Muse band

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Muse is a British rock band formed in Teignmouth, Devon in 1994. It has three members; Matthew Bellamy (singer, guitarist and keyboardist), Chris Wolstenholme (bassist) and Dominic Howard (drummer and percussionist). Bellamy is the principal songwriter and creative influence in the band, although some of the band's more recent material has also been credited to Wolstenholme and Howard.

History

While some describe them as a post-Britpop band, Muse staunchly deny such associations. The music which inspired them was not Britpop; they cite the influence of the American grunge music (exemplified by Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden), combining such influences with the alternative and experimental approach of British groups like The Verve and Radiohead.

The high-pitched vocals of Matt Bellamy are described as a cross of those of Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke.

Formation and Early years (mid-1990s)

File:Muse logo.png
Muse's logo. Image is copyright, usage restricted.

The three members of Muse were in separate bands at the school they attended in the early 1990s, but came together to form one band shortly afterwards. This new band changed names a number of times, being called Gothic Plague, Fixed Penalty and Rocket Baby Dolls before adopting the name Muse (the chronology of these names is unclear, as Muse have given confusing and contradictory accounts in various interviews).

In 1994, under the name Rocket Baby Dolls, they took part in a local Battle Of The Bands contest, playing with such emotion and violence (going as far as to break everything on stage, a trait which has remained to the present day) that they stood out from the competition, and won. Following this success, the band members chose to forego university in order to pursue a career in music.

In the spotlight and Breakthrough (first EPs and Showbiz 1998-2000)

Following a number of gigs in London and Manchester, the band, now named Muse, had a significant meeting with Dennis Smith, the owner of Sawmills, a recording studio in a converted water mill in Cornwall, S.W. England.

This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of an eponymous E.P. on Sawmill's in-house Dangerous label. Their second E.P., entitled Muscle Museum, attracted the attention of influential British music journalist Steve Lamacq and the weekly British music publication NME. Dennis Smith subsequently co-founded the music publishing company Taste Media especially for Muse (the band has stayed with the company to the present day). This was fortunate for the band as it allowed them to preserve the individuality of their sound in the early stages of their career.

Despite the success and acclaim of their second E.P., British record companies were reluctant to back Muse, with Bellamy's vibrato-laden, high-pitched vocals and the band's unusual live act. However, the American Maverick Records took a gamble on the band, arranging a number of gigs in the U.S. before signing them at the end of 1998. Upon their return from America, Taste Media arranged deals for Muse with various record labels in Europe and Australia. John Boden, producer of Radiohead's highly acclaimed second album The Bends and The Verve's first full-length A Storm in Heaven, was brought in to produce the band 's first record Showbiz, which is considered by some to have heavily influenced Radiohead. The album showcased the band's aggressive style, and features a number of lyrical references to the difficulties they had trying to establish themselves in Teignmouth.

The release of this album was followed by Maverick giving Muse prestigious support slots for the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a series of gigs in the United States, playing to audiences of more than 20,000 people. 1999 and 2000 saw Muse playing major festivals in Europe and gigs in Japan and Australia, accumulating a considerable fan base in Western Europe (though in Britain this following remained somewhat left-field).

Rising to Superstardom (Origin of Symmetry 2001-2002)

After the tour the band quickly wrote and recorded their second album Origin of Symmetry, again with Leckie producing. This album saw Muse innovating more than on Showbiz, exploring their style in ways they were previously unable to realise, which resulted in a heavier, darker rock sound, with Wolstenholme's bass, often overdriven or synthesized, compensating for the limitations imposed by their three-man lineup.

The band experimented with unorthodox instrumentation, such as a church organ and an expanded drum kit. There was more of Bellamy's high pitched vocal lines and distinctive piano playing, inspired by the works of pianists of the Romanticism movement, such as Sergei Rachmaninoff. Bellamy cites guitar influences such as Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine), the latter evident in the more riff-based songs on Origin of Symmetry, and in Bellamy's extensive use of pitch-shifting effects in his solos.

The general eccentricity of Muse's fundamentally rock style has seen them likened to 1970s rock band Queen. Bellamy has cited Freddie Mercury as an influence on his song-writing.

The album might have led to Muse making a significant impact on the American music scene, but Maverick had reservations about Bellamy's vocal style (considering it not to be "radio-friendly"), and asked Muse to change some of their songs prior to U.S. release. Insulted, the band declined and left Maverick altogether, preventing the release of Origin of Symmetry in the U.S.

Following the album, Muse released Hullabaloo, a DVD featuring their live performance at Le Zenith in Paris in 2001. A double album featuring a collection of b-sides and recordings of some songs from the Le Zenith performance was released at the same time. A double A side single was released featuring new songs In Your World and Dead Star, a move away from the grand opera style of Origin of Symmetry. The single was greeted with a mixed reaction from existing fans, but radio friendly song lengths and styles helped to attract many new fans.

Critical acclaim (Absolution 2003-2004)

In 2003, a new studio album, Absolution was released. Produced by Rich Costey (who had previously produced Rage Against the Machine), the album demonstrated a continuation of the experimentation displayed in Origin of Symmetry, while maintaining a sense of the band as a three-piece.

Muse continued to blend classical influences into their hard rock sound, the overall effect being somewhat Wagnerian in style. The band has made reference to a theme running through the album - the end of the world, and reactions to that situation. This draws mainly from Bellamy’s interest in conspiracy theories, theology, science, futurism, computing and the supernatural. The song "Ruled By Secrecy", for example, takes its title from a Jim Marrs novel about the secrets behind the way that major governments are run — many lyrics on this album have political references.

