Interviews: Freddie Mercury: Melody Maker '84
MM: A Rolling Stone article about Queen in Argentina once described you as ‘the first truly fascist rock band’ Does that say anything to you?
Freddie Mercury: Oh dear, Oh dear. Noooooo okay explain it to me. What does it mean?
MM I was asking you
A whole lot of journalists came form all over the world to see us play in Argentina. It had never been done before, and we just happened to be popular enough with them. In Sao Paulo we played to 120,000 one night and 130,000 the next night. It was very new to them. It was not like North America. There was no such thing as any organisation. It could have turned out to be a totally unruly crowd, so they had the Death Squad doing the security.
MM: The Death Squad?
The heavy, heavy police who actually kill people at the drop of a hat. They were called in to protect us. We were actually taken from one place to another in armoured vehicles that are used for riots. And when the journalists watch that it becomes political. The music’s got nothing to do with it. I mean, before we came on stage the whole military was up front with bayonets. Just in case. They thought that if anybody could get such a vast audience it could become political. They pleaded with me not to sing ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’
MM: How do you feel in the middle of a scene like that?
Oh, very powerful. You feel like the devil. You feel you could run riot with all these people. Somebody else with a different mentality could really use it to their political advantage. Or disadvantage.
MM: You like to have thousands of people chanting your name?
Of course, It’s wonderful. The adrenalin’s there. Absolutely wonderful. But I suddenly think ‘I’ve got all this power, I can DESTROY!’ It’s not a destructive thing I’m too wonderful for that DARLING. I’M TOO GOOD.
MM: Ands now you’re off to South Africa. No qualms, no crises of conscience about that I suppose?
John Deacon: None whatsoever. Throughout our career we’ve been a non-political group. We enjoy going to new place. We’ve toured America and Europe so many times that it’s nice to go somewhere different.
Everybody’s been to South Africa it’s not as though we’re setting a precedent. Elton John’s been there, Rod Stewart, Cliff Richard. I know there can be a lot of fuss but apparently we’re very popular down there.
MM: With the whites or the blacks.
Mainly white but we also sell to a black audience. I think ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ crossed over. Basically we want to play wherever the fans want to see us.
Mercury: and there’s lots of money to be made, and I’m in this business to make money also.
MM: Roger you recorded Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters Of War’ on your recent solo album. Is that not a little hypocritical when your group makes a point of playing for the most vicious and repressive governments in the world?
Roger Taylor: Bollocks! Come off it! In Argentina we were Number One when that stupid war was going on and we had a fantastic time there and that can only be for the good. Music is totally international
MM: You don’t consider that you’re the puppets of the government when you go there?
We were in a way. But we weren’t playing for the government. We were playing to lots of ordinary Argentinian people. In fact we were asked to meet the President, President Viola and I refused. Didn’t want to meet him, because that would have been playing into their hands.
We went ther to do some rock music for the people. I can’t see much wrong with that. In fact, it seems to me that you hurt the average fan more by not going than by going.
MM: Who would ‘Masters of War’ be directed at then, If the Argentine generals don’t apply?
People who make military equipment, people who make money out of the arms race.
MM: Freddie, I understand you were upset about a story in The Sun that claimed you had ‘confessed’ to being homosexual.
Freddie: I was completely misquoted. But from the beginning, the press have always written whatever they wanted about Queen, and they can get away with it. The woman who wrote that story wanted a total scoop from me and didn’t get anything. I said: "What do you want to hear? That I deal cocaine?" but for God’s sake, If I want to make big confessions about my sex life, would I go to The Sun, Of all Papers, to do it? There’s no fucking way I’d do that. I’m too intelligent.
MM: But this is a good time to be gay. It’s good for business.
Isn’t it? Isn’t it? But it’s wrong for me to be gay now because I’ve been in the business for 12 years. It’s good to be gay or anything outrageous if your new. But even if I tried that, people would start yawning ‘Oh god here’s Freddie Mercury saying he’s gay because it’s trendy to be gay’
MM: Haven’t you always played with that image though?
When I started off, rock bands were all wearing jeans, and suddenly here’ Freddie Mercury in a Zandra Rhodes frock with make-up and black nail varnish. It was totally outrageous. In a way |Boy George has just updated that thing, the whole glam-rock bit. George is more like a drag queen. It’s the same outrage it’s doubled.
MM: John aren’t you fed up with Queen’s manipulation of a flamboyant, camp image for more than a decade?
John Deacon: I don’t think about it much. We just go on stage and we are who we are. Obviously most of that comes from Freddie. He’s always been that way. I do sometimes but that’s just a personal opinion. I don’t much like the ‘It’s A hard Life’ video. For me that’s too contrived, too dressed up.
Roger Taylor: Yeah, I tried to get most of my scenes out of that one.
MM: Brian they like you at Guitar Player magazine. Wouldn’t you prefer it if Queen was more musical and less theatrical?
Brian May: That’s a very loaded question. Not easy to answer. I like the dramatic side of it in terms of dramatic accompaniment to the music. Because the music is dramatic. I don’t think we end being less musical because we get involved in the theatrics. If your asking what kind of theatrics I like that’s a different question, I prefer rock theatrics to showbiz theatrics. We all have different feelings on that.
MM: You mean you’d like to throw away the camp end of it?
You can’t throw it away because there’s four of us in the band and we all have to have some kind of outlets.
MM: And when the ‘showbiz theatrics’ dominate?
Sometimes it can be too much. Or maybe that’s just an inside view, The man in the street loves all that stuff. Like if you have two consecutive tracks on an album and one is more musical and the other is more…..camp or just more easy to assimilate, there’s no question which one the public will go for. I sometimes get the feeling that the musical details I concern myself with are only noticed by me and a few other guitar players. I consider myself a craftsman really and approach studio work in that way.
MM: Freddie Mercury says that the reason Queen albums take so long to record is because you can spend a year working on one song, while he likes to do one a day.