The band's core is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Matthew Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and drummer Dominic Howard, a trio of friends who began playing music together in their hometown of Teignmouth, Devon. They started the first incarnation of the band at the age of 13, changing the name of the group from Gothic Plague to Fixed Penalty to Rocket Baby Dolls as time passed. By 1997, the bandmates 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, passionate sound and live presence drew critical acclaim and industry buzz, which resulted in a deal with Maverick Records
after a trip to New York's CMJ Festival. The singles "Cave" and "Uno" preceded their debut full-length album, Showbiz, which was released toward the end of 1999. The effort went platinum and peaked inside the U.K. Top 30. Two years later, Muse issued Origin of Symmetry, which featured hit singles "New Born," "Plug in Baby," "Bliss," and "Hyper Music," which helped propel the album to multiplatinum status in the U.K. The following year, fans were treated to Hullabaloo Soundtrack, a combination of Showbiz/Origins rarities packaged with a Parisian live set that peaked at number ten in the U.K.
Muse returned in 2003 with their third album, Absolution, an apocalyptic sci-fi love epic that became the band's big U.S. breakthrough and first U.K. number one. Featuring radio hits "Time Is Running Out" and "Hysteria," Absolution eventually went platinum in the U.S. and triple-platinum back home. On their follow-up, the band pushed further into outer space and incorporated more beat-driven influences. Released in 2006, Black Holes & Revelations marked the band's brightest, most dynamic set of material to date, topping the U.K. album chart within its first week and earning Muse their second consecutive number one album at home. In America, the album broke into the Top Ten upon the strength of funky, Prince
-indebted single "Supermassive Black Hole" and uplifting anthem "Starlight." Taking advantage of their expanding international reach, the band toured Europe, America, Australia, and Asia in support of the effort, and their dynamic stage performance won the band multiple awards for Best Live Act, including accolades from the NME Awards, the Q Awards, and the Vodafone Live Music Awards. (It was also captured on 2008's H.A.A.R.P. Live from Wembley.)
The trio spent the remainder of 2008, as well as the early part of 2009, in the recording studio, eventually emerging with The Resistance in September. Incorporating an epic orchestral scope on the album's closing "Exogenesis" trilogy and channeling Depeche Mode
elsewhere, the album hit number one in more than a dozen countries, while lead single "Uprising" became their highest-charting U.S. song to date. The band kicked off another world tour, headlining shows as well as supporting U2
. In 2011, Bellamy and company were asked to write the official theme for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which were being held in London, and the band returned with the triumphant rock anthem "Survival." The song also became the lead single of their next album, 2012's The 2nd Law. An outlier in their catalog, the album featured the electronic pop single "Madness," an experimental dubstep influence, and a pair of tracks written and sung by Wolstenholme. The road-hungry band undertook another large-scale tour to promote The 2nd Law, and their spectacular show at Rome's Olympic Stadium -- complete with pyrotechnics, video walls, and acrobats -- was filmed in ultra-high definition for the concert movie Live at Rome Olympic Stadium, which was released in December 2013.
When the band returned to the studio, they took a step back from the electronic textures of The 2nd Law, returning to a heavier rock sound. In early March 2015, Muse issued the singles "Psycho" and "Dead Inside," the first offerings from their seventh studio long-player Drones. Released in June of that year, the conceptual album was their fifth consecutive U.K. number one album and their first release to top the U.S. charts, netting them a Grammy award for Best Rock Album in February 2016. The accompanying Drones World Tour, which featured actual drones that flew over audiences, was captured on film and released to theaters in the summer of 2018. By that time, the band were already in the midst of promoting their eighth LP with lead singles "Dig Down," "Thought Contagion," and "Something Human." ~ Heather Phares & Neil Z. Yeung