Interviews: Brian May: Musica Magazine '98
Brian May, A World Apart by Tiziano Toniutti
(Transcript by Emanuele Blanco)
Queen ex-guitarist talks us about his second solo record, "Another World". "I don't feel like a living museum, but I still follow my style. Melody, voice and arrangement are always most important than guitar parts"
In the immense Queen production, Brian May's songs are surely the most epic and the most emphatic ones, whether they are crash-mountains hymns like "We Will Rock You" or ballads with eroic breath like "Who Wants To Live Forever". But more that songwriter, we look at Mr. May like the reference guitarist for at least two generations of rocker. His famous homemade guitar (the Red Special), still in activity after 30 years of service, is still easy recognisable in the immense rock scene. His second solo record, "Another World", will be released in these days.
TT - Today Brian May feels itself more like a songwriter or like a guitarist?
BHM - Surely I like a lot playing the guitar, but the most important thing is the context where guitar moves. If we talk about song, I've very strong ideas. In an ideal order, at first place there's the melody, at the second who sings it, at the third the arrangement and only after this the guitar. The singer is very important, because you can have perfect other elements, but if there isn't a good voice that will unite them, the song doesn't work. I like to sing and I've spent a lot of my time in exercises. Unfortunately, I've no longer Freddie with me.
TT - This and other elements, the time, relationship time, can change approach to write.
BHM - The principal difference it's that, instead when I was with Queen, where I didn't talk with my voice but with a voice that must be accepted by others members, now I'm much free. With Queen I've been very lucky, we worked very well together. In same ways, actual situation it's excellent because I can have a total expression. In others ways it's hard, because compared to when I was in the group, I don't have same immediate relationship that I had with Queen, perhaps when talking about a my bit, Roger said "you can't do this" and Freddie instead said "very good, Brian, very good". But doing something of strictly personal it's a great thing.
TT - New album has a live sound, very direct.
BHM - My concept of a live event is the possibility that can happen everything, without notice. From this point arrive all excitation and energies of the case. You can make mistakes, you can stop in the middle of a song, begin again, improvise. Make your own sound much modern isn't a crime, the important thing is keeping your own style. I'm not a living museum, I like to keep a contact with the things that happen outside my musical vision, without having any fears if my record doesn't look trendy. I can understand what teenagers find interesting in Prodigy, I can understand why my daughter likes Backstreet Boys, without having the same sound.
TT - "Business", on the new record, is an example of a classic rock song with melodic openings, the ideal for a single. The drums work by Cozy Powell, recently died in a car crash, it's much evident.
BHM - What happened to Cozy it's terrible. The only consolation is knowing that he hasn't suffered. He died brutally. He was a great friend, and in the last days of record making he waited the tour, he wanted to play live this songs with all his power.
TT - "Another World" is also the title of one of the most beautiful videogames of the computer history, and on the new album there's a song, "Cyborg" that describes a typically videogame space. And we looked at "Queen: The Eye", a 3D videogame that permits you to explore Queen world.
BHM - Cyborg started, effectively, like an ideal soundtrack for a videogame. Then began to matter some much interesting for me, something much deep. I adore Asimov, and I began thinking that song like a mental vision of the robot. In this work, must important thing is that I achieved to condense more ideas than in the past, making more solid songs. "Back To The Light" was a transition album, placed in a very defined moment. This time I worked aware of what I want to do with all other musicians.
TT - There are also some covers, among the others a song rather dark of Hendrix, "One Rainy Wish".
BHM - I chose intentionally a song already with a little finishing touch. That song was the description of a Jimi's dream, his exact transposition in words and music. I remained fascinated by the text, by the widely of his oniric and sonor vision. There's really the vision of another world ... the record represents, in my intentions, the fight and the travel outside and inside ourselves, that we need to arrive to that better world.
TELESCOPE AND GUITAR
Aware of astronomic sciences since he was a baby, in the life of Brian May, an excellent student class 1947, there was at one point the possibility to begin a real astronomic man, nearly to become a important man of the field, after the degree in Mathematics and Physics. But with this hobby, Brian has the one of music, and near the telescope there was always a instrument, whether it was an ukulele, a banjo, a piano or the dear guitar.