After calling yourself Gothic Plague, Fixed Penalty and Rocket Baby Dolls settling on Muse sounds a bit pedestrian. As school friends in Teignmouth, Devon; Matthew Bellamy, Chris Wolstenhome and Dominic Howard rolled through the pub circuit under the names listed above developing an Art Rock-meets-Grunge dynamic.
A couple indie releases earned the band praise but more importantly led to a CMJ (College Music) showcase in NY. They were signed by Madonna's Maverick label. Interestingly, the Maverick connection resulted in a U.K. deal. Their full-length debut "Showbiz" arrived in '99 and was followed by "Origin Of Symmetry" (available as an "import") two years later. '04 saw the release of "Absolution."
A handful of singles, "Supermassive Black Hole," "Starlight" and "Knights Of Cydonia" came from Muse's fourth album, released in '06, "Black Holes And Revelations." The group embarked on lengthy tours that included stops at festivals in Europe, Asia and North and South America. Most notable was a headlining spot at the Readings and Leeds Festivals. The group also recorded a live in-studio session logically called "Live From Abbey Road" and landed on Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock.
Next, Bellamy, Howard and Wolstenholme received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Plymouth for their contributions to music. A few months later, they started work on "The Resistance." The lead single, "Uprising," was performed during the '09 MTV Video Music Awards - Muse's first televised U.S. performance.
"The Resistance" took home the Best Rock Album honor at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
On the heels of that success, Wolstenholme stated "The 2nd Law," Muse's sixth album, would be "something radically different" from their prior releases. Namely, composer David Campbell who had worked with acts such as Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Beck and Adele helped Bellamy compose the album which included Electronic and House music.
"The 2nd Law" went to #1 on the UK Albums Chart, but peaked at #2, behind Mumford & Sons' "Babel," on the Billboard 200. It sold 102,000 copies in the U.S. during its debut week.
The album's lead single, "Survival" was the official song of the London 2012 Summer Olympics and was performed by the group during the closing ceremonies. The second single, "Madness," hit #3 on the Billboard Rock Songs and Alternative Songs charts - doing far better than "Survival."
Nominated for the Best Rock Album at the 55th Grammy Awards, there was no repeat. They were aced by Beck. On the upside, instrumental versions of two songs, "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" and "Follow Me", were used as background music in the '13 film "World War Z."
Also in '13, Muse issued their third live album, "Live At Rome Olympic Stadium."
Returning to the studio, Muse rolled out "Drones," in '15. The set was co-produced by the band and Robert "Mutt" Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard). "To me, 'Drones' are metaphorical psychopaths which enable psychopathic behavior with no recourse," said Bellamy. The set earned the group another Best Rock Album of the Year honor at the '16 Grammys.
2001 Origin Of Symmetry
2006 Black Holes And Revelations
2009 The Resistance
2012 The 2nd Law
For groups like Muse, it's not the destination, it's the journey. That allows them to travel a great distance without really going anywhere. Muse can play bombastic speaker-rattling Rock. But getting there can be a bit difficult.
A bit of advice for groups trying to meld the Radiohead "ponder-this" mode with the Nirvana ethos - lean less on Radiohead and more on Nirvana. Muse works best when they do just that.