Mary Turner 1984 Interview
This interview with conducted by American Westwood One 'Off The Record' radio host Mary Turner. It was recorded in Munich, Germany, in 1984. Given that Freddie talks about the recently completed 'I Want To Break Free' promo video, and the fact that he hasn't done much work on his solo album, it was likely recorded in March 1984; the 'I Want To Break Free' single was released on 2 April, and many of the early demos of 'Mr Bad Guy' tracks were recorded in April and May, so the interview must precede these.
This is a lengthy interview, lasting 74:10. Freddie is obviously very relaxed, smoking and drinking throughout, and it makes a very interesting interview, with Freddie talking about the latest album 'The Works', promo videos, songwriting, recording, his solo project, future plans, and other aspects of his life and career.
The interview was released on a CD as part of the 'The Great Pretender' book in 2012. The disc is housed in a red wallet, attached to the inside cover of the front sleeve. I have added breaks to the interview, however these are just to make it easier to read and do not mean there is an actual break in the interview.
Other interviews of interest are the numerous David Wigg Interviews, the 'A Musical Prostitute' 1984 interview and 'The Last Interview' from 1987.
Mary: I wanna talk first of all about Munich as an environment. Do you think where you record an album has something to do with the way it sounds?
Freddie: Oh, very much so, very much so. I think, with us, I think, always a different environment helps, I mean, we don't really like going to the same, in the early days we used to go on the same studios all the time, and after a while it really got you down, and we went, the last couple of years we went out of our way to actually go to different studios, so that we just, so that it was new, it was fresh, but mind you having said that, I contradict myself, this is the only studio we do come back now, just at the tail end, is Munich, because we know what it's like for the tail end, whereas for, to start now we try something different, like the last album was done in L.A, that was the first time we ever used those studios, fuck I forget what the name was, er, oh God, er, oh you must know
Mary: It was at the Record Plant
Freddie: Yes, Record Plant, that's right (laughs). I forget, I forget, my God
Mary: I'm gonna need this to be kinda more (talking about the microphone)
Freddie: Even here it's not happening?
Mary: Well it's happening, but it puts more on mic, you know, unless you're talking directly into it. Erm, yeah, came to see you guys at the Record Plant when, you were there, I don't remember what month that was, and there was me, Brian, and the engineer, waiting for all the rest of you. I don't know where you guys were but you never showed
Freddie: I didn't, I didn't see you there, did I?
Mary: No, but er, Munich, as opposed to your own studio in Montreux?
Freddie: I hate my studio to be honest (laugh). They'll kill me for saying that. No, I mean, we've used that as well you see, and I, oh God, they'll kill me for saying this, I, I like Montreux, but I mean only for like a couple of days, and that's not enough to make an album. It's nice, it's very scenic, I mean you've got a wonderful view, it's a beautiful lake, and it's nice, I mean I just, I don't mind doing, I don't mind doing a few, maybe the odd track there, but I mean I'd hate to sort of think beforehand that I'd be saddled with a whole album over there, or even a major part of it, I just couldn't go through with it, in, you know, in our own studios. Munich I like, because I like the city, I like, it's very clean, it's very safe, when you live in New York and then you come to Munich you just think, you, you can have your car, and you can park it anywhere without thinking oh God it's gonna be gone by the time you come back, and it's just different, it's, apart from the fact that everybody speaks German, (laughs), it's OK, I'm learning a little bit of German too
Mary: But you also did, was it the mixing of this album in L.A?
Freddie: No, the mixing was done here (Mary: oh the mixing was done) that's why I said earlier on, it's nice to come back to, for the tail end, it's nice to come back to a studio that you do know, and recognise, so that you know what the sounds are gonna be like
Mary: Is this the first digitally mastered album you've done?
Freddie: Yeah, yeah, that's right, yeah
Mary: What's, what's that mean?
Freddie: Oh, don't ask me, I don't know tech-, I don't know tech-, you have to ask Mack, it's just, you just get a cleaner sound, and you just bypass certain generations of tape that way, you know it's just a new way of doing it, it's all very clean, and you virtually get, you virtually get the kind of sound that you do create in the studio, outside, because most of the times when you, when you do it in the studio, and by the time it gets on record, it's, it's, you know, you lose a generation, and sort of, it's just, it's basically just trying to get the cleanest sound possible that you can get, and digital masterings are almost there, you know, they're the cleanest at the moment. Apart from that, that is about as much technology I know. Ask me about something more fruity, go on
Mary: OK, the last album was kind of a, we talked about it when it came out, kind of a departure for Queen, and it seems on this, you know more on the funky side it was
Freddie: Yeah, everybody seemed to hate it, it was just something different, it was very different, we were out on a limb, and we wanted to do something, and I still think that it was a good album, I mean, I know it didn't, of course the only way people gauge albums these days is if it was successful or not. If it's a successful album, then it's a good album, I mean you know, that's the way I guess you have to gauge it, but I, but, for a musician I mean of course, I mean, we wouldn't have put it out if we thought it was as second rate album to start with, I mean, but we were, we were out on a limb, we wanted to do the things that a rock 'n' roll act hadn't done before, I mean, go straight into the black area and do funky stuff and, and it's OK if you sort of do things like that in the beginning, but after a while if a group is, you know if people sort of get to know you in a particular way, and then you change so quickly sometimes you know, it's hard to grasp, and then the timing and, you know, it's got to be, it's gotta come out at the right time, I still think that if that album say came out about say now, people would be more aware of it, wouldn't you say (Mary agrees) at that time, you know, now that Michael Jackson has suddenly happened and, and, you know it's being at the right place at the right time
Mary: Speaking of Michael Jackson, you guys are good pals
Freddie: Yeah, yeah, we're still, well we worked, we worked on three tracks, I mean that's about a year ago, and we still haven't finished them. My sort of projects never seem to get finished, I don't know why (Mary laughs). Maybe it's me, maybe it's me. No it's, he's very busy, we talk to each other now and again, and firstly I was gonna be on the 'Thriller' album, then I was supposed to do something for The Jacksons album, and he's in L.A, I'm in Munich, and, well something might happen on my solo album you see, I've got something up my sleeve (Mary: a-ha) if there's time, you know, I might go to L.A or, and finish these tracks, you know, I'd like to finish the tracks, the funny thing about it, we wrote a song together called 'Victory', we haven't finished it at all, and I hear that the Jacksons new album is called 'Victory', but I don't think the song's on it, so he's just used the title. I'll kill him if he's used the song without me
Mary: You hear that, Michael. He's taking a ton of crap right now from Jehovah's Witnesses, I guess he's quite a religious guy, right? Well they're saying that he's much too suggestive and
Freddie: No, he is a Jehovah's Witness, so I mean
Mary: But they're saying, they're saying that he's not behaving like one and he seems like rather a clean living kind of person to me
Freddie: I don't know, to be honest I don't know, how does, how does one live like a Jehovah's Witness? I mean I suppose you've got to do, the only thing I know about that is there's, you're not allowed to have any blood transfusions and things like that, which I think he's deadly against, you know. I don't know, I didn't know that he was, I thought he was quite, quite keen on that thing, I know he loves animals and things like that, he's OK, he's alright
Mary: I think it's the dancing that's got them down. I think they think it's -
Freddie: Is that it? He's got to do something for a living, my God. He's a musician and, I don't know, I think, I think he does everything quite, quite OK, I think, I mean I couldn't do what he does, because I mean it's a totally different life, I mean he's just, doesn't eat meat and, but each to his own, you know, I think in the end it's the music that counts, and he comes up with very good music. He's a good lad, he's a real good lad
Mary: This being your thirteenth, is it your thirteenth album?
Freddie: Yes that's right, yeah
Mary: God that's amazing
Freddie: Number thirteen
Mary: Lucky thirteen. Is it hard to -
Freddie: Makes you sound so old
Mary: Is it hard to stay motivated?
Freddie: It is hard, yes, it does get, there's different ways of looking at it, I mean sometimes you just think OK, you've done enough, and you want to do, you do want to do different things, I mean I'm still hungry to do things, but it's not, it's not the same kind of hunger, it's a bit sort of, you know, OK, you've done a cert-, and so, you think I'm gonna try this, and if it doesn't work I'm gonna try something else, it's not that, it's got to be this, and this has got to happen, you know, this has got to work this time, there's no sort of, it hasn't got that knife edge, but it's, there are different ways of looking at it I mean you're, you're more mature, you're more experienced, and so you have to look at it a bit more, a bit, with more cooler outlet, you know, it's just got to be a bit more cool and a, I don't know, I don't mean blasé by that, I just mean that you just be a bit more experienced about it, you know you don't have to rush things
Mary: Plus, I would think that change is very important to a band that's been around as long as Queen, because how can you stay interested personally?
