- Muse (band)
Muse performing at Big Day Out 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. From left to right: Dominic Howard, Matthew Bellamy, touring member Morgan Nicholls and Christopher Wolstenholme
Background information Origin Teignmouth, Devon, England Genres Alternative rock, new prog, space rock, symphonic rock, progressive metal Years active 1994–present Labels Warner Bros., Helium 3, Taste, Mushroom, Dangerous Website www.muse.mu Members Matthew Bellamy
Muse are an English alternative rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994. The band consists of school friends Matthew Bellamy (lead vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, keytar), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, guitars, harmonica) and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion, synthesisers, sampling, harmtar). After the release of their 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations, keyboardist and percussionist Morgan Nicholls has performed live with the band. Muse are known for their energetic and extravagant live performances and their fusion of many music genres, including space rock, progressive rock, alternative rock, heavy metal, classical music and electronica.
Muse have released five studio albums: Showbiz (1999), Origin of Symmetry (2001), Absolution (2003), Black Holes and Revelations (2006), and The Resistance (2009). The band have also issued three live albums, Hullabaloo Soundtrack (2002), which is also a compilation of B-sides, Absolution Tour (2005), and HAARP (2008).
Black Holes and Revelations earned the band a Mercury Prize nomination and a third place finish in the NME Albums of the Year list for 2006. Muse have also won numerous other music awards throughout their history, including five MTV Europe Music Awards, five Q Awards, eight NME Awards, two BRIT Awards, an MTV Video Music Award, four Kerrang! Awards and an American Music Award. They were also nominated for three Grammy Awards, of which they won Best Rock Album for their fifth studio album, The Resistance.
- 1 History
- 2 Musical style
- 3 Members
- 4 Discography
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
1992–1998: Formation and early years
The members of Muse played in separate school bands during their stay at Teignmouth Community College in the early 1990s, but the formation of Muse began when Bellamy successfully auditioned for the part of guitarist in Dominic Howard's band. They asked Chris Wolstenholme – who played the drums at the time – to learn to play bass guitar for the band, Wolstenholme agreed and took up lessons, while Bellamy had to become singer and songwriter for the band. The other original members of Gothic Plague left after Bellamy suggested that they write their own songs rather than doing covers.
Bellamy and Howard's first band name was Gothic Plague. After Gothic Plague came Fixed Penalty, and after that, Rocket Baby Dolls. In 1994 the band used the name Rocket Baby Dolls with a goth/glam image to compete in a local battle of the bands. The band won the contest, smashing their equipment in the process. "It was supposed to be a protest, a statement," Bellamy said, "so, when we actually won, it was a real shock, a massive shock. After that, we started taking ourselves seriously." Shortly after the contest, the three decided to forget university, quit their jobs, change the band name to Muse (1994–1995), and move away from Teignmouth. The name "Muse" was inspired by Matthew Bellamy's art teacher. The art teacher Samuel Theoun mentioned the word "Muses". Bellamy then looked it up in the dictionary and decided to shorten it to "Muse." It was also used because it was short and the members felt it looked good on a poster.
1998–2000: First EPs and Showbiz
After a few years building a fan base, Muse played their first gigs in London and Manchester. The band had a significant meeting with Dennis Smith, the owner of Sawmills Studio, situated in a converted water mill in Cornwall. He had seen the three boys grow up as he knew their parents and had a production company together with their manager to be Safta Jaffery.
This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of the Muse EP on Sawmills' in-house Dangerous label. Their second EP, the Muscle Museum EP, reached number 3 in the indie singles chart and attracted the attention of British radio broadcaster Steve Lamacq as well as the weekly British music publication NME. Dennis Smith introduced the band to Safta Jaffery with whom he had recently started the record label Taste Media. Muse signed with Smith and Jaffery and recorded their first three albums, Showbiz, Origin of Symmetry, and Absolution, with Taste Media.
