But while the songs have expanded to fit the space available,Bellamy is keen to avoid putting the creative cart ahead of the horse. ‘With quite a few of the songs on the last two albums, you think about how to play them live. If anything, I’m trying to avoid doing that now, because I don’t want to do the same thing again.
So sometimes you’ve got to try not to think about the gigs in order to get to a place you’ve not been to in the past.’ All the same, he acknowledges that there is a trademark Muse sound. ‘It’s hard to get away from it, it’s always going to be there. There’s always going to be a big riff somewhere on the album,’ he says with a laugh. ‘But at the same time, you’re looking to try different things, like on the last album with a song like Undisclosed. It’s not necessarily written to make the crowd rock out, or to make for a big concert experience, but I still think it’s one of our better songs, in terms of lyrical content and melodies.’
For all the band’s pomp-rock tendencies, Bellamy comes across as anything but self-regarding. We were speaking as he enjoyed a few days back in the UK between tour dates, during which time he was going back west to visit his family.
Even so, the question about whether he, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard are the same people they were at Teignmouth Community College is met with a firm no. ‘But we were teenagers when we started, so it’s difficult to know what changes are just due to growing up, and what’s happened through the touring life and the job, it’s difficult to quantify.
If the ever-increasing dimensions of the stage set doesn’t tell you how huge they’ve become, a glance at their website will soon reveal Muse’s vast infrastructure, like some gigantic, prog-rock Eden Project. In the comprehensive merchandising section, you have the choice of a Muse umbrella (£30), a Muse teddy bear (£15, in a natty miniature ‘Uprising’ t-shirt) or a Muse poncho (handy for those rain-soaked outdoor spectaculars, a snip at £4).
‘A lot of those merch things are requests,’ says Bellamy. ‘Fans ask for things like that, like “Why don’t you make an umbrella like the album cover?” and you think That’s a weird idea”! I don’t follow the merch side of things that closely. Dom gets very involved, designing it. When you’ve got a hardcore fan base, they tend to want everything, all the behind-the-scenes footage, every t-shirt. They collect things.’
As far as the daytime media are concerned, Muse are about as fashionable as the common cold. Bellamy not only doesn’t mind that, he actively embraces it. ‘What’s interesting is that the “community” feel we have is very much about music,’ he says. ‘Other bands have that feeling, but often it’s to do with fashion and cultural meaning. With us, we haven’t really connected on a fashionable level, if you like, or to do with a new genre or movement of music. So for that reason, the sense of community with our fans is very much just about the music, which is nice. It’s not like everyone’s wearing gothic make-up or something.’
The follow-up to The Resistance will start to come into being next year. ‘We’re all thinking of moving back to London next year some time, so it’ll be the first time we’re all going to be living in the same place since we were much younger. It’ll make rehearsing a lot easier. Maybe in the summer, we’ll start getting into rehearsing and writing.’
Does that mean there aren’t executives checking their watches and wondering when the next instalment in Muse’s epic story will arrive? ‘I’m sure there are somewhere,’ says Bellamy. ‘Luckily we’re in a position where we don’t have to pay attention to that.’