We're in 1996, Teignmouth, in the Devon, during the contest "Battle Of The Bands". Bands with a pop or funk pop tendency, typical of the musical scene in the region, pass one after the other and sound all alike. It's in this general mood that Matt, Dom and Chris enter the scene to give their first "real" concert, under the name of Rocket Baby Dolls. Dressed in black and having slightly abused on the make-up, they electrify the atmosphere with their frenzied riffs and conclude their aggressive show by smashing their equipment. The young crowd's infatuation can be feltand so can the judges': the Rocket Baby Dolls take first place and it proves to be a nice victory over the local funk scene. Having come to participate and not expecting to win, their attitude and the emotion released by their performance managed to surpass the lack of technical feats. First stage in Muse's dazzling ascension? Certainlythis victory would allow them to discover that music was, before anything, a story of emotions. Back to the sources
It's in Teignmouth, sad seaside resort of 15000 habitants, that the Providence reunites Matthew Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dom Howard. The music proves to be, in simple evidence, an escape from boredom and underlying violence. Playing in a band seems to be a natural reaction, making it easier to support the ambient climate. And so, about the age of 12 or 13 years old, a common interest for music first reunites Matt and Dom, the latter playing in THE popular group of the school. Having become friends with Dom, Matt immediately joins his band when the chance comes, as guitarist/singer. Two years later, the band's instability, which sees all members leaving, coming back, changing, comes to an end with the arrival of Chris. The Gothic Plague (the band's name at the time) have finally found a proper equilibrium with the presence of their new member - drummer converted into bassist - and this time, the alliance would prove to be immutable. Muse or the creative inspiration
Successively re-baptized Fixed Penalty, then Rocket Baby Dolls, the trio starts out with covers of classics from the beginning of the 90s. Without great success. However, far from discouraging them, the little interest accorded to them pushes them, paradoxically, to invest themselves even more, to write and compose their own songs. At a time when the Britpop scene explodes with the new venues of Blur and Oasis, if only them, Matt, Dom and Chris turn their backs to it and focus on American bands such as Primus, The Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana; in short, as much references definitely marking their youth. Only one British exception, however notable: Radiohead; "The Bends" and "Nevermind" from Nirvana certainly being THE two albums modifying the most their musical conception. They finally found within themselves a real sense of innovation, sincerity, a personal exploration that made them unique, diametrically opposing them to the simple exercise of imitation the Britpop had come to. Rapidly renamed Muse, the three friends start taking the group seriously; more than an escape route and a rejection of their cultural, social and geographical background, music becomes a passion, a way of expressing themselves. From then on, they live with the rhythm of repetitions, increasingly intense, and seize every chance they have of playing in front of a public - no restrictions imposed. Indeed, no way to be difficult when you live 400km away from the center of London. And so, they regularly play in pubs and bars of the region. "The Cavern" in Exeter, remains the only suitable place, it is however empty most of the time. They also invest in dozens of other places, often full with an aged audience, which, far from reserving them a nice welcome, insist on them playing hits from the 60s! Discouraging? Not quite, these experiences are in fact a source of motivation and aid them in perseverance. While their friends continue their studies in university, Dom has little jobs on certain sites, Chris helps managing a guitar shop and Matt works as a decorator. Not quite leading to a convincing choice for the future, but leaving them a certain freedom and allowing them to tighten the bonds among each other. And their motivation will be rewardingIndeed, the encounter with Dennis Smith, owner of Sawmills, magnificent windmill converted into a recording studio, in Cornwall, will be the starting point of their most outrageous hopes. For the little story, he hears of Matthew (then 13 years old) for the first time through his garagist who was fascinated by the boy's precocious talent. It will take, however, four years for him to finally decide himself to pay visit to the band to see what they were worth. Convinced by the maturity and the potential already emanating from the band, Smith becomes attached to the trioand the Muse adventure then truly begins. A few steps from success?
