The spring of 2002 was a long time ago. Second semester freshman year at Keene State I happened to meet a guy that was a 90’s grunge nerd like myself. We vetted each other over random facts about Kurt Cobain, which took about 10 minutes; then my new friend asked me if I had ever heard of a rock trio from England that “sounded a little like a mix of Nirvana and Radiohead but with better guitar effects and less whining”. I said no and I was curious at his response. By this time I was a huge Radiohead fan and months earlier Kid A blew my mind so I wanted to know if this band had the goods. We met up in class a few days later and he handed me a burned disc with one word written in sharpie: Muse. This instance is how I met the guy that would be the best man at my wedding and was introduced to a band that began their ascent in changing the landscape of rock music for the 2000’s.
Forming in the mid-90’s, the band went through a few name changes before landing on their current title, which is short, sweet and easy to remember ,instead of Rocket Baby Dolls or Gothic Plague. The core of the group hasn’t changed: Matt Bellamy on vocals, guitar, piano/keyboards and keytar, Dominic Howard on drums and synthesizers and Chris Wolstenholme on bass, backing vocals, harmonica and rhythm guitar. By 1998 they signed with Madonna’s label Maverick Records to release 1999’s Showbiz.
Based on the strength of their debut the band returned to the studios to begin work on their second album, Origin of Symmetry, using more organ based instruments. Matt expanded some of his vocal range and added more high profile guitar work taking the band in a different direction. The label was concerned with a lack of radio singles and after some refusal from the band to change this, they ended up parting with Maverick and signed with Warner Brothers.
Taking their interest in grand arrangements and a conspiracy theorist’s eye, the band would embark on a series of albums that seem to bring on an impending doom for the world and humanity. Don’t worry, Avid Reader, I’ll explain all of that as the month of September wears on as Muse will be my artist spotlight for the next few weeks. Leading up to the release of their new album, 2nd Law, in early October I’ll cover some albums, themes, my hesitation to fall head over heels in love with the band and some concert memories that are eye popping.
I know you were thinking this was going to be an in-depth look at Homer’s epic poem The Illiad and we can save that for another time. Instead, plug your headphones in baby as we take a ride across the pond. Cheers.