Muse

Guitar Above Head of Matt Bellamy
Guitar Above Head of Matt Bellamy

Muse is a British rock band formed in Teignmouth, England in 1994. The band consists of Matthew Bellamy (vocals, guitar, piano and synthesizers), Christopher Wolstenholme (electric bass, vocals, synthesizer) and Dominic Howard (drums and percussion). Muse stylistically combines alternative, hard and progressive rock as well as electronica with elements of classical music to create rock ballads and is assigned to the subgenre New Prog.

The individual members of Muse were initially members of various other bands in the early 1990s while attending Teignmouth Community College. Under the name Rocket Baby Dolls, they took part in a local Battle of The Bands together in 1994 and won. Shortly thereafter, the band members decided to abandon their university plans, quit their jobs, change their names to Muse and move out of Teignmouth.

At this point the band was mainly influenced by rock music from the early 1990s, mostly from America. The band was oriented towards grunge and wanted to offer an alternative to the highly popular Britpop. After a series of concerts in London and Manchester looking for a market for their music, the band met Dennis Smith, who owned a recording studio called Sawmills in Cornwall, England. This meeting led to the first real studio recordings, which were released as an EP under the name Muse on the Sawmills label Dangerous. Their second EP called Muscle Museum caught the attention of British journalist Steve Lamacq and the weekly British music publication NME. After the EP was released, Dennis Smith co-founded music producer Taste Media, which released Muse’s first three albums.

With the second EP Muse achieved a small success. While the big British record companies were still hesitant to offer Muse a contract (the band’s sound was too close to Radiohead), the Americans hit it faster: the record company Maverick Records hooked Muse up with a few concerts, and signed them in late 1998.

John Leckie, producer of Radiohead’s influential album The Bends, was approached to help record the first album, Showbiz.

Following the album’s release, Muse opened up for Savage Garden in the United States. In 1999 and 2000 Muse played at several festivals in Europe and gave concerts in Japan and Australia. A fan base established itself in Western Europe, especially in France.

The band began writing their second album, Origin of Symmetry, under pressure from the record company. Muse began experimenting with musical instruments such as the church organ. Falsetto singing and Bellamy’s piano skills were increasingly used.

Origin of Symmetry did not reach the American record stores for the time being. The record company Maverick had doubts about Bellamy’s voice (it was not considered radio compatible) and asked Muse if they would rewrite a few of their songs before they were sold in the US. The band rejected the demand and then separated from Maverick (the album was released in 2005 on the American market, but by Warner).

In 2002 Muse released a double CD called Hullaballoo with 11 unreleased tracks and a live recording of two concerts on two consecutive days at Le Zénith de Paris. It also contains documentation that was mainly recorded by the manager, Tom Kirk. The song Shrinking Universe was used in the trailer of the film 28 Weeks Later.

In 2003, their third studio album, Absolution, was released. Rich Costey, the producer who had previously worked with Rage Against the Machine, was involved. The song Time Is Running Out was used in the trailer for Running Scared.

The single Stockholm Syndrome was only available as a digital file on the Internet and consisted of the song itself, a printable record cover and a music video for the single. The New Musical Express listed the guitar solo at number 19 of the “50 best guitar solos.

The band embarked on their first international concert tour, which took them to Australia, Europe and the USA within a year. After the concert at the Glastonbury Festival 2004 (Bellamy said after the concert that it was the best of his life), the father of drummer Dominic Howard, who was present at the concert that evening, died of a heart attack.

In late 2004, Bellamy gave MTV an interview in which he said the next Muse album would be “more positive“. While the albums Absolution and Origin of Symmetry can be characterized more with dramatic melancholy or apocalyptic lyrics, the next album will “work with optimism and hope“. Bellamy explained this with the fact that after the tragic death of drummer Dominic Howard’s father, the band went through difficult times and they want to convey this strength to the fans.

In 2005, Vitamin Records released The String Quartet Tribute To Muse.

The band postponed the majority of their planned performances for summer 2006 until further notice. However, they were headliners of the Southside, the Hurricane and the Frequency Festival. The appearance at the Hurricane Festival had to be canceled due to a severe storm.

