Muse drummer Dominic Howard has always had a fondness for playing in Salt Lake City.
“We’re very excited about coming to Salt Lake. It’s always been one of the best gigs on the American tour for us,” Howard said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “The audiences are definitely unique in the way that they react to the music. It almost seems a bit more energetic than other cities around the country to say the least.”
Howard will return to Utah on Thursday with the English rock band’s “Simulation Theory” world tour stop with Walk the Moon at Vivint Smart Home Arena. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
SARAH HARRIS: What are your plans for the show for this tour?
DOMINIC HOWARD: The show’s going to be awesome. I was just going through it the other day with Matt and our show director … and it’s just going to be nuts. But it’s going to be very different from the last tour, which was drones flying around, which kind of looked impressive, but it had this very ominous, dark tone to the whole thing, whereas this tour is just going to be much more colorful.
But we’re also relying less on technology in many ways. It’s still going to be a huge rock show, but we’re incorporating a bunch of performers that are going to come on tour that can sing and play instruments and do physical performance of some kind as well, during a show, in artistic ways, so it’s going to have a little bit more humanity to it and less about ominous tech. It’s more about embracing the world of technology that we’re all so obsessed with rather than steering and running away from it, so it’s going to be great. It’s going to be really theatrical.
HARRIS: I wondered also if you could talk about your new album, “Simulation Theory,” and the inspiration and what makes it unique?
HOWARD: The new album’s definitely got quite a different sound to certainly the last album and probably any album that we’ve done before. We kind of just got lost in the world of synth and then tried to find that balance of how we incorporate that kind of music technology into the core of the rock band that we actually are. …
The thing we’re just getting really inspired by are old synth soundtracks from movies like “The Thing” and John Carpenter movies and some of the music that he made for his shows and sci-fi movies and “Blade Runner” and stuff like that. I think these movies just had quite an impact on the sound of the record, so it ended up giving it a completely different character.
HARRIS: The band has been together for about 25 years, which is really impressive. Do you have any thoughts about that and, looking back, how the band has evolved?
HOWARD: In many ways, it’s remarkable that we’ve been going for 25 years and we’re still together now. We started pretty young, and when I look back from where we started, we really were kids. … And it’s amazing for anyone to stay friends and work colleagues for that length of time, let alone being in a band together, so it’s really amazing.
And this is our eighth album, and I’m sure we plan to do many more. I kind of feel like we have to get to 10 now. It’s a nice round number. So I’m sure we’re going to continue. And I think when you get to that many albums — eight, 10 albums, whatever — you have to really start looking at any band’s career almost as a whole. You kind of start to just see that so much music really essentially represents who they are, rather than just one good album or whatever, so it’s amazing. It’s just shocking to think that we’re still going, but more importantly, still really enjoying what we’re doing. …
The band’s changed so much musically over the years. We were certainly a lot rawer back in the early days, like really raw, but I think that kind of music was more acceptable, probably, back then than it is now. You don’t hear as much rawness as we probably should.
From our first album, we were quite a soft, kind of indie band it seems, and then we quite quickly evolved into a much more hard rock band during our second and third albums, and then in our fourth and fifth albums, we were just about experimenting so much that we ended up turning into a prog band, and now, our sixth and seventh albums are just some kind of mix of all of that. I think it’s nice.
I don’t look back to what we’ve done that often, but just talking about it now, it makes me very proud of it that at least we’ve experimented and tried out a lot of things over the years rather than everything all just sounding the same. I think we’re still just on this constant evolving journey of discovering ourselves musically as a band, so already excited about the future, really.
HARRIS: What do you hope is the takeaway from this “Simulation Theory” tour?
HOWARD: Hopefully people come and see a show that they really feel like they haven’t seen before. I feel like that’s what we’re attempting to do, and until we actually get out there and do it, we won’t know, but that’s certainly what the intention’s going to be and what the plan is, so I think it’s going to be a kind of show that you’ve never seen a rock band attempt.
And I feel like going to see us in concert, it’s like two hours of complete escapism, really. That’s kind of what I want to feel when I go to a concert, and that’s what I hope people actually get to feel like when they come and see us play — is two hours of just being lost in this weird virtual world that we’re going to be creating onstage, and obviously lost in the music, and just being transported into a different universe for two hours. That’s the intention, so yeah, it should be fun.