Despite the success of their second EP, British record companies were reluctant to sign Muse. It was after a trip to New York's CMJ Festival that an American record label flew them to Los Angeles to showcase. Nanci Walker, then Sr. Director of A&R at Columbia Records, flew Muse to the U.S. to showcase for Columbia Records' then-Senior Vice President of A&R, Tim Devine, as well as for American Recording's Rick Rubin. It was during this trip, on 24 December 1998, that Muse signed a deal with Maverick Records. Upon their return from America, Taste Media arranged deals for Muse with various record labels in Europe and Australia, allowing them to maintain control over their career in individual countries.
John Leckie was brought in to produce the band's first record, Showbiz. The album effectively showcased Muse’s aggressive yet melancholic musical style. Lyrics in the songs referenced human relationships and difficulties they had encountered while trying to establish themselves in their hometown.
2001–02: Origin of Symmetry
During production of the band's second album, Origin of Symmetry, the band experimented with instrumentation such as a church organ, Mellotron, and an expanded drum kit. There were more of Bellamy's high-pitched vocal lines, arpeggiated guitar, and piano playing. Bellamy cites guitar influences such as Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave), the latter evident in the more riff-based songs in Origin of Symmetry and in Bellamy's extensive use of pitch-shifting effects in his solos. The album also features a reworking of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "Feeling Good".
In 2002, Muse threatened Celine Dion with legal action when she planned to name her Las Vegas show "Muse", despite the band owning the worldwide performing rights to the name. Dion offered Muse $50,000 for the rights, but they turned it down. Bellamy later stated that "We don't want to turn up there with people thinking we're Celine Dion's backing band." Eventually Dion was forced to back down.
Origin of Symmetry was well-received by critics; NME gave the album 9/10 with Roger Morton writing, "It's amazing for such a young band to load up with a heritage that includes the darker visions of Cobain and Kafka, Mahler and The Tiger Lillies, Cronenberg and Schoenberg, and make a sexy, populist album. But Muse have carried it off."
Maverick had reservations about Bellamy's vocal style on this album (considering it not to be "radio-friendly") and asked Muse to change some of their songs prior to U.S. release. The band refused and left Maverick, resulting in Maverick's decision not to release Origin of Symmetry in the United States. The album was finally released in the U.S. in September 2005, after Muse signed to Warner Bros.
Muse released a live DVD, Hullabaloo, featuring live footage recorded during Muse's two gigs on consecutive nights at Le Zenith in Paris in 2001 and a documentary film of the band on tour. A double album, Hullabaloo Soundtrack was released at the same time, containing a compilation of B-sides and a disc of recordings of songs from the Le Zenith performances. A double-A side single was also released featuring new songs "In Your World" and "Dead Star".
Absolution (produced by Rich Costey) was released in 2003 and debuted at number one in the UK. The album yielded their first top ten hit with "Time Is Running Out" and later three top-twenty hits: "Hysteria", "Sing for Absolution" and "Butterflies and Hurricanes". Muse subsequently undertook an international tour in support of the album. It continued for about a year and saw Muse visiting Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and France. Meanwhile, the band released six singles (one being for charity) ("Time Is Running Out", "Hysteria", "Sing for Absolution", "Stockholm Syndrome", "Butterflies and Hurricanes" and "Apocalypse Please"). The US leg of the 2004 tour began ominously as Bellamy injured himself on stage during the opening show in Atlanta. The tour resumed after several stitches and a couple of days.
The band also played at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2004. After the festival, the band described the concert as "the best gig of our lives". However, drummer Dominic Howard's father, William Howard, who was at the festival to watch the band, died from a heart attack very shortly after the performance. "It was the biggest feeling of achievement we've ever had after coming offstage", Bellamy said. "It was almost surreal that an hour later his dad died. It was almost not believable. We spent about a week sort of just with Howard trying to support him. I think he was happy that at least his dad got to see him at probably what was the finest moment so far of the band's life". Muse then continued their tour. They won two MTV Europe awards, including "Best Alternative Act" and a Q Award for "Best Live Act". Muse also received an award for "Best Live Act" at the 2005 BRIT Awards. Muse lost out twice to The Libertines for the NME award Best British Band, in 2004 and 2005. In July 2005, Muse participated in the Live 8 concert in Paris.
