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Posted: 07 Dec 11, 17:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Queen's original drummer, who put together an online global talent search called "Queen Extravaganza," talks about the band's past, present and future which just may involve a certain "American Idol" runner-up.


You will get no argument here if you say that Queen is among the most heard bands in the world. It’s hard to imagine a stadium or arena that doesn’t project the foot-stomping beat of “We Will Rock You” (the only drum lick that rivals it for cultural ubiquity is James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”), not to mention the heavy rotation “We Are The Champions,” cued up for many a final game, from the Super Bowl on down.


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But Queen drummer Roger Taylor wants to make sure fans have a more lasting memory of his former band than as the background music for a day at the ballpark. Last month, the band made one hell of an impression when the surviving members recruited American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert to take on vocals for a three-song medley, stepping in the very big shoes of late frontman Freddie Mercury, if only for a moment. And the band doesn’t rule out working with Lambert in the future, either. “There's nothing signed just yet but we're talking about live dates,” Taylor told Billboard.biz. “It could be very exciting. He has grown into a really great performer with an astonishing voice with a range that's great.”

Indeed, Taylor is melding the Idol and Queen experience in other ways, taking on the Simon Cowell role for “Queen Extravaganza,” an online competition. The twist here is that instead of just looking for a new singer, Taylor and the show’s panel of judges will be rebuilding a full tribute band.

Taylor explains the idea in a recent interview with THR. Check out the auditions and hear the winners announced on Thursday at www.Queenextravaganza.com.

The Hollywood Reporter: What inspired you to put together Queen Extravaganza?

Roger Taylor: It was a day when I went back to my childhood town. I saw this poster for some local hall: “Live! On Stage! Queen!” And I looked at it, and I thought, “Well, that’s not true.” I really got sick of all these tribute bands, and so many of them are bad. I just would really like our music to not be cheapened like that. I like it to be represented in a spectacular or brilliant way and not in the cheap, small, cheesy way. I don’t want impersonators playing our music badly.

THR: Did you speak to Brian before committing to this show.

Taylor: Of course. Although I’m kind of kick-starting this, Brian will be involved when we go on tour; I’m doing the hard work (laughs), but he’ll be involved in the producing and rehearsing the show. This is quite an experiment we’re doing here. It’s never been done like this before.

THR: What makes it unique?

Taylor: I think this is so different from one of those TV talent shows: they’re about instant gratification, instant celebrity. We’re looking for another kind of person. What we’re dealing with here are different levels, different worlds. The people on the TV shows are looking for levels of celebrity; they want to be famous. The people we’re looking for, they want to be musicians; they’re happy going on tour. Because they love it, not necessarily because they want to be Madonna or Lady Gaga, or whatever their particular affectations or affinities.

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THR: Why do it online?

Taylor: That was my manager’s idea. But I’m now convinced. I’ve seen the power of the net.

THR: Do you think the digital world makes it harder of easier for a band to reach the kind of success that Queen enjoys?

Taylor: It’s difficult. But then, it’s always been difficult. I think it’s still possible, if you’re a quality act. I don’t think things have... actually, a lot of things have changed, but the essence hasn’t really changed. There’s always been rubbish around. But it’s harder for a band to break through. Radio is so heavily programmed; you have to fit into a certain box. So it’s harder for anything different to get through.

THR: And how about TV shows?

Taylor: That too. But what’s most important is for it to be a wonderful show that brings our music to people in some small way, and make the music live longer... we’re getting older, and we’re getting all these young, strong, flexible musicians to play.

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THR: What surprised you most about those young musicians?

Taylor: I’d have to say the level of talent, and how few tormentors we had. They’re very talented, musically. They all sit in their bedrooms or garages or their studios and they become incredibly proficient. And they’re all very passionate. The level of passion was very impressive. It was a very positive experience.

THR: Do they know anything that you didn’t know when Queen was starting out?

Taylor: They know how to work computers (laughs). I still have problems. It was an absolute revelation. Everything is so immediate. You put something up and the response... It could be from any corner of the world; not just North America. Anywhere.

THR: And what do you know that they don’t?

Taylor: I know how hard it is to make it in the music business. But they have the naive enthusiasm of youth that’s essential. To do something like this, you have to have a lot of faith in yourself. That’s the same today as it was then. I don’t think people have changed that much.

THR: Can you help to prepare them to deal with a big, professional tour? How do you think they’ll do?

Taylor: They’re amazingly mature in some of their playing. In terms of touring, some of them have a better idea than others, and some of them will probably go off the rails. You have to learn. I think if we did our job selecting right, we should have the right bunch of characters to carry it off. I don’t want anyone going crazy. But we’ll have some good people around them, they’ll be looked after.

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THR: Have you heard the version of “Somebody to Love” on Glee?

Taylor: Glee, the TV show? No, I haven’t heard it. Have to tell you, it’s not one of my favorites (laughs). I think there’s quite a bit of auto-tuning on that, isn’t there? I’ll tell you what I really loved: the version of “Somebody to Love” that was in Happy Feet. That was fantastic.



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"You have to learn to live with it. I feel it sometimes, very strongly, deeply. It’s difficult to define ... I don’t know how to put it. It’s just... He was a very special person." — Roger Taylor on Freddie Mercury
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THR: Do you keep track of different cover versions of your tunes?