Freddie: You're dead right, we hate each other (Mary laughs) we hate each other's guts. No, it's just, no we've sort of been together thirteen or fourteen years, and after that time, I mean, if you're still together you, you like each other instinctively, and you don't have to sort of think about spending social time together and things which we, we hardly ever do, together, so basically we only come together when there is music or, so basically it's a job. I, I think we all look upon it as, and we are professional enough to think about it that way, and I think that's good, so we keep away from each others territories to be honest, otherwise we would, I think I'd just tear all my hair out and you know, jump out of a tall building, to be honest, if I had to sort of, you know, live the way we did in the early days, but that, you, a group has to go through all that, you know, to start with, because you have to know, you have to get to know each other, and musical abilities and this and that, I think we've, we've done a lot together, and I don't know, I think, now, now all, now all we're doing is just staying together to make music, which is what we were initially there to do
Mary: Does the idea of 'how can we top this' ever enter into...?
Freddie: It happened at a very early stage, after 'Bohemian Rhapsody', it was like, people were saying how are they gonna top this, I mean if you, if you go sleep, sleep at nights thinking about how you're gonna top what you did, I mean you just, that is gonna be your downfall, you know you've just got to say OK it's done, that's the way I, I look at it, I mean music is just, it's a big consumer thing, you just, you just consume, as far as our music is, I think I said the last time, as far as our music is concerned, people should just listen to it and discard it and wait, and wait for, that's what people do, wait for the next one (Mary: dispos-) I don't like harping on, of course they keep coming back, you know 'Bohemian Rhapsody' always comes back, 'We Are The Champions', all that was, and people have to take note of that, but I mean as far as I'm concerned, all those, those days are over, that era is over, that type of music is, is now over, and I don't wish to even think about it or write about it
Mary: Disposable I think is the word you used
Freddie: Disposable, yeah, yeah, that's right yeah, like a tampon (laughs). Yes, yes it's, I like it that way, that keeps it fresh, I mean even like say 'The Works' , OK, the album is very current at the moment, but as far as I'm concerned, the music part is over, OK it's still selling or whatever, but I'm thinking in terms of what I'm gonna do next already, you know it's just like it's, it is like a sausage factory after a while, you know, it's like music is, it's become that way, I mean to me it's just a, it's a packet of sausages you know, you just market it, and I just want people to eat it and that's it
Mary: But you are, then, like a sausage company improving the product, you're changing the product as the times change?
Freddie: Yes that's what I, that's what, that's what most bands are, I mean they can't harp on one album, you know otherwise that would be it, you can't make one good album and say OK this is it, you know, you know, you know how, how much can you get out of one album, you know, OK you can have it in your collection, and sort of listen to it, but people want you know new stuff every day and music is like that, and people do have to be very aware and change with the times and see what's going on and I'd like to think that Queen's music does change for the times, and I know it does, I know it does, and I mean it would be awful to keep coming up with the same formula all the time, number one it would be boring for us, and I think it would be every boring for, for the public and the press would have a field day. The press have a field day with us anyway
Mary: And I don't think you would have stuck around for as long as you have
Freddie: No I don't think so, I don't think so
Mary: I must tell you, when I was in London the other day and a taxi driver, I told him that I was gonna come and see you in Munich, and you were his favourite band, but he said he was so pissed off because he'd seen Duran Duran on some TV show and they said well we're bigger than The Beatles, and he's going God who are these guys (Freddie: I know, well) they've got three albums, where do they think they're coming from
Freddie: Well I don't know, sometimes people get, I guess they, they're aiming high, and things like that, and then they sort of, I mean nobody's bigger than The Beatles, I mean it's just something that's happened, and you just, I suppose, I mean The Beatles will always be a sort of, a sort of way to sort, a way to gauge yourself, they're always a gauging point, you know, trying to be bigger than them, but it's just, you know you have to sort of, to be bigger than them, or even to sort of come anywhere near, somebody like The Beatles, you just have to, it has to start from the very beginning, you've just got to sort of, I mean like Michael Jackson now is, in a way, one of the biggest things going, because he's sold more records than anybody else, and he's won all these awards, and this and that, that, he's suddenly set a whole new precedent, you know, and that's what makes somebody huge and big, and that's the way it, it either happens very quickly, earlier on, or forget it. I know Michael's been in the business a long time, but I mean to a lot of people, he's a new artist, because he's suddenly changed, and he's still only about twenty four, twenty five
Mary: God, is he that young, that's amazing
Freddie: Makes you sick
Mary: Makes me sick too. Would you like to win a Grammy, does that, the idea of that turn you on at all?
Freddie: Oh, it would be nice, but I mean I'm not gonna lose sleep over it, not gonna lose sleep over it, no. I'm quite happy the way I am at the moment, yeah
Mary: Well you always seem to have a good time, no matter what you're doing
Freddie: You have to, otherwise you know, I mean, I just, I don't, I don't, I used to worry a lot, but I mean I just don't worry about it anymore, I mean you just, it just ages you, for a start, no, it's not, you just don't, you don't need to worry actually, I mean you just, I'm not saying I don't have any problems, of course, everybody has problems, but I mean, I don't seem to worry about them so much as I used to before, you know I used to be far more nervous than I, than I am, I'm just so highly strung anyway, that I'm always gonna be that, and, no I'm not worried about it, I mean, I just, I just want to keep moving on
Mary: What's made you be less nervous now?
Freddie: Old age, I guess (laughs)
Mary: Prefer to think of it as maturity, Freddie, not old age
Freddie: Yeah, I know, I said that, I said that, I said that earlier on. No, I'm just more set in my ways now, and I'm just, I seem to be able to control things a bit better, and that doesn't mean just musically, it's the whole organisation around me, you know things and people in business, the people who work for me, everything, and I just, I mean I, I, I just sort of said to myself that I know that there's always gonna be problems, people always have problems, and I think what happens is you try and overcome them, you try and sort of, you know, sort of cross the you know, overcome the obstacle, and you do, you do that, and then there's always two in its place, so I mean I've just said to myself, that there's always going to be as far as, in my profession and the way I live, there's always going to be problems, no matter what you do, so I just think OK, I'll just take, take them as they come, so I've become more sort of complacent in as far as that's concerned, rather than worry about it, otherwise I'll just get, you know I'll just worry myself to death
Mary: If there's one underlying theme on this album, it seems to be kind of lamenting sterile machine kind of things and the way radio is getting, you know, that pops up a couple of times on the album, it's not a conc-
Freddie: I'm trying, I'm trying to think, I mean, the way this album is, it's just, I don't think there's a concept in it at all, to be honest, it's just a bunch of songs that four people have written, and they happen to be on an album and people have to try and make a concept out of it and if there's a thread running through it, or if there's some sort of meaning, it's just a bunch of songs and sometimes two or three songs seem to fall in one category so people come out and so OK maybe they're doing, I know 'Machines' and the clinical part of it is one aspect, but that's I think from Brian's point of view because he's still more guitar orientated and, and he writes that way, as far as I, I write just, each song is different, you know, I just, I had a bunch of songs and I just chose about three or four of them and they happen to be on the album. There's love ballads and there's happy songs, and there's, I don't know, to be honest I don't think there is any kind of concept that runs through it, it's just, all I know is there's just, there's just about every kind of song that you can get from Queen and, so we just threw them on, on the disc and, that's why we called it 'The Works', because it is the works, we just tried every, you know, every possible attack on every, on every song that there was, and I think 'The Works', 'The Works' is a good title for it. Apart from that, I don't think there's any hidden meanings for anything
Mary: Because it does seem to have things that are reminiscent of almost every phase of Queen, and you've gone through a lot of different phases, because I was listening to the first couple of albums
Freddie: I think after, after 'Hot Space', where we actually tried to channel ourselves in one direction, especially on the first side, we thought this time we would just leave it to our individual creativity and what came out was a bunch of very different songs, and rather than try and group them, and try and get, force a style out of them, like you were saying earlier on, and make a concept of it which 'Hot Space' was, more black orientated and things, we just said no, we'll just let the songs do the things, that's the strength, and then we just had to group the songs together basically and we just thought, yeah that's 'The Works', we just thought it doesn't matter if a song is so totally out of concept, we're just gonna put it on anyway because it's a Queen song
Mary: How do you come up with the songs, is everybody writing all, all the time, between albums?