2003 saw the band sue Nestlé, who used their cover of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" on an advert for Nescafé without the band's permission. They donated the compensation money to Oxfam.The main reason behind the legal action was the bassist, Christopher Wolstenholme, who at the time had his third child, and was against the company that had a dubious reputation when it came to the promotion of powdered milk to new mothers in the third world.
An unofficial and unauthorised DVD biography containing no Muse music called Manic Depression was released in April 2005; the band was not involved with the project and did not endorse the release. Another DVD, this time official, was released by the band on 12 December 2005, called Absolution Tour. The official release contained re-edited and re-mastered highlights from the Glastonbury Festival 2004 and previously unseen footage from London Earls Court, Wembley Arena, and the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. Two songs, "Endlessly" and "Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist", are hidden tracks on the DVD taken from Wembley Arena. The only song from Absolution not to appear on the live DVD is "Falling Away With You", which has never been performed live to date. Absolution eventually went Gold in the US.
2006–08: Black Holes and Revelations and HAARP
In 2006, Muse released their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations, co-produced by Muse and Rich Costey. The album's title and themes are the result of the band's fascination with science fiction and political outrage. The album charted at No. 1 in the UK, much of Europe, and Australia. It was also a success in the United States, reaching number nine on the Billboard 200 album chart. Prior to the release of the new album, the band resumed making live performances, which had halted while recording, making a number of promotional TV appearances starting on 13 May 2006 at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend. The Black Holes and Revelations Tour started just before the release of their album and initially consisted mostly of festival appearances, most notably a headline slot at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in August 2006. The band's main touring itinerary started with a tour of North America from late July to early August 2006. After the last of the summer festivals, a tour of Europe began, including a large arena tour of the UK. Black Holes and Revelations was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize, but lost to Arctic Monkeys. The album did, however, earn a Platinum Europe Award after selling one million copies in the continent. In August 2006, Muse recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road.
The first single from the album, "Supermassive Black Hole", was released as a download in May 2006. It was later followed by general releases as a single the next month, all ahead of the main album release. The second single, "Starlight", was released in September 2006. "Knights of Cydonia" was released in the US as a radio-only single in June 2006 and in the UK in November 2006. "Knights of Cydonia" was voted number 1 in the world's largest music poll Australian Radio's Triple J Hottest 100 for 2007 and 18th in Triple J's Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009. The fourth single from the album, "Invincible", was then released in April 2007. Another single, "Map of the Problematique", was released for digital download only in June 2007, following the band's performance at Wembley Stadium.
The band spent November and much of December 2006 touring Europe with British band Noisettes as the supporting act. The tour continued in Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia in early 2007 before returning to England for the summer. Possibly their biggest performances to date were two gigs at the newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium on 16 and 17 June 2007, which they opened using the piece "Montagues and Capulets". Both Wembley concerts were recorded for a DVD/CD titled HAARP, which was released on 17 March 2008 in the UK and 1 April 2008 in the USA. The touring continued across Europe in July 2007 before heading back to the US in August where they played to a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden, New York. They earned a headline spot on the second night of the Austin City Limits Music Festival on 15 September 2007, after The White Stripes cancelled their performance. Not long after, they also performed at the October 2007 Vegoose in Las Vegas alongside bands like Rage Against the Machine, Daft Punk, and Queens of the Stone Age. Muse continued touring in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia before moving on to Australia and New Zealand. Muse played their final show of the Black Holes and Revelations tour as headliner of the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas after playing to sell-out crowds throughout Southeast Asia, Australia, the United States, and New Zealand.
