Often praised as one of the greatest live acts in the world today, Muse's latest touring run was its most successful yet. Beginning in October 2009 and wrapping this summer with a headline slot at the U.K. dual-site Reading and Leeds festival, the U.K. alt-rock act's Resistance tour - in support of its fifth studio set, 2009's "The Resistance" - was a 14-month global trek that included headline gigs at festivals Coachella, Glastonbury and Lollapalooza , and a stint supporting U2 in South America. (The group's totals for the tour through the end of 2009 as reported to Billboard Boxscore saw a gross of $33,141,559 with 561,304 tickets sold on 45 shows, 21 of which were sellouts).
In this exclusive interview with Billboard.Biz, Anthony Addis, the band's manager and director of U.K.-based Brontone Management, which also represents The Pogues and Pulled Apart By Horses, discusses what they plan to do next.
Billboard.Biz: How is work progressing on Muse's next studio album?
Anthony Addis: They've now gone into the recording studio. The plan is to do it all in London... Hopefully, [the album] might come out October next year. They've written a lot of material already but you don't know how it's going to gel between them all. They write constantly. They write on the road, so before or after a gig they'll write nearly every night. It's a serious process, but you don't know how it's going to turn out [until] you start practicing it together, because everybody's done it individually.
BBB: Have you heard any of the new material?
AA: No -- I will not listen to it. I'm not interested until they believe it's in the right form. If you trust an artist, you've got to trust the music that they make. You've got to trust that they will get it right. What's the use of listening to something that is half-baked? ... Our job is to plan the next two and half/three years from when you think they will finish it.
BBB: The Resistance Tour was Muse's biggest and most successful yet. Is there room to further grow the band's live operations?
AA: In America, the answer is yes -- although I think the sheds are a problem. We did a joint headline show with Rage Against The Machine in L.A. at the 90,000-capacity Memorial Coliseum and there were about 55,000 people there. ... People haven't got the money anymore. I think it's worldwide. I think it's just hitting into the U.K. now as you can see with retail.
BBB: So what will be the live strategy going forward?
AA: I don't know. You've got to look at things as you get into that position. America you can actually go into places within a two/three-month period to book upfront, whereas in Europe, you're looking six months upfront. It's a different strategy. You've got to look at what the world is out there and what your fans can afford.
BBB: A key factor in Muse's growth as a live act has been keeping ticket prices affordable. Will that continue?
AA: Yes. Our strategy is never to rip off the fans. The fan comes to have an experience. .... He or she has worked for that money. Either that or they robbed a bank. So you've got to give them an experience at the right price. We've increased worldwide [ticket sales] by 40% each time. And that's how we increase the fan base, because they've enjoyed it as a spectacle. Every night after the show we have an analysis of what went down right and what didn't, and all of that is logged in into a database. We know what happened in every show and every city going back all the years. If a number didn't go down well, then it will not appear in the set next time.
BBB: Muse are one of the few modern rock acts to make the transition to arena-sized venues. Why do you think so few bands are making the grade?
AA: I think the music industry has a lot of mediocre artists and groups at the moment. The record companies are feeding off mediocre, instant success and "The X-Factor" was the trouble that started it... People don't follow the same band anymore. [Artists] are like disposable cartons. That's what we've got now in the music industry, and he [Simon Cowell] started it. And you're going to have more fallout if Warner or Universal buy EMI because they're going to drop all the lower level [artists]. There's still a lot of good stuff, don't get me wrong. But it's harder to build a career with a band because the record companies want it, but they also don't want it. They want a killer band within an album cycle.