Brian is a busy man and taking in quite a lot of radio interviews currently… He may crop up on your favourite station… but here are a few you might catch…
Queen are already one of Absolute Radio’s Top 10 most played artists
Brian May was in conversation with Leona Graham on Saturday 3rd July Midday on Absolute Classic Rock
– Album Of The Week with Danielle Perry and Absolute Radio’s Chris Martin
– Leona Graham played two songs and two Brian May clips on each of her Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 July 10AM shows (four clips and songs Total) on Absolute Radio
– More activity on Absolute 80s and Absolute Classic Rock – an hour special (full interview) with Brian May on Tuesday night 6 July at 10pm
Brian May/Leona Graham talk Queen GHits Absolute Classic Rock 06/07/21 EXT
LEONA GRAHAM: Brian May, how does it feel to be 50?
BRIAN MAY: I’d like to be just 50, Yeah. … I could wake up one morning – Oh I’m only 50. No it’s funny. We’ve sort of been avoiding the issue. The record company and everybody was saying to us, “Are you going to make a big deal of your 50th anniversary of Queen?”, and we thought really isn’t going to just remind people how old we are you know maybe we should just celebrate the fact that we’re here and we can still perform sometimes when situations allow you know and just not really do the 50th thing but I think we’ve kind of slid into it because everybody wants to talk about it including you which is fine.
LEONA: First of all, the Greatest Hits now that is 40, and this has hit many statistics – 22 times Platinum. I mean this album is massive. How does it feel to have the UK’s biggest selling album of all time?
BRIAN: It’s amazing. I have to pinch myself, I have to say. Yes it is the biggest album of all time in this country and – yeah I suppose I didn’t take it seriously for a while but it’s stayed up there for so long and it’s so far ahead of everything else. There’s some great stories about it. What’s that thing, is it – I forget where. W hat happens is there’s a guy in his car and he says every cassette which is left in a car for more than five years becomes Queen’s Greatest Hits or something. I forget where that comes from. It made me laugh.
LEONA: Well think it’s one in every four households has got the “Greatest Hits” that’s one of the statistics
BRIAN: That’s amazing, yeah.
LEONA: I mean what was it like choosing the songs for this back in 1981?
BRIAN: Well it wasn’t that difficult because it’s just the hits and it is only a 10-year period. it’s amazing that we accrued that kind of catalogue of bona fide hits. Most people’s greatest hits are like – “yeah we’ve got a couple but we’re gonna throw a few things in which are kind of, kind of could have been hits” – but this is all gold-plated chart material, so it’s easy. You just put the biggest ones in and that was it and then we went on and we did “Greatest Hits II” and “Greatest Hits III”, all of which have done great and we had the “Platinum Collection”, which is all three of them together, so it’s done amazingly well. But the “Greatest Hits I” is something very special, yeah, and every track you listen to you think. “Oh yeah”.
LEONA: Starting out what was it like? Did you always believe in the band when you were beginning?
BRIAN: You know, Leona, it’s a curious thing. There’s levels to it, I think. On the top level we were precocious boys. We thought we were better than anyone else and we thought, yeah, we just need a chance and we’ll break through and we will conquer the world. Underneath that there’s a massive insecurity because we didn’t know anyone, we had no contacts, we couldn’t get gigs because we didn’t have a record out. We couldn’t make a record because we weren’t getting the gigs. so you’re in this terrible sort of inverse Catch-22 situation where you think, “How on Earth do we do this? Is there any chance on Earth?” And you’re taking a massive jump when you actually become what my Dad used to call a “pop star”, you know, when you decide you’re going to do this thing. It’s a huge jump because the chances of you failing are enormous so you’re throwing up, you’re throwing up everything – all the chances that you have in normal life if you like, for this very small chance of breaking through as a recording artist and a touring artist and – yeah – we had great dreams, but looking back on it we weren’t prepared except musically. We had our stuff together – we had it in our heads and we had we had huge dreams. But yeah, as I say, it’s on levels because on one level, “Yes, we can do this”. On the other level you’re thinking “No, there’s no chance – we must be mad”.
LEONA: Was Freddie always the confident commanding front man from from the outset?
