WILL ROCK YOU (MELBOURNE)
Wilbur Wilde's Classic Cafe at lunchtime, Brisbane Radio 4KQ, 20
Note: This snippet was probably recorded in March 2003
First it's 6 to 7. I'd like to welcome now into the cage - here in town for the auditions for their new stage musical, We Will Rock You, co-written by Ben Elton, will you please welcome from Queen, legends Brian May and Roger Taylor.
Thank you thank you. You're in the business right now of auditioning people for the musical you've written with Ben Elton, yes, We Will Rock You.
Brian: That's right
Note: The show has 5 presenters. Where it was unclear which of them was speaking . denoted as "P:" in the transcript, comments in italics.
It was fun to see the guys live in Oz.
Presenter: We have promised rock gods and people might be aware, of course, that two guys from Queen, Roger Taylor and Brian May, are putting together a musical called We Will Rock You. We've got a little bit of it here: let's have a look.
(clip from show in London)
Well - you couldn't see us, but were were all going [Clap clap clap - clap clap clap...] but that can't go on forever because we want to meet the guys who made the music. Please welcome Roger Taylor and Brian May from Queen!
(Much shouting and cheering from the live audience)
Welcome, welcome, welcome...
Greg: I'll tell you what - this is absolutely - this is absolutely true - now I didn't expect to have this sensation at all but, ya know, I think, 'I'm going to meet a couple of guys from Queen - that's pretty cool...' and then all of a sudden I see a couple of faces - and I go, OMIGOD!! I can see these full faces IT'S HIM. It's kinda weird!
Brian (dryly): We didn't change a bit, did we...
Tracy: I gotta tell you - they were on the plane when I was flying up from Sydney today I was just tuned up (strangling sound) and this finally...(indeciperable interruption)... yeah, I was, I was - you aren't suppose to meet your heroes...and I spoke to Roger, so it didn't matter...
P: The thing is, you *haven't* changed a bit - I know, just looking at your hair...
Brian: Oh really well.... the hair's still there - just about...
Tracy: Now can I ask you...
Brian: The face is gone but...
Tracy: Can I you - I know you want to talk about the musical but I've been dying to know this - you went to Lisa Minelli and David Gest's wedding, didn't you?
Brian: I performed!
Tracy: How freaky was that?? How freaky are they!!??
Brian: It was... (chuckles) it was *great* actually.
P: They're great personal friends.
Tracy: No they're not, no they're not - because they invited everyone.
Brian (laughing): Oh, is that right!? (laughter, interruptions...)
Brian: I've known Liza quite a long time. I haven't known David very long but it was great playing there because it was just a great succession of unbelievably big stars that I never expected to see in my life - you know - from the age of 100 downwards...
Peter: Do you...
Brian: I was the youngest there!
Peter: Do you get awe struck when you meet stars? You call them 'big stars' but to everyone here you guys - you guys are 'Queen', you know - you wrote Bohemian Rhapsody - you wrote the greatest song of all time, so do you...(interruption of much cheering and clapping from the audience) [Off-side comment that sounded like 'I dunno, they're all Ian Campbell fans...']
Brian: Well, actually Freddie wrote it... neither of us can take credit for it... we helped a bit...
Greg: But that's a good point though - 'cause you guys are the only band in the world where all the members have written a Number One single. Is that true?
Brian: Apparently so...
Roger: So Elton keeps telling us...
P: Sorry to interrupt you Trace, but Ben Elton is one of the reasons you're here...
Brian: If he were here you wouldn't get a word in edgewise...
P: Probably not...none of us would...We Will Rock You - he's written it - what's Robert de Niro got to do with it?
Brian: Well he's kind of the Godfather of the project. We don't see him that often, but when he comes down he has a lot to say and basically the creative front is... Roger, myself and Ben - Ben is - is - a powerhouse of ideas - incredible - and it's thanks to his brilliant script that we're actually on there. And we will be on in Melbourne!
Peter: You actually had a number of scripts on the table because Ben wasn't the first to come to you with a project because your songs lend themselves to a very theatrical setting. But he wasn't the first person to come along with a script... so what turned you on to a guy who said, 'Righto, it's set in GaGa Land - at what point didn't you go, 'Next!'?
Roger: Well, we didn't want to do a biography. We didn't want to see us up there - I mean we wanted to do something more interesting with it. And Ben - he's sort of English, he understood us and our humour, and also he's a great writer and a very good director so he - we were flattered when he came up with a great idea.
P: How did he manage to get Bohemian Rhapsody into the musical?
Brian: Well that's the trick...
Roger: It's a trick..
Brian: You'll - you will have to wait 'till you see it (sounds of disappointment from everyone) - well, it's a surprise!
Roger: We don't know what it means anyway so...
Brian: That's the great thing you see...
P: That's the great claim - you guys haven't worked it out or you won't reveal what it's all about? (Babble all around)
Brian: We're keeping schtum...
Tracy: Where did all the names like Scaramouche and Gallileo and all those names come from in this song? Were you on serious drugs when you wrote it? (laughter)
Brian: As I say, we don't take the blame - but they're...
Tracy: Oh that's all right. Freddie's dead. Blame him!
Brian: Yes. It's great. No one can ask him what it means which is wonderful. But they're historical characters which were kind of woven into his little script...
Greg: Now all your songs, most of your songs, are through the show - like Killer Queen - right through..
Brian: Most of the big hits you'll find in there. Well, actually half of the big hits - we've got a sequel...
Tracy: Well you left out 27 apparently...I mean that's a lot to leave out... (Babble)
Brian: There's about 85 in there, though, so we're fine...
P: Actually now casting for the Australian...
Roger: We've actually cast it...
Tracy: Awwww - we all wanted to be in it...
Roger: It's fantastic, it's been great...
Peter: So you don't want to hear my version of anything...(pretending to take something out of his pocket...)
P: Can I ask you? We're just going to have a look at some footage
of Freddie if we can - I think we have some here now... this - I
want to know who've you auditioned for this particular scene. (Opens
on Freddie facing the camera in I Want To Break Free')
Brian: Yeah...it's a frightening sight, isn't it?
P: Do you - it's a fantastic sight, isn't it? Do you - (all admire Roger, Brian and John in various closeups from video)
Roger: That was the most fun we ever had making a video - we hated makin' em.
Greg: But it's such a famous one - when you think of some of the famous videos of all time - there's that one, there's probably the Dire Straits Money For Nothing - that first sort of video one - do you miss that fun, though? Do you wish you could still be in a band making videos and mucking about?
Brian: We kind of still are in a band strangely enough, even though we both protested hugely. We find ourselves sort of wearing the Queen hat again and enjoying it.
Roger: We play every time - every 50 years for the Queen's friends...
P: Well you did do the...
Tracy:That mush have been amazing, your playing on top of Buckingham Palace..
Brian: I was well scared...
Greg: Did anyone go 'Queen's the roof of Buckingham Palace...will nobody catch her...'
Tracy: And why was it scary?
Brian: It wasn't scary because of falling off - it was of how big a screw up you could make and how everyone would know if you couldn't play God Save the Queen.
Peter: Did the Queen stage dive?
(Babble babble - the mosh pit...)
Tracy: What was the food like? Did they have great food?
Brian: On the roof?
Tracy: No at the Jubilee thingy? (Brian laughs at Tracy) Was it massive and really lavish?
Brian: Yeah - pretty good food. It was well taken care of...We got to walk on the lawn with the corgies and everything. It was good!
Tracy: I hate corgies...
P:Well you wouldn't want to walk on the lawn if the corgis had been there...
Brian: There's a lot of poo there.. you've gotta be very careful...
Roger: Actually, we were told not to touch the corgies - I think they thought they were going to catch something off us...
(Babble - comments about the Queen picking of poo with a red velvet bag tied to the dogs' leads.)
P: Listen guys, we want to thank you so much for coming along...
Greg: So when does it start...
