NME ReadingLeeds Festival Interview

Massive UFOs, inflatable lilos and a huge love of Orbital... Yep, NME's been talking to Matt Bellamy

NME: Your Glasto 2004 headline slot went down in festival legend. How are you going to top it this weekend?
"There's a whole number of things we're trying, but permission-wise there's not a lot you can get away with these days. We wanted to get a helicopter in to drop like a million giant balloons over the crowd, but we couldn't get permission for that. And we wanted to build an enormous inflatable UFO - and hang it from a kilometre-long chain from a helicopter, then shine a big beam on it, so it'd look like a big UFO coming down over the audience. But flying a helicopter over a crowded area and dropping objects over people doesn't go down too well with promoters, so we'll have to save that stuff for if and when we can do our own festival. But we've got a few special tricks up our sleeves."

It's all about 'Knights Of Cydonia' this year, isn't it?
"Oh yeah. I can't work out whether we should open with it or end with it. It might go down well at the end. When that riff kicks in it never fails, everyone just goes mental.

You're on after Arctic Monkeys. Are you worried they'll show you up?
"I've seen them play before, in York I think. It was one of their first gigs. They're kings of the north, so they'll clean up in Leeds I'm sure."

Is it true you recently tried to chat up ex-Arctic Monkey Andy Nicholson's mum? Apparently you thought she was hot...
"Ha... er, I think what it was, there was a woman chatting to me after the New York gig, and then at some point she said 'I'm the mum of one of the guys out of Arctic Monkeys'. I was just quite surprised because she didn't seem old enough to be a mum. Maybe I'm getting old, I don't know! But yes she was lovely - a nice lady."

So you don't think it was you who was responsible for him quitting the music industry?
"I really hope that wasn't the reason. I'd be surprised if it was."

What's your top tip for surviving the Slayer moshpit?
"Take one of those inflatable chairs or a lilo and basically cruise around on top of their heads. That's one of the best ways to enjoy a gig, until somebody puts a cigarette butt into it and you fall into a rugby scrum face first. But it's fun while it lasts."

Are you 'down' with new rave?
"There's a rave vibe happening is there? There's a song on the album called 'Map Of The Problematique' that's like our little ode to the rave days. It's got a little piano twinkle with an early '90s rave look in its eyes. I was a teenager a little bit after the real explosion in the late '80s, but I used to go and see Orbital and stuff, waving my arms in the air and waving light sticks."

Will you throw a super-elite backstage party after your slot?
"I tell you what, it's depressing being a headliner sometimes - you finish, and everyone's left. If there's any kind of aftershow parties we'll be hanging around, but in Leeds we're playing on Sunday so I guess we'll just have to go to the hotel."

You're in luck, there's a Club NME party in Leeds on Sunday. Come along and we'll line you up some Orbital.
"That sounds good. Thank you."