Muse, from left to right: Matthew Bellamy, Christopher Wolstenholme and
Origin Teignmouth, Devon, England
Genre(s) Alternative rock
Years active 1994–present
Label(s) Helium 3, Warner Bros. Records, Mushroom Records, Taste Media
1.1 Formation and early years (1992–1997)
1.2 First EPs and Showbiz (1998–2000)
1.3 Origin of Symmetry and Hullabaloo (2001–2002)
1.4 Absolution (2003–2005)
1.5 Black Holes & Revelations and HAARP (2006–2008)
1.6 Current and future plans (2008-present)
3 Band members
3.1 Touring members
4.1 Studio albums
4.2 UK top-ten singles
7 External links
Muse are an English alternative rock band that formed in Teignmouth,
Devon, England in 1994. Since their inception, the band has comprised
vocalist, guitarist, pianist and songwriter Matthew Bellamy, bassist and
backing vocalist Christopher Wolstenholme and drummer and percussionist
Dominic Howard. The band are known for mixing various musical styles
together, the most prominent being alternative rock, classical music,
Muse have released four studio albums to date. Their first, Showbiz, was
released in 1999, followed by Origin of Symmetry in 2001, Absolution in
2003 and Black Holes & Revelations in 2006, the latter of which garnered
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 many other music
awards throughout their career, including five MTV Europe Music Awards,
five Q Awards, four NME Awards, two BRIT awards and four Kerrang!
Awards. Their most recent release is HAARP, a live album documenting
their performances at Wembley Stadium in London on 16 and 17 June 2007.
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. 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. Chris 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. «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
First EPs and Showbiz (1998–2000)
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
This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of an
eponymous EP on Sawmills’ in-house Dangerous label, with a front
cover designed by Muse drummer Dominic Howard. Their second EP, the
Muscle Museum EP, reached number 3 in the indie singles chart and
attracted the attention of influential 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 major success of their second EP, British record companies
were reluctant to back Muse, and many sections of the music industry
asserted that, like many of their contemporaries, their sound was too
similar to that of Radiohead. However, American record labels were keen
to sign them, flying Muse out to the U.S. to play showcase concerts.
After a trip to New York’s CMJ festival, Muse signed a deal with
Maverick Records on 24 December 1998. 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
The partially transparent UNO CD-single.
John Leckie, who produced The Bends by Radiohead and had produced for
the Stone Roses and The Verve, 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.
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,
accumulating a considerable fan base in Western Europe, particularly in
Origin of Symmetry and Hullabaloo (2001–2002)
During production of the band’s second album, Origin of Symmetry, the
band experimented with unorthodox 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 distinctive 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. The album also
features a reworking of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s «Feeling
Good». Muse successfully sued Nestle in 2003 when they used Muse’s
version of «Feeling Good» in a television advert for Nescafe without
permission, donating the F500,000 compensation to Oxfam.
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.
The album was well-received by critics; Dean Carlson of Allmusic
commented on the album saying, «…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».
Whereas 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 U.S. The album was finally released in the U.S. on 20
September 2005, after Muse signed to Warner.
Having built up a strong reputation as a live band over the course of
the Origin of Symmetry tour, Muse decided to release a live CD and DVD.
The DVD, Hullabaloo, featured 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». The song «Shrinking Universe»
from Hullabaloo Soundtrack was used in trailers for the 2007 film 28
In the February 2006 edition of Q Magazine, Origin of Symmetry was
placed 74th in a fans’ poll of the 100 greatest albums ever.
In 2003, a new studio album, Absolution, was released. Produced by Rich
Costey, who had previously produced Philip Glass and Fiona Apple, the
album demonstrated a continuation of the experimentation displayed in
Origin of Symmetry, while maintaining a sense of the band as a
three-piece. The album yielded the hit singles «Time Is Running Out» and
The album is built around the theme of the end of the world, and
reactions to that situation; despite the apocalyptic theme, Muse
described it as an «uplifting» album, with a positive message coming
through in songs such as «Blackout» and «Butterflies and Hurricanes».
The theme draws from Bellamy’s interest in conspiracy theories,
theology, science, and the supernatural. The song «Ruled By Secrecy»,
for example, takes its title from the Jim Marrs book Rule By Secrecy,
which discusses the secrets behind the way major governments are run.
Many lyrics on this album have political references, such as the music
video for «Time Is Running Out», which takes place in an unspecified
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.
