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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Muse: From Devon to Fame

The members of Muse were in separate bands at the school they attended in the early 1990s. The formation of Muse began after a fourteen year old Matthew Bellamy successfully auditioned for the part of guitarist in Dominic Howard's band. They were left with a dilemma when their bassist decided to leave, and as Chris Wolstenholme was a very close friend, they asked him to learn to play the bass guitar - this led to the completion of the Muse line-up we know today. The band changed names a number of times after this, cycling through names such as Gothic Plague, Carnage Mayhem, Fixed Penalty, and Rocket Baby Dolls before adopting the name Muse (the chronology of these names is unclear, as Muse have given contradictory accounts in various interviews).
In 1994, under the name Rocket Baby Dolls (inspired by a Japanese porn film) and with a Gothic/glam image, they took part in a local battle of the bands contest and poked fun at the other bands by trashing the gear that was actually on loan for all the bands to use, and covering their vehicles in graffiti. The judges found this very amusing and declared them the winner of the competition. Shortly after this win the band changed their name to Muse and started playing concerts in local clubs like the Cavern in Exeter.
After a few years building a fan base in London, they played their first gigs in London and Manchester. The band had a significant meeting with Dennis Smith, the owner of Sawmills, a recording studio in a converted water mill in Cornwall, S.W. England.
This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of an self-titled E.P. on Sawmill's in-house Dangerous label. Their second E.P., Muscle Museum, attracted the attention of influential British music journalist Steve Lamacq and the weekly British music publication NME. Dennis Smith subsequently co-founded the music production company Taste Media especially for Muse (the band stayed with Taste Media for their first 3 albums). This was fortunate for the band, as it allowed them to preserve the individuality of their sound in the early stages of their career.
Despite the success and acclaim of their second E.P., British record companies were reluctant to back Muse, and many sections of the music industry were concerned that their sound was too similar to that of Radiohead (circa 'The Bends'). However, the American Maverick Records arranged a number of gigs in the United States before signing them at the end of 1998. Upon their return from America, Taste Media arranged deals for Muse with various record labels in Europe and Australia. John Leckie, who had produced albums for Radiohead, the Stone Roses, Weird Al, and The Verve, was brought in to produce the band's first record, Showbiz. The album showcased the band's aggressive style, and featured a number of lyrical references to the difficulties they had trying to establish themselves in Teignmouth.
The release of this album was followed by tour support slots for the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the United States. 1999 and 2000 saw Muse playing major festivals in Europe and gigs in Australia, accumulating a considerable fan base in Western Europe.
Their second album, Origin of Symmetry, again produced by Leckie, resulted in a heavier, darker rock sound, with Wolstenholme's bass, often overdriven, distorted or synthesized, sometimes using classical techniques—on songs like Space Dementia—that were influenced by Rachmaninoff.
The band experimented with unorthodox 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 distinctive piano playing, inspired by the works of pianists of the Romanticism movement, particularly Russians such as Sergei Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. Also palpable is the influence of minimalists such as Philip Glass. Bellamy cites [citation needed] guitar influences such as Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello (of Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine), the latter evident in the more riff-based songs on Origin of Symmetry, and in Bellamy's extensive use of pitch-shifting effects in his solos. The album also features a surprising reworking of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "Feeling Good".
The general eccentricity of Muse's fundamentally rock style has seen them likened to 1970s rock band Queen.
The album might have led to Muse making a significant impact on the American music scene, but Maverick had reservations about Bellamy's vocal style (considering it not to be "radio-friendly"), and asked Muse to change some of their songs prior to U.S. release. Insulted, the band declined and left Maverick altogether, preventing the release of Origin of Symmetry in the U.S. (Muse have since released the album in the U.S. on 20 September 2005).
Following the album, Muse released Hullabaloo, a DVD featuring their live performance at Le Zenith in Paris in 2001. A double album featuring a collection of b-sides and recordings of some songs from the Le Zenith performance was released at the same time. A double A side single was released featuring new songs In Your World and Dead Star, a move away from the grand opera style of Origin of Symmetry. The single was greeted with a mixed reaction from existing fans, but radio friendly song lengths and styles helped to attract many new fans.
In the February 2006 edition of Q Magazine, Origin of Symmetry was placed 74th in a fans poll of the 100 greatest ever albums.
In 2003, a new studio album, Absolution was released. Produced by Rich Costey (who had previously produced Rage Against the Machine), the album demonstrated a continuation of the experimentation displayed in Origin of Symmetry, while maintaining a sense of the band as a three-piece.
