With the start of its Simulation Theory World Tour some six weeks away, Muse drummer Dominic Howard promises the British trio is "gonna try and attempt to do something quite different to anything we've done before" — which anyone who's followed the group's concert history knows will be a tall order.
This is, after all, a band known for its opulent staging. Last time out, for its 2015-16 Drones World Tour, Muse even had small craft buzzing through the arenas it played. But when the trek promoting Muse's new album Simulation Theory launches Feb. 22 in Houston, the focus will be a bit more flesh and blood.
"There are going to be more people on stage with us," Howard tells Billboard. "We want to try to make the show have more humanity with it rather than purely technology. The Drones Tour it was all so tech with the drones flying around and stuff like that, which is cool but we want to try to move away slightly from the big screen with a bunch of visuals in the background, which every single artist does — and we've obviously been doing for years as well.
"But this time we want to try to have more humanity in the show, incorporating more performers but also performance art-type stuff. It's almost like live art on stage, so there'll be people playing with us and doing other things."
But singer-guitarist Matt Bellamy adds that visuals will definitely play a part in the show, building on the videos Muse is rolling out for Simulation Theory. "It's the most videos we've ever made for an album," Bellamy notes, "and we've created this visual world for this album. They videos are very continuous — that's where the concept can be seen more so than in the music. So we're going to take that visual world and try to translate it into the live show, with the other performers who will be on stage with us."
Howard adds that the show — which is being designed by the band with Jesse Lee Sout and lighting director Sooner Routhier — will be "a lot brighter and more colorful. The last tour had such a dark undertone and theme; It was all very ominous, with the drones monitoring everyone and flying around. The imagery was quite dark, so this one's gonna feel a bit more colorful and have more humanity to it."
And since Simulation Theory, which debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 during November and was Muse's sixth consecutive No. 1 in the U.K., was partly inspired by gaming and VR, Bellamy his hoping to incorporate some of those elements into the show as well. "Obviously it's hard to get virtual reality headsets to the whole audience," he says, "but we'll have a part of the venue that will be available for people to get virtual reality versions of some of the videos we made and other things. And if that goes well we might even launch something that's available for people to buy and use in their homes, on their own VR systems. We'll have to see."
In addition to the North American leg, Muse has a European tour launching May 26 in Prague and will also perform at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 21 and Rock In Rio on Oct. 6 in Brazil.