Similar themes were explored in Origin of Symmetry; the song "Space Dementia" is named after a mental disorder identified in some astronauts following prolonged periods in space, and songs such as "New Born" make reference to a hypothetical future where technology has a detrimental effect on society.

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, USA, Canada and France. Meanwhile, the band released five singles.

Along with Oasis and Paul McCartney, the band headlined at the Glastonbury festival in the middle of the year (Bellamy described the concert as "The best gig of our lives"), but shortly after the concert finished, tragedy struck when the drummer's father, Bill Howard, died from a heart attack. "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." With support from his bandmates and family, Dominic decided to stay with the band.

Muse continued their hugely successful tour. Their last dates were in the USA 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. At the 2005 Brit Awards, Muse were awarded the "Best Live Act" award.

The band finished touring in January 2005, but visited the USA in March and April, as their profile there was considerably higher than before. On 2 July, 2005, Muse participated in the Live 8 concert in Paris.

Next album recordings (2005-2006)

In an MTV interview, Bellamy said that he wants the next album Muse album to be more "upbeat". While Absolution and Origin of Symmetry were characterized by lyrics with a dramatic melancholy and apocalyptic feel, on the next album Bellamy is looking to "draw on things like optimism and hope". The intention is to expose this side of the band's music, and the strength which carried the bandmembers through the difficult times following the death of Dominic Howard's father.

Bellamy also hinted that a new DVD of an Earls Court performance is forthcoming, but the release will have to be structured and prepared by the band beforehand. A DVD biography called "Manic Depression" was released in April, but the band wasn't involved with the project and didn't endorse the release.

Template:Future album On 15 June 2005, Chris Wostenholme was interviewed for RockMag. According to Chris the album will probably come out in March or April 2006, "but it’s too far away to be certain." As of November 2005, the band are recording with Rich Costey at a studio in New York. According to managers of "Studio Miraval" - South of France, the band recorded there during August, September and October. They left 20 October and continued their sessions in New York. Muse, by various accounts, has about 22 songs for potential inclusion. Some of these will probably be scrapped, while between eleven and thirteen songs will appear on the album, and forthcoming singles will feature more original B-sides than the Absolution singles.

Crazybobbles have created a summary of all the possibilities and uncertainties surrounding the forthcoming Muse Album album, which is now predicted to be released in April 2006.

Discography

Studio Albums

Compilations

Hullabaloo (2002) - UK #10 - Disc 1: Selection of B-Sides

- Disc 2: Live At Le Zenith Paris, 28th and 29th of October 2001 - DVD Listing

Singles

  • "Uno" (1999), #73 UK
  • "Cave" (1999), #52 UK
  • "Muscle Museum" (1999), #43 UK
  • "Muscle Museum" (U.S.) (2000)
  • "Sunburn" (2000), UK #22
  • "Unintended" (2000), UK #20
  • "Muscle Museum" (2000 re-release), #25 UK
  • "Plug in Baby" (2001), UK #11
  • "New Born" (2001), UK #12
  • "Bliss" (2001), UK #22
  • "Hyper Music/Feeling Good" (2001), UK #24
  • "Dead Star/In Your World" (2002), UK #13
  • "Stockholm Syndrome" (download only) (2003)
  • "Time Is Running Out" (2003), UK #8
  • "Hysteria" (2003), UK #17
  • "Sing For Absolution" (2004), UK #16
  • "Apocalypse Please" (special charity download only) (2004)
  • "Butterflies and Hurricanes" (2004), UK #14

EPs

  • Muse (1998)
  • Muscle Museum (1999)
  • Dead Star/In Your World (2002)

DVDs

  • Bliss (2001)
Hullabaloo (2002) - Disc 1: Live At Le Zenith, Paris

- Disc 2: Documentary: Documentary, Interactive Discography / clips, Photos

  • Time is Running Out (2003)
  • Absolution (Limited edition album DVD) (2003)
  • Hysteria (2003)
  • Sing for Absolution (2004)
  • Butterflies and Hurricanes (2004)

Other work

Collaborations

  • Helping You Back To Work: Volume 1. (1997) - "Balloonatic" (Early version of the song "Twin")
  • Little Nicky: Original Soundtrack (2000) - "Cave" (Track 10)
  • Not Another Teen Movie: Original Soundtrack (2001) - "Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (A Cover of The Smiths song, Track 11)
  • Swordfish: Original Soundtrack (2001) "New Born (Paul Oakenfold Remix)" (Track 5)
  • Tainted Love Single UK CD2: Marilyn Manson's single (2002) - "Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (A Cover of The Smiths song, Track 3)
  • 1 Love: War Child Charity Album (2002) - "House Of The Rising Sun" (A Cover of The Animals song, Track 3)
  • Paris Dernière: Volume 3 (Compilation Album in France) (2002) - "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (A cover of the Frankie Valli song, Track 2)
  • 3 Petites Filles: Original Soundtrack (2004) - "New Born" (Track 3)
  • Millions: Original Soundtrack (2004) - "Hysteria" (Track 2), "Blackout" (Track 7)

Muse by Others

The String Quartet Tribute To Muse (2005) - The Tallywood Strings : Stockholm Syndrome, Map Of Your Head, Time Is Running Out, Muscle Museum, In Your World, Showbiz, The Small Print, Sunburn, New Born, Bliss, Sing For Absolution, Saving Grace (Original Composition)

External links

Official links

Fansites

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