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STAYING POWER

"There will come a time when we do have to call it a day, when I can't run around on stage because it will look ridiculous, but none of us has any intention of leaving. It would be cowardice to stop now."

Slaying successful at our level is hard. When you've tasted success as beautifully as I have, you don't want to let go in a hurry.

The hardest thing after all these years is to maintain the level of success that youve achieved. No group can afford to get in a rut. They must be ready to change with, or even ahead of, the times, if they are to remain successful.

1 think we feel that our success is justified because we have worked hard. I think these are our just rewards. I've worked fucking hard, and I still am.

It's very difficult, especially after so long, to come up with totally outrageous and original ideas. I want to do different things. I don't want to keep to the same formula over and over again, otherwise you just go insane. I don't want to become stale. I want to be creative.

People expect that much more from you when you're successful, but in way you're only as good as your last album. I think the public can be very fickle, but in one way I like that. 1 think they will gauge you by what you did last, and if you had a humongous hit, you've got to try and fight that and better it.

I don't know what the answer is. You just have to try to do your best. You really can't rest on your laurels - it's not the done thing. We can hide behind what we've done before, that's quite easy, but none of us want to do that.

That's always at the back of your mind. The only way to find out is to make an album and see how it goes. To be honest you're always worrying about that and if you've been away for a while, no matter how big or successful you are, you always have that at the back of your mind, that they might have forgotten you, or they probably think you're dead or broken up, or whatever. I think now they know we're still happening.

We want to do interesting songs constantly. The day we try and do something that isn't interesting for us will be the day that we're a dead group. We will stick to our guns, and if we're worth anything, we will live on. If we were doing something that the media expected us to do, that certainly would be a downward step. At the moment we're happy because we're doing what we feel is right. We've never catered to the media and we never will.

We were confident about our music and we wanted to put it across properly. And if we found that we'd come to a stage where we'd hit a compromise, we wouldn't do it. There would be cases where we'd cut off our nose to spite our face, but I think it's worked in the long run, because the truth and what we believed in came across. It doesn't work in all cases, always, but in our case it has. Am I talking a load of shit?

There's always got to be that challenge to get further. That's why when people say, "What are you going to do now that you've hit your peak?" I say, "Bullshit! We haven't hit our peak yet." I hate admitting to myself that we've reached our peak, you know, because after that the only way is down, I think when you go all the way up, the only place left is to come down. When you're climbing the escalator of success, you keep treading at the lop because you don't want to go down. That's a hard thing.



The biggest challenge is trying to keep the band going, when everybody says it's breaking up. Everybody thinks the band is going to break up, There a point where I, we were all getting very despondent and we wanted to do different things. And when you have that in your bloodstream, as it were, the slightest thing that happens, or that's said... you just need the slightest excuse to actually break up the band.

How much higher can you go? You have to find different things to do. You say, "Okay, there's this little gap that's left and we have to sort of push ourselves in this direction.

You've got to have nerves of steel to survive the pace. When you have success it becomes really difficult, because then you really learn the things behind the business. You find out the real baddies. When you start out you don't know anything about it. You have to be very strong and sift them out. Anyone who is successful will always be burned once or twice.

There's no such thing as an easy climb to success - or an escalator to the top. There's always going to be a competitive field. Everything now is just growing and growing in rock music, more so than ever.

If there was a book of rules everybody would buy it and everyone would be it burning out the same old trash.

We knew when we embarked, as it were, when we launched ourselves, when we took the plunge, that it was going to be hard slog all the way and we were prepared to take that. If we didn't have that foresight in the early days we would have come a cropper.

There's only so much you can rely on in terms of ready-made acceptance. Loyalty from your fan-base is one thing, but you can't expect, just because I you've had one hit, that it'll go on. You have to keep coming up with the goods. If you can't come up with the goods when it's needed, then forget it. You can't live on your past and I can't live on Bohemian Rhapsody all the time, because that's a totally different generation. You cannot remain constant. You must change all the time.

