Situated on the south Devon coast a few miles from Torquay, Teignmouth has never been regarded as a hot-bed for rock‘n’roll, let alone rock‘n’roll of a theatrical and experimental nature. But this is where guitarist/vocalist Matt Bellamy, drummer Dominic Howard and bassist Chris Wolstenholme formed what would eventually become Muse in 1992. In the eight years since the release of their first album, Showbiz, in 1999, Muse have clocked up over seven million albums sales and received over 20 awards.
Muse spent the mid-’90s gigging until Dennis Smith, owner of the Sawmills recording studio in Cornwall, had enough belief to release a couple of EPs on his Dangerous label and to co-found the Taste Media production company specifically to look after them. Major British labels were reluctant, and it took serious interest from Madonna’s Maverick label in the USA to really kickstart the band’s career. It’s unusual for a new band to be afforded the freedom to develop in the way that Muse were – but sticking with a minor label, Taste, for the first three albums has to be as a major factor in the trio’s progression. When they eventually succumbed to the lure of Warner Brothers, Muse’s fourth album Black Holes And Revelations (2006) reached Number 1 in the UK and Number 9 in the US.
Chris Wolstenholme started out on drums and switched to bass after Bellamy and Howard’s fruitless two-year search for a suitable candidate. He has proven to be the perfect foil for the imaginative texturing and aggressive riffing of Bellamy’s guitar and keyboard playing. He generally uses Fender Jazz and Rickenbacker 4003 basses and Marshall amps, and his often distorted lines are heavy on power and show a sly sense of melodic invention. The trio format means he gets the opportunity to play busily when the mood takes him. Judging by the sinewy, dextrous groove that underpins the superb Hysteria (Absolution, 2003) he’s also got the chops to make it happen.