UCLA marching band hits right note in collaboration with Muse
Students Laila Sathe (left), Jacob Hambalek (center) and Brendan James (right) performed in a version of Muse’s “Pressure”on the deluxe version of their “Simulation Theory” album. (Photo illustration by Nicole Anisgard Parra/Illustrations director and Xuxin Zhang/Daily Bruin)
November 14, 2018 10:53 pm
Laila Sathe heard her trumpet during a Thursday Night Football game on television.
Her trumpet features in the song “Pressure (feat. UCLA Bruin Marching Band),” an alternate version of “Pressure” from Muse’s newest album, “Simulation Theory.” The alternative rock band’s new album comes in regular, deluxe and super deluxe editions. Featured on the super deluxe edition – which can be found in vinyl boxset form or on Spotify – the marching band collaboration became available Friday, after Muse reached out to the marching band’s director requesting to feature them for the alternate version.
Sathe, a fourth-year molecular, cell, and developmental biology student, said she first heard the version with her instrument on television. She said the process of recording the song was a different style of performance than the UCLA Bruin Marching Band’s usual live shows.
“It was really cool that a band like Muse wanted to do something with a marching band,” she said. “Now I will be able to someday tell my grandkids, ‘Hey, you know, that old band Muse? I did a recording for them.'”
The marching band’s director, Gordon Henderson, arranged the band’s music after Muse sent them the original song. He said the lead vocals are performed by Muse’s Matt Bellamy, but the rest of the instrumentation was arranged for the marching band. Henderson said he made several different arrangements and the band continued to adjust the sound during the recording process. To perform the song, the marching band selected a few representatives for each instrument to mimic the sound of a full band, Sathe said. The experience working on “Pressure” was her first time recording music for a track, she said.
The recording session took place in the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center at UCLA, and fourth-year bioengineering student Jacob Hambalek said each instrument recorded in individual sections. Hambalek, who played the cymbals in “Pressure,” said multiple people helped guide the band as they laid down rhythms for the track. The marching band’s drum instructors and clinicians worked in collaboration with the producers to edit the rhythms. He said the audio technicians also helped with positioning microphones and instruments to best capture the sound.
“We had all different kinds of voices telling us what was going on, but I think at the end of the day, we had just the right amount of feedback to get a good sound out,” he said.
Although Muse has an alternative rock style that does not involve the same instruments, Hambalek said the UCLA Bruin Marching Band often covers songs from a diverse array of genres, so adapting to their sound for “Pressure” was not unlike their other performances. Henderson said he arranged the music so certain instruments, like trombones, echoed Bellamy’s vocal notes in the background of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band version of the song.
Since the band does not have a guitar section, trumpets mimicked the sounds from the original version of “Pressure” by playing the same notes found in the electric guitar licks, Sathe said. Although she said the final production of the song may be accompanied by Muse’s guitarist, the trumpeter did not hear the original version before recording it. Because of this, she said they followed three different arrangements made by Henderson, but ultimately edited the rhythm into a fourth arrangement at the request of the producers working on the song.
Brendan James, a fourth-year economics student who also played the trumpet for the recording, said the version of “Pressure” featuring the marching band works well for television networks like ESPN because both Muse and marching bands are able to give high-energy performances that energize crowds. While his instrument was often used to substitute guitar riffs, he said the group worked hard to deliver the upbeat energy the song required. From trumpets mimicking guitars to tubas used for the bass line, Henderson said the band adapted the song to their range of instruments.
“The name of the song is ‘Pressure,’ and it was definitely a pressure situation because we had all these instruments that we had to record and try to match the style of what Muse has done and we had members of the group there who were giving us input,” Henderson said.