Interviews: Brian May: St. Petersburg press conference '98
From (Brian in Russia), Transcribed by: Sergei Zhuzhlin
PLACE: St. Petersburg, Astoria Hotel
TIME: approx. 07:40 PM
from left to right - Jamie, Spike, translator, Brian, Neil, Eric, russian promoter
Promoter: Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your sits. As you know, we had some delays, but it's not that important as the event which will take place tomorrow in the Lensovet House of Culture. And at first let s give Brian a chance to hare his first impressions, and after that we ll proceed to your questions.
Brian May: I'm very excited, I can't stop smiling. It's amazing It's kind of a miracle for me at my age to do something completely different. It's the place where I ve never been despite the fact that Queen toured almost all over the world. It's just a great meeting, I was very excited when we first saw the lights as the plane landed. Because all through my childhood we were hold up to the thing that Russia was the enemy. And all the time Well, you know that people are same everywhere, people are people and it's politicians who make wars, cold wars. And my first impressions - driving through the when we were driving from the airport to the city and the limo driver was telling us about his impressions and also his history. And his, you know, traditions and what freedom and what changes took place. It was something quite magical for me because I don't believe in news-papers, you know, really. And you never know whether the people are telling you the truth or not, it's the first time I heard it from the lips of someone in Russia, that s great. And then we saw the'square and the'stuff, it's all very beautiful. It's amazing.
And we are here with my beautiful group, we are all good friends and the best musicians. And I guarantee that you ll see something special.
Promoter: So, your questions, please.
Question: Brian, when you were entering the hotel there were many young fans (13-14 years old) waiting for you. You are supporting Queen fan-club in London, are there fans from Russia?
Brian May: Yes, there are people who correspond directly. I was very excited to meet them (fans near hotel) as well. It's very different feeling, we re touring all over most of the Europe, but to come here and see people, look into their eyes and to know that this is the very first contact in a way, very exciting. And I think they were excited to see us as much as I am.
Q: And how is the fan-club is operating, how often you visit it, how often you meet with your fans?
Brian May: I don't visit it very often, but I talk to Jacky in London. Normally, if I'm not on the road I'd like to have very private life, I have to rest. So I don't come along to be part of the
Can I introduce to those people? This is Neil Murray bass-guitar, Neil s amm These are all musicians from very good groups. Neil s been to such groups like, I'm sure you know, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath, etc. This is Spike Edney, Spike Edney goes a long way back to Queen days, when he helped us with extra keyboards. So this is Spike Edney. And Jamie Moses, who had actually very parallel career to mine. But not that successive. [Jamie laughs] And this is Eric Singer, the drummer, also has a very impressive list, worked with Alice Cooper and Kiss. And we have two beautiful ladies, who are unfortunately not at this table, but they are in the hotel. They are doing backing vocals. They are also very experienced and it's a pure accident that they are very beautiful as well.[laughter]
Sergei Zhuzhlin: Brian, you ve been playing Brighton Rock Solo for almost thirty years. [Brian s laughter] May be it's time to think up something new? [VERY loud Spike s laughter - the band laughs] Ain t you tied of it?
Brian May: I think Neil will comment this, because he'says that only now I'm getting that right... But this Solo isn t something bigotry, I do it if I feel like. And it's It depends how I feel what happens, so I don't play the'same things. Strange enough after five years off the road I was thinking: I'm sure I don't want to do Solo, because it's too obvious , but there s a kind of amm I dunno, I still find it stimulating to work with echoes, it's something which I enjoy. And it's sort of interactive thing with the audience, it depends on what are faces of people are about. I think I have more freedom with that, with Queen there was a certain feeling of obligation, because people expected to see what Queen was. Now if I m left along with guitar I don't feel any obligations to anything so it doesn t have to be like Brighton Rock. Nevertheless in Russia I probably feel more inclined to play old stuff, because they never had a chance to see it, so we ll do different songs from different areas, though out history I suppose, or my history I think. Usually on this tour I'm very much fixed on what I'm doing is new and I'm moving on and I'm not some kind of fossil, but in this situation I think we have a lot of history to catch up.
Q: Brian, do you consider yourself as a founder member of Queen?
Brian May: Am... It was sort of fortunes thing. Yes, I suppose I ve made the first moves, but it was a wonderful accident that pushed us to do what we finally did. We started off from an advert in college written by me first it was Roger and I and then Freddie happened to be a friend and John was a friend of a friend. So yes I suppose I was the force to put it all together. But it was something from above apart from that.
Q: When the last time you visited Freddie s grave and what were your feelings?
Brian May: I don't visit his grave cos there isn t one. It's something which his family keep completely private. But I think about him every day and that s the way I deal with it.
Q: Queen shows were always theatrical, they were always dramatized, may be even there was a part of grotesque
Brian May: Grotesque? Is it what you think? Does everybody here thinks that our shows were grotesque?
Q: May be it's my own point of view.
Brian May: Well, it's an interesting point of view.
Q: But they were obviously dramatized.
Brian May: You mean dramatized by us or dramatized by the audience.
Q: By you.
Brian May: Uh what s the question? [laughter] I know your point of view, but what s the question?
Q: What s the difference between those shows and your solo performances?