Finally receiving mainstream critical acclaim in Britain, and with a new
American record deal, Muse 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. 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, 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».
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. 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.
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. 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, The album’s title
and themes are the result of the band’s fascination with science fiction
and political outrage. 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. Another single, «Map of the Problematique», was released for
digital download only on 18 June 2007, following the band’s performance
at Wembley Stadium. The track «Assassin» is featured on the video
game Guitar Hero World Tour.
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. 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. 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 in the UK and
1 April 2008 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. 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 & 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. 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 (reportedly the only UK festival where the band are
appearing this year), 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.
Current and future plans (2008-present)
Between May and August of 2008, the band played an 8-date tour in Mexico
and South America, as well as a performance at Marlay Park in Dublin
with support from Kasabian and Glasvegas a few days before their
headline slots at the English V Festivals in Chelmsford and
Staffordshire. Despite suggestions from the band themselves, no new
material was debuted at these summer concerts.
On 2 August 2008, a collaboration song between Muse and The Streets
entitled «Who Knows Who» was leaked on Muselive.com, which coincides
with an interview published by NME on 14 April. Bellamy stated in the
article that he «would like to do England’s answer to Rage Against The
Machine». The self-labelled «jam» consists of a funky wah-wah
centric verse with a heavily distorted chorus based on the main riff
from Led Zeppelin’s «Heartbreaker». The song also features guitar
effects similar in form to those used by Rage Against the Machine
guitarist Tom Morello, a band which has been an influence on Muse’s
music. The song was met with mixed review from fans, but 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.
As previously reported, Muse had tentatively started work on album
number five, the follow up to 2006’s Black Holes And Revelations,
earlier in 2008. Drummer Dominic Howard has now explained that the band
wrote a few tracks ahead of their headline V Festival slots (16-17
August) and are set to head back to their studio near Lake Como in Italy
soon. 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».
Their song «Supermassive Black Hole» was featured in the soundtrack for
Twilight (2008 film), which was released in November 2008.
In a Q&A with the fans on the official Muse messageboard Chris 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
Muse songs are recognizable for their use and manipulation of lead
vocalist Matthew Bellamy’s powerfully haunting falsetto. This makes
Bellamy easily comparable to Thom Yorke of Radiohead, but only as an
earmark. «It depends on what level they say it,» says Bellamy in his
defense. «If people say it as a comparison, that’s fair enough, but if
they think that I try to copy him, that’s the thing that is difficult to
swallow. I find it a compliment as long as people know that I haven’t
tried to emulate what he does: it’s my own thing.» As a guitarist,
Bellamy utilizes arpeggio and pitch-shift effects to create a more
«electric» sound, citing Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello as influences for
Black Holes & Revelations as a whole is earmarked by various styles of
European 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». 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».
Matthew Bellamy – vocals, guitar, piano & keyboards, primary lyricist
Christopher Wolstenholme – bass guitar, vocals, keyboards
Dominic Howard – drums, percussion
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 backing vocalist.
Danny Lauder – trumpet (2006 – present)
Lauder plays the trumpet on «Knights of Cydonia» and «City of Delusion»
live, although not at every concert.
Origin of Symmetry (2001)
Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
UK top-ten singles
«Time Is Running Out» (2003) – UK Singles Chart #8
«Supermassive Black Hole» (2006) – #4
«Knights of Cydonia» (2006) – #10
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
Q Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
MTV EMA Best Alternative Europe
MTV EMA Best UK & Ireland Act Europe
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 United Kingdom
MTV EMA Best Alternative Europe
Kerrang! Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
BT Digital Music Awards Best Rock Artist United Kingdom
UK Festival Awards Best Rock Act United Kingdom For Reading and
Leeds Festivals 2006
UK Festival Awards Best Headline Act United Kingdom For Reading and
Leeds Festivals 2006
Vodafone Live Music Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
2007 BRIT Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
NME Awards Best British Band United Kingdom
BT Digital Music Awards Best Rock Artist United Kingdom
Vodafone Live Music Awards Tour of the Year United Kingdom
Q Awards Best Live Act United Kingdom
MTV EMA Headliner Europe
MTV EMA Best UK & Ireland Act Europe
mtvU Woodie Awards Best Performing United States
2008 Meteor Music Awards Best International Live Performance
Ireland For Oxegen 2007
NME Awards Best Live Band United Kingdom
MTV Asia Awards Bring Da House Down Asia For Muse Asia Tour 2007
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Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muse_band