Roger: August the 7th - the launch is in Melbourne.. comes to Sydney.
Peter: Are you coming back out for the big opening night and the red carpet?
Brian: We'll be out here before that because we'll be doing rehearsals.
Tracy: Are you pleased with the Aussie talent?
Brian: The Aussie talent is incredible. You won't believe this cast. You will not believe the Killer Queen and the Galileo guy we found. They're outrageously good...
P: Well hopefully there's no room for Nicky Webster...
(Brian looks bemused.)
[She was the little girl who 'flew' at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2001. Jokes about her are very old and done to death.]
Brian confirms that WWRY is still running in the UK.
P:Let's hear it for Roger Taylor and Brian May.
Transcript: Meredith Chesterton -with thanks.
One of the panel had been on the flight up from Melbourne to Sydney, mentioned you are not supposed to meet your heroes and B said she was too frightned to talk to him(!!!) she then said that she spoke to Roger anyway.
Briefly they talked about all the usual stuff...
At the very end of the show, the one of the panel and another guest performed a karaoke "version" of Bo Rhap... Brian and Roger along with other guests sitting with audience. listening - Roger with hands over ears (looks on their faces said it all - AWFUL!!)
Source: 7 Network http://thechatroom.com.au / FR
Ed... more detail to follow
With thanks to Brian May for sending the visuals
MP3 will be restored soon
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On Friday March 14, Brian May was a guest of the NOVA Breakfast Show team, Dave Hughes, Kate Langbroek and Dave O’Neil at Melbourne Radio station Nova FM 100.3.
Dave: We have a legend in the studio…
Kate: We have!!
Dave: Brian May from Queen is with us.
Dave: Yay!!! (sound of clapping) Thanks for coming in Brian.
Dave: Here to tell us about Queen the musical (Introducing themselves) I’m Dave, Dave and Kate
Brian: I’m very happy to be here.
Kate: You know Mr May; we thought that this would not really happen.
Brian: Why’s that?
Kate: Because, well very often…
Kate: when people are of a certain stature, such as yourself….
Brian: They can’t get up in the morning.
Kate: (incredulously) Yes!! What happened?
DH: Exactly! Rock’n’Rollers.
Brian: It was not, not easy, I just didn’t go to bed, you know.
Kate: No, that’s right. Rock’n’Roll style.
DH: Brian, you sound like a very gentle man?
Brian: I’m very gentle, most times, yeah.
Kate: And quite cultured
Brian: Ahhm, I don’t know, you’re, you’re very kind. Wadda you want?
Kate: (giggling) I think it’s your hair,
Brian: Wadda you want out of me? (laughs)
Kate: ……….with your hair, your long curly hair.
Brian: (sounding very suspicious) Ummmm?
Kate: and your cultured manner, you remind me a bit of Geoffrey Rush, in that film…
Brian: (understanding now) Ahhhhh…
Kate: you know, where he was playing the madman.
Brian: Ah no, yeah, I could have done that, yeah I could have.
Kate: Yeah, what was it?
Dave : Quills
Kate: yeah, Quills, Quills.
Brian: Very good film actually, yeah
Kate: Yes, very good film. You remind me a little of him, before he started writing on the walls in poo.
Dave: You remind me…
Kate: not at that point!
Dave: You’re better looking than him I must say
Brian: (resigned to being teased but amused) Thank you so much, I should come here every morning and just have a nice time.
Dave: Get compliments.
Brian: get complimented, thank you.
Dave: We’re going to talk to Brian more, believe it or not after this song………………..
Kate: I thought it was Brian May?
(laughter – Jamiroqoui track plays)
Dave: NOVA100) music with Jamiroquoi there but hey he’s alright but he’s no Brian May from Queen and that’s whose with us at the moment and we’ll talk to him further after this on NOVA……………… Nova 100 that’s Brian May just saying he can hear now………..
Dave: That’s good
Dave: ………. he can hear. What do you feel like when do you hear your songs on the radio? ‘Cos I was just looking at the song list for the musical, that is the Queen musical, We Will Rock You, which opens in August , like songs like Radio GaGa, I Want To Break Free, Under Pressure, We Will Rock You…
Kate: Is We Are The Champions in there?
Dave: Yeah, We Are The Champions
Brian: Oh yeah, most of the stuff you would want to hear is in there, yeah.
Dave: But when you hear it on the radio, what do you feel like, does it make you feel good?
Brian: Still feel very good, it sort of just makes you just feel current. I mean we should be so lucky, that after all these years people still want to play our records. Yeah, I love it.
Dave: Do you feel better, ‘cos you penned not all those songs, but a number of them yeah, do you feel better when you hear one of the ones you wrote?
Brian: Oh yeah, oh yeah
Dave: ‘Cos that means more money.
Brian: Ah yeah, your songs are always your favourites, you know, and you stick up and you’d die for them. (Chuckles)
Kate: And when you hear your songs on the radio, does it take you back, does it like take you to a moment?
Brian: Sometimes it does..
Kate: To like the moment of writing, recording
Brian: .. sometimes it does.
Dave: Sunbury ’78 or something like that [Editorial note: '73 actually!!!]
Brian: You would bring that up, (laughs)
Dave: ‘Cos they played Sunbury, it was famous
Kate: And what happened?
Dave: When they played Sunbury there was a riot or something.
Brian: It was very strange, yeah, and it was actually a good experience all round, but I came over with me arm nearly falling off from gangrene, Freddie had this infection in his ears, and it was all very bizarre and...
Dave: And you went on late or something or?
Brian: Yeah, we went on late, which was our fault I have to say.
Dave: Why? What, what, why?
Kate: Was it the gangrene and the infection or just?
Brian: Oh, no I’d had an injection to come here, an anti-tetanus or something I forget what and it had swelled up this huge thing on the plane an’ I was in a bad shape I was in...
Dave: Is that why you were late though is that ?
Brian: No, we were late because we were being difficult really.
Dave: Can you remember what you were having a hissy fit about or
Brian: No, no, it had been arranged like, we - it was actually a misunderstanding, we’d been told we’d be going on at a certain time and it was going to be, just as the, the sun went down..
Dave: yeah, yeah…..
Brian: ..and we’d brought all these lights and stuff, and finally we get there and they say, “No, no, no, you have to go on in the afternoon “ and we went, “No, no, no, this is what we agreed”…
Brian: …..because why would we bring all these lights and go on in daylight?
Dave: Yeah, fair enough
Brian: So it was one of those things, half a dozen of one and half a dozen of the other.
Dave: No, no, you’re right
Kate: And then what happened, was there a riot ‘cos the crowd wanted you earlier or...
Brian: Well, it was very weird because……(sounding slightly frustrated) ah, I don’t want to dwell on this too long,
Kate: (encouragingly) But you see, a lot of people don’t know this, I’ve never heard this story.
Brian: No, no, no, it was hard getting on there, when we got on, it was a great reaction, I mean really great, but you know we were boys, you know, we weren’t stars anyplace in the world and we’d been put on top of the bill so...
Kate: Ah yes,
Dave: This is before you broke it in Australia?
Brian: Absolutely, before we broke anywhere, we were just young kids really you know.
Kate: Ah, you would have loved it
Brian: But, actually when we went off, you know, finally everything seemed to be going right and we thought – oh, its great and we’d do an encore and the, the DJ came on and said “Do you want to hear these guys, these Poms, [Editorial note: he cleaned it up nicely, it was actually these Pommy Poofters!!!] and you know, a little more or do you want to hear Madderlake!! Now some things stick in your mind forever and I will always remember Madderlake because it’s like, that’s how you kill somebody’s encore. That’s how you...
Dave: Yeah, yeah
Kate: Sure, yeah, saying what
Brian: (resignedly) So, he killed it, so that’s fine. You know, we’re still here.
(The Daves laugh, Kate groans in sympathy)
Kate: So who, I don’t want to be rude, but who’s Madderlake, I don’t know?
