Interviews: Brian May: Sydney Sun Herald '98
Queen's guitar genius invites us into Another World
(Sydney Sun Herald, August 2, 1998)
The man who wrote We Will Rock You and provided inspiration for thousand of budding guitar gods with his brilliant and outrageous six-string soloing on Bohemian Rhapsody may not have anything to prove to his fans, yet former Queen axe hero Brian May isnít so sure he has completely satisfied himself.
Quite apt really, for the gent who also penned Queen's I Want It All.
" I guess I need to prove to myself that I'm alive and kicking and productive and that I have something to say," says the friendly, poodle-haired resident of Surrey, England. " I feel inside that I do have something to say, but I have to prove to myself that I can still hack it as regards getting it on tape."
Hence the recent arrival of Mayís second solo album, Another World.
A party record with a few quieter, introspective moments, it sounds at times like Bon Jovi backing Foreigner's Lou Gramm.
While many readers will be feeling unwell at the mere thought of such a pairing, the fact is May's first solo instalment - 1991s Back To The Light sold more than a million copies around the world.
For May, Another World was a project that underwent rigorous writing, recording, rewriting and re-recording for no less than three years.
"It's worse than that, it's probably been six years," he says. "There's a lot of life in the way, and there's a lot of other projects, one of which was Queen's Made In Heaven. That was a monstrous project which took about two years because we were dealing with scraps and it was a major job to to piece it together, to make it sound like it was a band in full flight in the studio. I also do a lot of other stuff. I've consciously gone out and got into the world. Queen, although it took us around and was a wonderful vehicle, was a very restrictive thing in some ways, we didn't get the chance to work with anyone else, it was so consuming. Nowadays I can get Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters to play drums, I can get out and play with Jeff Beck, I can get up with (Joe) Satriani and Steve Vai. Life is full of opportunities like that, so I was determined I was going to see them rather than just sit in the studio and be a dull boy."
On the album sleeve May credits one person "for sharing the unreality I live in". One can't help but wonder in which parallel universe May exists, and what it's like over there.
" I live in some weird place," says May with a laugh.
But how does he know the rest of us aren't there too?
" I hope you are. That's exactly what I think, everybody is. I was thrilled with the song Another World, because it sums up the way I feel and Iíve come to realise it sums up the way a lot of other people feel. So many people are dissatisfied with their lives, but perhaps can't quite find the right bridge to the life they want. I get glimpses of it, I get these great visions and then the bridges fall down. I think you can always hope for better, and sometimes I think itís good to be lateral with your thinking. If you can't go through the wall, it's good to go someplace else and see if there's another place you can get through."
Musically, most of Another World, with its emphasis in chugging rock boogie and guitar noodlings, belongs to another time, another place. While expressing limited praise for techno and hip hop, Brian May finds himself keeping up with what goes on in those other spheres by the volume of requests through his lettterbox each week asking for permission to sample bits and pieces of Queen songs.
" I like the sounds used by The Prodigy, but the truth is I don't like a lot of it," he says. "To me it's machines and it's so repetitive that my brain turns off. As for rap, I like a small percentage. I hate the sexist and racist stuff, I find it obnoxious and I donít want any part of it. I get tapes in the post of people who want to make rap songs out of We Will Rock You, and they have the most objectionable words in them. We get a number of requests every week and we give permission if we like them - which is almost always."
Brian May's Another World is out now through EMI. He plans to tour Australia late this year or early next year.