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Wolstenholme in 2013
|Birth name||Christopher Tony Wolstenholme|
2 December 1978|
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England
Chris Wolstenholme grew up in the English town of Rotherham before moving to Teignmouth, Devon. There he played drums for a post-punk band. He met Matt Bellamy and Dominic Howard from another band, Gothic Plague, while both bands rehearsed in the same building. Bellamy and Howard convinced Wolstenholme to take up bass and start a new band with them, initially called Rocket Baby Dolls. The band was renamed Muse in 1994.
Wolstenholme has been a member of the rock band Muse since its inception, where he plays bass and contributes backing vocals. Muse released their debut album, Showbiz. Their second album, Origin of Symmetry (2001), expanded their sound, incorporating wider instrumentation and romantic classical influences, and earned them a reputation for energetic live performances. Absolution (2003) saw further classical influence, with orchestra on tracks such as "Butterflies and Hurricanes", and became the first of five consecutive UK number-one albums.
Black Holes and Revelations (2006) incorporated electronic and pop elements, influenced by 1980s groups such as Depeche Mode, displayed in singles such as "Supermassive Black Hole". The album brought Muse wider international success. The Resistance (2009) and The 2nd Law (2012) explored themes of government oppression and civil uprising and cemented Muse as one of the world's major stadium acts. Wolstenholme wrote and sang two songs on The 2nd Law, "Liquid State" and "Save Me". He said: "'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 you've put them through, at the end of it you realise they’re still there and they’re the ones who pulled you through.". Their seventh album, Drones (2015), was a concept album about drone warfare and returned to a harder rock sound.
Muse have won numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards, winning the Grammys for Best Rock Album for The Resistance and Drones, two Brit Awards, winning Best British Live Act twice, five MTV Europe Music Awards and eight NME Awards. In 2012 the band received the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Muse have sold over 20 million albums worldwide..
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Described as an alternative rock, space rock and progressive rock band, Muse mix sounds from genres such as electronic music, progressive metal and art rock, and forms such as classical music, rock opera and many others. In 2002, Bellamy described Muse as a "trashy three-piece". In 2005, Pitchfork described Muse's music as "firmly ol' skool at heart: proggy hard rock that forgoes any pretensions to restraint ... their songs use full-stacked guitars and thunderous drums to evoke God's footsteps." AllMusic described their sound as a "fusion of progressive rock, glam, electronica, and Radiohead-influenced experimentation." On the band's association with progressive rock, Howard said: "I associate it [progressive rock] with 10-minute guitar solos, but I guess we kind of come into the category. A lot of bands are quite ambitious with their music, mixing lots of different styles – and when I see that I think it's great. I've noticed that kind of thing becoming a bit more mainstream."
For their second album, Origin of Symmetry (2001), Muse wanted to craft a more aggressive sound. In 2000, Wolstenholme said: "Looking back, there isn't much difference sonically between the mellow stuff and the heavier tracks [on Showbiz]. The heavy stuff really could have been a lot heavier and that's what we want to do with [Origin of Symmetry]." Their third album, Absolution (2003), features prominent string arrangements and began to draw influences from artists such as Queen. Their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations (2006) was influenced by artists like Depeche Mode and Lightning Bolt, as well as Asian and European music such as Naples music; additionally, the band listened to radio stations from the Middle East during the album's recording sessions. Queen guitarist Brian May has praised Muse's work, calling the band "extraordinary musicians", who "let their madness show through, always a good thing in an artist."
Muse's sixth album, The 2nd Law (2012) has a broader range of influences, ranging from funk and film scores to electronica and dubstep. The 2nd Law is influenced by rock acts such as Queen and Led Zeppelin (on "Supremacy") as well as dubstep producer Skrillex and Nero (on "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" and "Follow Me", with the latter being co-produced by Nero), Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder (on "Panic Station" which features musicians who performed on Stevie Wonder's "Superstition") and Hans Zimmer. The album features two songs with lyrics written and sung by bassist Wolstenholme, who wrote about his battle with alcoholism.
Wolstenholme's basslines are a central motif of many Muse songs; the band combines bass guitar with effects and synthesisers to create overdriven fuzz bass tones. Both Bellamy and Wolstenholme use touch-screen controllers, often built into their instruments, to control synthesisers and effects including a Korg Kaoss pad or Digitech Whammy pedal.
Wolstenholme married his girlfriend Kelly on 23 December 2003. The couple have six children. In April 2010, the family moved to Foxrock, County Dublin, Ireland. In 2011, they moved to London while Muse recorded their new album. Wolstenholme remains an avid supporter of Rotherham United, his hometown football team. He holds an honorary doctorate of arts from the University of Plymouth.
Wolstenholme has had problems with alcohol. In 2010, he told the Times he had been a "raging alcoholic". In an interview with Q, he said he would drink so much he would vomit blood, but he didn't grasp the seriousness of his situation. His bandmates had tried to broach the subject of his drinking several times without success. He eventually realised that drinking would kill him, as it had his father. Bandmates Bellamy and Howard explained that it took some time for them to notice how severe Wolstenholme's problem was because it did not affect his playing ability until they began recording Muse's fifth album The Resistance, at which point he went into rehab. Wolstenholme wrote two songs, "Liquid State" and "Save Me," about his experiences with alcoholism for Muse's sixth album The 2nd Law.
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