Then starts a slow but prudent process, which sees Muse make its way to the English capital little by little. Dennis Smith then considers the band to be an "unpolished diamond", running the risk of being destroyed by a city such as London. It's in 1998 that things start to materialize: Smith concludes an engagement with the group; the studio (which has seen great names succeed one another: Oasis, Robert Plant) is at their disposition at the one condition that he be paid back with the obtaining of a contract. That same year, the first EP "Muse" is released under the label of Sawmills, Dangerous Records, at a few hundred copies. But it isn't until the second EP "Muscle Museum" that the band starts attracting a greater public. Steve Lamacq, DJ and journalist, is the first to diffuse their songs on an international radio. The impact is then inevitable: NME (New Musical Express), English weekly of reference in the musical press, doesn't think twice before praising and exposing the new band's talent. In parallel, Smith allies himself with Safta Jaffrey, whose society SJP reunites some of the greatest individuals when it comes to production; together, they create Taste Media especially for Muse. A real chance for the group, who can preserve their autonomy right from the start of their career. Nevertheless, not one English label shows any interest in Muse, despite the success of their second EP and their performances onstage. Fear of approaching a "different" group? It's in the United States that their career will finally be launched; Guy Oseary, from Maverick Records, sees in Muse a rare pearl, which doesn't have to be neglected. They won't regret their detour through Los Angeles, because end of 1998, they are signed under Madonna's labelonly that. Taste Media then cooperates and works jointly with Naïve for France, Mushroom for Great Britain, Ireland and Australia and finally with Motor/Universal for Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. A rapid commercial series of events, after which John Leckie (producer of "The Bends" from Radiohead) brings his contribution to the band's evolution. The first album from Muse is recorded in a few weeks in Sawmills and Rak (London): "Showbiz" is released on the 6th of September 1999 in France, the 20th in Germany and on the 4th of October in Great Britain. They return to the States and this time they play with huge names such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Foo Fighters, a public composed of 20 000 people faces them every night. Glastonbury, Reading, Woodstock, Muse participate in the greatest festivals. They play in Paris for the first time at the New Morning, in July 1999, then in November, at the MCM Café, in front of which about 200 people are assembled there, for them onlyan impressive achievement for a band barely starting to make itself heard.
2000 will be the year of tours and festivals (about 50) because Showbiz's success offers them the opportunity to crisscross the globe: the month of January will be marked by two dates in Paris, first at l'Elysee Montmarte and then at the Bataclan. In July and in October, they move on to Japan, before stopping on the way in Australia for five dates playing in the first part before Feeder. Nearly 500 000 copies of their first album are sold, with numbers almost identical in Europe, in Japan and Australia, and even superior in Franceand for those who discover Muse, there is no arguing when it comes to admitting that the three friends emanate an incredible aura when onstage; an energy, an intensity fuelled by a unique sound and an exceptional voice. Thom Yorke, to whom Matthew is too often compared, can only sit and note... Origin Of Symmetry, the album of maturity?
"Our first album was one of a group in search of its identity; the second will show us more as a group settling into that identity" (M. Bellamy).
With "Origin Of Symmetry", Muse has the merit of innovating while remaining in a certain continuation of "Showbiz". Produced by John Leckie, the new Muse album is released in June 2001: original fusion of diversified styles on a rock base, OOS is harmoniously embellished with organs from cathedrals, classical rhythms but also electroin short, a sample of emotions condensed in a unique masterpiece. Even before the release of their long-awaited second album, Muse honors France again with their presence: we will find them early April at the Cigale with JJ72 and the next day at the Printemps de Bourges, not counting the numerous dates in the provinces. They continue touring in May, once again accompanied by Feeder, and pass through Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norwaya very busy program, which continues in July with numerous festivals and one concert at the Arenes de Nimes with PJ Harvey and Noir Desir. They step foot on Japanese soil once again for the promotion of Origin Of Symmetry and three private shows organized by the Fan Club. The welcome they get in the country is more than encouraging, surprising even: indeed, the album is directly classed number one on the national charts and 19th on the international charts, equaling the sales of Showbiz in two weeks only. A fruitful exportMuse seems on the way to becoming one of the most popular British bands in the land of the rising sun. The success of the tour Origin Of Symmetry that follows in October/November justifies the brilliance of the album; a dozen dates in England, four in Germany, three in Japansix in France. Muse has constituted a solid base of fans and the sold-out concerts of the 28th and 29th of last October at the Zenith in Paris only testify the passion directed towards the band...
Only (small?) negative point in Muse's ascension: The United States. The first country to recognise the band's talent and ironically the first to depart from it. Origin Of Symmetry finally didn't come out due to the lack of success from the single Plug In Baby. But why shouldn't Muse be glorified in the USA where Anglo-Saxon bands such as Garbage or Bush have proven their worth? The three from Teignmouth have certainly not said their last wordwith the conquest of the United States achieved, Muse would complete their range of success.
Muse, in a few words? A slap in the face to all those who saw in Muse a sheer and pale imitation of Radiohead - they have managed to demonstrate their diversity and originalitywe await the future with impatience. Source: Musclemuse.com