Profile: Muse’s Matt Bellamy

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Bellamy playing his signature custom ‘Glitterati’ Manson electric guitar

By Tom Groom

For a man like Matthew Bellamy, abnormal is normal. The Devon-born Muse frontman started out his musical life by figuring out the Dallas theme tune and playing it on the piano for his brothers’ friends’ amusement. He then decided, at 11, he wanted to buy a guitar after seeing a recording of Jimi Hendrix’s famous fiery jam at the Monterey Pop Festival. The rest, as they say, is history. He and fellow Devonians Chris Wolstenholme and Dom Howard have gone on to produce 7 studio albums and sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

Bellamy, who never ‘had a dream of becoming a rock star’ didn’t have a normal upbringing – his mother and older brother used a Ouija Board to contact the dead and his mother also cursed him for breaking a mirror which led to his parents’ break-up. He says of the incident, “It was ok at home, middle class, we had money – until the age of 13. Then, everything changed, parents got divorced, and I went to live with my grand mother”. His father was George Bellamy, member of a band called the Tornadoes who were the first UK band to get a number one in America. Bellamy however, is normally not one for the spotlight, especially when out in public with wife and mother of his child, Bing, Kate Hudson. This prompted a bizarre stunt in which Bellamy wore a Tesco carrier bag over his head.

Matt is known for his extravagant vocals and guitar manipulation, and is probably the main reason for Muse’s success in the category for Live awards. What other people may see as incessant wailing, fans hear as g#5 in all it’s glory. What others see as guitar wankery fans hear as beautiful rock melodies. Muse aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and neither is Matt Bellamy. His capability of reaching such extremely high notes with relatively little practice can be attributed to the fact that a doctor once told him he had unnaturally small vocal chords according to bandmate Dom Howard, speaking at Route du Rock 2001. His beliefs in the supernatural and conspiracy theories lead many to believe he’s just a nutter with an axe, but there is an intelligence to the man, who holds an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Plymouth.

The 5ft 7in frontman (named Sexiest Man in the NME Awards 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013) tied himself down in 2011 to actress Kate Hudson, with whom he had his first child Bingham Bellamy, whose heartbeat was recorded and used on a track from The 2nd Law, ‘Follow Me’. Despite his experiences with shrooms and alcohol in his younger years (and the latter during an interview with NME in 2011) the rocker has settled down, but still continues to play with Muse. Speaking about his experience with drugs Bellamy said, “I’m not afraid of seeing something horrible. It’s a way of connecting with yourself in a way that you can’t normally do”. However he always avoided ‘hard drugs’, and described a flat he moved into with a drug dealer aged 18 as a ‘scene from Trainspotting, white powders and mirrors and tin foil everywhere”. Matt holds the world record for most amount of guitars smashed on a single tour (140 during Absolution Tour) and can also say the alphabet backwards. He is one of rock’s most celebrated and strange celebrities, who continues to be able to sell out a 75,000 capacity Wembley Stadium.

So while Bellamy may not be the stereotypical rock star, there is something different about him, a kind of odd charm that doesn’t really coincide with the style of music he plays. Behind the brash, falsetto-belting dancing-around-the-stage exterior, there is a complex and intelligence to Matt Bellamy rarely viewed from the outside. Often though, shades of this bizarre brilliance filter into songs, such as the self-composed 13-minute three-part ‘Exogenesis Symphony’ featured on Muse’s 5th album, ‘The Resistance’. The Symphony is composed by Bellamy, and according to him, “It is a story of humanity coming to an end and everyone pinning their hopes on a group of astronauts who go out to explore space and spread humanity to another planet”.

 

Not many people can predict what Bellamy is going to do next in his life as he continues to rise higher and higher with Muse. He once said he would like to ‘play a gig in space’ and also ‘in the constellation of Pleiades’ – a star system that (according to one of his favourite conspiracy theories) aligns with the Eygyptian and Cydonian pyramid systems, so be on the lookout for tickets to those gigs. For now though, him and Muse are beginning the second leg of their world tour in the UK, playing a host of stadium shows over the summer. Grab tickets if you want to experience being in the presence of one of the most fascinating men in rock.

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