Freddie: Yeah, it's very, it's quite, it's quite competitive now, even just within the, within the band, fucking hell I mean it's like, it's quite, before it even gets out, to the public and then it's competitive with all the other bands that are around, I mean, it starts off being competitive within the group, because I mean, you know, they're four, four good writers, and equally sort of adept at doing things and there are no passengers, so I mean, especially now Roger's writing very well, and so is John, and so, because Brian and I used to be the principal writers, now I think that we all write the same, so there's a good, there's a good fight right at the start and we just basically come up with our own ideas and present it to each other and just say OK, what do you think, and then the fighting starts, and if we don't like it we just say, or you know, I seem to have more, I seem to participate more on say John's or Roger's tracks, I mean they let me help them and suggest more things. Brian's got his own sort of writing ideas, and they're very strong to start with anyway, so I mean he's just, I don't seem to be able to get into his ideas so much, but in a way that's quite good, I'd rather leave it to him, and it doesn't mean I just stay out of it altogether, I let him sort of do a lot of it, whereas, whereas with John's songs or Roger's songs, I mean I sort of get in there at quite an early stage and they sort of, you know, they don't mind me sort of tearing it apart and sort of piecing it back together again
Mary: Lyrically speaking, you mean?
Freddie: Every, every way. Yeah, sometimes I take, sometimes I take the whole song over, like, well I don't mind saying it, it's like 'Radio Ga Ga', I just instantly felt that there was something, there was going to be something, you know, it could build, that could, you could build that into a really good, a strong saleable commodity, and I think Roger was just thinking of it as just another track on an album, and I just said no I think it needs, so I virtually took it over, and I sent him on a, he went on a holiday, a skiing holiday for about a week and came back and I virtually, but it's basically his song, you know, he had the ideas there together and I just, I just felt that there was, you know, some construction elements in there that were wrong to start with, and he just said OK you do what you want
Mary: That's the first biggie for Roger, isn't it, first, first hit?
Freddie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh, definitely yeah, he wanted that very badly, and I think he, he deserves it, yeah, it's a big hit in the Europe, in Europe and places
Mary: It would be true to say wouldn't it that audiences both at concerts and radio audiences in different countries like different things, don't they?
Freddie: Of course, it would be so boring if everybody liked the same song
Mary: Well you know, in the United States though, it's so big, but a top forty single that's number one in New York is almost sure to be a top forty single in L.A too
But that's Americans, they're Americans, I mean you, you're talking about the whole world, I mean like Japanese culture, the way Germans consume product, it's just, it's all very different, yeah. This, sometimes it does amaze me where if you write a song which is, which is a good song and it sells in say three quarters of the market, you're just, you're so, I get, I'm dumbfounded to find out why sometimes it doesn't sell at all in, in say something like America, I mean, 'Mull Of Kintyre' which is a Paul McCartney song, was one of the biggest hits in England, I mean it is the biggest single ever written, it's the biggest selling single in England, 'Mull Of Kintyre', it's sold over two million or something like that, and it was never even released in America in that way, because he just felt, or the company or whatever, felt immediately that it wasn't gonna be, so they, they turned the single around, I'm sure I'm right, and they got the B-side of that as the A-side in America. I'm sure McCartney was pissed off
Mary: I'm sure he was too
Freddie: Phoebe, want some more wine. Some more wine.
Mary: You co-wrote a song with Brian on this album
Freddie: I know. There should be an eclipse. That was a very, I liked, I liked the way we actually approached that song, because it was a, we were looking at all the songs we had, and we just, we thought that we were, the one thing that we didn't have, the one thing that we didn't have was one of those real limpid ballads (laughs), or the lilting type, you know, the 'Love Of My Life' type things, and rather than sort of, one of us saying OK I'm gonna go back and do it, go back and think about it and write it, Brian, I just said to Brian why don't we just think of something, write it, right here, and that, that song just evolved in about two days, he just got an acoustic, and I just sat next to him, and we just worked it out together, and I like it, that's why it's sparse, and the other thing is also we only had like a couple of days to, because it was the tail end of, of the project, and we had to get the album released, there was a deadline, and that kind of pressure sort of helped, and I came up with the, the lyrical side, and he came up with the chords, and something just happened, and it's the first, first time we ever, we never ever, see if we actually thought beforehand and said OK, you know, Brian and I should sit down and write a song together, I don't think it would have ever happened because I mean then all kinds of egos would have played havoc to start with and who does what, and this way we didn't have time to think about it, we just sort of went in there, got it together, and if it didn't work we were gonna throw it out, and it seemed to work, and it was sort of quite strong, and we said yes, this should work very well as a tail, a tail end of the album
Mary: I would have guessed that Brian wrote the lyrics, and that you did the -
Freddie: Well honey, I did (laughs)
Mary: You altruistic little thing you
Freddie: It sounds, it's, that's the way it is, it's sort o f, they sound like, like Brian's things, they're so more in depth, and I know it sounds like that, but I can come up with those too it's, it's just something that, no I mean I wouldn't like to say that I wrote it all, Brian had, I mean he was there, but I, I remember that I, most of the lyrics on that album, on that song, are mine yes, but I mean Brian did help with the odd, the line here and there, I mean if he wrote them I would say yes
Mary: Are, are lyrics important to you, or are they disposable also?
Freddie: They're, they're, no they're very important to me, in the fact that they're very, they're very hard, I find them very difficult, and I, I sometimes feel that, I always feel my melodies are much stronger, and I find that my lyrics seem to sort of bring the song down, so I have to really work hard at my lyrics to sort of bring up, bring the standard up, and I wish I was Elton John and had Bernie Taupin to write all my lyrics sometimes, but no, I like to write them myself, I find them very difficult, they're the most difficult thing for me
Mary: Speaking of Elton, another good friend of yours, were you as shocked as the rest of the world, his marriage on Valentine's day?
Freddie: Same here, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I don't know, yeah, I just, funny thing is I haven't, I haven't, I haven't talked to him since, since he got married, so I mean I, I wonder what's up his sleeve, (laughs)
Mary: Well Connie Pappas Hillman says that he wants very much to have children
Freddie: I know, I know, that's what, I remember him saying something like that and I said, I remember I said something like if you want babies you just go to Harrods and buy one (Mary laughs), I did
Mary: That's right, from the cradle to the grave, is that their slogan?
Mary: The fact that you can get anything in Harrods from the cradle to the grave?
Freddie: Virtually, yeah, you can get an elephant there, exactly, that's what I meant, if you buy two you can have a nanny thrown in. No, but I haven't, he seems to very happy, maybe he does, maybe he does want children and that's it
Mary: Do you write your songs on guitar or piano?
Freddie: Well these days basically I just write them in my head, to be honest, yeah I don't, otherwise basically piano, yeah, the guitar part is over, I mean I used, I thought, the odd time I can, 'Crazy Little Thing' was about that the last song that I ever wrote on a guitar, I'm so limited with the guitar chords, sometimes that's a good thing, that's why I liked 'Crazy Little Thing' in the same way, if I knew too many guitar chords then I'd sort of ruin them, but otherwise it's piano, but most of the time I sort of conjure up things in my head now, and then I go to either synthesiser or whatever and just play it out and, or go to a drum box, you know I just get drum machine and get that, it's a different way of writing now, you know, my whole way of writing is very different, and before I used to sit, on, maybe I should do that, before I used to sit on a piano and sort of really work, work my arse off to just get the whole chords and the whole construction before I actually got some sort of theme into a song, now I just, it's a different way of thinking, I just don't like sort of doing that, I just want all the ideas to come in my head, and then they come out, it's a different way of writing, because I just feel that if, if they're not in my head, then they're not worth putting down, so, rather than, but then afterwards I have to work, you know, I have to piece the part, but I like things to, I like things to happen far, much more quickly these days than before, before I was quite willing to sort of come back to it another day, and say OK I remember these few chords from last night, let's do it again, no, I'd rather that the whole piece came together in, in the first session, otherwise forget it, I try something else, yes, there's so many different things you can try these days
Mary: Synthesisers seem to be playing a bigger and bigger part in your
Freddie: Very much so, you can get so many, that's why I mean, I'm trying, I mean I, I don't know half the things that most people know about synthesisers, but I'm trying to learn, because especially for the solo album, I want to do everything myself, so I mean I want to make sure the, the things that say, say Brian did, like a guitar orchestra, I can actually, if I wanted that, I can recreate on synthesisers, and things like that, and basically I think I'm gonna actually get a chance to do things on my solo album which I, I virtually wouldn't want to do with, with Queen, because I mean, say something like a drum pattern, I mean Roger would always do that for me on a Queen album, but on my solo album I actually want to do it myself, so I can actually, I wanna program the drum machine myself, or, and things like that, so that I can, I feel I'm doing things that I, it is a new, new area for me, and I'm actually gonna try and do things that I never did with Queen before, so that'll be a first
Mary: This Fairlight machine is pretty fascinating, isn't it?