Dave: Madderlake a blues rock band from the seventies.
Brian: I have nothing against them, but it was just that moment that sticks in your mind. But we’ve had some great times in Australia since then, the stuff we’ve done, the concerts we’ve been, you know, over the years its, its been a great relationship.
Kate: So was Australia sort of onto you before the rest of the world?
Dave: ‘Cos we want to claim that right now.
Kate: Ah, we do
Brian: I’d say before England yeah, there was a lot of interest here. Australia and Japan isn’t that strange? Yeah, we were sort of stars before we were stars at home. And there’s always a funny thing at home, I don’t know if it’s like that here but there’s a sort of resistance in your hometown.
Dave: Yeah, Oh, yeah.
Brian: You can never be..
Brian: ...sort of like who the hell do you think you are, you know?
Kate: Hughsey endures that constantly Brian, (laughter) constantly!
Brian: I noticed that here in the press particularly, the press in England are always these completely cynical people, you know, why, what makes you think you...
Kate: Yes, yes.
Brian: ...should want to play music, you want to put on a musical, how dare you!! You know. This country, we had the press conference yesterday and they were so positive and so it’s great.
Dave: Oh, your songs would be great in a musical I reckon
Brian: Its, tailor made.
Dave: Especially the ones you wrote. Did you write
Brian: ‘Specially the ones I wrote, I’m glad you said that yeah.
Dave: Did you write I Want To Break Free?
Brian: No, I didn’t write that
Kate: Tell us what you wrote, tell us.
Dave: But you did write, you wrote Fat Bottom Girls
Brian: Yeah Fat Bottom Girls is in there.
Dave: Fat Bottom Girls is a great song. We Will Rock You, that’s a great anthem. We’re going to play a Queen song now.
Kate: And you’ve got to guess what it is. (everyone laughs)
Dave: Here you go, you get a thousand dollars if you can guess what it is.
Dave: I Want It All, er...
Kate: No hang on guess which...
Brian: It’s probably... probably Under Pressure.
Dave: Have a listen to the start, here we go.
(First couple of bars of I Want To Break Free plays – Brian chuckles)
Dave: That’s enough what do you think
Dave: (using funny/silly foreign accent) I Want To Break Free
Dave: It’s Queen, and we’ll talk to Brian more.
Brian: This is in the show, you’ll see this.
Dave: Excellent, talk to Brian more after this……….
(I Want To Break Free Plays)
Dave: NOVA 100, Queen and I Want To Break Free, and Brian May is with us, the guitarist who played on that track
Dave: And if I remember rightly, in the film clip you dressed, you made a very pretty girl, is that right, were you dressed in a frock?
Brian: Ah, yeah we make very pretty girls.
Dave: Yeah, I remember that
Kate: You could be an Australian with a penchant for dressing up as a woman
Brian: Is that right? (laughs)
Dave: Is that, is, in your hair have you got some sort of gel or something? Is it just natural?
Brian: No, this, no this is just washin’ it, that’s all.
Kate: Hughesey is obsessed with um, hair………. product.
Dave: Product, product.
Kate: And he vowed at about ten past six this morning he was going to ask you about your hair.
Dave: And he’s done it, which is good.
Brian: (dismissingly) Right, we dealt with that, fine. And... (chuckles)
Dave: We’re going to talk to Brian about his musical We Will Rock You, after this on NOVA 100.
(song finishes and Brian can be heard talking in background)
Brian: ….and there’s sort of no….
Dave: (speaking loudly over the top) NOVA 100 and we’ve just been...
Kate: Who’s that rambling in the background!!
Dave: Brian May from Queen.
Dave: Now if you want to talk to Brian and ask him a question, 13 24 10 is our number
Dave: And you can actually, Brian brought this up.
Dave: He wanted calls, he loves calls
Brian: I love calls, live radio is the best.
Dave: Ah, fantastic so
Kate: Say that again, and we’ll edit it together
Dave: Live radio - Brian: Rocks!!
Dave: 13 24 10 if you want to ask Brian a question. Now this Musical We Will Rock You, it opens in August in Melbourne, written by Ben Elton, produced by Robert de Niro, is that right? (sounding incredulous)
Brian: Yeah, he’s one of the prod, the production team, yeah he’s, he’s kind of our Godfather.
Dave: What a great combination!
Brian: It is a great combination, yeah it’s great to have him there.
Dave: He’s a funny guy is he?
Brian: He’s amazing, he’s, you know, he’s one of these people who will choose his moment and then say something which sort of devastates everybody, you know.
Kate: So he’s not…
Dave: You lookin’ at me….
Brian: He’s cool.
Kate: …an over talker
Brian: No, he won’t say something unless he has something to say.
Kate: But how did this, how did this collaboration happen?
Brian: It kind of came from him, strangely enough. He had this conviction that he wanted to make a Queen musical..
Dave: (completely incredulously) Robert de Niro!!!!???
Dave: Robert de Niro did ?
Brian: Isn’t that weird. (Everyone laughs)
Dave: Bobby de Niro.
Brian: Yeah, yeah.
Dave: He’s done comedies now, now musicals.
Brian: Yeah, I know, what can you do?
Dave: Completely bizarre, he’s just lying in bed one night listening to his Queen records
Brian: Well, I dunno, maybe he was advised with it, I dunno, I dunno what it was , but he’s, he’s been great. I mean he came to our press conference and sat there and we were all sort of hyping out or whatever, he sat there and said very little and eventually someone said “Mr de Niro, in what way is this project different from your other projects” and he went (adopts deep, mysterious, monotone voice) “It’s a musical”.
(hilarious laughter from all)
Kate: And that’s it?
Brian: That was like his major comment to them.
Dave: We’ve got someone who wants to speak to you Chris,
Kate: Lots of people who want to ask you things.
Dave: I think its Chris, has a question for you, how are you Chris?
Chris: Yeah hi, how are you?
Brian: Hello Chris.
Dave: Now what did you want to say to Brian?
Chris: Yeah Brian, what song would you have loved to have written either a Queen song or someone else’s song? What song do you really think you would have love to have written?
Brian: Ahhhhhhhh! God that’s a hard one.
Dave: That’s a tough one there’s so many.
Brian: I would have liked to have written , OH!! (with ingenious surprise) I did write We Will Rock You!!
Dave: What other Queen song, what’s the best Queen song you didn’t write?
Brian: I would take Bohemian Rhapsody.
Dave: Ah yeah.
Dave: Oh, you’d take the money it created.
Brian: Ah well, it’s just a, such a piece of art.
Kate: You’d take the credit. It is...
Brian: It’s Freddie’s great kind of dream, and nightmare.
Kate: Where did it come from?
Brian: I don’t think anybody knows, it’s just Freddie’s head that’s the wonderful words in there.
Dave: Wayne’s World, what did he think about Wayne’s World when they used it in there?
Brian: He loved it, that was just before we lost Freddie and he did see it and he did enjoy it, he thought it was great.
Kate: Hey Brian, you know that “I see a little silhouette of a man”.
Kate: Scaramouche, what do you say, what’s that word?
Kate: It is Scaramouche
Dave: What does that mean?
Brian: A historical character, she’s also in our, in our We Will Rock You stage show.
Kate: As a character. Aaaaah!
Brian: There is A Scaramouche in it.
Dave: That’s an historical character is it?
Brian: That’s right.
Dave: We’ve got someone who has seen the stage show who wants to speak to you. Is this Sarah?
Sarah: Oh, good morning
Dave: How are you?
Kate: Good morning.
Brian: Hello Sarah.
Dave: Now you’ve seen the Queen...
Sarah: Very well, thank you. Yes I saw it when I was over in London. I got back just before Christmas, and I saw it over in London and I
Sarah: ...wanted to say how fabulous it was...
Brian: Phew!! (everyone laughs) I was just going to hit that button, you know.
Sarah: ...and I recommend that everybody get along and see one of the greatest shows that I’ve ever seen
Kate: Wow! Fantastic.