Taylor: Not really. I mean, I’ve heard bad, I’ve heard good, I’ve heard... indifferent. I think that if anyone covers your songs that are paying you hommage, and that’s a good thing.

THR: What did you think about Brian May’s appearance with Lady Gaga at the VMAs this year?

Taylor: I think he gave her the kind of thing that she needed there. I guess it was fine. It’s the kind of thing that people don’t expect.

THR: Do you think people have paid enough attention to the 20th anniversary of Freddie’s death, which just passed on Nov. 24?

Taylor: Twenty years... Extraordinary. I still can’t believe that. I don’t know, I think the respect comes from the fact that our songs are still played on the radio, people cover our songs and continue to respond to the music. We’ve been commemorating,

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Posted: 09 Dec 11, 02:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"I just would really like our music to not be cheapened like that"

*ahem*


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 12 Dec 11, 20:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Roger contradicts himself by first saying he thinks that some cover bands who play Queen are just awful that's why he wanted to hand pick a tribute band then later in the article he says if anyone plays your songs they are paying homage to you, so which is it??

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Posted: 14 Dec 11, 00:03 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No contradiction there at all.

Roger doesn't like cheapo tribute bands, who only exist to feed off poorly executed versions of Queen's songs.

Roger says he's heard good, bad and indifferent covers of Queen songs. Doing a one-off cover is not the same as setting up an outfit to exploit someone else's music badly. Roger himself has done covers and it IS paying respect to the song and the original artist. The line is drawn between how you go about creating your own music. Tribute bands are not putting forward their own creative output (at least no under the guise of their "Tribute", but are copying other artists. If they start releasing their own music, they stop being a tribute band).

Glee is basically a TV tribute act to popular music as a whole and it's no wonder Roger wouldn't like it. It's a show that prides itself on singing *only* other people's songs, rather than creating something new.

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Posted: 14 Dec 11, 03:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



rhyeking wrote: It's a show that prides itself on singing *only* other people's songs, rather than creating something new.

Indeed, and the unfortunate thing is that the singing is SO over-processed and laden with heavy autotuning, it's painful to listen to!

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Posted: 14 Dec 11, 21:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

For the record, I don't watch Glee either. I find it fundamentally uninteresting a concept.

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Posted: 15 Dec 11, 09:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Even though this hand-picked band may be good it's still a tribute band which gives Roger sense of desperation.  I think their legacy does itself justice and will never be forgotten.

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Posted: 15 Dec 11, 09:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Legacies become stale if not promoted. The Musical, Hits collections, TV appearances, collaborations and the Extravaganza are all tools to keep Queen's music out there, in an ever-growing sea of popular music all fighting for the attention of an audience that is constantly being replenished with younger listeners.

Roger sees the badly performing tribute acts as presenting Queen's music in a crappy way. In his opinion, his choices are: a) ignore them, b) try to get rid of them, or c) show the world how it can be done well.

The difference between his view and us is that we hardened fans are only interested in original material we don't yet have, so things like the Extravaganza and the Musical seem, at best a waste of time and at worst a distraction from Brian and Roger working on Anthology releases, older concerts and recording new material.

We should keep in mind that, even if not every release has met our expectations or is aimed at the fans who have everything, the sheer volume of output by the band and the many releases we do enjoy should be enough for us to not harp too harshly on the projects that may only interest them and newer fans.

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Posted: 15 Dec 11, 23:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Honestly, Roger's comments make him sound like he's got small man syndrome or something.  Creating a straw man out of people who are playing his music 'badly' ... I mean seriously, the more well known tribute acts aren't any worse than the people hired to play in the WWRY musical.  What's the difference??  The only one I can think of is that your average tribute band doesn't come with a terribly written play that you have to sit through at the same time as listening to the music.  

As for the lesser known tributes, what's he doing; looking them up on Youtube or something?  Talk about a glutton for punishment.  He's making himself sound like Brian May in a bad mood here.  It's petty to knock on people for doing what he's basically going to be doing himself - covers.  I dunno - at his level, or at least the level of integrity that they might've once had - this sort of stuff isn't even necessary.  The music ought to speak for itself, like it used to.

Wouldn't mind so much, but I'm a little tired of the sales pitch.  Stop bullshitting us and make some new music.  Grow a pair, give Brian a call, and make another fucking album.  Wanker.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 16 Dec 11, 22:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well, I guess Roger has a vision for this project.  I always enjoy his interviews.

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Posted: 17 Dec 11, 00:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Been watching some of the finals videos.  I'm kind of gobsmacked at how iffy some of the contestants are :S  The drummers don't seem to get the whole Roger thing, the guitarists are making a mess instead of working together, and the female vocalists haven't been terribly good.  

Having said that, I actually haven't specifically looked up the people that got picked yet, so maybe Roger dodged a bullet.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 17 Dec 11, 06:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The auditions of the finalists can be looked again here:

http://www.queenextravaganza.com/auditions/

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Posted: 20 Dec 11, 16:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

And he makes an album, or goes on tour ... or whatever he does, he can't win, right? Because people still fucking well moan moan moan. Give him a break. Whatever you may or may not think, there's no getting around the fact that despite the complaints of so called die hard fans, Roger and Brain have helped Queens music remain in the public consciousness.