Freddie: It's beyond me to be honest, but there are people that can work it and, I think in the end it just goes a bit, it's a bit too far, I mean gadgets are one thing, in the end you've got to come up with a song, they can't write the song for you, I mean they help a lot, I mean they come up with wonderful sounds, and wonderful sort of ideas, things which can stimulate you and say oh that's a good sound, let's use it, but they don't write a song, you can program it to death, it can't, it can't write a song, and basically, sometimes you can get stuck in all these technicalities and ruin a song, I like to sort of, I like the idea that they're around, but I mean you've got to be careful how you use them, yeah. I basically like to think that I write, if I can write a good song, that's enough, the gadgets come later
Mary: The solo album is a big challenge for you, isn't it?
Freddie: Yeah, I waited this long, and I think I better do it now before I lose it all, it's just, no this is, it's a high point this year (laughs), once that's done, it's over, and I'll go back to doing Queen stuff, but I, I've deliberately taken a bit of time off to do this because I mean if I do this project, I'm gonna do it properly, I don't want to sort of, you know, before, a few years ago I wanted to do it then, but I didn't have the time, and I could've sort of rushed it, I really don't want to rush it, I just want to do it in a way that I feel now the time is right and while I sit here in Munich it's just the beginning of my solo project
Mary: Have you been writing songs for it for years or?
Freddie: No, no, no, no, I have-, I've thought about it, I mean you just don't, you know I just write songs, at that time all my songs were for Queen and, oh there are lots of songs that haven't sort of been on Queen albums, and I can sort of go through you know, delve into the barrel and see what, but I mean, the funny thing is, at the moment I write songs, and if they're not used, I, they're virtually discarded, if you know what I mean, because I just feel that if they weren't used then, then they're not good enough, but sometimes some of the best songs are left behind and if you sort of, you know, it's just knowing if they're good for the time, or whatever, at the moment I just want to write everything that's totally new and sparkling, and I remember, I mean, Roger was saying that I have a batch of songs that weren't used, I mean I could put them on an album and make a solo album out of those, but it would be awful, it would all be rejected material as it were, and I want, I want to come up with very fresh material, that's actually me at the moment
Mary: Are you going to produce yourself, or will Mack do it?
Freddie: Oh, Mack will do it, with me, yeah
Mary: You, even on Queen albums, it's pretty much a collaboration, isn't it, between the band and Mack? (Freddie agrees) I guess by now you pretty much know each other's ways though?
Freddie: Yeah, Mack is, especially for me, is a very integral part, I mean he just seems to know exactly what I want without telling him, and that, that is good, that's, you know, you can gain a lot of time by that, rather than, at the moment, sometimes when I just go into the studios and he knows I work, I work very fast, and I get, I get very, I get disillusioned and I get, I get bored very quickly if it's not happening, so he knows that the moment I go in there when things are happening, the tapes running, and he's already got all the, all his EQ'd together, all the sounds together, and he knows that if I come back and I say oh my God you haven't got the sound together, I'll get bored, so he, he knows, he knows me, it's a very, I like this partnership with him, I do, I think more so than the others, he helps me a lot, because I mean I'm, technically I'm just not, I'm not just very good, so I mean he really helps me in that way, I just like to go in there and do the musical part of it totally, just the creative part, and he does all the rest
Mary: So what's the first step then, in the making of an album, after the songs are written?
Freddie: Well you've got to record them properly, with a good sound to that
Mary: Right (laughs). Backing track-wise though?
Freddie: Yeah, I mean you've just got to get a good backing track, you know, get a good backing track, and then you've just got to piece the song together and then when you do the overdubs, you've got to make sure you do the right overdubs, you can do too many overdubs sometimes, and it's basically, I hate, before we used to do, we used to have this sifting process where we used to have a song, and we used to just put everything onto, on it, and then find out what worked, I hate doing it, that's like putting the kitchen sink on it, and then taking, then actually sort of peeling things off which didn't work, that's the long way of going about it, you know, now I like to feel that I know what's gonna work, which, I mean it, it comes through experience, and, I know, and I just say OK this is, and you have to make decisions, so I just feel OK this is going to be right, and we do it, and then we just shift it around a little, and then you say OK, yes this is it. There's so many various ways of writing a song, I mean you can just go on forever, and say OK I'm gonna try this, I'm gonna try this, I'm gonna try this, but then sometimes you can really ruin a song because you've tried so many different things, you don't know what to, what's it gonna end up with, you know, you have, decisions are, is a very, is a focal point, you know, you just have to, you have to, I mean there, there's so many, you can decide at various intervals, you can either decide very early on that a song's gonna turn out this way, or you can change your mind the next day, presentation, that's a whole different kettle of fish, because, yes we, in a funny way, I like the, I like the fact that the songs do change, because it would be awful to rec-, I hate this thing about trying to recreate your albums on stage, a lot of people come up to me sometimes and say oh yeah, they sound just like the album, but they don't, I know they don't, we, we sometimes deliberately change our songs to, so that they have a different, I think our songs do change drastically, you can make so much out of, look at 'Love Of My Life', for instance, I mean you know on record that is, it's got all kinds of different things, I play piano on that, on stage it's just, it's just Brian playing the guitar and me singing it, it's just got a whole total new look on that, because it works on stage much better that way
Mary: Do you consider how a sound is gonna come across on stage?
Freddie: Before we write it?
Freddie: No, not at all, no. We just write, we write for, we write for the studio, we write a song to, and we put things on it, so that it sounds the best for the record, we don't think about how it's gonna sound on stage, because I mean that would be, I think that would be limiting the actual song, I mean you've just got to put, you've just got to give the song what it needs, the full, the full quota, just, just for the studio, because I mean that's what people are going to hear it that way, and then when, if, if we think it's gonna, it needs changing for a stage adaptation, then you just do that, you just change it for stage. I don't think, because I don't think stage, the actual sort of stage presentation should come into it, at you know, the recording stage, because I mean that can ruin a song
Mary: How do you guys decide on virtually anything, there are four of you, does majority rule, or does everybody have to agree?
Freddie: No, sometimes yeah, in the end then yes, majority does rule, yeah, we do, in the end what can you do, you know, but I mean there'll be other, well sometimes you have two and two, what do you do then? I think you just keep it going until somebody falters and goes the other way, basically it is like that. I think that whoever speaks loudest in the end, or whose throw, you know whoever keeps going wins, because sometimes, I know that sometimes John just says oh God, I can't, I can't take it, just make your decision, I don't care how, just go along with the rest, sometimes that happens you know, and
Mary: Who's around most during the recording process?
Mary: (laughs) I've noticed
Freddie: I'll tell you who's around the most, it's Mack, poor Mack, because he's, he's the co-producer, and he has to be there for all the songs, I mean sometimes, and I do find that, that can be, it must be very taxing for him, because there are times where I just, I've had enough, and I can just go away for a couple of days, knowing fully well that the others are gonna be doing their stuff, Mack has to be there all the time, to make sure it's still on tape. So I guess he, he's there most of the time, in fact he is, I know he's there most of the time, otherwise it just doesn't get done. But you knew, you know as creative people and all that, you do need a breather, you know, you sometimes have to get away and get out of this whole thing, and look at it in perspective, it's like having a paint, you know doing a painting, I mean if you're so involved, you just have to give it a rest sometimes, and with me I know that, I find that if I, if I keep dwelling on one project for too long, I ruin it, I know I ruin it, so I just, I just give way, and I know that I have to finish it as quickly as possible, otherwise I discard it and start with something else
Mary: So it's sort of like your first instinct is right?