Brian: Thank you for that.
Sarah: and I did have one quick question
Brian: Come round later.
Dave: Yeah, go on.
Sarah: Are you bringing any of the cast across that were in it in London to do the show in Melbourne?
Brian: Well it’s an entirely Australian cast, but we may bring one lady over, she’s called Amanda, I mean, I hope she gets the part, but she is Australian, but she’s been an understudy for this character called Meat in the show
Dave: Right yeah
Brian: and I’m very much hoping that we can give her the part over here.
Kate: You know Australians are very good at musicals,
I believe you.
Dave: Hugh Jackman
Brian: Oh, you have un.. I tell you, you know we’re in auditions at the moment. The singers we have seen are out-rageously good. You’ve got some fantastic people.
Dave: Oh yeah
Brian: You know it’s a high requirement that they have to be able to sing unbelievably well, and not in a kind of regular musical way. You know, its not My Fair Lady this as you know. This is a rock show. They have to be able to sing to that standard, and have that range and power. They also have to be able to act. And the character who, the two characters who are the leads, have to be rock stars in a sense. And you kinda can’t act that.
Kate: Ah, OK, that kind of charisma, yeah that charisma.
Dave: Yeah, you can’, yeah
Brian: At the end of the show it’s, the last 20 minutes is a rock show, you know, and they have to be able to carry that, and you can not act that.
Dave: Is there a lot of, is there dancing as well, or is that
Brian: There’s some dancing, yes. There’s some very good girls dancing, which we like.
Dave: Yeah absolutely
Kate: Is there one more question?
Dave: Yeah, Lucy has a question. How are you Lucy?
Lucy: Hi, as a huge Queen fan, this is a huge thrill for me,
Brian: Hi Lucy.
Lucy: I just wanted to know about the plot, with the guitar, has that got something to do with your old guitar that I’ve seen in an old documentary of yours that’s got like old sort of pieces on it and stuff?
Brian: You’re absolutely right.
Lucy: Is that based around your guitar Brian?
Brian: Yeah, that’s my homemade guitar. Yes, it does feature in the story, The story’s set in the future, it’s not about us, we’re all dead and gone but by….
Lucy: Oh how sad.
Brian: …a strange twist of – well not as sad as you might think…
Brian : ..but er, we have left various clues and one, and one of the clues is that the guitar is buried someplace or so the legend says.
Dave: Like an Excalibur kind of
Brian: Exactly, it’s a kind of Arthurian legend, kind of thing. So they eventually find the guitar which is my guitar.
Kate: And is your , have you got a guitar that’s made out of pieces?
Brian: My guitar, I made with my Dad, when..
Kate: (in wonderment) Aaahh!
Brian: ..I was about eighteen and its all made out of pieces of junk, yeah.
Dave: You still use it? Do you still use the same guitar?
Brian: Oh yeah! (very enthused) It’s got like my mother’s knitting needle and... (indecipherable)
Kate: Oohh!! Amazing!
Brian: and motorbike valve springs that, that rock the tremolo and it just works
Kate: How beautiful, wow!
Dave: Brian, we’re going to go see your musical We Will Rock You.
Kate: But, hang on, you know how you said that Australians are extraordinary singers, we’re going to sing a little bit of a song for you.
Dave: Alright, cool
Dave: I’m ready.
Dave: Here we go.
Dave, Kate & Dave: All start to sing We Are The Champions (very out of tune!!)
Brian: Oh, that’s beautiful, God I’m glad I got up.
Dave, Kate & Dave: switch to a version(?!) of Bo Rhap – operatic part
Brian: I can’t believe these people are so talented.
Dave: Brian May from Queen, thank you very much Brian.
Kate: Did you two notice he’s too good to join in with us
Dave: He hasn’t got his guitar.
Kate: He doesn’t know the words
Brian: I was overcome with emotion.
Kate: Doesn’t know the words
Dave: Thanks very much
Kate: Thank you Mr May
Source: NovaFM - transcript FR
We Will Rock You – Down Under
On Australian TV last night, The Footy Show welcomed Ben Elton to chat about the Queen/Ben Elton musical, We Will Rock You, opening in Melbourne on August 7th. Ben talked with host Eddie Maguire and members of the panel – Sam Newman, Shane Crawford and Trevor Marmalade
EM: Welcome back, our next guest is dropping by to have a bit of a chat with us. His name is Ben Elton, you know him as an actor, an author, a comedy write, a director, a stand up comedian. He is also the man behind the fastest selling musical in Australia’s history at the moment. It is going to be on at The Regent Theatre on October 7. (Ed: obviously meant to August) It’s the Australian version of We Will Rock You which features 24 of Queen’s smash hits. It has been dominating in the West End in England and it’s going to dominate here as well. They’re going to be queuing up; It’s going to be like grand final tickets to see this one. Please welcome one of the great men of literature and comedy, please welcome Ben Elton.
(Audience cheers and claps – Ben walks out and is greeted by members of the panel.)
EM: Best selling books, all the rest of it – you’re killing them.
Ben: Well, nice to be having a success. It was a great intro you gave us and very thrilling to come in with We Will Rock You, as I say, today, our first launch was the biggest, the biggest launch in Victoria and I think Australia’s theatrical history. Twenty five percent up on the Mamma Mia initial take up, so we’re feeling very strong at the moment.
EM: Well, lets roll the videotape straight away and have a bit of a look at this.
(Clip of footage from The Dominion – various scenes – Ga Ga boys & girls, Ensemble cast , Killer Queen & Kashoggi, Galileo & Scaramouche. All overdubbed with the sounds of We Will Rock You)
EM: Tell us a bit about it Ben?
Ben: Well it’s, as you said, its Queen, Queen’s Greatest Hits are the musical background. But it’s a great Rock and Roll theatrical really, a rock theatrical with a script by me. A comedy script, it’s sort of a bit Black Adderish in many ways. It’s a sort of a legend set in the future, where kids are no longer allowed to make their own music because everything is made by computer. All the pop songs are produced by computers and sort of pre-sold in advance and the kids are trying to regain control of the charts and play live music again. There is this legendary guitar buried in rock by a Hairy God of Rock who died many centuries earlier, whose name is Brian – not surprisingly! Ah, so yeah, it’s just a big load of fun really. A rock musical.
SN: And how did you come up with the concept? How did you suddenly think this would be good to do?
Ben: Well, I mean, Queen had approached me, which was very nice, well we kind of met up together and they said we, they, they – understand and I think it’s a bit of a no brainer that their music is uniquely theatrical. Its huge, it’s kinda epic in its scale, its shot through with wit. There’s you know, it’s very grandiose and, and, and takes itself not too seriously. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of fun involved. Aand they said, if you can think of a good story – they had been trying to do a sort of Freddie biography, and that didn’t work on stage because I think Queen’s is really everybody’s music, not just Freddie’s. There’s an interesting statistic, I always say that of course all 4 members of the Band wrote the music and all individually wrote, wrote number ones. I mean John Deacon wrote Another One Bites The Dust, Brian May wrote we Will Rock You, Roger Taylor wrote It’s a Kind Of Magic, Freddie wrote Bohemian Rhapsody. They were a great team. A proper Band. And they said come up with a story and you’re on mate – so I did! (chuckles).
SN: So Ben, this is your superannuation, this is it, you do this and
it’s the end of the ball game?
EM: Now Ben, you mention great teams. Lets talk bout the English soccer team.
Ben: Oh, you bastard, I can’t believe this. I’m here talking about a winner!!! You know what, I come into Australia, every time, some customs bloke says “Hello Ben, I won’t mention the cricket”, you know - f**k. Well I won’t mention Shakespeare or The Beatles. You know, we do get some things right. I’m bringing in Queen, you know, we’ve got WE are the Champions, never mind English soccer. But you know, I’ve got a theory about why you lot go on about sports so much, you know, with us, the Poms, ‘cos obviously you bag us at everything – you beat us at everything. But it never satisfies and I know why it doesn’t satisfy. Because the truth is YOU know that we don’t care as much about losing as you do about winning, and you hate that. You hate the fact that actually the Poms are kind of: So they beat us again, geez they always do; so what? You know, ‘cos cricket you know, its – sadly the Poms aren’t as interested in sport as you are, that’s why we’re sh*t at it.