It gets harder all the time. In terms of competition, there are lot of wonderful new bands and they seem to come up with newer ideas and they are fresh - and there is newer technology. It's very hard. You've got to be very aware, and I feel as if I'm always on my toes. I like to see what the new people are doing because it's quite easy to say, "Oh, after ten years of success, we can do the same old thing." I hate doing the same thing again. I like to see what's happening now and incorporate all these thoughts into Queen. I'm very aware of that and it keeps me going. My interests are in what's going on now. It's a kind of research. I go to all the ballets and I go to all the musicals to find out what's happening. I want to do interesting things and things that I haven't done before.

You can become blase after you've had a lot of success for a long time. It's quite easy to say, "Oh yes, we're the greatest!' but I really don't think we're that kind of group. We make our own challenges. It's quite easy to think that because you did it ten years ago, you can do the same old thing again. I hate repeating the same formulas again.

There are so many people now that I know who are bursting with talent, but they just haven't got the right timing or the right environment to improve themselves, and that can be very frustrating. We are in a very lucky position at the moment but even then one cannot just sit back and rest on ones laurels.

After all these years of playing together, sometimes we can get bored of each other, to be honest, and sometimes you want to do something other than just Queen, Queen, Queen. I like Queen very much, but I want to do something different otherwise I'll get too damn old and be in a wheelchair, and it'll be too late for anything else.

We can't live as a quartet all the time, so you feel like every time you rnaki a move it's like a four-headed gorgon, or something. Do you know whet I mean? I like to feel that I'm an individual. That break is very hard to achieve. It's horrible to just be thought of as one quarter of some entity.

At one point, two or three years after we began, we nearly disbanded. We felt it wasn't working, there were too many sharks in the business and it was all getting too much for us. But something inside we kept us going and we learned from our experiences, good and bad.

There were times where I thought I should call it a day, and there will come a time when we do have to call it a day, when I can't run around on stage in a leotard because it will look ridiculous, and it's not very becoming, but none of us has any intention of leaving. It would be cowardice to stop now. The chemistry has worked for us, so why kill the goose that lays the golden egg?

I think when it gets hectic, when we do an album and we start to get on , each other's nerves, and it's a solid work-out, it's then you start thinking, "Is it really worth it after all these years? Why don't we just go our separate ways and enjoy it?" I think about these things. So do the rest of them.

It gets very petty after a while. Everything. Songs, the music, the musical aspects. It's all to do with money, so we might as well be open about it. A lot of the time it's about how each musician is displayed on an album, so like if I had more songs than somebody else, it would make them a lesser musician. That's how near the mark it can get. I'm always trying to make it very diplomatic, so I just said, "Okay, no matter what it is, we all have even songs from now on."

After all these years you don't want it to be such a fight to get anything done. You've already done that thing, and I think most of it should be fun -like live recording should be fun.

1 think we are four people that in the end need that kind of thing, even though we don't like it. If it were too easy, we would lose interest. So, we think, "Oh my God! We'd better go back in and carry on fighting." I suppose that's the way I am.

The reason we're successful, darlings? My overall charisma of course! Seriously though, I think the reason we've stayed together so long is because none of us wants to leave. If you leave it's like you're being a coward. As long as the people still buy the music then it's okay.

After all these years, all that time, if you're still together you like each other instinctively. You don't have to think about spending social time together, which we hardly ever do. Basically we only come together when there is music. Basically it's a job. We've done a lot together and now all we're doing is staying together to make music, which is what we were initially there to do.

I think longevity is a very important part of this business. After the first few years you have to think about how you're going to adapt to your role in life, within this circle, because this becomes your life. You have to live and breathe it. That's the way I think about it.

It's a survival test. Of course we could all just go away and say ok we've had enough, and live happily ever after, but that's not what we're in for. We're in it to make music. This is the thing that interests me most.

We are very busy and I have had offers to do other bits, but I haven't done that because basically I feel that there is so much more to do within the Queen format. I wouldn't want to do anything else because I would be forsaking the other ideas.

I couldn't think beyond Queen at the moment. We are riding on the crest of a wave. I feel like we are a volcano that's really going to erupt. There is so much more to Queen and I feel that over the next few years we are going to take it much further.

If I felt the band wasn't going any place, it would have been disbanded, But I think we've come a long way. And I've just got this go-ahead nature. It needs a combination of arrogance and confidence. People can still relate to me and the band. Why do you think Hollywood was so successful? lt'1 decadence and things like that. It's the kind of lifestyle I've grown up with, W< will stick to our guns, and if we're worth anything we will live on.

