OF THE WEEK
Muse may be one of the UK’s biggest rock bands now, but they went through years of struggle for recognition and name changes before they became the operatic prog monsters they are today.
previous artists of the week:
The first incarnation of their band began when they were only 13; going on to change the name of the group from Gothic Plague to Fixed Penalty, and then to Rocket Baby Dolls as time passed. By 1997 the band settled on the name Muse and released their self-titled debut EP on Dangerous Records, followed by the 'Muscle Museum' EP in 1998. The group's emotive, Radiohead-like sound and live dates drew critical acclaim and industry buzz, and after a trip to New York's CMJ festival, Muse signed a deal with Maverick Records.
John Leckie, producer of Radiohead's second album 'The Bends' and The Verve's first full-length 'A Storm in Heaven', was brought in to produce the band's first record, 'Showbiz', which is considered by some to be heavily influenced by Radiohead. Later Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke himself criticized Bellamy for what he felt was an attempt to imitate him directly.
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, and in 1999 and 2000 Muse played major festivals in Europe and gigs in Japan and Australia, accumulating a considerable fan base in Western Europe.
John Leckie was brought in again for the band’s second album 'Origin of Symmetry', which saw the band evolve their now trademark operatic style. The general eccentricity of Muse's fundamentally rock style saw them likened to 1970s rock band Queen, and 2003’s 'Absolution', produced by Rich Costey (Rage Against The Machine), continued in the experimental vein, as well as introducing some new electro influences.
The band played at the UK’s 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 learned that his father, Bill Howard, had 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 will have a new album, Black Holes and Revelations, out at the beginning of July, and if pre-emptive reviews and interviews are anything to go by, it seems that their latest effort will have strong political themes, seeing them concentrate on the ongoing Iraq War.
The first single from the album, "Supermassive Black Hole", marks a significant change in their style with Bellamy using his falsetto vocals to funky Prince effect, and the band will headline the UK’s famous Carling rock festival at Reading and Leeds in August, showcasing their new direction for the first time.
So join us as we welcome these 'supermassive' prog rockers back into the fold, and make them our MTV European Artists Of The Week.