BRIAN: Well you see, Freddie’s different levels too, because on one level, yes, he was always a Rock Star, and if you’d seen him in Kensington Market going around sort of ‘pomming’ anyone he met and just generally – I don’t know what you call it these days – but being a flower, you know – being a very confident kind of … – I mean he behaved as if he was Robert Plant at the time and nobody minded because he just had that kind of aura about him, but underneath it, no, massive insecurities, massive shyness, which was always with him right to the end. He had a very private side to him, Freddie, and he faced up to his insecurities by building himself in the way that he wanted to be. He’s a very self-made creature is Freddie, and if you peeled off all the layers of the onion you’d find a lot of complexity, a lot of it which he denied which is smart I think. People would say you know, “Is your music important Freddie”, and he’d say, “No. It’s just tomorrow’s fish and chip paper. I don’t think my songs are worth anything”, but underneath that, yes of course he felt he had stuff to say – and also the obliqueness of some of his early lyrics. it’s very fantasy. It’s very kind of fairies and ghouls and goblins and things but underneath it, even at that time, there’s a lot of personal meaning in those lyrics I think, and that’s not something we ever talked about. We didn’t do that in Queen but i feel it very strongly. Freddie was always expressing himself in rather daring ways and inside was this rather insecure person but on the outside was a warrior that he was building himself into.
LEONA: What is it about Queen’s music that has appealed to so many generations and do you think the film has helped bring it to a new generation?
BRIAN: Yes it definitely has. There’s a lot of truth in the film. We obviously, we didn’t make the film. We were like the Uncles of the film if you like, but we spent years looking at scripts and trying to figure out how we would do Freddie justice without overblowing him and without sort of fantasising. The boys who played us were incredible.
LEONA: Amazing. Weren’t they just mind-blowingly good.
BRIAN: Rami’s outstanding and Gwilym, who played me even fooled my kids when they saw it. They said. “Oh you must have done the voice, Dad”. I went, “No no – he did that
LEONA: Even your own children!
BRIAN: Yeah it is insane, yeah, and they’ve become great friends and yeah and Graham King,, our producer was outstandingly brave in steering the whole thing through because it was very difficult. We had all kinds of problems as you probably know including a director who went off the rails, if you like.
LEONA: Yeah I mean i’ve read about it over the years and was always giving updates on my show and when it did actually come about I was like I can’t believe it’s happening now. It must have been like that for you.
BRIAN: Yeah, it was came close to not happening. It was all called off at one point and then we managed to put it back on the rails and everybody who had been effectively laid off came back and said ,“We want to make this film. We love it and we believe in it”. So it was an amazing feeling of teamwork on that, film apart from the boys and the actors and the people that you see.
I think we owe a lot also to the writers – Peter Morgan wrote the first draft. Peter Morgan as known, the writer and producer of “The Crown”, who’s an amazing talent and he cracked in my opinion, he cracked what the meaning of the film was. He said this is a film about family. The group is like a family. It is a family and the story is that Freddie is that member that family who feels a little bit constrained by the family – has to get out and prove himself – flex his muscles. When he gets out and has basically rejected the family, he finds actually he does want the family. He wants to go back in and he doesn’t know how to get back in and eventually the family does come back together. He said that’s the story of your film and I think he’s right.
LEONA: What’s your favourite one off that album?
BRIAN: Oh it’s very – do you know … I don’t know if I do have favourites. I mean if I was being very kind of
allowing myself to be partisan, probably ‘We Will Rock You’, because it sort of says everything in a short time and it’s something which has always worked for us. It had to battle its way through to even be on there because that’s one of the questionable things you could say well it wasn’t like a number one hit in the UK. No it wasn’t – it was on the B-side of ‘We Are The Champions’, but mostly around the world both tracks were radio singles and did very well and ‘We Will Rock You’ was I think a bona fide a number one in in France, which is nice, but yeah you could say, but ‘We Will Rock You’ has been with us for so long and has done so much for us then I suppose. And it says a lot about what I had to say at the time. It says a lot I think still about Humanity – [Over music] the way I see it anyway. So yeah, okay ‘We Will Rock You’.
LEONA: That’s a good choice. That’s an excellent choice. Which songs were hits that you didn’t expect and which went the opposite way?
BRIAN: Ah interesting. Well every time we made an album it was an album. It was a piece. That was the way things were in those days. We didn’t just make tracks. We were conscious that we were trying to build an album which people could put on and listen to from beginning to end and have some kind of journey. In those days it was … there were two sides to it, so you listened to the first side, then you turned your vinyl over and listen to the second side. So we were very conscious of that and when it comes to taking a single of it, which is of course the flagship of the whole thing, and that’s where you’re going to get your radio play, it was always difficult. because you unbalance the whole thing as one track becomes massive around the world – becomes stitched into people’s lives and the rest of tracks don’t and that can be disappointing, especially if you wrote those tracks, because the tracks you wrote are your babies you. So, for instance, like ‘Long Away’, `I always thought was a single and I thought it was. It actually was released some place as a single – I think, in the Outer Hebrides, I don’t know. Buy basically it didn’t become a middle of the… a mainstream single, so people don’t really know it and I would like it if they had. I would like it if that was part of people’s lives along the way. And now people often say to me , “Wasn’t that a single ? Shouldn’t it have been a single”, and I went, “Well it just didn’t happen because other things happened”.
MORE: Credit ABSOLUTE CLASSIC ROCK