SN: And we’re live (audience laughter), we’re live just in case you say the “F” word again Ben. (Audience dissolves into helpless laughter)
Ben: I didn’t say it did I?
EM: And he just dropped another one then.
SN: No, I think you did, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter......
Ben: (very embarrassed) I’m so sorry, I’m a professional…… I’m a grown man…….. and my mother–in–law is watching in Perth.
SN: Well they can cut it out by the time it gets there ‘cos they’re two hours behind us.
Ben: Not intellectually, I hasten too add – in any sense – only temporally.
(Audience finally recover themselves)
You know the funny thing is about you and sport. I, because we’re on a sports program, I think, you know there’s more to sport than winning. Sport is also about sportsmanship, sportspersonship. You know, giving the other guy a fair go, like if you were in a school playground and there was a kid who was no good, was crap at the wicket. You wouldn’t say “you get off – now”, you’d give ‘em a go, give ‘em a few goes, let ‘em have a go.. Course you would. That’s what you should do with us. You should give us a chance.
EM: Fair enough
Ben: You should give us a few low ones, come on, bowl underarm, give ‘em a chance.
EM: We did that to the New Zealanders and nobody would shut up about it!!
Ben: The Kiwis, exactly, I know you did.
SN: Speaking of auditions, have you ever seen the bloke over here, Shane Crawford in action. He could be just the man for...
Ben: To play Galileo? The ..God, you mean in We Will Rock You? Is he a good singer, can you sing, can you hit a top C, can you?
SC: Sing, dance, what else do you want me to do?
Ben: Well you’ve got to sing, dance, act, crack a good nob gag. Not use, say, not the “F” word on live television when you’re plugging the show. There’s a lot of responsibility to it.
TM: He likes getting his gear off.
Ben: Well, you know, if your shorts are tight enough you might hit the high notes. You know, Freddie Mercury vocal lines are very difficult to cover. We’ve been auditioning now for three months in Australasia and in New Zealand. The Australian casting team have assembled a fantastic array of talent and the incredible news is that Roger, Taylor and Brian May have come over with me to sort of oversee the last auditions and we’ve spent the last four days here in Melbourne. People have come in from New Zealand, New South Wales, Perth etc. It’s quite incredible; we’ve assembled a fantastic cast so it’s very late. I’m afraid we’ve got a couple of good lads for you, er your position.
SC: Yeah, I was just wondering about the Queen. I’ve never heard her sing before. (audience laughter)
Ben: Well, you know, we of course, are the one Queen you don’t want to get rid of. Lets be honest, no, well the Queen actually did a great job for us because she helped plug the show in London because we performed on the Jubilee Concert. I think we’re the only person ever to get a commercial slot on Buckingham Palace. It was quite, it was quite cool.
EM: But you spend a lot of time in Australia, you live over in West Australia, your wife’s Australian of course, we all know that. Do you follow the footy at all? You know, the Aussie Rules?
Ben: Do you know, I don’t, I don’t, I can’t, well, I sort of, sort of support The Dockers ‘cos I’m a Freeo, (referring to Freemantle in WA) I was a WEagles supporter, but look, I don’t even know the rules, man. I know the shorts are tighter than ours; it’s all very aggressive. I know that you know I was in Melbourne when we were last, they told, they at last heard Colllingwood was in the final. I think you need to update those songs, all that (breaks into song) “Good Old Collingwood.” and all that. (panel all laugh, audience clap and cheer) But, you know as I say, the theatre arts and I’m not really that, that heavily into sport. As I say, I think, I think, that’s why we’re so bad at it. The truth of the matter is, with the English and sport. You know the cricket team, you know the 11 we send over. They’re the only people who know the rules. If you know the rules, you get to play. (laughter)
EM: We adapted our club song from a Boer War – a magnificent fighting song – and you‘re telling us to change it….the bloke who’s adapted Fat Bottom Girls to make money for his own cause!
Ben: (chuckling) You don’t have to have a Queen song to adapt it. You could have one of your own. You could have Barnsey, a bit of, it’d be great, a bit of Chisel, something like that.
EM: Working Class Man.
TM: Queen is actually a fantastic part of Grand Final Day these days ‘cos its one thing after you play the club song, but then when they play We Are The Champions – You’ll have to just take my word for this Ed - but its actually just a great moment, it really is.
Ben: Poor Eddie’s never heard it, well we do We Are The Champions of course, and Bohemian Rhapsody’s never been performed live even by Queen because its far too complicate a piece of music and when I spoke to the Boys about whether they wanted it in the show, they said we would, but it’ll take thirty five singers to cover it properly. Well, we do that, that’s the kind of scale of the show to do all the (sings) “Bismillah, no, we will not let them go (attempts falsetto!!) Let them go, Bismillah…” that bit, you know what I mean, very tough, but we do it better than I do. (speaking to Shane Crawford) You prob..., you have a go, can you do Bohemian Rhapsody?
SC: How did you do it?
Ben: Oh, I’m not going to do it again. But we do interpret the text within the Show. We try to work out what it actually meant.
TM: So you mean to tell us, that clip on Countdown, they were miming?
Ben: I think probably the operatic bit. Hey isn’t it great to be in the old Countdown studios. I felt a real sort of twinge when I came in. Not Count.. I mean...
EM: Don Lane
Ben: Going mad here.
Ben: Hey, Hey. Hey, Hey. I thought where’s Darryl, where’s the duck.
EM: (looking very guilty and embarrassed) Shh!! Shh!! (the demise of Hey, Hey is very much a ‘don’t mention the war’ subject in Oz TV land – audience are tremendously amused)
Ben: Oh no, put me foot in it. Oh I loved that show.
SC: The ostrich, the ostrich.
SN: He had a bad run, Darryl.
Ben: No, there was a duck as well, ‘cos you had to pluck it. (audience in gales of laughter)
SN: As opposed to what you said earlier in the evening.
SN: Darryl struck hard times – he only lasted for twenty-five years.
EM: But good luck with it all, Regent Theatre on August 7th. You’ll be here for the opening. We look forward to seeing you, come back on The Footy Show again.
Ben: I will indeed. First night, you gotta be there Trevor…
TM: Absolutely mate, I’ll be there.
Ben: The first night, its going to be a very glamorous night, and we thank Footy Sport Show for all your support and please try and let us win at something will you. An appeal from all British sportsmen.
EM: Thanks very much, thanks Ben for joining us. Ben Elton everybody. It’s going to be fantastic. We Will Rock You. It’s a beauty.
This news item referred to in following interview:
French fries axed in fit of pique
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - France's refusal to back a possible U.S.-led attack of Iraq has triggered a verbal food fight in the restaurants of the U.S. House of Representatives as "French fries" and "French toast" are replaced on menus by "Freedom fries" and "Freedom toast.""This action today is a small, but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France," said House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican.Ney's panel is in charge of the House's administrative needs. He took the action at the suggestion of Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican."I am grateful to Mr. Ney for standing with me today as we publicly declare our support for our nation's troops and our sincere disappointment in our old friends, the French," Jones said on Tuesday/
BEN ELTON ON MORNINGS WITH KERRI ANNE
Ben: Elton, Writer/Director of the Queen musical We Will Rock You, chatted earlier today to Kerri Anne Kennerly in the Sydney studio of her morning television program, Mornings with Kerri Anne.
