Christopher Wolstenholme

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Christopher Wolstenholme
Chris Wolstenholme Toronoto.jpg
Wolstenholme at Toronto, Canada, 2007
Background information
Birth name Christopher Tony Wolstenholme
Born (1978-12-02) 2 December 1978 (age 36)
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England
Genres Alternative rock, new prog, space rock, progressive rock, symphonic rock, progressive metal, classical
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Bass guitar, double bass, vocals, drums, synthesizers, keyboards, guitar, vibraphone, harmonica, Misa Kitara
Years active 1991–present
Labels Warner Bros., East West, Atlantic, Helium 3
Associated acts Muse

Christopher Tony "Chris" Wolstenholme, (born 2 December 1978) is an English musician, multi-instrumentalist and the bassist, backing vocalist and vocalist for the English rock band Muse. Wolstenholme also sometimes plays keyboard or guitar instead of bass, though the latter is occasionally handled by Morgan Nicholls during live performances.

Early and personal life[edit]

Chris Wolstenholme grew up in the English town of Rotherham before moving to Teignmouth, Devon. While living there, he played drums for a post-punk band, while Matthew Bellamy and Dominic Howard played in another. While the two bands rehearsed in the same building, Bellamy and Howard walked over to Wolstenholme and asked him if he would like to play bass in their band, Rocket Baby Dolls, later renamed Muse. Wolstenholme was eager to join their band but didn't know how to play bass. He picked one up quickly and taught himself.

In 2003, when the band sued Nestlé, he was the main reason behind it, being against the company that had a dubious reputation when it came to the promotion of powdered milk to new mothers in the third world.[1] At the time, he had had his third child.

Chris Wolstenholme married his long-time girlfriend Kelly in December 2003 and they have six children: Alfie (born in July 1998), Ava-Jo (born 2001), Frankie (born 2003), Ernie (born 2008), Buster (born 2010) and Teddi, born 2012.[2] He is known to be very devoted to his family, phoning home twice a day when on tour. In late April 2010, the family moved to Foxrock, Dublin. He said their decision to move to Republic of Ireland was based on their need to be beside a major airport and a desire to avoid London, England. During the 2011 NME Awards, it was confirmed that he, along with his family, have moved to London, due to the band's wishes to live in the same city whilst creating the new album. Despite not living in his hometown since his childhood, he remains an avid supporter of Rotherham United F.C., his hometown football team.

The Times magazine published an article in the summer of 2010 in which Wolstenholme admitted he had been a "raging alcoholic"[3] and openly spoke about the depths of his addiction. He went into rehab halfway during the recording of The Resistance. In an interview with Q it was revealed that he would drink so much he would vomit blood, but that he could not grasp the seriousness of his situation. His bandmates had tried to broach the subject of his drinking several times without success.[citation needed] In the end, he had come to his own realisation that unless he quit drinking, he would end up like his father who had died due to excessive drinking when Wolstenholme was only seventeen.[4] Since then, he has not drunk alcohol and said that his relationship with his wife and bandmates has greatly improved. He also had a habit of smoking and would have a few cigarettes daily. In 2010 he switched to smoking out of a pipe. He has stated, via Twitter that he had quit smoking, using an electric cigarette but he had taken up smoking again.[citation needed] However, as of May 2011, Chris has quit smoking.

Wolstenholme holds an honorary doctorate of arts from the University of Plymouth.[5]


His biggest influence on the band is his love for heavy rock music, and his band mates have been quoted many times as saying that he's the one that brings the rock into Muse. During the recording of The Resistance, he has admitted that he was in the studio only when he had something to record, and spent the rest of his time "getting pissed". In 2011, readers of Gigwise named him the best bassist of all time.[6] His favourite album is Helmet's Aftertaste.[7]

In July 2012, it was revealed in NME magazine that Wolstenholme wrote and sang two songs on the album The 2nd Law, 'Liquid State' and 'Save Me'. Both songs were written shortly after quitting alcohol. “‘Liquid State’ was written about the person you become when you’re intoxicated and how the two of them are having this fight inside of you and it tears you apart. ‘Save Me’ was about having the family, the wife and kids who, despite all the crap I’ve put them through, at the end of it you realise they’re still there and they’re the ones who pulled you through.”[8] He also added that "'Save Me' is a sort of a love song and I think it's the more positive among the two, it's about having a difficult time and having a person in your life who can pull you through – my wife, in my case. I guess it's all about searching stability, finding it through the person you love."[9]

Musical equipment[edit]

Wolstenholme in 2013.