Muse continued to blend classical influences into their hard rock sound, the overall effect being somewhat Wagnerian in style. The band has made reference to a theme running through the album—the end of the world, and reactions to that situation. This draws mainly from Bellamy’s interest in conspiracy theories, theology, science, futurism, computing and the supernatural. The song "Ruled By Secrecy," for example, takes its title from a Jim Marrs novel about the secrets behind the way that major governments are run—many lyrics on this album have political references.
Muse were the subject of a biography by Ben Myers, entitled Inside the Muscle Museum published in 2004.
Similar themes were explored in Origin of Symmetry; the song "Space Dementia" is named after a mental disorder identified in some astronauts following prolonged periods in space, as songs such as "New Born" (from the previous album) make reference to a hypothetical future where technology has a detrimental effect on society.
Finally receiving mainstream critical acclaim in Britain, and with a new American record deal, Muse undertook their first international stadium tour. It continued for about a year and saw Muse visiting Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada and France. Meanwhile, the band released five singles.
The band played at the Glastonbury festival in June of 2004. Bellamy described the concert as "The best gig of our lives", but shortly after the concert finished, drummer Dominic Howard's father, Bill Howard, who was at the festival to watch the band, died from a heart attack. "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." With support from his bandmates and family, Howard decided to stay with the band.
Muse continued their hugely successful 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. At the 2005 Brit Awards, Muse were awarded the "Best Live Act" award.
The band finished touring in January 2005, but visited the U.S. in March and April, as their profile there was considerably higher than before. On July 2, 2005, Muse participated in the Live 8 concert in Paris.
A DVD biography called Manic Depression was released in April 2005, but the band wasn't involved with the project and did not endorse the release. Another DVD was released on December 12, 2005, Absolution Tour, containing 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. However, two songs were cut from the original BBC edit, "Citizen Erased" and "Stockholm Syndrome," for reasons unknown (possibly due to lack of space on the disc). However, "Stockholm Syndrome" was included in the Earls Court footage.
After having an extensive break following the lengthy tour, the band returned in August 2005 for recording sessions, though serious recordings started around September. The album was recorded until spring 2006 with a couple of breaks for holidays. The band announced their new LP in May 2006, produced again by Rich Costey and titled Black Holes and Revelations. Shortly afterwards, the album was leaked to the Internet. The finished album was released to the Japanese market on 28 June 2006 with an extra track, "Glorious," that is not present on the rest of the world's releases. The album was released in Europe on July 3 2006 and in North America on July 11. It charted at No. 1 in the UK, much of Europe, and Australia and also achieved American success, reaching No. 9 in the Billboard 200 album chart.
Though the record was melanged with the political feel present from their previous albums, it is a slightly brighter and more inviting effort compared to their previous two, which were entwined with desperate and apocalyptic themes. The album's title and themes are the work of the band's fascination with space, Mars and Cydonia, the Book of Revelation and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The artwork is designed by Storm Thorgerson and depicts a landscape of the surface of Mars with four men seated around a table and four miniature horses on it.
The first single from the album to be released in the UK, "Supermassive Black Hole," was first released as a standalone download on May 9 2006. Reactions to the new single have been very diverse as it represents an extreme departure from the style of the band's existing work. The single was officially released online on June 12, with the CD release taking place on June 19. The CD release contained the B-side "Crying Shame." The second single to be released from Black Holes and Revelations is to be "Starlight," which will be released on 4th September. "Knights Of Cydonia" has been declared the first single in the US, though no release date has been scheduled. The song has already begun charting in the Rock Top 20 and has been accompanied by a humorous 7 minute Promotional video which was filmed in Romania.
The band started performing live again on May 13, 2006 at BBC Radio 1's One Big Weekend, followed by various other promotional TV appearances. The main live tour started just before the release of their album and initially consisted mostly of festival appearances (most notably of which, a headline slot at the Leeds Festival) A tour of North America takes place from late July to early August 2006, and after the last of the summer festivals a tour of Europe is scheduled, including a large arena tour of the UK.Black Holes and Revelations was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize, but did not win. Instead it went to the Arctic Monkeys. Muse recently announced on the website http://www.muselive.com/ that they will be touring Australia early next year.
NEW ADDITION:
Muse - Live at AOL sessions 2006


Muse - Live at Radio 1's Big Weekend 2006
Muse - Live at Earl's court, London 2006 ??!!!
Note: Folder date is wrong it is 20.12.2004 concert
Muse - Live at Canal+ studio , La musicale, Paris, France 09.06.2006
Muse - Live in Arras, Main Square Festival 01.07.2006
Muse - live lowlands 2006

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I am a pretty big fan of Muse and I'd like to download their lives via radipshare but I cannot find any good link! Could you help me please?

10:36 AM  

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