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Muse

Profile of Muse

Muse are a popular Brit Award winning English rock band formed while at Teignmouth Community College in Teignmouth, Devon in 1992. Their idiosyncratic style is a blend of indie rock, electronica, classical music, heavy metal and progressive rock . The band is famed for its energetic live performances (winning numerous Best Live Act awards) and frontman Matthew Bellamy's eccentric interests in global conspiracy, extraterrestrial life, theology and the apocalypse. Muse consists of Matthew Bellamy, Dominic Howard, and Chris Wolstenholme. As of the release of their fourth album, Morgan Nicholls assists the band during live performances, providing additional keyboards, samples and backing vocals. He previously played bass in a few live performances due to Wolstenholme getting injured.

(1992-1997) Formation and early years

The members of Muse were in separate bands at Teignmouth Community College in the early 1990s. The formation of Muse began after 14 year old Matthew Bellamy successfully auditioned for the part of guitarist in Dominic Howard's band. They were left with a dilemma when their second guitarist Phys Vandit decided to leave, so they asked close friend Chris Wolstenholme to learn to play the bass guitar. The band changed names a number of times after this, cycling through names such as Gothic Plague, Carnage Mayhem, Fixed Penalty, and Rocket Baby Dolls, before adopting the name Muse (the chronology of these names is unclear, as Muse has given contradictory accounts in various interviews).

In 1994, under the name Rocket Baby Dolls and with a Gothic/glam image, the group won a local battle of the bands contest, trashing their gear in the process (they were "the only real rock band" there).[2][3] Shortly after this win the band decided to forgo university and take on a living as professional musicians. They changed their name to Muse and started playing concerts in local clubs like the Cavern in Exeter.

(1998-2000) First EPs and Showbiz

After a few years building a fan base in London, they played their first gigs in London and Manchester. The band 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 a self-titled E.P. on Sawmill's in-house Dangerous label. Their second E.P., the Muscle Museum EP, attracted the attention of influential British music journalist Steve Lamacq and the weekly British music publication NME. Dennis Smith subsequently co-founded the music production company Taste Media especially for Muse (the band stayed with Taste Media for their first 3 albums). 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, and many sections of the music industry were concerned that their sound was too similar to that of Radiohead (circa The Bends). However, the American Maverick Records arranged a number of gigs in the United States 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 Leckie, who had produced the aforementioned The Bends, the Stone Roses, "Weird Al" Yankovic and The Verve, was brought in to produce the band's first record, Showbiz. The album showcased the band's aggressive style, and featured a number of lyrical references to the difficulties they had trying to establish themselves in Teignmouth.[4]

The release of this album was followed by tour support slots for the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers 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.

(2001-2002) Origin of Symmetry

Their second album, Origin of Symmetry, again produced by Leckie, resulted in a heavier, darker rock sound, with Wolstenholme's bass, often overdriven, distorted or synthesized, sometimes using classical techniques on songs like "Space Dementia."

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, inspired by the works of pianists of the Romanticism movement, particularly Russians such as Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. Also palpable is the influence of minimalists such as Philip Glass. Bellamy cites guitar influences such as Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello (of Audioslave and 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.[5] The album also features a surprising reworking of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "Feeling Good".

The general eccentricity of Muse's fundamentally rock style has seen them likened to the rock band Queen, although this is only due to their way of working the stage, Bellamy sharing a lot of charisma like that of Queen's Brian May.[6]

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. (Muse has since released the album in the U.S. on 20 September 2005).

Following the album, Muse released Hullabaloo Soundtrack, 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.

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

(2003-2005) Absolution

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. The album yielded the band the hit single "Time Is Running Out".

Muse continued to blend classical influences into their hard rock sound, the overall effect being somewhat Wagnerian in style, especially on tracks such as "Butterflies and Hurricanes". 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. Bellamy's interests in terrorism, its cause and the conspiracy theories surrounding it, stemmed from the death of his uncle who had been killed by the IRA. The song Ruled By Secrecy, for example, takes its title from the Jim Marrs novel Rule By Secrecy about the secrets behind the way 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, as songs such as New Born (also from Origin of Symmetry) 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, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, and France. Meanwhile, the band released five singles.

The band played at the Glastonbury festival in June 2004. Bellamy described the concert as "The best gig of our lives",[7] but very shortly after the concert, drummer Dominic Howard's father, Bill Howard, who was at the festival to watch the band, 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, Howard decided to stay with the band.

Muse 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. At the 2005 Brit Awards, Muse were awarded the "Best Live Act" award.

