Muse's Grammy Award-nominated "The 2nd Law" is still a fresh concern after its September release. But drummer Dominic Howard says that hasn't kept the British trio from starting to talk, at least a little bit, about what it's going to do next.
"Me and Matt (Bellamy) have just been tentatively talking about what we're doing to do, how we're we're gonna do it, what we need to think about when we are going to do it -- not really discussing musical ideas so much as just how we're going to approach it and when we're doing to do it," Howard tells Billboard. "We've been kind of having those conversations, but really we've just literally started touring. We're going to be on the road for another year or 14 months or whatever it is, so we've still got loads of touring to do. We tend to feel like we need to finish touring one album before we start anything else rather than starting an album on the road. We like to finish a chapter and start afresh, so it'll be a couple of years, probably. But we're definitely thinking about it."
Muse has just launched the North American leg of its 2nd Law Tour, showing off a characteristically visual show that's dominated by a huge pyramid of LED screens, lasers, customized video footage and other effects. "I think we always have to feel like we're doing something slightly better to what we did last time," Howard acknowledges. "As far as just trying to make the show bigger and better and have more effects and be crazier than what we did last time, that's almost getting to the point where that's getting hard. I think in many ways the band is getting better all the time at playing and performing. I think as far as how we are on stage and how we are to the audience, it's getting better all the time. Somehow it's still moving forward. That's the main thing -- it`s still moving in the right direction."
This time out, Muse -- at least Bellamy and bassist Christopher Wolstenholme -- are also moving closer to the audience, according to Howard, especially after The Resistance Tour, when the three band members played while elevated on tall hydraulic lifts. "The main thing I've noticed about this show, which we're really enjoying, is it's so much more interactive with the crowd," the drummer explains. "I'm kind of stuck in one position, although I do spin around a bit, but Matt and Chris are definitely more interactive with the crowd. Just the way the stage is designed lends itself to those guys being down front a lot more. Matt actually does sing a couple of songs without his guitar, so he can actually get right down in the crowd and walk around. There's something that's much more personal about this particular stage and production."
Muse's North American run finishes April 26 in Quebec City, with another run through Europe May through July, Japan's Summer Sonic Festival in August and Rock in Rio in September. The group will be on break during the Feb. 10 Grammys -- where it's nominated for Best Rock Album for "The 2nd Law" and Best Rock Song for "Madness" -- and while Howard says the group "may go and check it out and see the show," he hasn't yet cleared off any mantle space for trophies.
"Are we going to win? Probably not," he says with a laugh. "It's amazing to be nominated again and certainly a surprise. But it's stiff competition this year in our categories. It's all great bands, great albums, great tracks. Fingers crossed, but I've got no idea, really."