News > Full Unedited Transcript of Brian May Interview with The Onion

Added on 12-Jan-2007

Hi Queenzoners! Here is the full unedited text of my conversation with Brian May, which was edited for an interview for's A.V. Club (originally posted at Mehra of The ONION Interview with Brian May of Queen


AM: Brian, good afternoon. This is Adri Mehra from the Onion.

BM: Hi Adri, how are you doing?

AM: Great, how are you?

BM: We meet at last! (Laughs)

AM: Yeah! (Laughs)

BM: Yeah, I’m good, thank you. Eh, pretty good. Just rushing around, but - yeah.

AM: Yeah, when do you guys leave for tour? Is it a couple of weeks?

BM: We actually begin in Miami in exactly a month’s time. But obviously we’ve got a bit of rehearsal here and a little bit there as well. My mind is only just beginning to sort of get back into that touring mode, you know – I don’t usually do interviews, normally, because there’s no reason.

AM: Yeah, and you’ve got to rest up.

BM: Eh, I’ve got to get fit – that’s what I’ve got to do. (Laughs)

AM: Do you mean like physically fit?

BM: Oh yeah, absolutely, because I really did get taken off guard the last time we were out. I didn’t do enough. So I’m determined that I’m going to be prepared physically this time, yeah.

AM: Wow, yeah, I suppose it does take a lot out of you.

BM: Oh yeah, it’s such a huge shock to your system, because I’m not used to that kind of thing. We do two and a half hours onstage, as you know, and it’s not standing there and being cool – it’s rushing around, and pretty intense. It almost killed me last time, so I’m going to make sure that I’m on top of it this time.

AM: All right. So how’s the old dady holding up? By that I mean your guitar.

BM: (Laughs) The old lady’s fine – yes, had a nice bit of TLC. We’ve taken her apart and done a few things, particularly the zero fret, which we’ve sorted.

AM: Right.

BM: I didn’t do anything to the zero fret for the last thirty years - finally we have, and it’s made a big difference.

AM: Are you still playing the original Red Special for every show?

BM: Yep, absolutely. Oh yeah, she’s a part of me. (Laughs)

AM: I can’t remember if you pull out the Strat for the “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” solo, if you’re doing that.

BM: No, no - my guitar kind of more or less makes that noise, so I just change pickup settings.

AM: Right – now, I’ve always wondered, did you name it the Red Special, or did that come from somewhere else?

BM: Umm … I probably did name it, but it just grew up as a way of referring to it, really. I don’t actually know when or where that happened. Yeah, it was just “my guitar” in the beginning. (Laughs)

AM: Everyone else knows it as the Red Special now.

BM: Yes, it’s just kind of grown up, really.

AM: Now I had a question about when you worked on guitar parts with Freddie – for his songs – did he sing the melodies that he wanted you to play, or did he write them on piano and show them to you, or did he just give you full creative control just right from the beginning?

BM: (Laughs) Normally I was already bursting with something I wanted to do, and that’s the way we worked with each other. We didn’t usually ask. We usually would play a template or sing to each other, but normally there was an immediate response, and almost in every case. If I was hearing him rehearsing a song on piano, I already would have some ideas in my head. In fact, I find it easier to have ideas for his stuff than for mine, in terms of soloing. I always found Freddie’s stuff very inspiring.

AM: Yeah, I know you’ve often said that you feel like you play your best guitar on other people’s songs.

BM: Yes, I think so – things like “Killer Queen” and “Rhapsody,” they were always very inspiring. Maybe I felt freer. You know, with your own stuff there’s a bit of worry in the back of your mind – you know, “Am I being true to the song? Am I pursuing the original germ of the idea?” But with someone else’s song, you’re really liberated because you just feel what you feel, and if the person doesn’t want it, he’s going to tell you. (Laughs)

AM: Right. I can see that.

BM: So, no - normally he wo

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