Muse

  • English alternative/hard rock band formed in 1994 from Teignmouth, Devin, England. Members of the group are Matt Bellamy (guitars, keyboards, lead vocals, song writing), Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitars, backing vocals) and Dominic Howard (drums).
  • The 3 musicians played in separate bands in high school. Howard played in a band named Carnage Mayhem, and Bellamy joined the band after an audition, becoming the lead singer and songwriter for the group. After he joined, they renamed the group Gothic Plague. Wolstenholme was playing drums for a band called Fixed Penalty. Howard and Bellamy asked Wolstenholme to join, but he would have to give up the drums and play bass instead. Wolstenholme agreed, and the group was renamed Rocket Baby Dolls. The goth-glam band entered a battle of the bands contest in 1994 and won – at this point, they realized that they could make a career of music. They changed the name of the band to Muse, liking the fact that it was short and would look good on a poster.
  • Over the next few years, they built their fan base in the UK. By 1998, they were playing gigs in London and Manchester, and they caught the attention of a record label. In May 1998, a 4 song EP, the self titled Muse, was released – 999 hand numbered copies were made with another 251 copies made for media outlets. A second EP, Muscle Museum, was released 8 months later, again limited to 999 hand numbered copies. It was discovered by British music magazine NME, which greatly increased the band’s exposure.
  • After performing in the U.S. at an emerging artist stage at Woodstock ’99, they were signed to an American record label. They also structured deals with labels in Europe and Australia, retaining control over their careers. In September 1999, their debut album, Showbiz, was released. The melancholic songs incorporated their aggressive alternative rock style, and drew comparisons (sometimes negatively) with 90s progressive rockers Radiohead. The album charted in the UK but not in the U.S.
  • Their second album in 2001 – Origin of Symmetry – established them as rock stars in Europe, though it barely charted in the U.S. Critics loved it, with some outlets ranking it on lists of the greatest rock albums of the 00s. Four singles reached the top 30 in the UK, but again, nothing was successful in the U.S. 2003’s Absolution album topped the UK charts (their first of 6 consecutive #1 albums there), and it was their first to chart in the U.S., reaching #107.
  • Over the years, they gained a reputation for their live shows, which were full of energy and awesome visuals. During their tour to support the Absolution album, Bellamy smashed 140 guitars. Their later tours evolved to spectacular events with multi-million dollar staging.
  • Their breakthrough in the U.S. came with their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations, released in 2006. It reached #9 in the U.S. and was certified platinum in sales. The single Supermassive Black Hole charted at #4 in the UK, and it peaked at #6 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, their first single on a U.S. chart. Still clearly an alt rock song with hard rock guitar and bass lines, it incorporated elements of R&B, funk and dance rhythms, increasing its appeal to pop fans. America discovered the band, and another single performed well – Starlight reached #2 on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • Their biggest success came with 2009’s album The Resistance. Another platinum album, it peaked at #3 on the Billboard Album chart, with 3 top five songs on the Alternative Songs chart, including #1s Uprising and the title track Resistance. Uprising was #1 for 17 weeks, the third most in the chart’s history. The album won a Grammy award in 2011 for Best Rock Album. By now, the band produced songs that were bigger than big, featuring Bellamy’s powerful tenor vocals and driving guitar (he is mentioned on lists of the greatest vocalist and guitarist of all time), and top-notch musicianship from Wolstenholme and Howard.
  • Three albums were released during the 10s – The 2nd Law, Drones and Simulation Theory. Drones was their first to reach #1 in the U.S., and it won their second Grammy award for Best Rock Album. The concert video that they released for the tour that supported the album is a visual wonder. They reached #1 on the Alternative Songs chart for the songs Madness and Dead Inside, #2 for Panic Station and #3 for Dig Down. Madness was #1 for 19 weeks, the second most in the history of the chart.
  • Prog and Alt Rock is one of my favorite music genres, and Muse certainly has been a force in this area over the last 20 years. They are another trio that makes you wonder how can just 3 people make such huge sounds. Uprising and Madness are personal faves – so big, so powerful. Here’s the video to Uprising.

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