Freddie: That's, that's the way I go about it, I like it, it's like a newly laid fresh egg, you know I just, because there's so many ways of writing a song, I mean you can just come up and just, I write very quickly aswell, I mean that's part of it, I mean, and so I sort of utilise that, I sort of, I work on that and you know these days I just, I just go into a studio and just get there and I have a few ideas in my head and, and the last couple of weeks, what I've been doing is I've just been going into the studio, totally with a blank, with no ideas at all, and Mack sets me all these tasks, he just says, OK try and write something with this tempo, so he works out the thing on just a drum machine and I have to sort of say, it's like, it's like a project every day, and like I have to finish it by the end of the evening, you know, I don't mean the total finished product, but a, an overall idea of what a song should be like, and I've been doing that, and it's worked out quite well, you've listened to some of them
Mary: A goal right, you set yourself a goal every day?
Freddie: Yes, yes, I think that's good, rather than say, OK, knowing fully well that you have like three months or something when you can come back to it, no I just say either I've got to finish the thing today, otherwise it's not worth it, and it's a challenge, it's a very big challenge, but I like doing it that way on spec, so I go in there totally not knowing what's gonna happen and suddenly I let Mack do, give me, give me the sort of the challenge, and he says OK today write one with a, with this tempo, or something like that, or write, he just tells me, write something in this mode, so I don't have to think about it beforehand, and I just let my creative juices run, run havoc
Mary: With just a tad of discipline on the side (coughs) excuse me
Freddie: Well I have to discipline myself. But you see it's wonderful, because sometimes the greatest things happen, because you're not limiting yourself, you're not thinking oh a certain song has got to be written in this way, because befo-, sometimes you say OK I'm gonna sit down and try and think of what kind of song do I wanna write, I wanna write one with a heavy content, and the moment you start thinking that way, you're already limiting yourself because you're thinking OK it's gotta be heavy, I just go in there and just, sometimes if you're writing something two or three songs can happen, because I mean you're going, you're not limiting yourself, you're going from one side to another side and you think my God this is, this is crazy but out of all that you get, you got say a minute, or even thirty seconds of something that is worthwhile, you lift that out and suddenly say OK I'm gonna keep going with that, and out comes a song
Mary: How, how far along are you on this solo project, how much is done?
Freddie: Well, very little as far as I'm concerned, basically I've just got ideas, and I think I've got some very good songs, but now I've got to sort of, I still, I still want to go into the studio, and do what I said before, just go in there and start creating and then, I want like a, at least fifteen songs that are running around and then I'm just gonna pick ones that I really want to work on
Mary: You know, I would have guessed, just from having watched you perform so much, that you loved performing more than recording, but now I'm getting the drift that you really dig it in the studio too?
Freddie: It's, it's, it goes in phases, it goes in phases. I'm, I like, I like doing studio work, as long as it doesn't take too long, and most Queen albums take a hell of a long time and I get really bored, now that my solo project's coming up, I know I'm the, I'm the one to blame if it takes long, or whatever, but I mean I'm, I'm setting my own, my own deadline and things like that, so it's gonna be fun. I'm not gonna have the others to sort of, you know sometimes we can bog each other down, you know, if things aren't finished you go oh my God, but this time it's just gonna be me, so I'm gonna be able to actually, for the first time, set my own principles, do my own deadline, and work with that, and maybe it's harder than I think (laughs)
Mary: Time will tell. Do you have a title yet?
Freddie: No, I think the, the way, I mean because I've had these rough cassettes and the engineers seem to write, you know, 'Freddie Mercury Solo', and over the days I've been looking at them and I thought that might be OK, just 'Solo', at the moment, so, 'Freddie Mercury Goes Solo', well it's to the point, and it, it's saying what I'm doing, so at the moment I could call it 'Solo', otherwise I'll think of something a bit more wonderful
Mary: Would you have any aspirations at all of making a tour without Queen?
Freddie: Well what would I do, I can't come on, I'd have to have a backing band
Mary: You'd have to have somebody behind a curtain
Freddie: Yeah, no, no, no, no, I think at the moment all I thinking about is just coming up with a solo album and as far as touring, oh no way, no, I love touring with Queen, because I mean that's, I have so much fun, it's like, we all have our individual solo projects, all working anyway when we tour, so I mean it's, I think, the way I think, I mean if it ever happens, is if I do my solo album and then we go on tour, I mean I think Queen would do some of my solo songs anyway, so I mean they would just be recreating what I did in the studio anyway, in their way, and so that would be quite good, they would sort of take it a stage further, they would be doing my songs, I mean in a way that's what happens now anyway, we all have little solo projects within the band anyway, as you know, and basically we all just play on them. So as far as that's concerned, no I don't have any aspirations of going on stage without them
Mary: Is Fred Mandel becoming pretty much of a fifth member?
Freddie: Yes, yeah. No I wouldn't say he's a fifth, at the moment he's, he's, he's working with Elton John all the time, you know, he's got like a year's contract, he's a very good musician, and as far as stage work is concerned, he's, he's, he is an integral part, and we'd hate to lose him, but if, if he's not there we'll have somebody else to do the, he just does all the synthesised parts and the odd piano things, but he's very, very good
Mary: But also that gives, that frees you, those piano parts, I mean how could a person keep do what you do without stopping?
Freddie: I love that, oh I love that, yes I love that, no but I mean, he doesn't only just, he doesn't just take over my piano parts, I mean he actually adds to the songs, I mean, because we were losing out, I mean especially now that we're doing a lot of synthesised work on albums, there was no-one else to do it, because I mean I can't do all that and play the piano and sing and run around, and it's just, it was a bit too much, I mean you know, somewhere along the line, you know, something was gonna, you know, there was this limiting thing, and we needed, we needed another musician to actually do those parts, because everybody else is just doing so many things all at the same time, and I did need, I wanted a bit of freedom to actually be on front of the stage, because I felt a lot of the times I was just sitting at the piano stool and, I don't mind doing that for the odd song, but I just don't like being restricted so much, and I wanted to actually sort of sing the song, and deliver the song, while actually being on front stage, and Fred Mandel helps a lot that way, he takes over a lot of the synthesised parts and if it's not Fred Mandel it'll be somebody else
Mary: How long has it been since your last tour? Phoebe and I were just talking about how it's hard (Freddie: my God) to keep track of one year to the next, it's been
Freddie: I think it's been something like, yeah, two, over two years, two and a half years
Mary: That's what I was thinking, yeah. Because I was talking to Bryn last night and she said well I've been gone for a year and it was, and she's lived in New York for a year, and it was well before that. You remain in amazing shape, you know I've always been an admirer of your body
Freddie: Well it's sort of, it's still there, it's still there, I'm working out and doing things like that, you know, I happen to, to be honest I haven't worked out for about a month or so. It's so hard for somebody like me to, to have a routine for that kind of thing, I wish, I wish, I wish my, my, my work, my career, only took place in say one, one area that way, then I could really get into a routine, all these people with wonderful bodies, they have, they get into a routine, they stay in one place, they have a job that goes from nine to five or whatever, and then they can go into the gym and work out for two hours and then, then there's a cycle, so I mean you can, that's what, to keep a, but for me I'm suddenly in Germany one week, then I'm in London or whatever, and I just, it's, you know I'm flying, I mean I wish I had a set of weights on the plane to be honest, so I mean I have to sort of take that into consideration and I take it from there, but otherwise, I'm, you know, I like to keep fit. Sorry about that, we'll have a breather
Mary: Time to-, yes. OK well just to set the scene here, we've now been to a wedding, now we're in an apartment upstairs from the wedding
Freddie: (Laughs) that's the way, that's Munich. Actually, I mean I know normally I wouldn't have, I would never get to do things like that, over here they seem to look after me quite well
Mary: I wanted to ask you about that, because I know many cities in the States, you're a very recognisable figure, and it's kinda hard for you to walk down the street
Freddie: Well I mean, yes, over here, I think they're very, they're very cool over here, believe it or not, I mean they've, and it's like, Munich is like a village after a while, I've been here for so long, and after a while they just sort of, you know, take it into consideration that I'm around, and they don't really pester me at all, they don't.
Mary: Does, is that ever a problem in your life, big cities, or do you kinda dig it?
Freddie: Not anymore, I dig it?