The album Black Holes and Revelations was released in 2006. Single releases from it were Supermassive Black Hole, Starlight, Knights Of Cydonia, Invincible and Map Of The Problematique.

On June 16, 2007, Muse became the first band to play in London’s newly built Wembley Stadium (after George Michael had given a concert there as the first solo artist). Due to the great demand there was another gig on June 17, 2007. On March 17th, 2008 a live DVD plus CD of the two Wembley concerts was released with the title H.A.A.R.P. Parts of the concert from June 16 can be heard on the CD, while the DVD contains the concert from June 17 and various bonus material.

On May 22, 2009, the title of the new album, The Resistance, was announced via the band’s Twitter account. On August 3, 2009, the first single entitled Uprising was presented on the British radio station BBC Radio 1. A week after the release, Muse topped the official album charts in Great Britain, Germany and a few other countries.

Their almost sold out world tour began in October 2009. During the performance of Exogenesis, a trilogy from the album The Resistance, UFOs appeared in the stage show of several concerts, from which extraterrestrials emerged.

Muse headlined Rock am Ring 2010 and Rock im Park 2010. On June 11th and 12th, 2010 the band played in the Stade de France and on June 26th they headlined the Glastonbury Festival, where Muse performed the U2 song “Where the Streets Have No Name” with U2 guitarist The Edge.

In June 2012 the band announced the release of their sixth studio album scheduled for September 2012 under the name The 2nd Law on their homepage. On June 27, 2012, the album’s first song, Survival, was released and the title was selected as the official song of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The first official single, Madness, had its first airplay on August 20, 2012 at 20.30 CET on BBC1 radio on the Zane Lowe Show. The 2nd Law was finally published on September 28, 2012, after having been postponed several times.

Muse later released the live album “Live at Rome Olympic Stadium“, featuring songs that they played at the concert of the 2nd Law Tour.

On the album Drones, Bellamy wanted to move away from the orchestral recordings and the use of electronic instruments, which were heavily represented on the previous albums, in order to record an album that gets along primarily with the classic rock instruments drums, bass and guitar. The album was released on June 5, 2015 and produced by Mutt Lange, best known for his work with Foreigner, AC/DC and Def Leppard. The song Psycho was presented on March 12th. The first single Dead Inside followed on March 23. By the time the album was released, the first six songs had already been published on Youtube.

After a festival tour through Europe in summer 2015, in addition to tours through Asia and South America in the same year, from February 2016 onwards, Muse played European arenas with a new 360° stage. In keeping with the album theme, a swarm of remote-controlled drones were also integrated into the staging of the show at the live concerts.

From January 2017 to July 2018 the band worked, with occasional breaks for selected concerts, on the eighth album. The band released the single Dig Down on May 18, 2017, Thought Contagion on February 16, 2018 and Something Human on July 19, 2018. On August 30, 2018, the fourth single The Dark Side was released and the album title Simulation Theory was announced. The album was released on November 9, 2018. Under the title “Simulation World Tour” the band went on a worldwide tour.

Awards

In 2004 Muse won two MTV Europe Music Awards, including Best Alternative Act, and a Q Award for Best Live Act.

At the MTV Europe Music Awards 2006 Muse were nominated for Best Alternative, Best Album and Best UK & Ireland. Ultimately, they won the Best Alternative award.

In February 2007, Muse won the BRIT Awards for Best Live Act. They were also nominated for Best Album and Best Group. In November 2007 they won two MTV Europe Music Awards in the categories Headliner for Best Live Show and Best UK & Ireland Act.

In February 2009, Muse won the Best Live Act and Best Album Artwork categories at the NME Awards. In October 2009, Muse won the Q Award for Best Act in the World Today.

In September 2010, Muse won an MTV Video Music Award in the Best Special Effects category for the music video for Uprising.

At the 2011 Grammy Awards in February 2011, they won the Best Rock Album category for their album The Resistance.

Their concert on the Berlin Waldbühne on July 14, 2013 was honored with the 2014 Live Entertainment Award as Concert of the Year.

At the Grammy Awards 2016 in February 2016 they won the award in the category Best Rock Album for their album Drones.

At the MTV Europe Music Awards 2019, the band won the “Best World Stage” category.

I took pictures of Muse when they played at Red’s in West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on October 26, 2004:

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