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Muse (band)

Muse are an English rock band from Teignmouth, Devon. Since its inception in 1994, Matthew Bellamy (lead vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, keytar), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, guitars, harmonica), and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion, synthesisers, backing vocals, sampling) have comprised the group. After the release of the album Black Holes and Revelations, Morgan Nicholls (keyboards, percussion, bass guitar) has performed live with the band. Muse is known for its energetic and extravagant live performances, and its idea of perfectionism on stage,having played over 950 gigs in 47 countries and its fusion of many music genres, including progressive rock, alternative rock, classical music, heavy metal, and electronica with recurring themes of revolution.[4]

Muse have released five studio albums: Showbiz (1999), Origin of Symmetry (2001), Absolution (2003), Black Holes and Revelations (2006), and The Resistance (2009). The band have also issued three live albums, HAARP (2008), Absolution Tour (2005), and Hullabaloo Soundtrack (2002), which is a compilation of B-sides.

Black Holes and Revelations earned 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 numerous other music awards throughout its history, including five MTV Europe Music Awards, five Q Awards, eight NME Awards, two BRIT awards and four Kerrang! Awards. Before the release of The Resistance, Muse had sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

1992–98: Formation and early years

The members of Muse played in separate school bands during their stay at Teignmouth Community College in the early 1990s, but 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 the drums at the time – to learn to play bass guitar for the band; the other original members of Gothic Plague left after Bellamy suggested that they write their own songs rather than doing covers. Wolstenholme agreed and took up lessons, while Bellamy had to become singer and songwriter for the band.[citation needed]

Matt and Dom's first band name was Gothic Plague. After Gothic Plague came Fixed Penalty, and after that, Rocket Baby Dolls.[7] In 1994 the band used the name Rocket Baby Dolls[8] with a goth/glam image to compete in a local battle of the bands. The band won the contest, smashing their equipment in the process.[9][10] "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 forget university, quit their jobs, change the band name to Muse (1994–1995), and move away from Teignmouth.[11] The name "Muse" was inspired by Matt Bellamy's art teacher. The art teacher Samuel Theoun mentioned the word "Muses". Matt then looked it up in the dictionary and decided to shorten it to "Muse." Also, because it was short and the members felt it looked good on a poster.

1998–2000: First EPs and Showbiz

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 in Cornwall. He had seen the three boys grow up as he knew their parents and had a production company together with their manager to-be Safta Jaffery.[13]

This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of the Muse EP on Sawmills' in-house Dangerous label.[9] Their second EP, the Muscle Museum EP, reached number 3 in the indie singles chart and attracted the attention of British radio broadcaster Steve Lamacq as well as the weekly British music publication NME.[14] 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 success of their second EP, British record companies were reluctant to sign Muse. It was after a trip to New York's CMJ Festival that an American record label flew them to Los Angeles to showcase. Nanci Walker, then Sr. Director of A&R at Columbia Records, flew Muse to the U. S. to showcase for Columbia Record's then Senior Vice President of A&R, Tim Devine, as well as for American Recording's Rick Rubin. It was during this trip, on 24 December 1998, that Muse signed a deal with Maverick Records. 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 individual countries.[citation needed]

John Leckie 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.

2001–02: Origin of Symmetry

During production of the band's second album, Origin of Symmetry, the band experimented with 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 piano playing. Bellamy cites guitar influences such as Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine and 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.[16] The album also features a reworking of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "Feeling Good".[17]

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.[18]

Origin of Symmetry was well-received by critics; 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."[19]

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 United States.[citation needed] The album was finally released in the U.S. in September 2005, after Muse signed to Warner Bros.[citation needed]

Muse released a live DVD, Hullabaloo, featuring 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".

2003–05: Absolution
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.

Absolution (produced by Rich Costey) was released in 2003 and debuted at number one in the UK.[citation needed] The album yielded their first top ten hit with "Time Is Running Out" and later three top-twenty hits: "Hysteria", "Sing For Absolution" and "Butterflies and Hurricanes".[citation needed] Muse subsequently 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 six singles (one being for charity) ("Time Is Running Out", "Hysteria", "Sing for Absolution", "Stockholm Syndrome", "Butterflies and Hurricanes" and "Apocalypse Please"). 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, William 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". The single Butterflies & Hurricanes was dedicated to Dom's dad. Muse then continued their tour.[citation needed] They won two MTV Europe awards, including "Best Alternative Act" and a Q Award for "Best Live Act".[citation needed] Muse also received an award for "Best Live Act" at the 2005 BRIT Awards.[citation needed]. Muse lost out twice to The Libertines for the NME award Best British Band, in 2004 and 2005. In July 2005, Muse participated in the Live 8 concert in Paris.

2003 saw the band sue Nestlé, who used their cover of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" on an advert for Nescafé without the band's permission. They donated the compensation money to Oxfam.The main reason behind the legal action was the bassist Chris, who at the time had had his third child, and was against the company that had a dubious reputation when it came to the promotion of powdered milk to new mothers in the third world.

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.

2006–08: Black Holes and Revelations and HAARP
Muse playing "Starlight" at Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2006

In 2006, Muse released their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations, co-produced by Muse and Rich Costey. The album's title and themes are the result of the band's fascination with science fiction and political outrage. The album charted at No. 1 in the UK, much of Europe, and Australia. It was also a success in the United States, reaching number nine on the Billboard 200 album chart. 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 Big Weekend. The Black Holes and Revelations 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.[31] 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.[32] Black Holes and Revelations was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize, but lost to Arctic Monkeys.[33] The album did, however, earn a Platinum Europe Award after selling one million copies in the continent.[34] 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 in May 2006. 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 in September 2006. "Knights of Cydonia" was released in the U.S. as a radio-only single in June 2006 and in the UK in November 2006. "Knights of Cydonia" was voted number 1 in the world's largest music poll Australian Radio's Triple J Hottest 100 for 2007 and 18th in Triple J's Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009. The fourth single from the album, "Invincible", was then released in April 2007. Another single, "Map of the Problematique", was released for digital download only in June 2007, following the band's performance at Wembley Stadium.

