You were here in Australia back in January, headlining the Big Day Out. What are the biggest differences with playing BDO and your own tour, in terms of set-ups?
With BDO we’re limited to the physical constraints of the stage that they supply. We’re performing at indoor arenas [on this tour], which allows us to bring our indoor arena production. We have essentially three different touring productions at the moment: the stadium show, the indoor arena one that we used throughout Europe before we came to Australia for the Big Day Out, which we then took to North America; then there’s another North American leg, where we ship everything from the States to Australia.
This involves 15 containers of equipment. I don’t know if you’ve seen the YouTube clips from Madison Square Garden and London’s O2 Arena… it’s those sorts of places.
The set-up looks amazing for the stadium outdoor show, with that crazy ceiling. It’s incredible.
We’re very pleased with the way that’s come out. We went for something completely different to the standard roof. It originated from a sketch that the band gave me and we took it through the engineering processes and managed to come up with something that was truly unique and three-dimensional.
You’ve worked with lots of big bands. When it comes to their live show, what unique elements do you think Muse bring to the table?
Take That, for example, have a very large, complex, theatrical stage show like Muse do. Their sets are very structured. But with Muse, it’s almost like they want to put on an opera or a theatre production, but because they are fundamentally a rock band the set will always be jumbled up. They won’t play the same set twice, so all the visuals and special effects relative to that show have to be precise enough to work every time yet flexible enough to be able to be dropped in and out, as the set goes. Other bands don’t do that.
The guys give us a set list for the show, and sometimes it’s 10 minutes before they go on stage (laughs), because they react emotionally to how they feel that day. They’re not like other bands who get tied down to one set list and that’s just the way it goes night after night. In that respect, we keep the fluidity and anarchy of a rock show but with the structure and visuals that you’d expect at any other major show.
It keeps you guys on your toes.
Exactly. We need to be geared up to be able to deal with it. I think it makes it so much more interesting, because if you’re playing the same set night after night it could get fairly jaded.
What’s the best thing for you personally about working with Muse?
It’s more than a specific gimmick or one special effect, because we actually keep that down to a minimum. It’s the presentation and the style of the show, in that it is 360°. How close the audience is — particularly if they’re around the outside and back — is how close they are to the band. The energy that creates… At shows in Brussels or London, I’ve sat and watched the show from behind, and just seeing the band on stage and the crowd out front as well is such a phenomenal sight that it gives it an extra dimension.