Christopher Wolstenhome wants to make it absolutely clear that Muse has no political stripe of any kind, at least not in any way they’d like you to know about.
The bassist of the heavyweight alt-rockers from Devon, England, fresh off of his band’s double win for best British band and best website at the fan-voted NME awards, defended Muse’s track Uprising. The single off of last year’s chart topping full-length album The Resistance has caused a bit of an uprising itself as an unofficial anthem adopted by the neo-conservative “Tea Party” movement in the U.S. for its seemingly libertarian subject matter (the irony of co-opting a British band’s song notwithstanding).
Music critics have also challenged the track as sounding eerily close to Nickelback’s Burn It To The Ground with its aggressive, swinging chords and Billy Idol’s White Wedding with its opening synth progression.
“We obviously don’t want to be associated with Nickelback. That’s for sure,” asserts Wolstenhome, who adds the band is not familiar enough with either aforementioned song to court plagiarism. “And we don’t want to be seen supporting any political party. That’s not something we’re interested in. We’ve obviously got our own political views and some of them might come across in the music, but I think most people get what we’re about.”
Albums such as The Resistance always get some manner of blowback, for better or worse. The trio of Wolstenhome, guitarist and singer Matthew Bellamy and drummer Dom Howard opted to produce what could be their most ambitious album in their 16-year career. A boon to their creative gusto, Muse let its collective musical id run wild, birthing the highly praised 13-minute three-part orchestral epic Exogenesis: Symphony. It’s a nearly impossible series to play live due to its virtuosity (so if you’ve got Coachella Festival tickets for April don’t expect to hear it).
“We can get through Part 1 and people love it, but for the other two we’d need about two more trucks and three more buses for all the players,” laughs Wolstenhome. “There always has been a slight classical element to this band and our challenge has always seemed to be taking these classical excerpts we’ve written and incorporate them somehow.”
The bane, however, lies in mixing friendship and business, finding the fine line of telling a bandmate and a friend to step up their game if they’ve laid an egg in the studio — a situation Wolstenhome admits the band faced numerous times — without putting their proverbial backs against the wall. With no impartial producer as a referee, egos can get bruised and bruise back in turn.
“There are pros and cons, yeah. How do you tell your best mate what he played was shit?” asks Wolstenhome. “But you stay professional and keep your egos aside. You get on with it.”