Freddie: Not anymore, not anymore, it's just a, those days of women throwing themselves in front of me and tearing my hair out and all that is over now. Culture Club are getting that now, so it's, it comes and goes, I mean you know, wouldn't it be awful if people are still sort of say doing that, you have to grow up, I think, you know public, I'm not saying that we don't have a young generation of people that buy our records, it's just that they just accept us as being, you know, established, and it's a different kind of thing. To be honest, I'd hate it anyway if people stood, still started doing that, it's wonderful to actually go through all that, I mean, everybody needs that, and we had all our, you know we had those crazy scenes in Japan the first time we went there, all these screaming girls at airports trying to sort of run you down and things, all that's, yeah, and the late, the last time it happened was in, in South, South America, and, where we had to go in armoured cars and things like that, it's all
Mary: That was like Beatlemania, that was crazy
Freddie: Yeah, it was just, you know, but I, I'd like to think I can walk around anywhere without people, if they recognise me, they basically just come up and say hello and ask me sort of intelligent questions these days, whereas before it was, you know, why do you still wear black nail varnish, and why only on the left hand and things, well it's just, you have to grow, grow up
Mary: It's interesting that you mention Culture Club because I am struck when looking at them, not that you ever wore a dress or anything, that I know of, you, you guys were that flamboyant when you started, with the, you had Zandra Rhodes clothes and you had nail polish
Freddie: Well that's, well I think, yeah, well I think, I think that, well I think that happens, it's like a cycle, somebody else has to take over. I remember saying that to somebody, it's exactly the same it's just that it's a different time and people are saying oh isn't he so outrageous, I mean we were outrageous at that time, I mean look at David Bowie when he started up, and Roxy Music, I mean we all have, there's always, you have to start, I mean The Beatles in their day were totally outrageous, I mean with that long hair, in those days people weren't, you know, they weren't used to that, and now you're getting this sort of very androgynous, I mean even I was androgynous when I started off, but I mean it's really into sort of transvestite factor or whatever, but I mean I think Boy George is a very, I think he's, he's, he's very, very good, he really is (Mary: he is good), yeah, I think he's talented, and he knows what he is doing and, it's just that he's aware, when people start off these days, I mean they have, they have all, in their belt, they have, they've sort of, they've grown up with all, their breeding is all the stuff that we've done before, you know, and, so they have all that under their belt, and so it's, to me I think it's quite outrageous what he's doing, but I mean I can see that that's the way he's, he's starting off at this point, and he's just taking all that, he's just done his homework and he thinks that's the norm, as far as he's concerned
Mary: It's sort of second generation, isn't it?
Freddie: It really is, yeah, it's a sort of, well it's just, yes it's just, it is second generation, it's just that he's a, they're a new band, and there is another generation of people taking on to them being new
Mary: You were probably his influence, or one of them
Freddie: Well he, we are friends, we're friends, and he used to sort of say that he used to come to some of our shows and, and there was one party we had a, a hat party at Legends (possibly) about four years ago and he said he gatecrashed it with Marilyn, I mean you've heard about Marilyn, he said of course you didn't know me then, but I mean we just wore, wore hats and gatecrashed it, and that's what he was saying, and I said oh my God, how things have changed, you know, in the couple of years after that he just become a phenomenal star. There you go, good luck
Mary: You're a flamboyant person anyway, but is the Freddie Mercury that we see on stage pretty much the real Freddie Mercury?
Freddie: Well it's, well it is me, I mean it is me doing it, but it's just that I, I don't like to sort of, the theatrics I get, basically that's what you're talking about, the theatrics I get upto on stage, are me doing my job, you know, I mean I hate being still and it's the way I let myself, I get into it, that doesn't mean that every day when I go about in the streets or whatever that I'm like that, no I'm just sort of, I'm basically quite a shy person really, when I get down to it, but I mean I can, I can be a real bitch aswell, just, I just let my characters loose at the right time, you know, it's just I don't have to sort of play the key role all the time, it's just, you know, it's just the way I am, I'm just, and I don't worry about the fact that if I'm suddenly, in, in someone's front room or something, I don't have to suddenly play the key role, I mean I'm just, I just take it as it comes
Mary: You just showed me the new video (Freddie: yeah), you're definitely an actor in that
Freddie: That's the first, well I think we were all acting there, it was just the first time we were put in, in these roles and, see a lot of times people make videos and expect musicians or whatever to sort of play a certain role and do acting, I mean that's where it falls down, I mean there are a lot of times where we've shied away from that, so that we don't look, sometimes if you go into a little acting thing, I mean you've just got to do it really well, and if you don't do it well then it just comes across as really crass, I mean it's like musicians trying to act, and, because they want to do a video, you know, you've just got to be very careful, and this time, because of the fun element, and the comedy element, I mean I think it worked, because we just put ourselves, it's so farcical, and it's the first time that a whole, well I know The Stones did it a long time ago, dressed up in drag, but I don't think they did a video, but I can't think of any other video where the four, you know the four principals as it were are actually doing real comedy drag, and also from the, from the standpoint that a lot of times, Queen come across as very serious, I mean the music ability is always there, but I mean we've always been humourous underneath, but maybe it doesn't come across through songs, or whatever, and on stage we're very, very aggressive or whatever, and the humour element is always lost, and this time it was, it was a good way of showcasing that bit, and I think we're all very, we've suddenly found that we could actually do it quite well, it's just that we were sort of, maybe restricting ourselves, thinking that we couldn't do it, this time we said oh fuck it, we're just gonna do it and go crazy, and we all sort of built our own characters round each sort of, you know, drag individual. I seemed to cope quite well (laughs)
Mary: Did it pain you -
Freddie: I've never worn, I've never worn high heels before, and I've never done a
Mary: Well I love your garters
Freddie: All that, yes, believe it or not, a lot of people doing, what's it like, even saying, New Orleans Mardi Gras or whatever, or even just a Halloween party or something, I've never dressed up in drag, I don't know why, and I kept the moustache on, so, I just had more fun doing that, I think we all had more fun doing that, because it was just, we're letting ourselves sort of, we're letting ourselves go, a bit, I mean we're not worrying, so worried about the, how we're gonna depict the musical element, because we're always worried about that in videos, and this time we just said we'll just do it, and I think it came across very well, I hope people like it
Mary: It's wonderful. They're paying you to, you kept your moustache on for the, for the drag parts, but you took it off for the...
Freddie: But I took it off, yeah, because we suddenly went into a, we did a, I wanted, I've always wanted to do this Nijinsky role I suppose, but I just wanted to wear the costume, because I mean I didn't want to dance like him, I couldn't ever, it's just that, I always wanted to wear the L'après-midi d'un faune costume which is a, and a, working with the Royal Ballet I thought I must do it properly, anyway you know, I mean I could have kept my moustache on, but it, that would have then taken another comedy element aswell, I just wanted it sort of a bit more serious at that level, especially if you're dancing with, you know, real professionals, and I think that was another thing I've always wanted to do, so there you are, two in one video
Mary: But you really pull it off, I mean you really do look like a real dancer
Freddie: Well I do my best, I do my best, yeah, I'm just a, they teach you a lot you know, they sort of, one of the principal ballet dancers from the Royal Ballet, Wayne Eagling, he's been a friend of mine from a long time, he taught me how to do things, and if I couldn't do them, I mean he just sort of, he taught me how to cheat as well, certain things, and a, a lot of things were very difficult, but we, I just tried them all, I'm willing to try everything
Mary: So the Royal Ballet, I suppose they, they don't just appear in any old bodies video, they're friends of yours, hey?
Freddie: Oh no, they have to sort of, yeah, so I mean, because a long time ago, about four years ago, they asked me to do a charity gala which they had, all the, the donations went to charity, and they just wanted me to, they actually, this is when I actually did it at Covent Garden, and they wanted me to sing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' but dance at the same time, which has never been done, so I mean, but then they choreographed a routine for me, but the things they did, they had me upside down, right at the end I was in the shape of a cross, and they sort of levered me down, and I was still singing the finishing passages of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', God it was, that was very nerve wracking, but since then, I became friends, and so I thought maybe we could use them in a little passage for this video
Mary: Doesn't looking at this and seeing how, seeing that you can do it, that it looks fine, make you want to maybe think about movies or something like that, acting anyway?
