"He was one of those people that I knew I would listen to”: Muse's Matt Bellamy on the time they worked with Mutt Lange

Muse live in 2023
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

In the aftermath of the 2012’s electro-heavy The 2nd Law, Muse wanted to get back to their rock roots for the album that would become their 2015 seventh record Drones. To do this, they had an expert solution and enlisted the services of iconic producer Mutt Lange, the man behind rock classics such as Back In Black, Hysteria and more. After all, who better than to guide the trio back onto rocky turf? Fresh from sessions in Canada with the feted producer, Muse’s Matt Bellamy told this writer all about the experience.

“Mutt Lange, fucking hell, Jesus,” Bellamy began. “He’s unbelievable, he’s a genius. Him and I are connected very closely and he doesn’t come out of his shell very much, he’s a person that doesn’t really come out much, literally, he’s a bit reclusive. I have tendencies like that sometimes but he’s much more, much more and he’s equally as paranoid and weird as me. “

The recording stint, Bellamy explained, required both he and Lange to ease off on their respective desire for total control. “There were moments where it was very, very productive and there were moments when we both have our control elements where we try and be in control of everything,” the singer and guitarist said, “but we found a middle-ground and we got through the whole thing. There was definitely a few tough moments and some really good moments but we got through the whole process with Mutt Lange, it was a co-production we did it together.

At the time, Muse were coming off the back of a run of self-produced records and Bellamy said the idea of outside-influence felt like it might be a good way to refresh their creative process. “It felt like it might be healthy to get some outside input rather than to keep going inside ourselves as producers, not having any input, not having anybody saying, ‘Maybe you should sing that again’ or, ‘How about this?’, we didn’t have any of that.”

"The rumour came to us that he liked us or would like to meet us and I thought, ‘Of all the people out there that would make us wanna fly to Switzerland for a meeting just to say hi’, he was one of those people. One of the most important things a producer can have is your respect. There’s lots of people out there who are really talented and everything but until you are willing to trust that that person might have more wisdom than you, it’s hard to really at times to take input from other people, unless there’s something about them or what they’ve achieved in their life that makes it unquestionably, ‘There’s obviously something there, he’s obviously got some real serious talent there’. He was one of those people that I knew I would listen to.”

The resulting record ended up being a bit of a mixed bag, but the experience put Muse in good stead and they got back on track with 2022’s storming Will Of The People. It was one of their heaviest records in years. Although (stop reading here, Mutt), it was self-produced…

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.