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Queen - pleasant crazyness in the crown

*Thanks Esther and her friend for translating*

(Musikexpress & Sounds 1981)
Interviewer : Bernd Gockel

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With incredible punctuality there is a new Queen-tour around christmas time. In the Queen tours of 1977, 78, 79, 80, the show itself didn't change much, not even Freddie's cool moustache could change it, but Queen-fans did not expect any changes. It's enough for them to get great new songs. And this, Queen is giving them. And Freddies "macho" behaviour does not bother the fans or the musicians, it's a show about "The King of the Queen" who himself didn't give any interviews since many years, the fans do not hear much. Bernd Gockel did succeed in getting an Interview with John Deacon, who really had interesting things to tell. For the first time he told about some unpleasant details in the crown of Queen.

The last album and the 2 singles, that you released are very successful in US. These are much simpler songs than the pompous arrangement of previous years. Why?

JOHN : Indeed the songs are less complicated than a few years ago. The reason could be the way the album was recorded. We have now been together 10 years, and decided to record it in different phases, with always only 2 or 3 songs in a few weeks and then a rest inbetween."Crazy little thing" was the first song and even if we did make very different songs after this one, it seems that this first track gave something like a sign. Anyway the whole album is simpler and more direct. Why it is this way, I have no idea.

Did you ever reach a point in the last few years, where you said, we cannot go on with those over-the-top songs, like "Mustapha" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" ?

JOHN : Well you cannot say that in this exaggerated way. When you work on a new track in a studio, you are wondering yourself, what ideas are coming out, especially when there are, like we are, 4 persons , writing very different songs. It is difficult to say what influences are coming in or if we, without knowing, go in a certain direction.

Are there different opinions and fights in the group?

JOHN : Oh, yes about the musical trend, within the group, if we take the simple songs or the complicated ones

Who is on who's side then?

JOHN : Difficult to say. Each one in the group has a different taste. Brian of course is more interested in the music for his guitar. Roger is more the Rock 'n' Roller, while I have a faible for "Black music", where the bass is more important. And Freddie? You cannot say that so easily, he has a strange taste, a little of everything, there is no style, where you could say, that is Freddie's.

Freddie, Brian and John

Are there members in the group that feel closer together cause of the musical taste?

JOHN : To be honest, there are 4 parts, each one having a very invidual, very different taste. Of course there are sometimes little groups, but the members change all the time. In groups where only one person has to say something, there is like we all know the danger that all members get forced in one way only. Fortunately with Queen it's not like this.

But it was like this in the beginning?

JOHN : Yes, in the beginning Brian and Freddie were the most important factors. They still write most of the songs, but Roger and I, we are now much more involved in the group's work. Roger in the meantime has so much own material that he has to release a solo-album. He couldn't bring it all in the group anymore.

But till now he is the only one with a Solo-Career?

JOHN : Till now, yes, I do not write as many songs as he does, but it's not frustrating for me, that I cannot bring all my songs in Queen. Freddie could make a solo-album, because he can, if he wants, be very productive.

And why doesn't he do it? Is he too lazy?

JOHN : Sometimes, yes.. I think so. As long as we work on an album he does it, but inbetween, he likes to do nothing.

How are the realtions between the members in private? Is it like with Pink Floyd, who lived for 9 months in four different places in the world and only met up in studios if they had to?

JOHN : No, No, we all live near London and see each other very often. I know it's difficult for some bands, if they live far from each other. It's important to meet regularly and discuss the problems that come up.We usually do not do things if not at least 3 of us agree. It's a democratic process.

So things are done too, even if the 4th member doesn't agree and has heavy doubts?

JOHN : It depends how heavy those doubts are. If he has really strong reasons and arguments against the decision to do something, then we do not do these things.. And this happens sometimes.

Don't you feel sometimes, after being together for 10 years, after a long tour, you don't want to see other for a few months?

JOHN : Sure we do.. It's necessary. Take The Who. They almost got lost, 2, 3 years ago, cause Pete Townsend had lost interest, but then due to the death of Keith Moon, they did start again and it all went well again. I did see them in LA and they just were great. And Pink Floyd, well, that is a strange group. We still try to make an LP and a tour every year, to reach all places, but Floyd only made a few Gigs in LA, a few In New York and an few in London and now in Dortmund. And then, for a long time, nothing anymore.

Or their new album, which is in reality nothing more than rogers solo album....

JOHN : Right, and this isn't easy for the band. Cause the fans do not know about it. They think , Pink Floyd is Pink Floyd. People from the outside do not notice the problems in a group and I can imagine that the atmosphere isn't that good if the drummer, in this case Nicky Mason, feels that he is not more than a drummer with nothing to say.

Singing John?

With Queen this is different, fortunately, even if we recently had a similar problem. We all started with the new LP, Flash Gordon, but in the end it was Brian saying what is on the disk or not. That is a very unusual thing for us, and we got some trouble with it. Brian wanted to have a german producer, with whom he worked very closely in Munich, while we would have prefered an album from Queen . We did agree then, but were not very happy about it. But for the world it was another Queen album. People from outside do not have any idea how personal some songs are. For them it's a Queen song, even if it is a very personal of one member only.

How is it then, for example with the "Another One Bites The Dust",how far is it a personal song and characteristic for you?

JOHN : This song was written cause I always wanted to do something in direction of Black-Music, Disco-Music I got it through, that this song came on the album, like it was. It's not a typical Queen song and I do not know if we ever will do something similar again.We had disagreements about this song. Our company wanted this song as a single 'cause it was very sucessful at "Black" Radio stations. Roger tried to avoid that, 'cause he said it's too disco-like and that is not good for the reputation of Queen.

Do things like this happen more often?

JOHN : It happens yes. Brian, for example doesn't like a song of Freddie's, or the other way around.We do not say this to each other right away, but you can feel it. Another One Bites The Dust is only the most recent example. Roger just didn't agree cause he thought it was too much pop and Queen shouldn't live from hit singles. He wanted to keep the hardness that we have as a Livegroup and we all agree with that.

Perhaps now a question about your show: If you for example, today still play "Bohemian Rhapsody", isn't it boring or old fashioned?

JOHN : The biggest Problem with the live shows, is that we try to get rid of old songs without people noticing it too much. And of course, Bohemian Rhapsody is old song for us, it's Queen from 1975, but it's difficult to throw it out when you know people expect to hear it.

So you make compromises there.?

JOHN : A little, we try to have old and new stuff there as much as possible.

Which songs would you like to throw out of your shows mostly?

JOHN : We try to solve this problem by bringing older hits as a medley. Sometimes Brian thinks, he doeosn't want to play his solo in the next show anymore. He says it since a long time, but then, in some way it's a feature of our show. We run against a "gumwall". Same is for Bohemian Rhapsody. that is hard for you. But you have to consider, that we always get new fans, being there for the first time, and they want to hear the old stuff too. So it can happen, that we as a long existing group have to drag around old hits. But this happens with all old groups.

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