Freddie: I mean it's, you know a lot of people have asked me that, I mean, it's just the way it is, I mean if I want to do it, I'm gonna do it properly, and at the moment I just, I'm a little scared of it, I mean I just feel that, number one the solo album was coming out, and, well I'm gonna do the solo album, and I'm gonna put all my energies to that at the moment, and then when the time is right, maybe I'll do it, maybe I'll do it, yeah, I haven't, I certainly haven't discarded the idea altogether, it's just something that hap-, if it comes at the right time, then yes. Lot of things I'm doing at the moment is also trying to work with other people, and after having worked with David Bowie and things, I mean the Michael Jackson project which might never, it might never come to fruition, but I mean it's, we've sort of started on it, but then also I mean I quite like writing for like say different films and things, I mean a lot of people have actually approached me to write for film, at the moment there's one I did that's just, I don't know whether if it will ever come off, is, they've asked me to write the, the title track and another song for the new Conan movie which has got Arnold Schwarzenegger and Grace Jones, well I love Grace Jones, and they said that I could either write a song for her, and I'd love to do that, so I mean, that's where that comes off, those kind of things, so it's like side-stepping a little, it's doing things outside the Queen idiom, which is good, I like doing that now (Mary: yeah), I want to do that, otherwise I mean I'd just be, you know, you know I just don't want people to remember me as being just part of Queen, I want them to remember me as doing other things as well
Mary: Do you think there's ever a time when people become, you know, too old to rock and roll?
Freddie: I think that's true yes (Mary: I mean is), I don't think, I don't think I've quite reached it, I mean, at the moment, I don't think it's, I don't think it's a fact of being too old to rock and roll, I think you can jig and dance about as long as you want, it's when you, I just feel that if you find there comes a time where your records aren't selling as much, I'd hate to do a downward tread, if you know what I mean, and suddenly still keep going as Queen, doing say the less of any of it, I mean now that I've tasted the top whack, I mean I would hate to suddenly think that OK we can't fill certain auditoriums, I'd just leave them, and do something else, still maintaining the Queen thing rather than keep going back and say OK you've played, we've played say Madison Square Gardens say four times in a row every time we do it, if suddenly we go back and we realise that we can only say do one show, I don't think I'd like to do that, I'd like to do something totally different, I'd rather go as Queen and do a really small club or something, so it's, it's different, going and doing Madison Square Garden once because you can't sell it out more than three times would be a downward, downward step, I don't want to do that, I don't want to do that, yeah, yeah (Mary: get out on top), yeah but basically in the end, in the end we're here to sell records, so it doesn't, to be honest I don't care where I play, in the end it's the records, and if the records, OK if one album didn't sell as much as the last that doesn't matter, but if there was a sort of, if you just felt inside you that you know the records weren't selling then you have just do it in a different way
Mary: Nobody is a better critic than oneself
Freddie: You, you're dead right, you're dead right. Well sometimes you have to sort of be very honest with yourself and sometimes a lot of people want to keep going at it and, I know as far as I'm concerned, my own personal character is that I just couldn't do, I mean I want the best, and if I reached a certain goal and I certainly can't maintain that, I'd just get out of it and do something else, rather than keep, you know it's just, I don't wanna end up like Gloria Swanson, you know, sort of, just, you just have to move, just have to move to something different
Mary: I was trying to think of a rock and roll example and Jerry Lee Lewis came to mind but shit, he plays great still
Freddie: Yeah, sure, sure, sure, sure
Mary: And then I recall that I've just gotten an eight by ten glossy of Gary Glitter last week and you would die, this guy is a big old fat blimp (Freddie: yeah, yeah, well, well, well) and still trying, you know, give me a break
Freddie: Well, well, that's the way it is, I'm just a, I mean rock and rollers can keep rocking, it just doesn't mean, mean they have to keep doing it in the same idiom, you can start doing, I feel we have, Queen have enough intelligence and creativity to do very different things, and that's why moving on to say musical things, I mean I'd love to write a musical one day, you know, but I mean that time could come, when my legs give up and I can't do my stage work, I can do it then, it's that kind of thing I'm thinking, I just don't wanna, I don't, don't want to sort of end up doing you know, thinking, hoping that people you know, remember me as just being somebody who wrote songs and carried on and did shows, I, I think, but to force yourself to do things is different, it's just, when the time comes, and when it's right, then that's the best time to do it
Mary: You wouldn't be happy just doing nothing, would you, because obviously you have enough money, and financial resources to do that
Freddie: Oh, exactly, no, no way could I stay at home and sort of keep wiping my gold discs and platinum discs and saying oh what a wonderful person I was at that time, you know, no, oh no, even when I get to forty and forty five or whatever, I'll be doing different things that keep me, because you've got to keep yourself stimulated, you've just got to keep yourself, and, there are so many different things that keep my stimulated, so I mean it doesn't, it doesn't have to just be Queen all the time, at the moment, I mean, in the last ten years or whatever, there's so much within Queen that wanted me, that kept my adrenaline going, that I wanted to do it, and now that's why it's taken me, people from the very onset have been saying oh when, when is your solo album gonna come out, a lot of people sort of burn themselves out too quickly and go right, I mean I just didn't feel I wanted a solo project at the time. Now the time has come, where after ten years, after thirteen years, it's come and I really do want to do a solo project, I really feel that I want to do something on my own, but that doesn't mean I'll discard Queen altogether, it's still there, it's just I'm, I'm sidestepping a little, and doing that, and through that might come all kinds of other things, you know, and like you say about acting, you never know, they might suddenly, I might suddenly see this role that's offered to me or whatever, and I just say well I can take, but if I do do that, then I'll make sure I make a good job at it, or I'll do my best at any rate, I'm not gonna do it half measures
Mary: How do you get to be so creative? Were you, were you a creative little kid?
Freddie: I don't know, it's just a, a lot of people are creative in their own way, it doesn't, they don't have to be just in the music or whatever, they're creative, I just, I just have
Mary: But many people never have the opportunity to bring it to fruition like you
Freddie: No but that, that's, that is part of talent aswell you see, I mean you just can't, I've always maintained that, you can't just sit at home and say look I'm so wonderful, I'm so creative, I'll just wait, no, you've got to go out, you've got to go out there and actually grab it, and utilise it, and make, make it work, that is part of talent. Talent, having talent is one thing, but to actually use it and feed it to the masses is another part of talent, that's, that is in conj-, it goes hand in hand. I know that, a lot of, a lot of people I know who, who are very talented, in the way that I feel, but they just haven't made it, because I mean they haven't got that extra, that extra thing that's needed to actually sort of, it's called hard sell I think, you know, you've really got to sell your, you've just got to sell your arse towards it, you've just got to go there and, and ram it down their throats and say here I am, this is, I'm creative, I'm wonderful, and here, eat it, you know (Mary laughs), so, you have, you have to do that, yeah
Mary: Even though success came very early in life to you, it almost seems like you never considered failure, I mean you're, you're so confident
Freddie: Well you mustn't, you mustn't, you consider failure and you fail, it's just, no I just, I think my whole lifestyle is like that, it's just, it's not just to do with my career, it's to do with everything, it's even a painting, or if I take on a, if I buy a house or whatever, it's just, it's just got to move, I mean, if, if, if the house crumbles, I'll just build it again, that's my, that's the way I think, I mean I don't go round saying oh God I've lost it all, that's it, that's the end, no, I just, I have this natural in-built drive that, that I think will always be there, thank God I've got that, you know it's just, and failure doesn't elude me, it doesn't, it doesn't, elude is not the right word, failure doesn't, I don't get disappointed, I mean people always, I mean you learn by mistakes and all that, I mean it's experience, if something goes wrong, fine, you learn by your mistakes and I just go, and sometimes I value that, you know, I don't mean total failure, but I mean sometimes I value it, I think OK, I know I shouldn't have done that, but it's the only way you can learn
Mary: I can remember you telling me a couple of years ago that your mom and dad when you first started out were not too happy about your choice, choice of career
Freddie: That, that in itself, that in itself instilled me into thinking that it should be right, I mean I, most, most of the, you know, the best, the key figures or whatever, always had a rebellious upbringing or whatever, you know, you've got to rebel somewhere, I mean I just, I just rebel all the time, I mean look at all the, like say the Sex Pistols with them, there was there, I mean look at what Boy George is going through right now, you know he's just, specially in middle America I should think, it's just, you know they're burning his records and things, wonderful, absolutely wonderful, and he, he knows how to, how to actually use that and enhance himself. Notoriety, notoriety is always a, a good factor
Mary: Are you on close terms with your parents now though?
Freddie: It's about the same, it's about the same, I mean I hardly get
Mary: They must be proud of you though?
