The life of a touring musician can be a privileged but monotonous existence. Sure, there are concerts, parties and legions of screaming fans every day, but even at the highest levels of fame life on the road can become a bore or worse without some distraction.
For Chris Wolstenholme of British rock band Muse, it’s soccer that provides a welcome respite from the grind of buses, sound checks and backstage showers.
For a few years now the bassist and a few members of his band’s road crew have made it a point to find a professional team to play with in each of the cities they visit. Wolstenholme and company trained with the Fire on Thursday in Chicago, where the band will headline the Lollapalooza festival on Friday.
So what team does the nomadic Englishman support? Bolton Wanderers or Blackburn Rovers would seem appropriate, given his job description.
“I support Rotherham United,” said Woltenstone just prior to taking part in a five-a-side game that included Fire technical director and interim head coach Frank Klopas. “That’s the town I was born in and my dad and my grandparents were all fans, so I kind of drew the short straw, really.”
Despite his love of a small-time club, being a global rock star now affords him the chance to play with the big boys, often on their home turf.
“We actually played a game at Stamford Bridge about two months ago which was incredible to play at,” said Wolstenhome. “It’s not really the type of ground you ever expect to have a kick-about on.”
Thursday’s kick-about at Toyota Park wasn’t Wolstenholme’s first at an MLS venue. Over the years he’s spent time on the pitch with FC Dallas and the Timbers. So is all this playing time paying off? Is the hulking, technically gifted bassist his band’s best soccer player?
“Yeah, without a doubt," he said. "But I’m the only football player in Muse!”
While he may dominate his bandmates, Wolstenholme admits that he has some distance to go before he catches up with the pros. He may be stage-ready but being match fit is something else entirely.
“I’ve not done a football training session since I was about 14 years old, so it’s quite amazing,” says Wolstenholme, “it just shows how fit these guys are. It kind of looks so easy, but it’s not at all. It’s very, very tiring.”