man is like that, but times 10, I’d say. For anybody who wants to experience something that is truly of our times, something that will be looked back upon in terms of ‘I can’t believe that happened’, Burning Man is in that category. It’s just wild. It’s a massive costume party, everyone is nice to everyone, it feels safe, it’s the safest place you could ever be. It’s also the wildest place you could ever be. My favourite moment was when we went to a onesie party: we dressed up in onesies. I was a tiger and we had little hooks on our tails, we danced around. You don’t need to take any drugs to be fucked there. What you see and what you experience is enough to make you go, ‘This is so different to anything in reality.’ It’s not for the faint-hearted, the weather is extreme. It’s really hot desert heat in the daytime, freezing at night, and there are dust storms. You have to wear dust masks a lot of the time. It’s for people who want to be wild, anyone who likes dressing up and stuff – it’s the chance to be whoever you want to be. We had an RV and stayed in that. This was my second time, the first time I was nervous cos I had no idea what to expect. The second time I was way more relaxed and enjoyed it far more. I was just floating around, sleeping randomly in random places.”
It has been an eventful year for the Muse frontman and now comes the time for his “pretty shy and pretty normal” alter-ego to take control as the band enjoy some downtime. It won’t be long before Bellamy gets that itch, though, and what he describes as “some deeper layer of my own self ” starts crying out for attention. This is, after all, the man who sat on top of the O2 like it was a throne. Matt Bellamy: king of the world.
They can die happy now: Muse – officially the Best Act In The World Today (from left, Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard), Roundhouse, London, 2 November, 2016. Happy fifth birthday! Bellamy with ex-partner Kate Hudson, son Bing and Hudson’s son Ryder.
(From top) Bellamy with his dad, George, at the Houses of Parliament for some “really quite weird” Prime Minister’s Questions; driving through Iceland with the band before some drone piloting; getting out there at the Burning Man festival in Nevada (onesie not pictured).
King of the world! Muse play London’s O2 Arena, as part of their five-night Drones tour residency, April 2016.