and visions of greed you wallow
months ago, a co-worker handed me an album and said "I hear that they
sound like Radiohead, maybe you'll like it." I totally wasn't expecting
what I heard. The album in question is Muse's debut album Showbiz
(not to be confused with the Florida based Muse, who have since changed
their name to Myooz [ahem, Sonicnet]). Today, garnering comparisons
to Radiohead is like being compared to the sliced bread. And with two
years since the exalted RH released their full-length masterpiece, paranoid
android kids everywhere have been looking for someone to fill the void.
Look no further.
Muse Storms U.S. Market With Dynamic Showbiz Sep 29, 1999.
Look up Muse in the dictionary and then take a look at the words right above it and below it. Depending on what dictionary you are looking out, you just may come out with muscle and museum -- hence the title of Muse's debut U.S. single, “Muscle Museum,” from their Maverick Records debut, Showbiz (O.K., so you may get musculoskeletal and museology, but that hardly has the same ring to it). Believe it or not, the title of the song has no more literal meaning than just that, according to frontman Matthew Bellamy. "The truth be known, I just had the small hand dictionary in my car for some reason," recalls the 20-year-old singer/guitarist. "I don't know how it got there. I just looked up Muse just to see how different dictionaries define it. And there it was, 'muscle museum.' And at the time, that was the song that was in my head. And I thought, 'this has got to be a part in the song.'"
The song is one of the 12 desolate, spine-tingling swells of emotion that make up Showbiz (out Sept. 28), a record which is packed with quite an affected fervor for three lads (all around the tender age of 20) from a seaside town in the south of England. That's not just lyrically speaking either, the arrangements, courtesy of Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and drummer Dominic Howard, instill a sense of ragged turmoil in the listener -- not bad for a three piece. "I find it more of a challenge to make things work with three, because in a way, it's better, because the songs have to be a certain quality for it to be good," explains Bellamy. "Because if you've got a four-piece or five-piece, you can often do things that aren't very good -- songs that aren't very good -- because you can just make it sound good by putting loads and loads of stuff on it and it just turns into something bigger than what it should be."
Despite Muse's undeniable talent and Showbiz' unavoidable catchiness, the band is currently fighting off a wave of comparative accusations, namely the one which outs Muse as carbon copies of another band with similar dynamics, Radiohead. Surprisingly, Bellamy isn't too quick to take the defensive on such a -- let's face it -- incredibly fair comparison. "That's partly because we've got the same producer [John Leckie]," explains Bellamy. "There's elements in the way we've gone about making this record that are similar to how [Radiohead] made The Bends. I think the other similarity is that Thom Yorke is the singer and I know for a fact that he's influenced by Jeff Buckley, and that's similar to me. He's one of my main vocal influences -- more so than Thom Yorke is. I think the first album, I can see how people compare us to Radiohead, but I think it's just a starting point. I think we'll go on to do other things, to prove otherwise." Muse's starting point actually dates back to the early '90s when the three musicians formed Gothic Plague, a early '90s indie classic cover band. Then came Fixed Penalty and Rocket Baby Dolls, but the band didn't strike gold until forming Muse and signing a record deal in the U.K. in 1998. The turning point for the band, however, came on the way to a gig in Manchester, England last November. "It was our first gig outside our local area" recalls Bellamy. "It was the first industry thing we ever did. I was driving my van up there cause the rest of the band hired out a vehicle, but I wanted to go up the next day, so I went up in my van [with a friend] and it broke down halfway [there]. We were both were pissed off with the van anyway so we decided to hire a car. We hired a little plush, nice car. We drove up in this nice hired car -- drove real fast. Since then, it's been a different ballgame." CDNOW. 29th Sept 1999.