Interview by Brain May and Roger Taylor, Munich, 1982.
(DVD “Queen on fire. Live at the Bowl”).
Age rating: 12+.
J. – Journalist.
B.M. – Brian May.
R.T. – Roger Taylor.
J.: OK, can you tell us how content are you so far with the tour and how it’s going? So far what are your impressions?
B.M.: It’s been very good. We can’t wait to get to Vienna . We will be hot when we get to Vienna . So watch out. It’s very good. We sold loads of tickets and we’ve had not many complaints. It’s been good. Very hot.
R.T.: Yes, we have a new light show, which will be interesting. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Vienna , and you’ve missed a couple of our last light shows but this one is the best one we’ve had so far. We’re still working it in. By the time we get there it should be working well.
J.: Very impressing. Can you tell us how long you basically work on the preparation before you put the stage show together like that?
R.T.: About three minutes.
No, actually there’s a lot of planning on the technical stages first and we see drawings, which we think, “That’ll be good,” and then they make models of the lights and things, which we like, and we work on it with our tour manager, Gerry Stickells. Then they build the things when we get to rehearsals and we try them out and see if they work.
B.M.: They’re still being modified now because when it was built there were so many degrees of freedom no one could really control it. They’re like animals almost. They had to modify the circuitry to make it so one guy could actually control them a bit better. But they’re very challenging because they can interact with the performers. We’re just getting used to them, as Roger says. It takes a while for us to get used to them.
R.T.: Cos it’s not standard equipment, we had it specially designed for us. These are the only ones that exist so it’s quite interesting to work with new kinds of lighting.
J.: It’s now officially the tenth year of the band. Do you think that nowadays it’s very difficult to stay together for such a long time as a band?
R.T.: Yes (laughs).
B.M.: It is hard, yes. It’s very essential to stay together, the first essential of being a successful group is you have to stay together. It sounds stupid but a lot of people forget. Some people get to a certain point and think they can do it on their own, and you can’t. The only way we manage to stay together is to keep the balance between us and know when to leave each other alone. We’re four very different people and that becomes more apparent as time goes on. So we just back off each other and let each other head in certain directions.
R.T.: It’s a good question in a way because it’s a very simple but basic truth that a lot of bands don’t realize, and they let their egos run away, and after some success they think, “I’m too good for the group,” and they go off and leave and break up, you know? And it’s very important not to do that, and very few bands manage to stick together for a long time. It’s a good thing, really.
J.: You think maybe also the way that bands are together changed a little bit, Iike, maybe ten years ago you were together all the time and nowadays it’s more like meeting each other for recording and preparation, and then everybody has time off. Is it more that the image of the band or the way the band works changed a little bit to the ‘60s?
R.T.: That’s difficult, cos when we started off we were virtually living together but now we’re working, and we weren’t working back then much cos nobody wanted us. But now obviously we don’t live together, we all live separately, but we’re working so much we see almost as much of each other as we did in the early days. So it’s different but we still see as much of each other. It’s quite sickening actually.
B.M.: It’s disgusting.
J.: Can you tell us about your new album Hot Space? It will be out very soon in the market. After having heard it once we can say that it is, again, different. Do you think it’s something characteristic about your band that you’re not always continuing the way it was on the last album? Can you tell us something about that?
B.M.: We do feel…we tend to get bored with what we’re doing before everyone else does, which is a good thing, so having done a particular kind of music we tend to say, “OK, done. Let’s try something different.” And for this album we had a lot of time. We gave ourselves nine months to do it in, and during that time we recorded many more songs than we needed and threw out everything which sounded like we’d done it before, so everything is very different. Some people will be quite shocked.
R.T.: Not all of it.
R.T.: Some things…
B.M.: It is!
R.T.: Shut up. There are the odd things which go back a bit.
R.T.: …which is not all brand-new, but a lot is very different for us.
Would you agree?
B.M.: Yeah. Sorry, what was the question (laughs)? The tour, yeah (smiles). The tours stay exactly the same, only better (laughs).
J.: We just interviewed Mack…
R.T.: Who? Mack…
J.: …who was working with you for a long time, for some time now. What’s your impression of him?
B.M.: He’s German. He’s very excellent. He was a big shot in the arm for us in the studio because we’d got to the stage where we thought we knew it all, after, what, eight years? We had our own methods of doing things, making things. The music was changing but the sound was a little bit static and Mack changed everything. He said, “We can try it a different way.” And we had a little bit of friction, it was hard to work at first, but having got over the initial stages, we now have a bigger scope and get much better sound.
R.T.: Yeah, it’s fantastic actually. He taught us a good way of being simple again, if you know what I mean, and using the studio more efficiently. We really have a very good working relationship. He’s a very patient man.
B.M.: He’s very good. He’s probably the best guy… He has the best drum sounds in the world. He has really a new technique with drums.
R.T.: Yeah, very good.
B.M.: It just sort of happens. Or it appears to, although…
R.T.: Everybody else uses 12 microphones, Mack will use four microphones and get a better sound, which must be good.
J.: So do you think there’s something like also the sound engineer has a creative…?
R.T.: Yes, definitely.
He thinks the same as us as well now. We think very much alike.
B.M.: Yes, we’ve become a good unit. In fact, listening to our old records, the sound sounds old-fashioned, compared to what we’re doing now. A lot of the standard American way to record groups sounds old-fashioned to us now.
B.M.: There’s a better way of doing it. Everything doesn’t have to be made over-sharp – things can cut though with their natural sound. Sounds like bullshit, but it works. It’s very simple and it sounds good. What more can you say?
R.T.: Weltmeister Mack.
J.: Do you prefer working in the studio or being on the road? What appeals to you better?
B.M.: Being on the road.
R.T.: Yeah, me also, being on the road. If it’s going good, you know. It gets very boring and very tiring. You can see we’re very flushed and tired at the moment. It is tiring on the road, but it’s more fun because it’s more stimulating, you get more feedback. The studio is long periods of boredom and then short periods of excitement when you’ve done something good. So much work goes into each small thing. It’s difficult.
J.: Do you have difficulties bringing the studio sound on stage?
R.T.: Yeah, always.
J.: How do you work with that?
R.T.: We don’t really do that, do we?
B.M.: No, we always said that we don’t want to recreate the records on stage. We want the stage to be an experience in itself. The songs are the same but if they seem to demand a different treatment on stage, then they get one. We’ve made one concession on this tour – we have a keyboard player, helping out the backline, filling in some parts which we couldn’t do, and that’s helped a little bit. But generally speaking, if you recreate a record on stage and nothing else, we think that’s hardly worth doing because you might as well just play the tapes through the PA. So we like to make the stage performance special, never seen again.
R.T.: It’s a different medium, and has to be treated differently cos the stage should be an exciting experience, Well, for us we feel it should be an exciting visual and audio experience. To go on and try and sound exactly like the records is a mistake, so we don’t try and do that. We try and get some good feeling and atmosphere and excitement and ambience, I suppose is…
J.: Good let out.
R.T.: It’s a different approach.
J.: Do you think that the visual part gets more and more important?
B.M.: Not more and more important really.
R.T.: No more than it ever has been. It’s always been important that people have spent a long time getting it right.
B.M.: We always thought it was. When we started, it was unfashionable to think that way, and then it became fashionable, then with punk and new wave it became unfashionable, and now it’s fashionable again. These things go in cycles, do they not?
Text by Shmanich.