Wolstenholme has used many different basses since the start of Muse's career, starting out with Warwick and Bass Collection basses, alongside an electric double bass for use in the song "Unintended". He favoured the Ampeg SVT amps, with 1x18, 2x10 and 2x12 cabs.

Wolstenholme often uses distortion. Wolstenholme use a Japanese Distortion box the Animato for his high end Russian Sovtek version of the Electro Harmonix Big Muff distortion / sustainer for the low end, this was used alongside a BOSS Bass overdrive and other effects.

In the Origin of Symmetry era, Wolstenholme had many custom-made Pedulla basses, mainly having five-string bass necks outfitted with only four strings, allowing for a wider 4-string neck. Only using the Pedulla Rapture SB4 basses with a single humbucking pick-up, the JB4 bass with two jazz pick-ups shown in the Plug in Baby video was sold on eBay. Wolstenholme also changed to use two Marshall amplifiers (3 cabs in total counting his combo amp), he had two separate channels, one for clean bass and one for distorted bass. Chris has also been known to use his Marshall Bass State b150 which he drives to the edge because "it distorts nicely". His effects rig also expanded to include some Line 6 effects and more BOSS effects.

For Muse's third album, Absolution, Wolstenholme kept the Pedulla basses but also recorded using Warwick basses (his old ones) and others. He also added a Fender Jazz Bass into his line-up for "Sing for Absolution" and a Zon Sonus Studio 4. For live performances of "Stockholm Syndrome" Wolstenholme used a beat up Pedulla Rapture SB5 – so beaten up that a tuning peg has been lost and is now only used as a four-string bass. No surprise that Wolstenholme threw it onto the stage from the audience, then into Dominic Howard's bass drum at the UK's biggest festival, Glastonbury.

He still kept his Marshall amps, and also included more rackmount effects in the form of Line 6 Bass Pods and filter modellers, and more. His effects rig became so big that Rocktron All Access MIDI controllers are used both on and off stage to control everything. For Absolution, he also added an Akai Deep Impact synth pedal for the hit single "Time Is Running Out", a Digitech Synth Wah and a Big John Granny Puker alongside more effects.

For Black Holes and Revelations, Wolstenholme changed his rig almost completely. Now favouring Rickenbacker 4003 basses and Fender Jazz Basses for new and old songs alike, he used a pick on a few new songs, including "Assassin", the beginning of "Map of the Problematique", the beginning of "Invincible", and the beginning and middle of "Knights of Cydonia", according to Muse's 26 August 2006 performance at the Reading Festival. He also played an upright bass in "Soldier's Poem". The Electro Harmonix Big Muff is used more often in this album, nearly in every track, and his vocals are sometimes sung through a vocoder, most noticeably in "Supermassive Black Hole". Additionally, on HAARP he can be seen playing guitar, with Morgan Nicholls manning the bass, and Matthew Bellamy on the piano. Specifically, he uses a PRS 513 Rosewood. Recently, he has begun using Fender 1951 P-Bass, in a unique silver colour with tortoise shell style pickguard. He also occasionally uses a Noah Bass (maybe the same as the before mentioned p-bass just misidentified as a Fender P-bass). Before "Knights of Cydonia", Wolstenholme sometimes plays "Man with the Harmonica" (composed by Ennio Morricone) on harmonica.

After the release of The Resistance, Wolstenholme was seen playing a 1980s Status Bass, which he uses to play "Uprising", "Guiding Light" and "Unnatural Selection" live. He has also been seen playing a Gibson Grabber in the studio.

As of 2012, Chris Wolstenholme has replaced his Jazz Basses with his custom Status S-2 basses, only keeping 1 Jazz Bass for Panic Station, Status headless bass for Uprising and a Stats KingBass for Undisclosed Desires. On The 2nd Law Chris began using a new custom doubleneck bass. The upper half of the bass is a Misa Kitara and the bottom half is a custom Status S2-Classic headless bass. He was seen using this bass in performances on Jools Holland, Saturday Night Live, and The Jonathan Ross Show.[10]


  1. ^ "State 3 April 2008 – Muse: A Short History of Everything". Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Muse cancel dates on upcoming North American tour". NME. 21 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Newspaper Large Muse Feature from The Times – Muse Messageboard". Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Magazine New Q Magazine (August 2011) – Muse Messageboard". Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: University honour for rock stars Muse". Thisisplymouth. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  6. ^ "Top 10 Bassists of All Time". 
  7. ^ "muse : archives | | July 1999". 1999-07-22. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Muse NME T2L interviews! – Muse Messageboard". 
  9. ^ "Interviste – Muse (Chris Wolstenholme)" (in Italian). SpazioRock. 
  10. ^ "Status Kitara Doubleneck Bass". Retrieved 3 October 2012. 

External links[edit]