Grammy-winning Muse — bringing its elaborate European stage production to Oracle Arena in Oakland on Monday — could be the brainiest outfit in rock.
Buoyed by frontman Matt Bellamy’s esoteric songwriting, the prog-leaning British power trio’s sixth CD, “The 2nd Law,” initially was inspired by the second law of thermodynamics.
Yet treatises such as “Madness,” “Supremacy” and “Survival” morph into a larger metaphor for the world’s current financial crisis.
Sometimes even bassist Chris Wolstenholme can’t fathom his bandmate’s unusually deep thoughts.
“I think maybe a few albums ago, there was some stuff that was quite out there,” he says. “But when he sits down and explains it, it’s stuff that we already think about, all the time, on our own.”
It’s the reason why Wolstenholme, 34, wanted to keep things conversely simple with “Save Me” and “Liquid State,” his two heartfelt contributions to “The 2nd Law.”
“These were the first two songs that I’ve written that have made it onto a Muse album, and I’d never written lyrics before,” he says. “So I took the approach that I’m not going to try and be too clever — I just want to write something. And it seemed like the obvious place to start was from within.”
Wolstenholme, a father of six, used to drink, to dangerous excess, until four years ago when he finally recognized his alcoholism and entered rehab.
Afterward, he felt like he’d lost half his personality. Then it hit him: “The half that was gone was probably the bad bit,” he says. “So ‘Save Me’ is about somebody coming out of something, and knowing that they couldn’t do it without that one person that was there for them, no matter what. And ‘Liquid State’ was an angry reflection on the kind of person you become— what I thought was fun was not particularly fun for anyone else.”
Muse’s daredevil juggernauts practically demand sobriety. Its last tour “Resistance” was performed on vertigo-inducing monolithic towers.
The new spectacular features a huge suspended pyramid that shudders down to engulf the members as they huddle around the drum kit.
“But when you’re playing a big, fat, heavy riff, it’s easy to forget that there’s three tons of steel that’s moving down in your direction,” says Wolstenholme, who was nearly brained by it. Twice.
The Muse man has developed healthier habits. Unfortunately, they’re much more expensive. Now he collects vintage instruments, and has amassed nearly 100.
During a single spree in Seattle, he says, “I bought a ’59 Strat, a ’60 Telecaster and a ’59 Fender Bassman amp. That put a big hole in the bank balance that day, but hey — that’s what I spend my money on!”