Typically, a book like “Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on Al Qaeda” would attract the attention of academics and military experts, politicians and policy wonks. But probably not rock stars.
So it was quite a surprise when author Brian Glyn Williams (below), who teaches courses in terrorism and warfare at UMass Dartmouth, discovered that his book was the basis for the new album by the Grammy-winning English band Muse.
“I have a Google alert for ‘drone’ because I’m obsessed with them,” says Williams. “I saw there was a mention in a Rolling Stone story about Muse, and I couldn’t believe it when I read that my research inspired their new CD.”
In the story, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy said he got the idea for the band’s new concept album, “Drones,” after reading Williams’s book.
“It was so cool,” says Williams. “I’m very focused on the implications of this new robotic form of warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan and elsewhere, and to see Matt Bellamy attributing the idea for the album to my work was such an honor.”
If Williams was an eggheaded academic, this might not be a big deal. But he isn’t. The 48-year-old professor says he grew up listening to alternative rock, and lists Linkin Park, Massive Attack, and Blink-182 among his favorite bands. Muse’s song “Uprising,” from the band’s 2009 CD “The Resistance,” is his “go-to song for adrenaline.”
Williams says he sent Bellamy an e-mail thanking him for the shout-out, but he hasn’t heard back.
“He’s a busy guy, doing things like touring and breaking up with Kate Hudson,” says Williams, referring to Bellamy’s former fiance. “But this definitely gives me street cred with my students.”
Not to mention his wife, Feyza Williams, who pledged to finally read her husband’s book after reading what Bellamy had to say.
Muse is currently on tour in Europe, but when its shows up in the US, Williams said he’ll be there. And, no, he’s not expecting any compensation for providing the band with the idea for its album.
“This is the most active CIA killing campaign since the Vietnam era, and no one is talking about it,” he says. “If Matt Bellamy and Muse can bring some attention to murky covert warfare in other lands, I’ll be satisfied.”Names can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mark Shanahan on Twitter @MarkAShanahan.