The rumours that Queen are splitting up are always doing the rounds. Some people just seem to want us to break up. Heaven knows why. Yes, there are a lot of tensions and stresses in the band, and sometimes we have the must almighty rows, but they just clear the air. It isn't true to say we always row. Let's just say there's degree of tension which often pushes us into sticky situations. But once we've got down to the business of making music, everything else is forgotten. Besides, I would rather we had the occasional almighty blow-up than days of sulking and not speaking to one another, which is so counter-productive.

The rows can be fierce, but at least they iron out any problems and each of us knows where he stands. We don't hate each other. If we did, it would be a different matter, but the reverse is true. Our blow-outs happen because we become jaded. It can be draining and uninspiring working as hard as we do, and you constantly have to be on your guard to stop things becoming monotonous. There was a time, for instance, when all our tours seemed to be in the winter, and I wanted to break that. I just thought, "For fuck's sake, let's do a summer tour. Let's do something different."

The break-up rumours are always around. Either your egos take you away from all that and you break up, or it brings you closer together. At the moment we are very much together."

I think we've got to a stage where we will do whatever we want. I think that the best way of doing it. I hate to conform and pander to even public tastes - or as far as record company people are concerned. In fact, I was thinking i bout this a couple of days ago and I thought, "My god, we were outrageous 11 id innovative in the days of Bohemian Rhapsody, and that's why it worked. hut for us to start pandering to people's tastes now, saying this is what they want so give it to them, would be such a back-lash.

So we're going to do things against the grain, against people's ideas of whatever they like or expect us to do. We're not afraid of the fact that we're ' li ling those things. We don't jump on bandwagons or do whatever is modem. 1 -It, we do it with the Queen stamp on everything. But we're aware, we're not stupid. We don't just churn out the same stuff that we did like five or six years .Hi. We're in tune to what's going on and that's the way I like to live.

I love the challenge and I love doing things that are not part of the mainstream. Sometimes if that works it works in a very big way, or else it can be very big flop, but I'm willing to take that risk.

I remember we had an album called Hot Space which died a death in America and everybody said, "Oh yes. Queen took a big risk, but failed, so now they'll know that that's not what they should do." No, that doesn't happen. If that's what I want to do again, I'll do it.

I think we've just grown so used to each other by now, it's just instinct that keeps us going. There's no big bond. Musically we still respect each other.

It's just fate. It's an ingredient that we have, a chemistry, and it's a combination that seems to have worked for us. That doesn't mean we don't have egos, we all have terrible egos, so there's always been talk of breaking up. There's been lots of very bad moods and there's always been somebody or other, one of us, saying, "I want to call it a day." But I think things seem to be working out right. There's no pill that we're taking to keep together, you can't put a finger on it.

At this point, I'm quite amazed that we still keep going and that people are still buying our records, and people still think of us as a unit to be reckoned with. After all these years that is quite something. The Stones are doing it after 27 albums, so I suppose we've still got something.

I'm dumbfounded that we've stayed together all these years. All the other bands have always broken up or changed personnel, but we are about the only four grande dames that have actually stuck together. We all have our ego problems, but we never let it get too much. Long may we reign!

We went a bit overboard sometimes, but that's the way Queen is. In certain areas we always feel that we want to go overboard. It's what keeps us going really.

It's time for some stocktaking. We've all become businessmen, even though it's against our better judgment. It's something that always happens if you get successful. Being a musician is not just cutting discs, unfortunately I wish it were. We've all got companies now, home connected to music, others not - lots of other fingers in other pies. We must take some time off to get things in perspective or things will start to go wrong.

This is the best industry to be in because you can get rich and have a wonderful time, but it's very hard work. I'm very happy doing this. If I weren't I'd give it up. It's not the money any more. I'm still hungry to do things. This is what I'm best at.

If anyone left, any one of the four, that would be the end of Queen. We are four equal, interwoven parts. And the others just couldn't function the same without each quarter.

We are four. It's a strong quartet. We are going to stay together until we fucking well die. It's got to the point where we're actually too old to break up now.