KAK: Well, Ben: Elton established himself as one of the leading figures of the New Wave of British comedy which emerged in the 80’s. He co-wrote the ground breaking “The Young Ones and the “Black Adder” series. He is a best selling author. He is back in Australia to launch, cast and direct a new musical and I very warmly welcome Ben Elton to the program one more tome. G’day Ben:.
Ben: appears on satellite screen with the Melbourne city skyline as a backdrop.
Ben: Hi there Kerri Anne, nice to be back.
Picture splits to show
KAK: in the Sydney studio with Ben: in Melbourne.
KAK: It’s terrific, I mean it was only a couple of months ago you and I chatted. In fact, I’d like you to know I took you on holiday with me.
Ben: Ooooh, I love to think of that, that’s a terrific thought for this early in the morning! Curled up with you on a beach Kerri, I can’t tell you how thrilling that sounds.
KAK: (giggling flirtatiously) You were very cuddly!
Ben: The book, I presume?
Ben: Did you thumb through me firmly?
KAK: I did as a matter of fact. In fact, you were really ear-marked.
Ben: (chuckling) Oh, right.
KAK: The book, High Society was sensational. Listen, more importantly, when we had a chat at the end of last year, you talked to me about (holding WWRY programme and looking at it) this project, We Will Rock You, the musical by Queen and Ben: Elton. I can’t believe you have got it up and running so quickly.
Ben: Well of course, we, I think when we met, we were already running in London. (clip of Ga Ga boys and girls on stage at The Dominion Theatre plays) It opened just a year ago. It’s a, it’s a smash hit in London, I have to say. We have had a tremendous success, it gets a standing ovation every night and its set to run for at least another year and hopefully, you know, all points North from there. The big news of course is that we are bringing this huge production, the first, the first stop on world wide Queen domination is Australia and we’re bringing the show to, to Melbourne, and that’s why I’m here, to cast, all the extraordinary, musical theatre talent that’s here and in New Zealand. We have been searching in New Zealand as well. It’s been a 3 month search for our fabulous cast and I’m here for our final auditions. I’m really looking forward to it.
KAK: Wonderful. Do you have the Casting Couch?
Ben: Hahaha, do I, do you mean, (chuckling) do I, do I get tempted to take favours from my leading ladies? No, I don’t, I’m a happily married man with children and there is no casting couch, but we do have very, very rigorous rehearsals because obviously, to cover Queen’s music, I mean there’s 32 smash hits Queen numbers in this show. You know, we have a huge band, we do all, obviously, all the music is live – obviously! And that takes an enormous amount of singing and dancing talent. (clip of Killer Queen and Kashoggi on stage at The Dominion plays) What we are looking for – it’s very difficult – in musical theatre, you need, you need people who can sing, dance and act and when you are asking people to sing, you know, to cover Freddie Mercury’s vocal line, you really are asking a lot. So yep, no room for casting couch. We spend time finding out what people can do.
KAK: Well, Ben:, you know, just reading in the last day or so the music of Queen, and I’m embarrassed to say, I almost forgot how many hits they had….(Ben chuckles)… and it’s an incredible journey of music. Now explain the concept of the show. It is the Queen, Queen’s music and you wrote the narrative?
Ben: Well its all, all Queen’s music. I’ve written the story and the script and its very much what they call a book musical. There really is a story to it, it’s not just a juke-box and it’s a story that, I think, really fits Queen very well and certainly the success we’ve had in London suggests that. Ah, in that it’s, it’s a, I felt that what was needed was a kind of big legend. Because Queen are a huge legend, they’re very witty, they’re grandiose, there’s a certain pomp and ceremony to their music. So I kinda had this idea of this Arthurian legend. A sort of... but instead of the sword in the stone, there’s a guitar buried in rock. It’s a future world where rock music is banned and all music is written by computers in order to make the maximum profit that, the charts are planned years in advance – it sounds very much like today actually…
KAK: I was going to say.
Ben: … and the kids have kind of lost control of Rock and Roll, and there’s a hero, a young hero and his girl and they’re gonna regain control of it. And so it’s a big, its kinda like King Arthur meets The Matrix. It’s a bit silly, it’s a comedy of course because Queen were always, you know, a laugh. They always had great wit in their music, their lyrics and their videos and so I got to work through their incredible story book, I mean you say they’ve done a lot of hits, I mean my gag is always most people’s Greatest Hits albums are One Hit, Half a Hit and the 10 records you have never heard of… (KAK: laughs) Of course, Queen have 3 Greatest hits albums and they’re all full of hits and I’ve only used about half their Greatest Hits, but believe me, nobody goes away thinking they didn’t get the, get a FULL SLAB of Rock!!
KAK: Darn right. Now, Robert de Niro, his involvement?
Ben: Well, he’s our American producer. The project actually began in America while Queen were attempting in the early 90’s, so fairly shortly after Freddie’s death, to start creating a musical entertainment for the stage. Because their music is uniquely theatrical, I think.
(clip of London press launch plays – Ben, Robert de Niro, Brian & Roger on the Tottenhan Court Tube set – switches to external shot of The Dominion – then back to Tube set again)
KAK: Oh look, there you are standing next to a very comfortable looking Robert de Niro with a guitar in hand. He looks so natural there.
Ben: Oh yeah – there I am with ..(drawling American accent) Bob, Bob… He’s, that’s us on the set. It’s a bit more exciting the set, that’s actually a tube station set. We did a busking joke, me and Bob, busking together. And I get to call him Bob, he rang me up, he came to the First Night and we had a great, great night. He’s a good lad, he loves his Rock and Roll. He’s a, you know, he’s a good age for Queen and although we’re a, our show appeals to all ages of course. And you can bring the kids. Introduce them to some real blooming music – that’s what I say!! (KAK laughs hilariously) They were in America, they were developing a musical. It didn’t really work. They were looking at a sort of biography of Freddie and I, I don’t think that’s the right way to go, and they certainly discovered it didn’t work for them. So the project sorta, kinda went into abeyance. (clip of Tony Vincent on stage as Galileo plays) Meantime Mamma Mia happened. I mean, I think Mamma Mia is brilliant incidentally, but a lot of people have said “Oh, Queen doing a Mamma Mia”. As I say, they’ve been planning this for 10-12 years now, they came back to Britain and asked me, and I said I don’t think you should do a Freddie musical. You should do my musical! So I wrote them a story. But Bob, Bob de Niro stayed on board and he’s, he and his company are our American producers. They have a piece of the Melbourne show, and hopefully he’ll come to the First Night, and when we go to America they will kinda be in charge of it.
KAK: So it will be, you and Bob in, in America. You’re sort of, (holding up hand to show crossed fingers) just like that huh?
Ben: Ah yeah well, me and him, well you know, I mean people are, people when you meet them actually. He doesn’t actually carry a gun or anything, he isn’t actually a gangster. I think a lot of people meet him and think he is a gangster but he’s not, he’s an actor.
KAK: Oh! Where did I go wrong? Hey listen, we’ve just got to remind Australia. This has got to be one of my faves – Bohemian Rhapsody – lets have a look…
Clip Of the famous “four heads” Bo Rhap video plays – Operatic section.
KAK: (really rocking…) OH!! We could just play this all morning!
Ben: Of course we could! Well Bo Rhap has a very special, I say Bo Rhap because that’s how people, the Band refer to it, and I’m sorta around with them. And they’re here, they’ve come over for the auditions. Brian May and Roger Taylor are here for our final auditions, John Deacon sends his best – and Bohemian Rhapsody plays a very special part in the show. Its kinda treated as a sort of holy text. “Bizmillah, Bizmillah, we will not let them go, Beelzebub……” What does it mean? What are these words from the past? This great sort of text. Its almost like holy writ and the kids, trying to rediscover Rock, trying to interpret the lyrics. And I have to say, they come up with some very amusing conclusions.
KAK: Well, what does it mean?
