Formation and early years (1992–1997)
The members of Muse played in separate bands during their stay at Teignmouth Community College and Coombeshead College in the early 1990s. 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 drums at the time, to learn to play bass guitar for the band. Wolstenholme agreed and took up lessons.
In 1994 the band used the name Rocket Baby Dolls 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. "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 forgo university, quit their jobs, change the band name to Muse, and move away from Teignmouth.
First EPs and Showbiz (1998–2000)
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.
This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of an eponymous EP on Sawmills' in-house Dangerous label, with a front cover designed by Howard. 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. 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.
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.
The release of this album was followed by tour support slots for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters in the United States. 1999 and 2000 saw Muse playing major festivals in Europe and gigs in Australia.
Origin of Symmetry and Hullabaloo (2001–2002)
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. The album also features a reworking of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "Feeling Good". Muse successfully sued Nestlé in 2003 when they used Muse's version of "Feeling Good" in a television advert for Nescafé without permission, donating the £500,000 compensation to Oxfam.
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.
Origin of Symmetry was well-received by critics; Dean Carlson of Allmusic commented that "...if you want to sound like Radiohead when even Thom Yorke doesn't want to sound like Radiohead, you might as well take it to such preposterous, bombastic, over-the-top-levels". 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".
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 U. S. The album was finally released in the U. S. on 20 September 2005, after Muse signed to Warner.
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".
In the February 2006 edition of Q Magazine, Origin of Symmetry was placed 74th in a fans' poll of the 100 greatest albums ever.
Absolution (produced by Rich Costey) was released in 2003 and debuted at number one in the UK. The album yielded their first top ten hit with "Time Is Running Out" and later yielded three top twenty hits: "Hysteria", "Sing For Absolution" and "Butterflies and Hurricanes". 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 five singles ("Time Is Running Out", "Hysteria", "Sing for Absolution", "Stockholm Syndrome" and "Butterflies and Hurricanes"). 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, Bill 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".
Muse then 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. Muse also received an award for "Best Live Act" at the 2005 BRIT Awards.
The band finished touring in January 2005, then visited the U. S. in April and May On 2 July 2005, Muse participated in the Live 8 concert in Paris, where they performed their singles "Plug In Baby", "Bliss", "Time Is Running Out", and "Hysteria".
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.
Black Holes and Revelations and HAARP (2006–2008)
In July 2006, Muse released their fourth album, co-produced by Muse and by Rich Costey, titled Black Holes and Revelations. The album was released officially in Japan on 28 June 2006, in Europe on 3 July 2006 and, in North America on 11 July 2006. 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. Black Holes and Revelations was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize, but lost to Arctic Monkeys. The album did, however, earn a Platinum Europe Award after selling one million copies in the continent. The album's title and themes are the result of the band's fascination with science fiction and political outrage. 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 on 9 May 2006 and accompanied by a music video directed by Floria Sigismondi. 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 on 4 September 2006. "Knights of Cydonia" was released in the U. S. as a radio-only single on 13 June 2006 and in the UK on 27 November 2006. It also had a six-minute promotional video filmed in Romania and was featured on the popular video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. It was also 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 on 9 April 2007. Another single, "Map of the Problematique", was released for digital download only on 18 June 2007, following the band's performance at Wembley Stadium.
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 One Big Weekend. The main live 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. 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. 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 June and 17 2007. Both Wembley concerts were recorded for a DVD/CD titled HAARP, which was released on the 17 March 2008 in the UK and 1 April 2008 in the USA. The title refers to the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, a scientific research program aimed at studying the properties and behaviour of the ionosphere.
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.
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.
The Resistance (2009–present)
The Resistance was released on the 14 September 2009, topping the album charts in 16 countries and reaching No.3 on the American album chart. The first single "Uprising" was released 7 days earlier.
On 2 June 2009, the band announced through e-mails and their website that they would begin a tour of Europe and the UK, beginning on 22 October 2009, at Hartwall Arena, Finland, and ending on 4 December, at Pala Olimpico, Turin, Italy, and including two nights at London's O2 Arena. A full list of tour dates can be found at their official website. This tour had completely sold out their UK 95,000 allocated tickets within minutes from the general sale at 9 a.m. on 5 June.
On 14 July 2009, it was announced that the band will play their first televised United States performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on 13 September 2009, performing "Uprising".
The song "United States of Eurasia" is available for download along with Collateral Damage at the official Muse website. The song was unlocked after a worldwide treasure hunt, 'Project Eurasia', consisting of USB keys with song data hidden in seven major cities: Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Dubai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York. Each of the first six USB flash drives contained 1/6 of the song, which was uploaded to the Muse website once it was found. Until the last New York flash drive was found users could only listen to the song on the site, and were unable to download it. After the data from the New York flash drive was uploaded, the song was made available as a free download.
Zane Lowe played approximately 36 seconds of "Uprising" on 28 July 2009, ahead of its first full airplay on 3 August 2009 at 7:30 pm [BST]. This was the only clip made available to Radio 1 at the time. On 3 and 4 August, several radio stations aired "Uprising".
The Resistance was released on 11 September in Italy, Germany and Australia and the Benelux, 14 September in the UK, and 15 September in the U.S. and Canada.
The band played live for the first time since recording at two special homecoming gigs on a specially erected stage on the Den, a grassy area in Teignmouth, Devon on 4 and 5 September 2009; dubbed 'A Seaside Rendezvous', where 30,000 more people turned up than bought tickets. The band are also confirmed to play at the Stade de France, in Paris, the biggest French stadium, on 12 June 2010.
The East Coast of the U.S will get a big introduction to Muse when they open for U2 360° Tour 23 September to 14 October, 2009. This portion of the tour will include New York City, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Raleigh (NC), Atlanta, Tampa (FL), Dallas and Houston.
September 20, 2009 it was announced that Muse would again contribute to a Twilight movie, New Moon. The song "I Belong to You" off of their new album The Resistance will be remixed and released as part of the soundtrack.