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'Will of the People' is Muse's call for revolution


MUSE: (Singing) The will of the people, the will of the people, the will of the - will of the - the will of the people...


Muse is speaking out, calling for a revolution.


MUSE: (Singing) Let's push the emperors into the ocean. The will of the people, the will of the people, the will of the - will of the - don't need a gun...

SIMON: The Grammy Award-winning band just released their ninth studio album. It's called "Will Of The People," and it's an unblinking look at our world through shades of glam rock, electro pop and industrial metal. Matthew Bellamy is frontman of Muse and joins us now from Los Angeles. Thanks so much for being with us.

MATTHEW BELLAMY: Hi, great to meet you.

SIMON: It's been four years since you released your last album. What brought you forward to do it now?

BELLAMY: Well, in 2019, we finished quite a exhausting, long world tour that we did, and we decided to take a break 'cause I was having a baby in 2020. And we all know what happened in 2020 as well. So the desire to create and the sort of inspiration to make a record - it kind of brought that forward a little bit. And so we actually started making a record influenced by, obviously, the big shift we saw in the world around that time.

SIMON: Well, talk about that, about how what you saw in the world informs, inspires, steers some of the music you have here.

BELLAMY: Yeah, I mean - but it goes back a long way really, in terms of the internet becoming a major thing in the early 2000s. I mean, I remember, like, people started to feel kind of this feeling of mistrust for, let's say, the powers that be, you know, I also call it (ph), like, this populism that was kind of, you know, growing throughout the Western world in particular. And then, seeing that kind of coming to a kind of head in the last or few years, I think that was definitely one influence. On top of that, we had the whole Trump situation, which led to the Capitol riots and so on - quite unusual, living through a period of time where a lot of the dystopian stuff seemed to be playing out in real time.


MUSE: (Singing) Silenced. You'll make us feel silenced. You stole the airwaves, but the air belongs to us.

SIMON: The song "Liberation" - I could ask you about each and every one of these lines, I think. But let me take you stole the airwaves, but the air belongs to us.

BELLAMY: Yeah. So for me, like, what changed in the 2010s, especially the second half of that decade, was we had to tolerate living through this period where social media got to a point where it was just hijacking everything. You know, every news story just seemed to be, like, someone tweeted this, someone tweeted - that being kind of controversial things, which are just kind of prodding algorithms to get reactions.


MUSE: (Singing) So I guess we should thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. We've had enough. We thank you for...

BELLAMY: And then, also, there are parts of that song that were influenced by seeing some of the Black Lives Matter protests and seeing some of the anger and the frustration of people who feel like they're not being heard.

SIMON: Yeah.

BELLAMY: It's a song for the unheard, I guess. You know, it's a song, like, for all the people that feel like they just - their point of view can never get heard, that - you know, their frustrations can never be addressed. And then, there's these crazy elites with millions and millions of followers who are just dominating the airwaves, dominating the news stories. The song, it kind of - it's almost fantasizing about a fictional post-revolution period where, democracy being a bit more accessible, we've reconfigured how to keep power in check.


MUSE: (Singing) Liberation.

SIMON: Let me ask you about some of the musical influences on this spooky techno pop song, "You Make Me Feel Like It's Halloween." Let's listen.


MUSE: (Singing) When you turn out the lights, you make me feel like it's Halloween. It's Halloween. When you...

BELLAMY: I thought there's not enough songs about Halloween.

SIMON: I couldn't think of even a second one.

BELLAMY: I know, yeah. It's like so many artists do Christmas songs, but I kind of thought, like, well, that's not very Muse, you know? So not why - we'll do a Halloween song. So that's another reason we're going down that road; it seems a bit more kind of spooky and creepy. And, you know, we grew up as children in the '80s. And I like the kind of, you know, '80s horror films. Like, I remember, you know, Stephen King films.


BILLY JAYNE: (As Brett Camber) Cujo?


JAYNE: (As Brett Camber) Cujo, what's the matter?


JAYNE: (As Brett Camber) Cujo.

BELLAMY: Yeah, some of that stuff, I think, obviously influenced me when I was a kid. So when you get nine albums deep, you can't help but want to look around a little bit and look at other sounds in other genres and things.


SIMON: You're about to go back on tour, I understand.

BELLAMY: Yeah, yeah. We're doing a few kind of smaller shows in October. And then, that will help sort of inform us to put together our bigger tour next year. We're very, very pumped to get that feeling again, you know? And seeing the crowd jumping up and down and cheering and us to be in the crowd watching a great concert or being on stage and seeing all the crowd having a great time, you know - to me, I'd say that's euphoria.


MUSE: (Singing) Euphoria, give us euphoria. It's been all work and no play. Give me euphoria. I need euphoria. I need to...

SIMON: When people listen to the "Will Of The People," is it all right with you if they just go, well, that's a nice album? Or do you want to, I don't know, make them get up and do something?

BELLAMY: So I think if some people just listen to it as purely fun music and, like, don't even worry about what the lyrical elements are, I think that I'm totally, totally happy with that. But overall, if I had to feel like - you know, put together a kind of, you know, what is it I want Muse to do for people who do get deeply into the music - there is a part of strength inside all of us that can actually help get through the most difficult, most challenging periods, you know? A lot of Muse songs kind of deal with that, and that's probably me just essentially addressing it for myself and then sharing it with others and hoping that can help people feel like you're not alone with some of those thoughts, you know, that may be troubling you at might.


MUSE: (Singing) It's not over now. I won't leave you in the dark because I need you so.

SIMON: Matthew Bellamy, he's a frontman for Muse - their new album, "Will Of The People," out now. Thank you so much for being with us.

BELLAMY: Thanks for having me.


MUSE: (Singing) Can we kiss, contagion on our... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.