Ben: Ah!! You’ll have to come and see the show, but, Bohemian Rhapsody was something Queen never played live themselves because it’s too complex and requires far too many vocalists. And when we first discussed it, Brian and Roger said it’ll take about 35 singers, like to cover the sort of operatic bit of the show. Well, let me say, That’s exactly what we do and it’s a pretty, a pretty astonishing moment. But as I say, the actual song plays a part of the plot, you gotta come and see it – it’s a laugh.
KAK: So have the guys, the two guys, Brian May and Roger Taylor, you’re with and are helping you with the casting, have they told you what the lyrics really mean?
Ben: Well of course, it’s a Freddie lyric. I mean they, they all wrote, I mean Brian wrote We Will Rock You, Roger wrote It’s a Kind Of Magic, John Deacon wrote Another One Bites The Dust, they all wrote individually, and, well I have to say that Roger said - I know what Bohemian Rhapsody means, and I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you one of these days - Well, he’s never actually told me. I’ve made up what I think it means and it, it’s a very funny part of the show. And Freddie’s family were really delighted with it. I got a lovely letter from his mother after the First night, and so we really feel we’re doing the right thing by Queen fans. But of course, the show’s much, it’s much bigger than that. It’s for everybody. I mean most people sort of are big Queen fans, there are some who are like besotted, but the songs are extraordinary and, and people come away going – I didn’t ever know how many songs they did and how much I liked them until I saw the show.
KAK: Oh, just sensational. In terms of the Australian casting, how many Aussies/New Zealanders will get a job, a job out of this, and will you have an Aussie Freddie Mercury?
Well, there’s no, Freddie’s not represented. Yes we need
a wonderful young lad to play the lead, Galileo. But everything’s
taken from there so the leading man’s called Galileo Figaro and
the, the leading girl’s called Scaramouche, so they’re these
two rebel, punk kids who have kinda taken these names from this text,
this Bo Rhap text, because they want to rediscover the spirit of Rock.
We read about, there’ll be 35 on stage, there’s about 100,
at least 150 involved in the whole thing, you know, the backstage, the
huge production. So we’re very pleased to be bringing a, you know,
a big slab of work into town. And very grateful with the Victorian Tourist
Board and the Minister for Culture.
Ben: Oh all Australian plus Kiwis, we’ve got some New Zealanders coming in today who have been auditioned already. What happens is the Australian casting director has been working for a couple of months very, very hard. Been all over Australia, down into Tassie, over to the West, and of course, into New Zealand. Everyone’s coming to Melbourne for final audition, which is, Brian, Roger and myself will oversee, then we’ll choose our cast – there’ll be a lot of disappointment…
KAK: Well, I know it will be just sensational for the middle of the year. Now as we wrap it up, I know a lot of your work, even your comedy, the novels you’ve written – always have a very deep social conscience. Now, war is, does seem to be imminent and to read and wonder what your view is on the fact the Americans have apparently banned FRENCH fries and FRENCH toast and renamed it FREEDOM fries and FREEDOM toast?
Ben: (folding arms – looking a little bemused) Ooooh dear, I didn’t know that. That’s a bit of a grim one. I’m sure they haven’t all done it. It’s some sort of sales gimmick that some fast food chain… Freedom Fries – freedom for obesity I’m afraid. Do you know that their fries are now 3 times a fat-saturated as they were in 1960? I mean why is that then? I’m sure they were just as tasty. I do, I do find this appropriation of the word ‘freedom’ slightly off-putting. You know, the idea there’s only one kind of moral line, and I think that’s a bit silly. But I have to say there’s an awful lot of right thinking and sensible people in the States who are trying to take this debate seriously, so I’m sure that’s probably a media beat up that story. You know, I mean just like the French have been apparently slagging, all over Britain there are headlines, the French slag us off. There’s the big joke in French papers,“What do you call a pretty girl in London” – “a tourist”. This is the big story, that the French have been insulting our women. Now probably some idiot Frenchman did crack that joke, but I don’t think they’re all idiots, just like I don’t think all Americans are idiots – lets hope not anyway.
KAK: Yes, well, fingers crossed, we’ve only got the world at stake.
Ben: Haha, yeah, never mind war, what about Rock and Roll?
Ben: then Sydney
KAK: …at the Regent Theatre in August. We Will Rock You, a piece
of genius, not only from Queen but from your good-self. And you know
we’d love to catch you – not coming through our studios
before you return to London?
KAK: Well, can I book you now?
Ben: Oh, I’d love to, you and I Kerri, curled up together on Bondi…
KAK: (giggles) Oh, oh, oh, yes. With all those staples in between.
Ben: I’d better watch it, me mother-in-law watches you. She’s in Perth, she’ll be smashin’ the crockery.
KAK: Ben: Elton, thank you.
Transcript by FR 12 March 2003
11 Mar 03**
on Rove Live
Tonight Ben Elton was a guest of Rove McManus, host of ‘Rove Live’. Ben spoke with Rove about the forthcoming Australian production of We Will Rock You, the award winning Queen/Ben Elton rock theatrical currently enjoying a sell out run in London’s West End.
WE WILL ROCK YOU opens at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre August 7.
At the start of the show Rove announced the guests saying “ What a huge show we have for you tonight, joining us …………one of the funniest men on the planet Ben Elton, back with us.”
(Huge Cheers from the studio audience)
Later, Rove heralded Ben’s appearance with these words:
”Alright, lets meet our next guest shall we? One of the world’s best-known Bands has got together with one of the most successful writers in the UK to create a box office hit and it’s on its way to Australia. The musical is We Will Rock You. The Band is Queen and the man behind it, welcome him now – Ben Elton.
Ben Elton, dressed in blue suit and black v-necked t-shirt, strolled across the studio floor towards Rove to the sound of enthusiastic applause and cheering. Here is their conversation–
Rove: How are you doing? Regular now. Have a seat. How are you doing?
Ben: Well, as you say, I’m regular now.
Rove: You are regular now.
Ben: (laughing) And I’m a regular here so, I’m doing well. Got off the plane yesterday so a little bit lagged, but always happy to be back in Australia.
Rove: Are you used to doing the trip down here now?
Ben: I’ve done it a lot, partly because, you know, my wife’s Australian and my kids are sort of, you know, Aussies as well as Brits, so I spend a lot of time here. But yeah, I’ve done the trip a lot. But yeah, yeah, people think, you know, the long flight and everything, but now I’ve got 3 small children, to me, the idea of 20 hours in a flying bar is just somehow very attractive.
I’ve got a week you know, and Soph says, “Ah, you miss the kids”. Yeah, I miss the kids but there’s something about the soft, gentle hum of a hotel mini-bar that’s, you know, its just…
Rove: (interjects) its just music to your ears?
Ben: …..rather than the kids screaming in the night. But no, of course I miss ’em. It’s tough, its tough being over but, er, you know, always a pleasure to be back in Oz.
Rove: And what’s Ben Elton like as a Dad out of interest?
Ben: (pointing to himself then looking around) This Ben Elton or is there another one you’re talking about? I’m a blo... blooming good Dad. I do, you know, I do the mornings, I get up and I try and get me work done, I’m a bit like your last guest..
Rove: Lisa, yes.
Ben .. you know, try and combine work and, but I’m quite hands on …
Ben: … I’ve changed, I’ve changed many a nappy, not as many as Sophie, but you know. And some times the children’s…
Ben: … but you know, obviously I had – yeah, I appreciate I’m very lucky to have, I think having kids quite late is, is, in one way – of course, you haven’t quite got the energy of the younger man…
Ben:… but at least I can look back. Well I had me time you know, pissing it up every night and all that and I'd got a lot of work done, so you know, I’m kind of relaxed into it, I’ve... Yeah, its good. It’s good, good.
Rove Now, we only, last we caught up it was about 4 months ago, or something like that.
Ben I could not wait to get back.
Rove And it’s very good to have you back. Now what have you done in the meantime. Do you get a break? With all the work you do, do you get a break, like over Christmas/New Year? Do you go on holidays?
Ben Yeah, of course.