After Live Aid, and our 1986 tour breaking all box-office records in certain places, that's sort of gave us even more of an impetus to carry on. So why leave now? What the hell am I going to do anyway? Oh, here we go again. I've nothing else to do. I could become a gardener, actually. So many things happen in my garden. I could become a Japanese landscape gardener.

We are going to take a little rest, a well earned break -1 hope anyway. I think if we leave it too long then we will disperse and go our separate ways. I think the time is right to strike while the iron's hot.

We shouldn't let ourselves go into different areas too far away from each 'ilicr, so I've told them it's something we should actually think about. That i v, at least we know we have that in the back of our heads, so we don't go " lung around doing solo projects so far beyond, that we can't come back.

I'm man of moods, dears, so after that Magic tour I suddenly thought that everything was going so well that I got a sort of new-found force. Suddenly, there was more left in Queen. We really want to stay together.

I think we know now instinctively what each other wants. It's like a job, as I say. You come together, do a gig, then we go our separate ways. We have four limousines waiting after each show and we just go wherever we want.

If we ever think we are on a decline, we'll just give it up. No-one is ever going to tell me I've had my day, had my innings, now do something else.

I admire people who can do that - who actually feel it's not quite happening, that they've given it their best, and now it's time to just try something else. But it has to be you. It has to be you in the end, eventually... no matter what. You could have numerous people coming up saying that, but in the end the realisation has to come from you. You have to accept the fact that it's now over and you've done enough. That has to happen one day.

That's why I think - and I may be overstepping the mark - someone like Nureyev is virtually reaching that point where a lot of people are saying that he's very old, for a dancer, and he can't recreate the amazing roles that he used to. But he's still a good fighting horse, you know, and he's doing it. There will come a point where he has to say to himself, "I've had enough." That's why he's getting into directing now and things like that. He says that he feels he has a couple of years left and he's going to give it his all, and then he's going to leave.

Over time, if you have remained successful, you get that following of people that grew up with you. They keep up with you and will accept anything you do - that's what a staunch fan is, as far as I'm concerned. They will believe in what you do. In terms of Queen, we just chop and change so much, and stoic fan will readily accept whatever we come up with next.

I think we have a hardcore of fans. After all, it's really only a game... but a serious game. A lot of people have actually grown up with us, and they still like us, and also I think we've lost a lot of people. There might be fans that I speak to in the street who say, "I like your earlier stuff, but I don't Hill what you're doing now." But then, at the same time, there are people who come up and say they like our new stuff and don't even know what we did five or six years ago, so it sort of balances out I guess.

Queen's fans are a wide cross section, which is really good. I'd hate to think we had a specific following. It's lovely that it's that way, and I would rather it was that way than maybe with somebody like David Essex, who was a kind of straight-forward following. We seem to have very different fans depending on where you go. It's good that we don't have fans that are like hoards of lemmings - although you do get the occasional kamikaze fan that once they've made their mind up to get you, then they are going to get you. Once the kamikaze fans make up their minds to get you, there is no stopping them unless you have a kind of karate bodyguard. It literally is like a version of Hitchcock's 'The Birds' sometimes - especially in Japan with all the screaming fans that kind of want to peck at you, it's very surreal, it's a totally different trip. But you know audiences vary greatly in this country as well.

It could all end tomorrow. I'm not afraid of it. It's a precarious life but I think I like it that way. I like it a little risky. Okay, so I'm quite well off, but money in the bank doesn't mean anything to me. I spend it as quickly as it comes. I could be penniless tomorrow, but I wouldn't care that much. I have this survival instinct in me.

I don't get up every morning and ask myself what I'd do if Queen decided to end. I'll take it when it comes. We're as serious about our work as a lawyer. I can't predict whether we will go on, but as long as we keep breaking new ground, the fire will remain in Queen. I don't think we've reached our peak. Within the band there's still a lot left to be done. Queen is still around. We've had no disorder or any bad vibes recently. I think everybody's quite happy at the moment. The four old ladies are still rocking away!

Through anything, we will just carry on until one of us drops dead, or something, or is just replaced. I think if I suddenly left they'd have the mechanism to replace me. Not easy to replace me, huh!?

 

Chapter nineteen


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 997


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