A number of individual live appearances also occurred in 2008. In March, they played concerts in Dubai, Johannesburg, and Cape Town. On 12 April they played a one-off concert at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Muse were present at Rock in Rio Lisboa on 6 June, along other bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, The Offspring and Linkin Park. The band also performed at a new gig in Marlay Park, Dublin on 13 August and were set to play at a gig in Belfast on 14 August. However, the Belfast date was dismissed according to The Belfast Telegraph. Kasabian and Glasvegas supported Muse on their Irish date. A few days later, they were the headline act at V Festival 2008, playing in Chelmsford on Saturday 16 August and Staffordshire on Sunday 17 August. They also hinted at the possibility of a future stadium tour or concerts in South America.
2009–11: The Resistance
The band's fifth studio album The Resistance was released in September 2009. It is the first Muse album to have been produced by the band itself. The album was engineered by Adrian Bushby and mixed by Mark Stent. On its release, it topped the album charts in 19 countries, became the band's third number one album in the UK, and reached number 3 on the Billboard 200. Critics were mostly positive about the album, with much of the praise directed towards its ambition, classical music influences and the thirteen-minute, three-part "Exogenesis: Symphony". It also beat its predecessor Black Holes and Revelations in relative album sales in its debut week in the UK with approximately 148,000 copies sold. The first single, "Uprising", was released seven days earlier.
The Resistance Tour started with a Seaside Rendezvous in Teignmouth, Devon in September 2009 and included headlining Coachella Festival in April 2010. It also included two gigs at Wembley Stadium in September 2010. The band also supported U2 for their U2 360° Tour. In the "Breakfast with Muse Concert" KROQ-FM held, Muse was asked how long they would be on tour. They commented saying in a paraphrase, "We will probably be touring until the end of next year. We will be doing this U2 and European tour and ship off to Australia and Asia and return for an extensive US tour. It will actually be our longest US tour to date. Starting at about the end of February or March."
In January 2010, Muse headlined the Big Day Out festival at its various venues in Australia and New Zealand starting with Auckland and eventually ending with Perth. Muse headlined Coachella on Saturday 17 April. Muse also headlined the Glastonbury Festival 2010 along with Gorillaz and Stevie Wonder as well as the Oxegen festival in 2010 alongside Arcade Fire and Eminem. The group were also headline on the 2010 Hovefestivalen, as well as T in the Park 2010 and among other festivals, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival. On 20 April 2010, the band announced fourteen dates for a North American tour, which were to be held between September and November 2010. In addition to this, the band had added further four dates to their forthcoming North American tour, on 28 April 2010. On 7 May 2010, it was announced that Muse would provide a pre-written song to be the lead single for the third film of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The soundtrack's lead single "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" was released on 17 May.
Muse played at Glastonbury in June 2010 and were joined onstage by The Edge from U2 to play "Where the Streets Have No Name", after U2 pulled out of their headlining slot due to lead singer Bono's back injury.
Muse's fearsome live reputation helped secure them the O2 Silver Clef Award in London on 2 July 2010. The award was presented by Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen. Taylor described the Warner-signed trio as "probably the greatest live act in the world today," while May said that "this is a magnificent, incredible group."
On 12 July 2010, bassist Chris Wolstenholme informed NME magazine that the band would be taking a break following the conclusion of their world tour supporting The Resistance. He also stated that the band would definitely begin recording material for a new album in 2011. Also, on 8 September, frontman Matthew Bellamy claimed in an interview with NME that the music for the band's next studio album would be more "personal" and more fitting for smaller scale performances as opposed to their current stadium tour.
On 12 September 2010, Muse won an MTV Video Music Award in the category of Best Special Effects, for the promo for "Uprising". On 21 November, Muse took home an American Music Award for Favorite Artist in the Alternative Rock Music Category, in a ceremony at the Nokia Theater, Los Angeles. On 2 December, it was announced that Muse had been nominated for three awards for the 53rd Grammy Awards: Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals – ("Resistance"); Best Rock Song – ("Resistance"), and Best Rock Album: (The Resistance). Based on having the largest airplay and sales in the U.S, Muse were named the Billboard Alternative and Rock artist for 2010 with "Uprising", "Resistance" and "Undisclosed Desires" achieving 1st, 6th and 49th on the year end Alternative Song chart respectively. At the 53rd Grammy Awards on 13 February 2011, Muse won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album for The Resistance.