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

A DVD biography called Manic Depression was released in April 2005, but the band was not involved with the project and did not endorse the release. Another DVD was released on December 12, 2005, Absolution Tour, containing 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. However, three songs were cut from the original BBC edit, Interlude, and Stockholm Syndrome, for reasons unknown (possibly due to lack of space on the disc) Citizen erased was also taken out because it ended with the intro to Take a Bow which became the opening track on the bands Black Holes and Revalations album. However, Stockholm Syndrome was included in the Earls Court footage. Two songs, Endlessly and Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist, are hidden tracks on the DVD taken from Wembley Arena.

(2006-present) Black Holes and Revelations

Music sample:

* "Starlight" (2006) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
o Music sample from "Starlight", second single off Black Holes and Revelations
o Problems listening to the file? See media help.

After having an extensive break following the lengthy tour, the band returned in August 2005 for recording sessions, though serious recordings started around September. The album was recorded until spring 2006 with a couple of breaks for holidays. The band announced their new LP in May 2006, produced again by Rich Costey and titled Black Holes and Revelations. Shortly afterwards, the album was leaked to the Internet. The finished album was released to the Japanese market on 28 June 2006 with an extra track, "Glorious," that is not present on the rest of the world's releases but was available if pre-ordered from iTunes.[8] The album was released in Europe on July 3, 2006 and in North America on July 11, 2006. It charted at No. 1 in the UK, much of Europe, and Australia and also achieved American success, reaching No. 9 in the Billboard 200 album chart. Black Holes and Revelations was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize, but the prize instead went to the Arctic Monkeys. The album did, however, earn a Platinum Europe Award after selling one million copies in the continent, and the band received the 2006 Q Award for Best Live Act.

The album's title and themes are the work of the band's fascination with space, Mars and Cydonia, the Book of Revelation and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The artwork is designed by Storm Thorgerson and depicts a landscape of the surface of Mars with four men seated around a table and four miniature horses on it.

The first single from the album, "Supermassive Black Hole," was first released as a standalone download on May 9, 2006. Reactions to the new single were diverse as it represented an extreme departure from the style of the band's previous work. The single was officially released online on 12 June, with the CD release taking place on June 19. The CD release contained the B-side "Crying Shame." The second single, "Starlight", was released on September 4, 2006. "Knights of Cydonia" was released as a radio-only single in the US on June 13, 2006 and as a CD/Vinyl single in the UK on November 27, 2006. It charted on the Rock Top 10 and was accompanied by a humorous, six-minute promotional video filmed in Romania. It had been announced that the fourth single from the album would be Invincible[9], and a release date of April 9 was set.

On November 2 2006, Muse won the Best Alternate and Best Live Act awards at the 2006 MTV European Music Video Awards in Copenhagen, and performed their single "Starlight". Justin Timberlake, presenting the awards, said that Muse was the best band there when introducing their performance of "Starlight", and lead singer of The Killers, Brandon Flowers, mentioned Muse while receiving their Best Rock award, claiming it belonged to Muse. The band also recently won the Brit award for best live act in February 2007. However, they didn't win the other two awards they were up for (Best Album and Best British Band), losing both to the Arctic Monkeys.

The band started performing live again on May 13, 2006 at BBC Radio 1's One Big Weekend, followed by various other promotional TV appearances. The main live tour started just before the release of their album and initially consisted mostly of festival appearances, most notable of which was a headline slot at the Reading and Leeds Festivals.[10] A tour of North America took place from late July to early August 2006, and after the last of the summer festivals a tour of Europe began, including a large arena tour of the UK.[11] The band spent the November and much of December 2006 touring Europe with British band The Noisettes as the supporting act. Since then, the tour has continued in and around Australia and Southeast Asia, and more dates around the world have been published until July 2007. The band has stated that they would be touring probably until the end of summer.[12] Confirmed major performances include the headlining spot at the Isle of Wight Festival on June 9, and a 90,000-capacity gig at the newly-rebuilt Wembley Stadium on June 16, 2007.[13] The Wembley concert sold out quickly, prompting the addition of an extra show for June 17.[14] After The Brit Awards the band announced that they were asked to play at one of the Live Earth concerts, likely to happen at Wembley Stadium on July 7, 2007. They are also confirmed to play the Oxegen festival in Ireland on the same day.[15]

In advance of the launch on March 1st, 2007 of NBC Universal's cable channel specializing in horror programming, Chiller, NBC Universal released a promo reel to give an idea of what one can expect to see on this new channel. Muse's "Time Is Running Out" is featured prominently in the second half of the promo reel. To see the Chiller promo reel, click the link at the end of this sentence. [1]

Band Members

* Matthew Bellamy - lead vocals, electric guitar, piano, synthesizer
* Chris Wolstenholme - backing vocals, bass guitar, synthesizer, guitar (Hoodoo)
* Dominic Howard - drums, percussion, synthesizer

 

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