Interviews: Queen: Popcorn Magazine '81
Popcorn, Munich, June 1981
On stage, Roger Taylor is hidden behind his giant drum set. Now he stepped into the limelight as the first member of Queen with a solo-LP. POPCORN spoke to Roger Taylor in Munich.
Roger, with "Fun In Space" you just brought out a solo-LP. Why this "ego-trip"?
ROGER: I've written so many songs lately that it was impossible to put them all on a Queen LP. A solo album was the only solution.
How did Freddie, Brian and John react to your "solo run"?
ROGER: They liked the idea so much that they probably soon will do something like that, too. But before that there is a new Queen album to make which we are working on right now again.
You produced this album in Munich again. What is so fascinating about this town?
ROGER: Actually, everything. The studio is fantastic, the people are okay and if you're free you can have a lot of fun. We love the beer-gardens and go to disco often. Munich's club "Shugar Shack" is the hottest disco of the world. We love it so much that we donated a Gold disc to the club that now hangs on the wall beside the bar.
Have you planned something special for the new album?
ROGER: We don't have a concept. Most of the new songs are already written, but the various sound effects and styles are developed step by step in the studio. When the album is done we will for sure go on tour again. And we want develope a completely new kind of show for that.
Will you go on tour on your own soon?
ROGER: No, never. First Queen to me is more important than my solo career, and second working with the band preoccoupies me so much that I would have no time for a tour on my own.
You've done without management as Queen for quite a while. How does it work?
ROGER: Very well. We sign contracts as we want it and aren't dictated as artists. Since we have no manager anymore it started to be fun!
Do you have a boss within the band?
ROGER: God heavens, no! We share the tasks and talk about everything.
Who does what?
ROGER: John is mainly responsible for the financial things, Brian for organisation and I'm a "maid-of-all". Public relations, cover design and tour problems.
And what does Freddie do?
ROGER: Freddie is completely the artist's type. He does not care at all about money or organisation. Freddie is responsible for the show only.
Are there disagreements?
ROGER: Not really. We are very different types and therefore complement each other perfectly. This is also to be seen in our songs. John, for instance, is a great fan of funk, jazz and blues. Brian loves the opposite. His most beloved music is hardrock. Freddie adds a tendency towards classics, and I experiment with New Wave. Nevertheless we are musically a unity.
You belong to the most successful band of all. If you like Queen achieved everything aren't you becoming tired of success?
ROGER: On the contrary. Success gives us more artistic freedom. We have not to rely on hits anymore and can do what we really want to. If we make an album or go on tour we do it for pure fun.
On your new album you play all the instruments yourself. Why didn't you get help from your colleagues?
ROGER: For several reasons. First I spared long explanations about how I want the songs to be. The more, I wanted to prove that I am very versatile. In the end I don't want to spend my whole life behind the drums. There are enough other drummers who showed that solo albums are not only a thing of guitarists, singers and keyboarders.
Your LP is extremely versatile, the styles vary from Rhythm & Blues to synthesizers medleys....
ROGER: Yes, that is in my eyes the only thing critics could reproach me for. But at my first solo album I simply had an itch to show my whole bandwidth. The second album will for sure be more consistent and head towards new wave.
Your voice resembles Rod Stewart's. Do you think the same?
ROGER: It's true that it sounds a bit like sandpaper. I'm not offended if people think on Rod. I like Rod and know him quite well privately, too!
What is the meaning of the monster on the cover?
ROGER: It's called Ernie and derives from an american comic series. I liked the little beast so much that I use it as an identification.
What do you do in your spare time?
ROGER: Music is hobby and job at once. If actually I am at home and have nothing to do, my life is much less exciting than people expect from a rockstar - I watch TV or read books. That's it more or less.
On stage Brian May, the musical driving force of Queen, appears shy and introvert. POPCOM-chief editor Gerald Buchelmaler talked in one of the few interviews in London with the guitar genius about Queen's future plans, rock business and general and very personal aspects.
It is easier to get an interview with the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart or other top stars than with Queen. Why are you so much against press?
BRIAN: This talk is the best proof against it - but seriously: We simply think that all what we have to say as a rockband is said on our albums or in our concerts. We are musicians, not more and not less. Classical musicians are hardly asked about their private lifes or political opinions? Why should they? By the way, we don't give any interviews to english journalists because they simply are unfair. They are polite at the interview and the article afterwards is as a rule a slap in the face.
On stage you appear distant and without emotions. Is this impression correct?
BRIAN: On stage I'm very concentrated and anyway I'm very restrained, you could also call it shy. At the start of our career I had stomach aches before bigger gigs and nightmares afterwards. The nervousness sank with growing routine, but I still feel somehow uneasy at the sight of hysterical masses.
Then why are you still on tour so often?
BRIAN: With 100 to 150 concerts a year we are one of the busiest band of all. Even if I spoke about negative aspects to me there is still nothing as satisfying for a musician than to be on stage. We are looked after on tour by a huge staff and cared for like babies (laughs). Everything is organized so well that we really have only to care for a good show each evening. But if you have not yet this status, tours are the most murderous things on earth - physically and mentally. Whoever experienced this must understand why so many bands dump into alcohol and drugs.
How about that with Queen?
BRIAN: Not even in our difficult first years it was no issue. Of course we all have a glas from time to time - that is Freddie and John are nearly hundred percent teetotallers. But I only allow it myself if I have not to work. People think as rockstar you have no responsibility and can do whatever you want. But the opposite is true. If you want to stand our life - a mixture of circus and army - you have to have a very strong self discipline. As a life band we have a very good reputation, and one of the reason is that we are always fit and can give best quality to our fans.
About fans - how do you see them?
BRIAN: Who watches our fans during a concert may think it is a colourless uncritical mass. I think different because with our multilayered music and the often harsh changes of style - for instance from ""Crazy Little Thing Called Love" to "Flash" - we surely attract people with a wide range in taste. There is hardly another band who asks as much from its audience as we do.