Rove What do you do?
Ben We go, well I dunno, we went down, we’ve got a little place in Sussex, I, you know, I chop a bit of wood, and…
Rove: Nice, I’ve no idea where Sussex is. I know it’s in…
Ben: In Britain, you know, its South of London. South of London. No I recreate (said as per recreation – holiday, not as in re-create – redo something) regularly (laughter), but I like to work as well and I’m very lucky that the work I do is, is what I want to do, you know I mean its great. Incidentally, I have to thank you, ‘cos we were talking about High Society, the novel, last time I was here, and it went to number one the week after I was on….
Ben: … so that, I think that was the Rove……(drowned by applause)
Rove: It was all you. It was 100% Elton and you know it.
Ben: …but I like to, I like to, I’m very fortunate to do jobs I like to do, so you know, its not a chore to get to work. And with 3 very small children, sometimes you just think – God! You know, I just want to work, stop screaming at me. You know.
Rove: Well, your latest project is the Queen musical?
Ben: We Will Rock You.
Rove: Now how did it all come about?
Ben: Well, it was just fantastic. Really I just got lucky. I mean Queen had, been trying to develop a, thinking about developing a stage musical of their oeuvre. I MEAN Queen’s music is uniquely theatrical. I mean it’s the choral and wit, the drama of it. I mean it’s a no brainer. That it, to, to see it live is fantastic. And I have to say, long before Mamma Mia, much as I love Mamma Mia, I mean Queen, since the early 90’s ‘cos everyone said “ Oh you’re trying to do a Mamma Mia”. No! We’re trying to do a We Will Rock You. And of course, we’ve done it now. It’s a huge hit in London. And they, they tried in America, and this is the, well with Robert de Niro actually developing a Queen musical, but they were doing a Freddie bio sort of thing. A biography…
Ben: … and it just didn’t work and I can see why. I mean,
the music of Queen belongs to us all. I mean obviously the triumphs
and tragedies of Freddie’s life, you know, inspiring and also,
you know, very despairing in some ways. But... (clip
of Houston ’77 concert - Freddie strutting in Harlequin Lycra
and Black leather jacket singing WWRY fast version starts to play) ...have
we got something going on back there?
Ben: Oh, I though it was coming from your arse (HUGE laughter)…
Rove: No, just a bit of music playing.
Ben: … bit of Freddie – good to, to see The Great Man, anyway.
Didn’t work out, Queen came back to Britain, Brian May and Roger
Taylor in particular, and they sort of, we sort of got together and
said why don’t we do it, and I didn’t have an idea, and
I tried and tried and eventually I said, look, I don’t think it
should be about Freddie, it shouldn’t be about you. I mean Queen’s
music is vast and very funny and witty. (Ben starts to get VERY
enthusiastic at this point) It should have, you know, its got to
deliver everything that you delivered. So I came up with this idea for
a sort of, almost like an Arthurian legend. Its like King Arthur meets
The Matrix. It’s set 300 years in the future and it’s, and
it’s, a world where like the kind of computerized entertainment
machine has taken over. All pop records are written by computer. It’s
a bit like today really but…
Ben: … just a little bit, but the machine is so paranoid about the kids kinda like writing their own music, which, so the profit curve would change….
(Background clip starts. London cast of WWRY at The Dominion. Tony Vincent, Hannah Jane Fox, Nigel Planer and the ensemble singing WWRY)
Rove: (eagerly, obviously enthralled by Ben’s enthusiasm) Yeah….Ben … they ban musical instruments…
Ben: … the kids are not allowed to write their own music. But somewhere a hairy God of Rock has left a mighty axe buried in rock…..
Rove: God I love hairy Gods of Rock.
Ben …yeah Brian’s, Brian May’s guitar has been saved for the future….
Rove:… and he who can draw it from the stone and play the great Red….
Rove: (watching the clip still) It looks sensational, look at, look at this (Hannah playing the Red Special with great enthusiasm) Its’ just outstanding.
Ben: … er, 32 Queen er, top 5 hits, mainly number 1’s. er, you know, First time everything done live, 35 singers, all the operatic stuff done. I mean it’s a HUGE theatrical event. (clip ends)
Rove: How do you work the songs into, into the musical? Because if you are writing a narrative that’s completely separate, like how do you work out like first off, what songs are going to go in there and then second of all, how do you work them into a script?
Ben: Well, it’s a, I mean the songs, as I say they are epic songs so I wrote this epic story. This future world where Rock and Roll, the spirit of Rock and Roll, is kept by this gang of rebel, punk terrorist kind of guys who are called The Bohemians…
Ben … and they live, they live, they live in hope that one day The Rhapsody will return and the kids will play Rock and Roll once more. And so it’s all, you know, it’s cod, it’s fun, I mean it’s full of jokes.
Ben: (self deprecatingly) It’s a comedy, it’s a comic musical.
Rove: So, have you worked Fat Bottomed Girls into this?
Ben: Of Course!! (laughter from audience)
Rove: Excellent, I’m a happy man!
Ben: Absolutely. The Killer Queen who is the evil character sings Fat Bottom Girls with her evil acolyte. All the great, I mean the funny thing is, they’re not all in there. 32 top 5 chart hits, worldwide hits. And do you know what? I’ve got 23 more for the sequel. I mean Queen, the enormity of Queens achievement is extraordinary when you get down to it. Their Greatest Hits album - and there’s 3 of them…
Rove: Well, there’s 21 albums they released in total…
Ben: (in full flight, trying to make his point and not going to
be interrupted) Yeah..yeah.. 3 Greatest Hits albums. Now most people’s
idea of a Greatest hits album is like – The Hit, The Half Hit
and 8 Tracks nobody ever knew you recorded. (laughter)
Ben: But with Queen, like its 3 albums of Greatest Hits!!! And of course, we got it all in there. You know, fabulous, everything you want to hear. And done live and wonderfully.
Rove: Now, how do you think, speaking of the original plan for a Freddie Mercury style bio piece…..
Ben: ummm, ummm,
Rove: How do you think he would feel about the musical that you have created?
Ben: The... I mean Freddie’s legend and legacy is obviously something I took very, very seriously. To work with such a great man’s work. Although, remember, Queen were a Band. I mean – uniquely – Queen are the only Band in the history of Rock and Pop who all 4 individual members wrote number one hits. Extraordinary thing to have achieved! Even The Beatles didn’t do that. So, you know, they were 4 guys, but obviously, having Brian and Roger work so closely, and John Deacon as well, work closely on the piece. You know, Freddie was, was very much with us. I mean ‘cos Brian and Roger and John obviously knew him as well as anyone could know him. Um, and the best moment of all came when Freddie’s mother wrote to us after the show opened in London a year ago. And I got a personal letter from Freddie’s mother, and one also to the cast – just saying how much she truly believed he would have thought it was perfect. She said that he believed in the future and, and this is set in the future. He always never took himself too seriously, this show doesn’t. It’s full of laughs. Queen have the mick taken out off them quite comprehensively – and in a good way, you know. And she, the, the whole family, the whole of Freddie’s family came – sister and mother and it was just so marvellous to get that letter and it ended with “If music be the food of love – Rock On”. So good on her. That was the last line she wrote.
Rove: Excellent and a nice closing sentiment. Now, of course, the show opens here in Australia on August 7.
Ben: I’m over here, Brian and Roger are coming in tonight. We’re. we're auditioning. It’s all Australian talent, but we’re obviously overseeing the final auditions so I’m spending the week seeing this great musical theatre talent that we have here. But not just from Melbourne, people are coming in from New Zealand and all over Australia. And of course, we start rehearsing in June and 7th August at the, at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, We Will Rock You will be the biggest, the biggest, SLAB of Rock and Roll musical theatre you could ever imagine... Going to shake the continent!!!
Rove: Can not wait. He will rock you – Ben Elton everyone.
Huge applause………..fade out to ad break to the strains of We Are The Champions.