Muse have won an Ivor Novello Award (celebration and recognition of British music writing talent). The band were presented with the award for International Achievement at the ceremony in London, on Thursday 19 May.
On 30 July, Muse supported Rage Against the Machine at their only 2011 gig at the L.A. Rising festival. Muse were chosen by Rage Against the Machine themselves along with Rise Against, Lauryn Hill, Immortal Technique and El Gran Silencio. On 13 August, Muse headlined the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco.
Muse headlined the Reading and Leeds Festivals in August 2011. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of their second studio album Origin of Symmetry, the band performed all eleven tracks from top to bottom during their set. Muse also headlined Lollapalooza in Chicago's Grant Park in August 2011.
2012: Sixth studio album
According to bassist Chris Wolstenholme, Muse are set to enter the studio to start recording the new album in September 2011. Wolstenholme told BBC Radio 1: "September and October, that's when we're going to get into the studio to start writing the new album." In an interview with Billboard on 18 October 2011, the band's manager Anthony Addis revealed that Muse have already begun recording their sixth album in London and that he expected it to be released by October 2012.
Muse are an alternative rock band, and are often associated with space rock and progressive rock . Their music currently mixes sounds from genres such as electronic music, hard rock, classical music and rock opera. The band was described as a "trashy three-piece" by Matthew Bellamy on the BBC during 2002.
On the band's association with progressive rock, Dominic Howard has said: "I associate it with 10-minute guitar solos, but I guess we kind of come into the category. A lot of bands are quite ambitious with their music, mixing lots of different styles – and when I see that I think it's great. I've noticed that kind of thing becoming a bit more mainstream."
Sound development through the years
Muse's characteristic sound during the Showbiz album was composed of a mixture of musical genres such alternative rock (Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins), alternative metal (Rage Against the Machine and Deftones), as well as an early appreciation of more diverse musical genres like progressive rock (Rush), classical music (Frédéric Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninov) and Latin music.
In their second release (the Origin of Symmetry album), the band wanted to enhance their sound into a more progressive, confident and aggressive sound. Muse experimented with uncommon instruments such a pipe organ, improved drum kits and more prominent electronic arrangements as well as more ambitious lyrical themes.
Their third release, Absolution, followed its predecessor's tendency, increasing the band's heaviness and intensity alongside its ambitious thematics. The album also features songs with prominent string arrangements and starts to draw influences from artists such as Queen, while the album's cover art was designed by Pink Floyd's album art guru Storm Thorgerrson.
Their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations is a more electronica- and space rock-oriented album, though some tracks keep the heaviness of the band's previous work, while others show a more melodic style, akin to the musical style of their Showbiz album. Black Holes and Revelations was influenced by artists like Depeche Mode and Lightning Bolt, as well by various styles of European and Asian music, known as Naples music; additionally, the band listened to radio stations from the Middle East during the album's recording sessions.
Muse's fifth album, The Resistance is centered on the symphonic rock and progressive rock genres. Although it is sonically softer than its predecessors, it still contains the heavy compositions for which Muse has become known. The album is heavily influenced by classical music as well as rock acts such as Queen and U2. Queen's guitarist Brian May has praised Muse's work, calling the band "extraordinary musicians" who "let their madness show through, always a good thing in an artist."
