Muse: Universal Soldiers
Hysteria surrounds Muse’s new album, Drones – and it’s not just because ‘Mutt’ Lange produced it. As evil technocrats threaten to take over the world, Matt Bellamy and co. are fighting back.
Muse don’t do frivolous. Having addressed alienation, apocalypse and the insidious creep of state control, the Teignmouth trio’s seventh album, Drones, finds frontman Matt Bellamy watching the skies, taking the unmanned military aircraft of the title as his jump-off point, and building a dystopian narrative from there. The 12 tracks of Drones might rein in the electronica of 2012’s The 2nd Law in favour of a more rocking sound, but when we meet Bellamy and bassist Chris Wolstenholme at Berlin’s Hotel De Rome it’s clear that the band’s ambition is as sprawling as ever.
Let’s start with the album’s theme.
Matt Bellamy: I’d read a book documenting all the different drone strikes that had taken place in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] in West Pakistan and Afghanistan. And I was quite shocked by how prolific they were, how many there had been and how advanced the technology is. Also, I was quite shocked to learn about the term ‘kill decision’ – like, how kill decisions are made and how there’s a sequence of people involved. Often, Obama would come down for breakfast and right afterwards he would make a number of kill decisions. But the point was the degree of distance that was created. Technology creates a huge degree of distance between the end result and the kill decision, and this distance is getting bigger and bigger. The new technology they’re inventing now is to do with autonomous drones; drones that can make their own kill decisions without any humans involved. So it struck me that the modern drone is the ultimate technological example of how human empathy is being taken away from everything.