Easily one of the most popular rock bands in the world today, Muse makes its Oklahoma debut tonight at Ford Center, supporting the UK act’s fifth studio album, “The Resistance.”
Comprised of Matthew Bellamy, Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard, Muse is hard to pin down. Invoking elements of alternative and progressive rock, metal, jazz, electronic and classical music, the musicians aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves.
Since Muse’s first album in 1999, “Showbiz,” the guys have established themselves as inventive songwriters and dynamic live performers, moving from clubs to playing some of the largest venues in the world. Wolstenholme said that while the band has embraced the idea of being considered an arena act, it wasn’t anything they ever anticipated.
“When we were younger, the bands we were listening to were like Nirvana and things like that, and even though they were huge, they never did massive venues. I don’t think we ever expected to get that big. Nobody does,” he said. “We would have been quite happy playing to a thousand people every night.”
Wolstenholme said touring with U2 gave Muse an idea of what stadium shows should be all about: big, spectacular performances.
“I think for us, whatever venue we’re in, we’re trying to think of the most ridiculous out-there kind of production we can put in there,” he said.
With the current tour, the large-scale stage show centers on three, huge towers decked with video screens.
“It sounds very simple, but it’s actually quite an impressive structure when you see it. We have to get on top of these towers and go three to four meters up in the air, which is pretty scary,” Wolstenholme said. “We’ve got a great lighting guy that we’ve had with us now for 10 years who always manages to come up with something new in terms of lights and lasers and all the colorful bells and whistles that we want.”
SURGE OF POPULARITY
Given Muse’s recent surge in popularity in the United States, it set out on tour with the goal of hitting places like Oklahoma City and other cities it hadn’t played before.
“When you go back to the same places over and over again, you’re playing to people that have already seen the band a number of times,” Wolstenholme said. “I’m not saying that those crowds are bad by any means, but we find that when you do to some of these more unusual places — places that bands wouldn’t always think about touring — you have really good crowds because they really appreciate the fact that the band made the effort to go there.”
He is sometimes surprised at the diversity among the Muse fan base, especially when considering how it began.
“Obviously, I think it’s great that we can appeal to a broad range of people, but when we were kids, we were listening to Nirvana and Sonic Youth and Rage Against the Machine and things like that,” he said. “We were quite a noisy band to start, verging on grunge, really — pretty noisy and pretty horrible. For quite a number of years, we were just really a guitar band, and I don’t think I saw us appealing to anyone outside of our own age group really.”
As the members aged, they sought out new musical influences.
“That broadened the range of the music and where it could go, which was great for us because there’s only so much you can do as just a rock band,” Wolstenholme said. “Over the years, the influences have changed, but we’ve always tried to branch out as much as possible. You’re always going to have different people listening to you for different reasons.” —Eric Webb