Freddie: Oh, they're proud of me, of course of they're proud of me, especially now, of course they are, yeah, which is something that, I think parents are always like that, they always just want their, their son or daughter to do, do well in what they, you know, what they choose, I mean sometimes, of course in the early part of us, parents always have a pre-conceived idea of what their, their, you know, their sons and daughters should do, but afterwards, I mean you grow up, and you take over and I think, I think a good parent should just basically sort of see what you know, the son or daughter wants to do, and help in that way, that's the way I see it, that's what a modern, modern parent should be, but I mean as far as I'm concerned, I mean I'm just a, I'm quite a loner aswell, I mean I just, I don't like getting help from other people too much, I mean I just, I do research, but I don't like anybody sort of handing it out to me on a silver plate, I like to do it all myself
Mary: You do feel a great obligation to your fans, don't you?
Well yes I do, but I, my greatest obligation is to myself, to be honest
Mary: Absolutely, it should be
Freddie: And, I have to do it that way, because if I do it that, if I put me first then, then I know how to deal with myself and come across better to, to the people who buy my records, and, so there you go, I mean I just, it's a matter of policy, and policies change, it's a phase you're going through or whatever, all I want to do, I just don't want to the same thing over and over again
Mary: Almost all the artists who have played Sun City, which you mentioned, including Frank Sinatra, have received enormous slaggings from the press about playing in a racist country, do politics enter into your thinking?
Freddie: I know that, politics have, yeah, but I mean, they enter into my thinking, but I mean I discard it, because I mean it's just, we're musicians, I mean when we went to South, South America, we got, you know, branded for, you know, playing, I mean we went there for playing to Argentina, and we had a war with Argentina about three weeks later, and the funny thing about it was after that 'Under Pressure', which happened to be out at the time, was like, it happened to be number one in England, and the funny thing is that the stations in Argentina were playing it aswell, for the forces, it was actually in the BBC news, it was, it was quite outrageous, it just goes to show that we actually didn't, I don't like to be political, music is very free, I mean I, it's just it depends on who you are, I mean John Lennon can do that, I don't write political songs, I mean Queen don't, Queen write escapist songs, they're for people who can go in there, escape, and then come out. I, we don't have political, hidden political message, messages in, in our songs, it's just not the way we are, we just like to play, and we're an international group, we like to play to every audience anywhere, for music, and if politics enter that then that's tough shit, it'll just have to be, we, we don't go to different territories in a political way, we're not, we're just an English rock 'n' roll band that play music for everybody
Mary: Just a bunch of guys (laughs)
Freddie: We are, we are, that's the way I
Mary: I know
Freddie: I, we might take our music seriously in terms of, in terms of the musical content and things, but not in terms of trying to preach, you know, we don't want to preach through our songs, songs, I told you that before, they're just, they're to listen to, make people happy, it's like, I mean I'd hate, I'd hate to go, to listen to any band who's trying to preach me and telling me, or tell me about, people are aware of all the ups and downs in the world today, and I don't want people singing about them to be honest, I mean I don't want them singing about wars and the sadness and whatever, OK I write the odd sad song or whatever, but that's, that's neither here nor there. Basically my songs are fantasy, or fun, or dance, or a certain thing that I've created, but it's got nothing to do with the world that is at the moment, you know, it's just, it's not political
Mary: Stickells said I should ask you about Korea when, did something funny happen to Roger and John in Korea?
Freddie: Actually to be honest I don't know, I don't know
Mary: On this last little promo tour?
Freddie: Did he say that?
Mary: He just said I should ask, you know, he was yakking it up
Freddie: Oh, there you are, oh well there you are, I'm the last to hear. See I haven't even, I've, I haven't seen them when they come, they've only just come back, and I've left, I left town, so I really don't know how that went, to be honest. I didn't even know Roger was in town until I found out that he was back in England, I haven't heard anything about it, I haven't heard anything about it. I know they've been to Japan, Australia, I, I know that Roger was supposed to go to Los Angeles, I don't even know if he went there. You can tell me that, to be honest
Mary: I don't know, haven't been there in a while myself
Freddie: No I don't know if, yeah, I don't know if Roger, I don't know what Gerry said to you but, no I don't know how that went. Basically what happened was they'd undertaken this promotional tour earlier on, and we were in the middle of doing the, this new promo, and their bits were done, and then I, I had to sort of hang out and work with the Royal Ballet and all that, so I was spending most of my time routining with them, and working out, you know, the dance sequences and things, while Roger and John were doing Japan, Korea and Australia I guess
Mary: What are your feelings about so many bands seem to be undertaking tours with big sponsors, be it a beer company or a perfume company?
Freddie: I think, yes I think that's, that's, I think it's a good step, I think that's another, it's a new form of making money, you know, merchandising seems to make more money than normal tours to be honest, meaning when you do a tour, you can get, you can make more money out of merchandising than just ticket sales, and of course the moment people, it's, it's all, it's a new thing, it is a, like video is a very new thing, out comes different ways of, and it'll always happen, yeah. I think sponsorship is a good thing
Mary: So you're glad -
Freddie: If it gives you money, of course, yeah
Mary: (laughs) I love your honesty
Freddie: Listen, I'm here to, you know, I'm not, I think, I think any band will do that, and I think we're into sponsorship as well, but I mean at the moment we're sort of we're talking with a very big firm, that I don't want mentioned, and depending on what happens, I think it will go very well, yes I know, yeah, Pepsi Cola with Michael Jackson and things like that, yes I think it's a, it is, it's something that I think a lot of bands are gonna do
Mary: So the next step for your personally, then, is obviously the solo project?
Freddie: Yeah, and I'm going to, I think a lot of things are gonna evolve from that, you see, at the moment it's a, it's an embryo to be honest, it's a very, and I don't want to sort of start getting all, all the aspects of it all sort of creeping out, I just want to, I want to be, in a way kind of left alone and make sure that it's OK, and then start putting my feelers out, and out of it could come all kind of things, like I mean I could, I'm hoping that maybe one of the songs could be part of a feature film, that would be one tangent, maybe work with a couple of other different artists, so that that can be a collaboration in terms, make videos on my own, I mean I'm dying to do a video that I feel that I just can do all by myself, so there's so many different areas that I can actually pinpoint from my solo project and I think that's gonna take up most of my time in the near future, and that's enough for me, you know
Mary: Is there not a Queen tour in the near future also?
Freddie: Well you see the Queen, yes, but I mean the Queen, near future OK the Queen tour, the Sun City thing might happen say July, or after, and then after that, that's what I was trying to tell you, it's not gonna be like major, major tours, we're just trying to think in terms of just doing exclusive concerts in, in, in major territories at the moment, the way they're gonna be, they're gonna come across, I don't know, because we have to still work on that
Mary: If you got Africa, I'm coming, sounds pretty neat to me
Freddie: You mean South Africa, South Africa, oh you must come, you must come
Mary: Oh it sounds wonderful
Freddie: You must come, I think it's a, they've always wanted us to go there and they say we're gonna sort of just pack Sun City out, they've been waiting for us for, for a while and I just think now's the right time. I'm not afraid of playing any territories, they've gotta be good, I mean you know, I'm certainly not gonna go to Nicaragua or something like that, I'm not stupid, but I mean, if the need is there and if we haven't played there, I'd like to go there. I think most of the band want to do that too, I think we're also thinking of doing something in the sort of in the Eastern, real Eastern territories, like Bangkok and Hong Kong, which we haven't done, and Sinagpore and places like that
Mary: Pretenders did Bangkok I think
Freddie: Yeah, yeah, a few people, The Police have done things like that (Mary: oh really), yeah, and why not, you know
Mary: Yeah, indeed. OK, my final question is, your birthplace is Zanzibar
Freddie: Yes, that's right
Mary: What were you parents doing there?
Freddie: They were freaking out (Mary laughs). But they were working for the, for the government at the time, my father was working for the government and Zanzibar was part of the commonwealth at the time and so he was a civil servant and he worked over there and there you are. I never, I was, at a very early age I was, when I was about seven I was put in boarding school, in India, so I mean I went from Zanzibar to India for a while and then came back to England and a very upheaval of an upbringing (Mary: sounds like it) which just, which seems to have worked, I guess
Mary: I guess so
Freddie: In a way it sort of made, I was like put in an environment where I had to sort of fend for myself at a very early age, which I think was a, a good, a good, what would you call it, a good, I got a very, a good grasp of how to be responsible at a very early age, and I think that's, that's what's made me into such a fiend (laughs)
Mary: Well, you're a good fiend. Thank you very much
Mary: Is there anything I haven't asked you that you want to tell me about?
Freddie: I can't think of anything, I've forgotten all the things I've said
Mary: (Laughs) Thanks Freddie