Muse Biography

Muse
Muse. Stuart C. Wilson-Getty Images

Muse's Origins:

Muse is a two-time Grammy Award winning rock band formed in Teignmouth, Devon, England in 1994. The band includes Matt Bellamy (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Dominic Howard (drums). The group began as a goth rock band called Rocket Baby Dolls. Their first show was a battle of the bands competition – in which they smashed all of their equipment – and surprisingly won.

The band changed their name to Muse because they thought it looked good on a poster – and the town of Teignmouth was said to have a muse hovering over it because of the large number of bands it produced.

Muse journey into 'Showbiz':

Muse made their first studio recording for free in 1995 when Dennis Smith, the owner of Sawmills Studio, discovered them at a show in Cornwall, England. This led to the release of the Muse EP on May 11, 1998, on Sawmills' own Dangerous label. Despite building a loyal English fan base, record labels in the UK were reluctant to sign Muse saying they sounded too much like Radiohead. After showcasing in the United States in 1998, Muse caught the attention of Madonna's Maverick Records label and were signed on December 24, 1998. Muse released their debut LP, Showbiz, on October 4, 1999. The band's sound was compared to Queen, Jeff Buckley, and Radiohead and the album received mixed reviews.

Muse mostly toured in Western Europe in 1999. Although Showbiz initially sold slowly, it has gone on to sell over 700,000 copies worldwide.

The Origins of Muse's success:

For Muse's second album, 2001's Origins of Symmetry, they took a more experimental approach with Bellamy incorporating more of his high falsetto singing, classical music influenced guitar and piano playing, and utilizing  church organ, Mellotron, and even using animal bones for percussion.

Origin of Symmetry received positive reviews in England but was not released in America until 2005 (by Warner Bros.) due to a conflict with Maverick Records who asked Bellamy to re-record his falsetto vocals which the label said were not "radio friendly." The band refused and left Maverick Records.

Muse's breakthrough album 'Absolution':

After signing with Warner Bros. in the U.S., Muse released their third album, Absolution, on September 15, 2003. The album brought the band breakthrough success in the U.S. with the singles and videos for "Time Is Running Out" and "Hysteria" becoming hits and receiving significant MTV airplay. Absolution became Muse's first album to be certified gold (500,000 units sold) in the U.S. The album continued the band's classically influenced rock sound and Bellamy's lyrics took on themes of conspiracy theories, theology, science, futurism, computing, and the supernatural. Muse headlined England's Glastonbury Festival on June 27, 2004, which Bellamy called "the best gig of our lives" during the show. Tragically, a few hours after the show ended drummer Dominic Howard's father, Bill Howard, died of a heart attack after seeing his son perform at the festival.

Although the incident was a major tragedy for the band, Bellamy later said, "I think he [Dominic] 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."

'Black Holes and Revelations':

Muse's fourth album was released July 3, 2006, and received some of the band's best reviews. Musically the album covered a wide range alternative rock styles including classical and techno influences. Lyrically Bellemy continued to explore themes such as conspiracy theories and outer space. Muse released the singles "Knights of Cydonia," "Supermassive Black Hole," and "Starlight" which were international hits. With this album, Muse became an arena rock band. They sold out a July 16, 2007, show at the newly-rebuilt Wembley Stadium in 45 minutes and added a second show.

Muse also headlined Madison Square Garden and toured internationally from 2006 to 2007.

'The Resistance':

On September 14, 2009, Muse released their fifth album, The Resistance, the first album self-produced by the band. The album was Muse's third No. 1 album in the UK, reached No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, and topped the charts in 19 countries. The Resistance won Muse their first first Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2011. Muse toured internationally for the album including headlining two nights in September 2010 at Wembley Stadium and supporting U2 on their record breaking U2 360° Tour in the U.S. in 2009 and South America in 2011.

'The 2nd Law':

The band's sixth album was released September 28, 2012. The 2nd Law was mostly produced by Muse and was influenced by acts such as Queen, David Bowie, and electronic dance music artist Skrillex. The single "Madness" topped the Billboard Alternative Songs chart for a record nineteen weeks, beating the previous record set by Foo Fighters' single "The Pretender." The song "Survival" was picked as the official song for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The 2nd Law was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards. 

'Drones':

Muse's seventh album is a more rock effort than their previous albums thanks in part to legendary co-producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange (AC/DCDef Leppard). The concept album about a "human drone" who eventually defects contains some of Muse's most straightforward rock songs, "Dead Inside" and "Psycho," and more orchestrated songs such as "Mercy" and "Revolt." Muse won their second Best Rock Album Grammy Award in 2016 for Drones. The band continued to tour internationally throughout 2015 and 2016.

Muse Band Lineup:

Matt Bellamy – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Chris Wolstenholme – bass guitar, backing vocals
Dominic Howard – drums, percussion

Key Muse Songs:

"Time Is Running Out" (Purchase/Download)
"Hysteria" (Purchase/Download)
"Knights of Cydonia" (Purchase/Download
"Supermassive Black Hole" (Purchase/Download)
"Starlight" (Purchase/Download)
"Madness" (Purchase/Download)
"Dead Inside" (Purchase/Download)
"Mercy" (Purchase/Download)

Muse Discography:

Showbiz (1999) (Purchase/Download)
Origins of Symmetry (2001) (Purchase/Download)
Absolution (2003) (Purchase/Download)
Black Holes and Revelations (2006) (Purchase/Download)
The Resistance (2009) (Purchase/Download)
The 2nd Law (2012) (Purchase/Download)
Drones (2015) (Purchase/Download)

Muse Trivia:

  • Matt Bellamy father, George, was rhythm guitarist in the 1960s pop rock group The Tornados, the first British band to have a No. 1 single in the U.S. with their song "Telstar."
  • Bellamy started dating American actress Kate Hudson in spring 2010; they were engaged in April 2011. Their son, Bingham Hawn "Bing" Bellamy, was born in July 2011 in Los Angeles. Bellamy and Hudson separated in December 2014.
  • Chris Wolstenholme married his girlfriend, Kelly, on December 23, 2003. They have six children: five boys and one girl. In 2010, Wolstenholme told London's The Times he had previously been a "raging alcoholic." He went to rehab in 2009 and since becoming sober he reports having better relationships with his family and bandmates.