Brian May: Well, I still believe that a show is a show. I come from the kind of background which was very amm it was very uncool at that time, when we started doing those shows. So I still believe that we must have the best possible sound, the best possible people, the best possible sound, the best possible lighting. And it is most of the'show, plus you give away your emotions, feelings. But the way it is different, well I suppose, cos I'm very different person to Freddie as the front person. Freddie was very much he was the perfect rock-god, you know. And I have a different feelings, I like to be dramatic, I like to be loud, but there s the other side of me which likes to be interment, I like at some point say: This is just me, this is I'm very simple as you are, this is I'm, this is me too . So I suppose I'm very different. I don't like to be always kind of staging, I'd like to be interment as well. It comes through my songs, my songs tend to be more about human feelings.
Alex Smirnov: Brian, first of all I would like to thank you for your tour and for those few concerts which I have already seen
Brian May: Brilliant! Thank you.
Alex Smirnov: On this tour for the first time you used prototypes of your guitar rather then original Red Special
Brian May: Oh, she is here. I never played a concert without it. I don t use it on every song cos we use different tuning, but all the latter part of the'show I play on it.
Alex Smirnov: I thought that on this tour those new guitars are causing many technical problems, may be it's time to get back to Old Lady?
Brian May: I don't understand that, cos I still use it, and all other guitars are for the different sound. But the three new ones that I have, actually we have two here, were made by Greg Fryer from Australia. They are so close to mine that if I close my eyes it's very hard to understand on what guitar I'm playing. They are almost identical to mine. So everything s fine.
And you must ask the other guys.
Q: The question to your musicians: how do you feel being in Brian May Band? Do you feel independence or is he a tyrant?
Eric Singer: No, he is very very mellow person. I have to say that Brian probably is the easiest nicest that I ever worked with. And worked with a lot of people.
Brian May: Thank you.
Eric Singer: I worked with the worst and the best, that s the best.
Neil Murray: Brian s got a lot of emotion and feelings and you have to flow along that down to his mood that makes him even more interesting. That makes his music very interesting.
Spike Edney: I worked with him five years ago in the Brian May Band and now when he choused us to get together again very kind or very stupid. [Brian s laughter] Joke!
Jamie Moses: As a guitar player working with Brian my job s safe.[laughter] It's great to play with him in harmony, very cool.
Q: Mr. May, can you tell us about you work in the cinema?
Brian May: Yes, I ve done a lot of stuff with films and I find it very stimulating. Because I tend to be very intermoralized kind of person it s very good for me to have stimulus from outside.
Q: And why you don't use your guitar very often in the films?
Brian May: Ah, well I do. But I guess not all of that stuff can be guitar music. I think it would tine itself down very to tightly with everything mattering guitar. The Flash Gordon soundtrack I ve used a lot of guitar. I was very proud of that, cos I think it was really the first soundtrack, the first real rock-guitar soundtrack, though the film was not about rock-guitar. As a musician whether it's on your own or you writing for a film you very consciously chose what to do, sometimes it's guitar, sometimes something different.
Sergei Zhuzhlin: And how many people realized who was Just William [Brian smiles] from Pinocchio soundtrack?
Brian May: Only YOU and one other guy. [cheering]
Sergei Zhuzhlin: I know.
Brian May: Uh-huh!
Alex Fedotov: A question to Eric Singer. Please tell us about your project ESP (Eric Singer Project), what are your plans after finishing this tour with Brian May Band?
Eric Singer: I don't know. I take life and everything one day at a time, today I'm in Russia.
Alex Fedotov: Among Kiss fans there is a rumor that you may join Kiss for a tour, as their drummer has health problems.
Eric Singer: I don't know about this. They started a tour last week and he's alright, I hope so. Rumors are called rumors for reason.
Q: Brian, the AIDS problem is close to you, are you involved in AIDS charity?
Brian May: Well, there is a charity called Freddie Mercury Pheonix Trust started off as a pure to control the money donations from Freddie Tribute. We all thought about it as a shorter thing, but it was kept of it mainly because of so much good will from or fellow musicians, friends and fans. So money are still flowing up to now, I think it's more then three million pounds which are going to various AIDS charities all around the world. We have a lady who works in Montreux in Switzerland and she takes advises from various offices where the money can be spend. It's not that easy to control that at all.
Q: I have a very different question. How expensive are your wonderful white shoes (clogs)?
Brian May: My shoes? Very cheep, the tour is expensive! [laughter]
Q: Do you have your own fashion designer?
Brian May: Me and fashion don't have any contact, really. It's not something that interested me. I'm not interested in fashion or clothes. If it's good it's good.
Q: Brian, recently Moris Bejar visited Russia with his Ballet For Life . Have you been to it's premier and what do you think about the using of Queen music in it?
Brian May: It depends on who is using and in this case the man is the genies. And it's a great complement that he chose our music.
Q: Have you seen it (the ballet)?
Brian May: Oh yes, we ve seen some of the rehearsals in Losana and we even performed at it's premier in Paris with Elton. It was Elton John s idea and I think it was the only time when Roger, John and I played together after Tribute in 92.
Q: As far as I know your early band once supported Jimi Hendrix, what happened to the other members of your band?
Brian May: Well, you know about Roger? Roger Taylor. There were only three of us really. And the other was the guy called Tim. I see him quite regularly, he is a very successful man in different areas. He is really at the top of his profession, which is kind of model-making. So he is fine.
Promoter: Dear colleagues, this is the end of press-conference. Brian have arrived just hours ago, so he must have a rest. We all must say thank you to Brian and his musicians and tomorrow we ll all meet at the concert. Also I want to remind you that all this became possible only with the invaluable help of St-Petersburg Bank of Industrial Building. Thank you. And our thanks to Brian and his band. [applause]