Muse (band)

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Muse, from left to right: Matthew Bellamy, Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard.
Background information
Origin Teignmouth, Devon, England
Genre(s) Alternative rock, Progressive rock, New prog, Space rock
Years active 1994–present
Label(s) Helium 3, Warner Bros. Records, Mushroom Records, Taste Media
Matthew Bellamy
Christopher Wolstenholme
Dominic Howard

Muse are a British rock band that was formed in Teignmouth, Devon, England in 1994. Since their inception, the band has comprised Matthew Bellamy (vocals, guitar, piano), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion). Muse are known best for their visually dazzling live performances[1] and on June 16 and 17, 2007 became the first band to sell out the newly built Wembley Stadium in London.[2] Muse have released four studio albums. Their most recent, Black Holes & Revelations earned the band a Mercury Prize nomination and a third place finish in the NME Albums of the Year list for 2006.[3] Muse have won many other music awards throughout their career, including five MTV Europe Music Awards, five Q Awards, six NME Awards, two BRIT awards and four Kerrang! Awards.


[edit] History

[edit] Formation and early years (1992–1997)

The members of Muse played in separate bands during their stay at Teignmouth Community College and Coombeshead College in the early 1990s.[4] 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 drums at the time, to learn to play bass guitar for the band. Wolstenholme agreed and took up lessons.

In 1994, under the name Rocket Baby Dolls and with a goth/glam image, the group won a local battle of the bands contest, smashing their equipment in the process.[5][6] "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 forego university, quit their jobs, change the band name to Muse, and move away from Teignmouth.[7]

[edit] First EPs and Showbiz (1998–2000)

Muse logo.

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.

This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of an eponymous EP on Sawmills' in-house Dangerous label,[5] with a front cover designed by Howard. 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 Record's then Senior Vice President of A&R, Tim Devine, as well as for American Recording's Rick Rubin. It was during this trip, on December 24, 1998, that Muse signed a deal with Maverick Records. [8]

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.

The minimax UNO CD-single.

John Leckie was brought in to produce the band's first record, Showbiz. The album showcased the band's soft style, and the lyrics made reference to the difficulties they had encountered while trying to establish themselves in Teignmouth.[5][6]

The release of this album was followed by tour support slots for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters in the United States. 1999 and 2000 saw Muse playing major festivals in Europe and gigs in Australia.

[edit] Origin of Symmetry and Hullabaloo (2001–2002)

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 & 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.[9] The album also features a reworking of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "Feeling Good". Muse successfully sued Nestlé in 2003 when they used Muse's version of "Feeling Good" in a television advert for Nescafé without permission, donating the £500,000 compensation to Oxfam.[10]

Celine Dion was also threatened with legal action in 2002 when she planned to name her Las Vegas show "Muse", despite the band owning the worldwide performing rights to the name. Celine Dion offered $50,000 for the rights but Muse rejected this with Bellamy stating 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.[11]

Origin of Symmetry was well-received by critics; Dean Carlson of Allmusic commented that "...if you want to sound like Radiohead when even Thom Yorke doesn't want to sound like Radiohead, you might as well take it to such preposterous, bombastic, over-the-top-levels".[12] 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".[13]

Maverick had reservations about Bellamy's vocal style on this album (considering it not to be "radio-friendly"[citation needed]), 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 U.S. The album was finally released in the U.S. on 20 September 2005, after Muse signed to Warner.

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".

In the February 2006 edition of Q Magazine, Origin of Symmetry was placed 74th in a fans' poll of the 100 greatest albums ever.

[edit] Absolution (2003–2005)

Studio album Absolution, produced by Rich Costey, was released in 2003. The album yielded the hit singles "Time Is Running Out" and "Hysteria". Muse subsequently undertook their first international stadium tour. It continued for about a year and saw Muse visiting Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and France. Meanwhile, the band released five singles ("Time Is Running Out", "Hysteria", "Sing for Absolution", "Stockholm Syndrome", & "Butterflies and Hurricanes"). The US leg of the 2004 tour began ominously as Bellamy injured himself on stage during the opening show in Atlanta.[14] The tour resumed after several stitches and a couple of days.

Chris Wolstenholme of Muse performing at the Mod Club Theatre, Toronto in 2004. The international Absolution tour included the band's first shows in North America since 1999.

