Interviews: Brian May: High Voltage Magazine '93
Typed by Pauly Dinuzzo
Back To The Light With Brian May
Name: Brian May. Born: July 19, 1947, Hampton, England. Education: Honors Degree in mathematics and physics. Occupational Objective: To be an astronomer. Actual Employment: Guitarist for Queen by Aimee Kristi
What can one say about Brian May? His career as a guitarist and songwriter with the legendary Queen pretty much speaks for itself. As a musician and a guitarist, May is a virtuoso whose brilliance, technique and playing ability is untouched by his peers. No less than Jeff Beck has been quoted as saying, "Brian is the best pop music-oriented guitarist there is. Everybody like to copy his licks, or at least try to. I wish they can say the same of me."
Brian has just released his solo album Back To The Light. But don't get the idea that Brian has been "in the dark" since the death of frontman Freddie Mercury-actually this album has been in the works since 1988. "I laid down the first track in England five years ago," he says, "and I've been battling with this album ever since."
As to why Brian began doing a solo album, he explains, "For me, this album was a sort of divide, a crossroads. In the beginning, I wanted to get back to basics and make an album on my own just to see what would happen. Now in the end, I've put out something because I actually do have something to say, and that it's worth saying. Over these five years, my life and feelings underwent a catastrophic change, and the music throughout this record reflects the entire process."
Not only is the sound and style known uniquely as being May's apparent on Back To The Light, but a touch of personal emotion is obvious as well. "This isn't a 'guitar virtuoso' album," he says. "It's an album of songs designed to feature a lot of guitar"
Brian was born in a town a few miles outside London. His father taught him to play the ukulele and banjo as a child. He then moved on to piano, but found the guitar to be the most flexible and expressive instrument for him. Unable to find a guitar that had the feedback qualities he wanted, he decided to build one of his own. With the help of his father (and a 120-year old piecment's neck), he came up with the guitar which contained features that are now considered standard today. And now Guild Guitars manufactures a Brian May model built to his specifications!
In 1964, May forms his first band, and by 1969 was in a band called Smile which included drummer Roger Taylor. Smile signed a deal with Mercury records. Soon after, they met vocalist Freddie Bulsara. He changed his stage name to Freddie Mercury and suggested the band change its name to Queen. Bassist John Deacon completed the lineup and it goes without saying that the rest is history.
Presently, Brian is supporting Back To The Light by touring with Guns'N'Roses. His backing band consists of Cozy Powell on drums, Neil Murray on bass, Mike Caswell on guitar (since changed to Jamie Moses), and Spike Edney on keyboards. Brian says, "The frustration I have had in not playing live has been ENORMOUS! It's been six years since Queen was last out on the road and there is nothing in the world like it. I feel an UNBELIEVABLE urge to get out there and play live!"
He explains the album's title: “First, there's total blackness, and then there's light at the end of the tunnel, and points where you see inspiration in someone else's life. If the album is appreciated by people who are into what I'm into, then that will be enough. Everything else will be a bonus."
Now Brian has embarked on what may well be a new chapter in his life and musical career. Throughout a "reign" with Queen an inspiration for rock and doubtless continue make his mark as an inspiration for rock and rollers for generations to come.