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 and 17 June 2007. Both Wembley concerts were recorded for a DVD/CD titled HAARP, which was released on 17 March 2008 in the UK and 1 April 2008 in the USA. 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 and 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.[citation needed]

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.Muse were present at Rock in Rio Lisboa on 6 June, along other bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, The Offspring and Linkin Park. 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, 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.

On 25 September 2008, Bellamy, Howard and Wolstenholme all received a Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Plymouth for their contributions to music.

2009–present: The Resistance
Muse performing "Resistance" at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham on 10 November 2009.

The band's fifth studio album The Resistance was released in September 2009. It is the first Muse album to have been produced by the band itself. The album was engineered by Adrian Bushby and mixed by Mark Stent. On its release, it topped the album charts in 19 countries and reached number 3 on the American album chart. Critics were mostly positive about the album, with much of the praise directed towards its ambition, classical music influences and the thirteen-minute, three-part "Exogenesis: Symphony".[citation needed] It also beat its predecessor Black Holes and Revelations in relative album sales in its debut week in the UK with approximately 148,000 copies sold. The first single "Uprising" was released seven days earlier.

The Resistance Tour started at Hartwall Arena, Finland in October 2009 and included headlining Coachella Festival in April 2010. It will also include two gigs at Wembley Stadium in September 2010. The band also supported U2 for their U2 360° Tour. In the "Breakfast with Muse Concert" KROQ held, Muse was asked how long they would be on tour. They commented saying in a paraphrase, "We will probably be touring until the end of next year. We will be doing this U2 and European tour and ship off to Australia and Asia and return for an extensive US tour. It will actually be our longest US tour to date. Starting at about the end of February or March."

In January 2010, Muse played the Big Day Out festival at its various venues in Australia and New Zealand starting with Auckland and eventually ending with Perth. Muse headlined Coachella on Saturday 17 April. Muse also headlined the Glastonbury Festival 2010 along with Gorillaz and Stevie Wonder as well as the Oxegen festival in 2010 alongside Arcade Fire and Eminem. The group will also headline the 2010 Hovefestivalen, as well as T in the Park 2010 and among other festivals, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival. On 20 April 2010, the band announced fourteen dates for a North American tour, which will be held between September and November 2010. In addition to this, the band have added further four dates to their forthcoming North American tour, on 28 April 2010. On 7 May 2010, it was announced that Muse would provide a pre-written song to be the lead single for the third film of The Twilight Saga, Eclipse. "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" was released on 17 May.

Muse played at Glastonbury in June 2010 and were joined onstage by The Edge from U2 to play "Where The Streets Have No Name", after U2 pulled out of their headlining slot due to lead singer Bono's back injury.

Muse's fearsome live reputation helped secure them the O2 Silver Clef Award in London on 2 July 2010. The award was presented by Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen. Taylor described the Warner-signed trio as "probably the greatest live act in the world today," while May said that "this is a magnificent, incredible group."

On 12 July 2010 bassist Chris Wolstenholme informed NME magazine that the band would be taking a break following the conclusion of their world tour supporting The Resistance. He also stated that the band would "definitely" begin recording material for a new album in 2011. Also, on 8 September 2010, frontman Matthew Bellamy claimed in an interview with NME that the music for the band's next studio album would be more "personal" and more fitting for smaller scale performances as opposed to their current stadium tour.

In 2010, Muse topped a poll by popular music magazine NME for their cover of Nina Simone's song "Feeling Good" as the greatest cover song of all time. Over 15,000 people voted.

Musical style

Muse's primary genres are progressive rock, space rock, and alternative rock, but they also integrate parts of electronica, indie rock, rock opera, hard rock, and metal,[68] and the bands primary influences are: Rage Against the Machine, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Buckley, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Queen, Primus, Depeche Mode, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Deftones, The Smashing Pumpkins, Rush, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Daisy Chainsaw, Led Zeppelin, Nina Simone, The Beach Boys, Mega City Four & The Smiths.

Many Muse songs are recognisable by lead vocalist Matthew Bellamy's use of falsetto and vibrato influenced primarily by Jeff Buckley. As a guitarist, Bellamy often utilises arpeggio and pitch-shift effects to create a more "electric" sound, citing Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello as influences for this method.

Muse's album Black Holes and Revelations was influenced by various styles of European and Asian 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".

Muse have cited Queen as an influence. Queen guitarist Brian May has praised Muse's work, calling the band "extraordinary musicians" who "let their madness show through, always a good thing in an artist." In particular, Dominic Howard noted the influence of Queen on "United States of Eurasia".

On the band's association with progressive rock, Dominic Howard has said: "I associate it with 10-minute guitar solos, but I guess we kind of come into the category. A lot of bands are quite ambitious with their music, mixing lots of different styles — and when I see that I think it's great. I've noticed that kind of thing becoming a bit more mainstream."

Current members

* Matthew Bellamy – lead vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, keytar
* Christopher Wolstenholme – bass, backing vocals, keyboards, guitars, harmonica
* Dominic Howard – drums, percussion, synthesisers, backing vocals, sampling

Live members

* Morgan Nicholls – keyboards, percussion, synthesizers, backing vocals (2004, 2006–present)
* Dan Newell – trumpet ("Knights of Cydonia" and "City of Delusion") (2006–2007)
* Alessandro Cortini – keyboards (filled in for Morgan Nicholls briefly in 2009)

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