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".[15][16] However, drummer Dominic Howard's father, Bill 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 Dom 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".[5]

Muse then continued their tour. Their last dates were in the U.S. and at the Earls Court arena in London, where they played an extra date due to the high demand for tickets. They won two MTV Europe awards, including "Best Alternative Act" and a Q Award for "Best Live Act". At the end of 2004, Vitamin Records released The String Quartet Tribute to Muse by The Tallywood Strings, an album of instrumental string versions of some of Muse's songs. Muse also received an award for "Best Live Act" at the 2005 BRIT Awards.

The band finished touring in January 2005, then visited the U.S. in April and May On 2 July 2005, Muse participated in the Live 8 concert in Paris, where they performed their singles "Plug In Baby", "Bliss", "Time Is Running Out", and "Hysteria".

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.[17] Another DVD, this time official, was released by the band on December 12 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.[18] Absolution eventually went Gold in the US.[19]

[edit] Black Holes & Revelations and HAARP (2006–2008)

In July 2006, Muse released their fourth album, co-produced by Muse and by Rich Costey, titled Black Holes & Revelations. The album was released officially in Japan on 28 June 2006, in Europe on 3 July 2006 and, in North America on 11 July 2006. The album charted at No. 1 in the UK, much of Europe, and Australia. It was also a success in the United States, reaching No. 9 in the Billboard 200 album chart.[20] Black Holes & 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,[21] The album's title and themes are the result of the band's fascination with science fiction and political outrage.[22][23] 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 on 9 May 2006 and accompanied by a music video directed by Floria Sigismondi. 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 on 4 September 2006. "Knights of Cydonia" was released in the U.S. as a radio-only single on 13 June 2006 and in the UK on 27 November 2006. It also had a six-minute promotional video filmed in Romania and was featured on the popular video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. It was also voted number 1 in the world's largest music poll Australian Radio's Triple J Hottest 100 for 2007. The fourth single from the album, "Invincible", was then released on 9 April 2007.[24] Another single, "Map of the Problematique", was released for digital download only on 18 June 2007, following the band's performance at Wembley Stadium.[25]

Muse playing "Starlight" at Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2006

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 One Big Weekend. The main live 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.[26] 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.[27] 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 June and 17 2007. Both Wembley concerts were recorded for a DVD/CD titled HAARP, which was released on the 17 March 2008[28] in the UK and 1 April 2008[29] in the USA. The title refers to the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, a scientific research program aimed at studying the properties and behaviour of the ionosphere.

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.[30] 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.[30] 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 & 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.[31] On 12 April they played a one-off concert at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.[32] 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.[33] Kasabian and Glasvegas supported Muse on their Irish date.[34] 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.[35] They also hinted at the possibility of a future stadium tour or concerts in South America.[36]

[edit] Current and future plans (2008-present)

In an interview published by NME on 14 April, Bellamy stated that he "would like to do England's answer to Rage Against The Machine".[37][38]

On 2 August 2008, a collaboration song between Muse and The Streets entitled "Who Knows Who" was leaked on A message from the band on the official forum confirmed that the song was genuine, though the track was never intended to be a serious release.[39]

Muse tentatively started work on their fifth album in 2008. Drummer Dominic Howard explained that the band wrote a few tracks ahead of their headline V Festival slots (16-17 August) and would head back to their studio near Lake Como in Italy. Speaking to BBC 6music, Howard said, "We're working on new stuff and we're gonna have a couple of weeks off and then in about two weeks time we're back out to Italy to start writing again". He also added, "We've already done a few tracks and it sounds great, so we're just working towards the future".[citation needed]

In September 2008, the band received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts each from the University of Plymouth for being recognised as "not only one of the most exciting live bands in the world, but also a band which pushes musical boundaries".[40]

In a Q&A with fans on the official Muse message board, Wolstenholme stated that "It would be nice to have the album out in the second half of next year (2009) but we have not set ourselves any targets. It is more important for us to make the best album we have made to date and if that means it comes out in 2010 then we don’t mind. Hopefully it will be sooner though".[41]