Critics have made comparisons between Muse's early work with that of English alternative rock band Radiohead, with criticism directed towards Bellamy's vocal style. Regarding the topic, Howard has shown to liking Radiohead's music. Additionally, in a 1999 issue of the French magazine Rock Sound, Matt named The Bends by Radiohead & Nirvana's Nevermind as the most important albums of the decade. However since then the band have retracted these statements various times and have stated that what they meant to say was that Nirvana and Radiohead were the most successful alternative rock bands in the 90's, and were influential to many bands, but that does not necessarily mean that Radiohead was an influence for them. On the other hand Muse acknowledges the band Nirvana as a major influence. Singer and composer Matthew Bellamy has stated at various times that Radiohead "really don't do much for me" and attributes the similarities to the fact that both bands are notably influenced by the alternative rock musician Jeff Buckley.
Many Muse songs are recognisable by lead vocalist Matthew Bellamy's use of falsetto and vibrato, influenced primarily by Jeff Buckley. As pianist, Matt Bellamy often utilises the broken chords technique (arpeggio) on several piano-based songs. Some influences in Bellamy's playing include classical and Romantic era composers such as Sergei Rachmaninov, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, and Frédéric Chopin among others. He also draws influence from more contemporary composers, namely Philip Glass.
In many Muse songs the bass line is used as the central motif, often with the guitar providing an extra layer to the song, adding embellishment to the bass. The bass usually has distortion and other effects applied to it, to achieve a greater weight and depth, allowing the guitar to serve as counterfoil to the main chord progression, often playing higher notes, or electronic sounds. Both bass and guitar also play unison parts on occasion, adding emphasis to specific melodies and riffs (see 'Hysteria' post-second chorus; 'Dead Star' main riff). As a guitarist, Bellamy often utilises arpeggiator and Pitch-shift effects to create a more "electric" sound, citing Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello as influences for this method.
Early Muse songs' lyrics dealt with introspective themes, such as relationships, social alienation, and difficulties they had encountered while trying to establish themselves in their hometown. However, with the band's progress, their song concepts have become more ambitious, addressing issues such as the fear of the evolution of technology, in their Origin of Symmetry album. They deal with the apocalypse and catastrophic conflicts, in Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations respectively, and with a worldwide revolution in The Resistance, as well as themes of a new world order throughout these albums.
Books that have influenced Muse lyrical thematics include: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control by Kathleen Taylor, Hyperspace by Michio Kaku, and The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin. The band has also been influenced by 19th century political theorist Henry George.
- Current members
- Matthew Bellamy – lead vocals, lead guitar, piano, keyboard
- Christopher Wolstenholme – bass, backing vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica
- Dominic Howard – drums, percussion, synthesisers
- Live members
- Morgan Nicholls – keyboards, percussion, synthesisers, backing vocals, bass, guitar ("United States of Eurasia") (2004, 2006–present)
- Alessandro Cortini – keyboards (filled in for Morgan Nicholls briefly in 2009)
- Dan the Trumpet Man - Trumpet on live performances of City of Delusion and Knights of Cydonia during the Black Holes and Revelations Tour (2006-2008). Also appears on HAARP live at Wembley Stadium.
- Studio albums
- Showbiz (1999)
- Origin of Symmetry (2001)
- Absolution (2003)
- Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
- The Resistance (2009)
- TBA (2012)
- List of awards and nominations received by Muse
- List of Muse songs
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Muse Studio albums Demos Live albums Compilations Extended plays Videos Singles"Uno" • "Cave" • "Muscle Museum" • "Sunburn" • "Unintended" • "Plug In Baby" • "New Born" • "Bliss" • "Hyper Music/Feeling Good" • "Dead Star/In Your World" • "Stockholm Syndrome" • "Time Is Running Out" • "Hysteria" • "Sing for Absolution" • "Apocalypse Please" • "Butterflies and Hurricanes" • "Supermassive Black Hole" • "Starlight" • "Knights of Cydonia" • "Invincible" • "Map of the Problematique" • "Uprising" • "Undisclosed Desires" • "Resistance" • "Exogenesis: Symphony" • "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" Other songs Concert toursShowbiz Tour • Origin of Symmetry Tour • Absolution Tour • US Campus Invasion Tour 2005 • Black Holes and Revelations Tour • A Seaside Rendezvous • The Resistance Tour Related articles
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