As of February 2, 2009 Muse had already made it into the studio and begun recording at least one song for their upcoming album. On, a news headline stated that the album was slated for a September 2009 release, and a new tour of France, and most probably Europe, was to follow in the autumn.[42] In an interview with BBC 6 Music, Bellamy commented that the album is to show distinct classical influences, and that it's "all very orchestral".[43]

In the February issue of Australian youth magazine jMag, published by radio station Triple J, it was said that Matt Bellamy had announced in the band's forum that he had written the "hardest song ever". He said "There's a new song in three parts, which I have been working on sporadically for many years. As a large percentage of the composition is orchestral... I've been arranging the orchestral elements myself, which is taking a long time." He hopes that the tracks will feature as the finale to their fifth album. In a series of interviews at the 2009 NME Awards on 25 February, Bellamy revealed that the album was approximately half completed and should be released, in conjunction with a tour, at the end of summer 2009.[44]

On March 24, 2009, the band's website made an official announcement that they will be going on tour in the autumn. "We are pleased to confirm that Muse will be touring in the UK, Europe and North America this autumn. Full details on the UK and European dates will be announced soon, but for now we can confirm that the the band will be special guests to U2 at a number of their North American shows this September including New York on September 24th. The remaining U2 dates will be announced in the coming weeks." [45] They are confirmed for the Atlanta show on October, 6th at the Georgia Dome. Tampa is also confirmed as Muse are special guests to U2 for the October 9th concert at Raymond James Stadium, the only concert date in Florida for the U2 360º Tour.

[edit] Style

Many Muse songs are recognisable by lead vocalist Matthew Bellamy's falsetto. As a guitarist, Bellamy often utilises arpeggio and pitch-shift effects to create a more "electric" sound, citing Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello as influences for this method.[46]

Black Holes & Revelations was influenced by various styles of European and Asian music. "I've been listening to quite a lot of music from the south of Italy on this album", Bellamy admits. "I've been living in Italy for a while, and I discovered this music from Naples, which sounds like a mix of music from Africa, Croatia, Turkey, and Italy. It kind of gives it a mystical sound, so I think that's one thing that influenced the album. I like being influenced by things that have a mixed style".[47]

[edit] Band members

[edit] Touring members

  • Morgan Nicholls – synthesizers, keyboards, backing vocals, bass guitar (2004, 2006 – present)
Nicholls played bass at the 2004 V Festival in place of the injured Wolstenholme, who broke his wrist during a football match with Didz Hammond from The Cooper Temple Clause. He continues to play bass on "Hoodoo" in addition to being a regular synthesizer and keyboard player as well as a backing vocalist.
  • Danny Newell (A.K.A. Dan the Trumpet Man) – trumpet (2006 – present)
Newell plays the trumpet on "Knights of Cydonia" and "City of Delusion" live, although not at every concert.

[edit] Discography

[edit] Awards

Year Award Category Region Notes
2000 NME Awards Best New Artist United Kingdom
2001 Kerrang! Awards Best British Band United Kingdom
2002 Kerrang! Awards Best British Live Act United Kingdom
2004 Q Awards Innovation Award United Kingdom
Kerrang! Awards Best Album United Kingdom For Absolution
Q Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
MTV EMA Best Alternative Italy
MTV EMA Best UK & Ireland Act Italy
2005 BRIT Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
NME Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
mtvU Woodie Awards Best International United States
2006 Q Awards Best Live Act[48] United Kingdom
MTV EMA Best Alternative Denmark
Kerrang! Awards Best Live Act[49] United Kingdom
BT Digital Music Awards Best Rock Artist United Kingdom
UK Festival Awards Best Rock Act[50] United Kingdom For Reading and Leeds Festivals 2006
UK Festival Awards Best Headline Act[50] United Kingdom For Reading and Leeds Festivals 2006
Vodafone Live Music Awards Best Live Act[51] United Kingdom
2007 BRIT Awards Best Live Act[52] United Kingdom
NME Awards Best British Band[53] United Kingdom
BT Digital Music Awards Best Rock Artist[54] United Kingdom
Vodafone Live Music Awards Tour of the Year[55] United Kingdom
Q Awards Best Live Act[56] United Kingdom
MTV EMA Headliner[57] Germany
MTV EMA Best UK & Ireland Act[57] Germany
mtvU Woodie Awards Best Performing[58] United States
2008 Meteor Music Awards Best International Live Performance[59] Ireland For Oxegen 2007
NME Awards Best Live Band[60] United Kingdom
MTV Asia Awards Bring Da House Down[61] Malaysia For Muse Asia Tour 2007
2009 NME Awards Best Live Band United Kingdom
NME Awards Best Album Artwork United Kingdom For HAARP

[edit] References

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  2. ^ Dan Martin (2007-06-16), Muse play Wembley Stadium mega gig, NME 
  3. ^ "NME Albums Of The Year 2006". NME. 2006. Retrieved on 2008-01-27. 
  4. ^ "Teignmouth Community College". Rock Pilgrimages. Virgin Radio. Retrieved on 2008--27. 
  5. ^ a b c d "muse: biography". Retrieved on 2007-08-04. 
  6. ^ a b "Muse", Kerrang!, 1999, 
  7. ^ "Muse Biography". Artists. Taste Music. Retrieved on 2008-01-27. 
  8. ^ | title = Muse biography | publisher = | url = | accessdate = 2008-05-02}}
  9. ^ "Muse's Matt Bellamy Talks". (possibly reprinted from Total Guitar (UK Magazine)). 25 December 2003. 
  10. ^ "NME article", NME, 2003,, retrieved on 2008-01-19 
  11. ^ "Band muses on Dion name victory". BBC News Online. 2002-10-18. Retrieved on 2008-01-19. 
  12. ^ Carlson, Dean. "Origin of Symmetry – Review". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-01-27. 
  13. ^ Morton, Roger. "Origin of Symmetry – Review". NME. Retrieved on 2008-05-04. 
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  17. ^ Amazon, Amazon. "Manic depression". amazon. Retrieved on 2008-04-02. 
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  27. ^ "Current Tour Dates". Muse Syndrome. 2006-02-05. 
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  31. ^ "Tour Dates". Muse. Retrieved on 2008-02-23. 
  32. ^ "Royal Albert Hall 2008". Teenage Cancer Trust. 18 February 2008. Retrieved on 2008-02-23. 
  33. ^ "Fans not a-Mused as top band to leave out Belfast". The Belfast Telegraph. 2008-04-14. Retrieved on 2008-04-17. 
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  37. ^ "Muse plan collaboration with The Streets". NME. 14 April 2008. 
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  39. ^ "Muse and The Streets". 4 August 2008. 
  40. ^ "University Honour for Rock Stars Muse". 26 September 2008. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ " - News". 2009-02-03. Retrieved on 2009-02-26. 
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  46. ^
  47. ^ "Muse – Intergalacticists Stride Our World". Retrieved on 2008-05-12. 
  48. ^ "THE Q AWARDS 2006 Winners". ilikemusic. 2006. Retrieved on 2008-01-24. 
  49. ^ "Kerrang! Awards 2006 Blog: Best Live Band". Kerrang!. Retrieved on 2007-12-09. 
  50. ^ a b "UK Festival Awards 2006 - The Winners!". Festival Awards. Retrieved on 2007-12-09. 
  51. ^ "2006 Vodaphone Live Music Awards". Vodaphone. Retrieved on 2007-12-09. 
  52. ^ "The Brit Awards 2007". The Brit Awards. Retrieved on 2008-02-17. 
  53. ^ "Muse Win Best British Band at Shockwaves NME Awards". NME. Retrieved on 2007-09-20. 
  54. ^ "BT Digital Music Awards 2007". BT. Retrieved on 2007-12-09. 
  55. ^ "The 2007 Vodafone Live Music Awards". Vodafone. Retrieved on 2008-02-17. 
  56. ^ "Q Awards: Best Live Act 2007". Q. Retrieved on 2007-12-09. 
  57. ^ a b "Winners". 2007 MTV Europe Music Awards. MTV. Retrieved on 2007-12-09. 
  58. ^ "Winners". The mtvU Woodie Awards 2007. NME. Retrieved on 2008-02-17. 
  59. ^ "Stars out for the Meteors". RTÉ. 2008-02-16. Retrieved on 2008-02-16. 
  60. ^ "Shockwaves NME Awards 2008: Muse win Best Live Band". NME. Retrieved on 2008-02-28. 
  61. ^ "2008 MTV Asia Awards Honors The Best From The East And West". MTV Asia. Retrieved on 2008-08-04. 

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