Published On: Fri, Jan 20th, 2023

Freddie Mercury soundcheck with new Brian May, Roger Taylor interviews | Music | Entertainment

The new mini-documentary episodes, which are released every Friday at 12pm GMT, follow on from the 50 episodes of Queen The Greatest which charted the band’s half-century history. This time the focus is on how Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon have gone down as one of the best live acts in rock music history. In the first episode’s brand new interviews, the guitarist and drummer revealed their rehearsal secrets, which continue on their tours with Adam Lambert to this day. Check out the video below, which includes the late Queen singer in rare soundcheck footage singing Tie Your Mother Down and more.

The two active Queen members made it clear that the rehearsal and soundcheck process are vital to getting their live performance just right. 

Brian May said: “Rehearsing before tour is always a bit of a surprise because you don’t know how much you’re going to remember and you don’t know if it’s still going to feel the same. But it’s surprising how stuff does flow back into you, into your veins once you start kicking stuff around.”

Roger Taylor shared: “Normally we play a song through and see if it works, if we think it’s going to work live, and they don’t always work live. Some of them just, they’re not suited really for an exciting or involving, engaging performance, a live performance. So we probably, there’s quite a few songs we’ve never played live that have been on albums and probably for good reason.”

Brian May continued: “We’ll try a lot of stuff out and then very often we’ll go, ‘Oh, well, we did this last time. Well, maybe we’ll do that’, and you put a rough set together very quickly.  It’s about a lot of things.  It’s also about looking at the sound and making sure that everything’s in place out front for the for the people out front.  It’s about looking at the monitor system, making sure that we can be heard between each other like I can hear Rog, he can hear me, etc etc..

“It’s also about the lights, the whole production. So you have an awful lot to do in that rehearsal period. And it’s easy for things to, I guess, be unfinished. So you know you’re going to go out on tour on the first night and it won’t be finished.  There will be work in progress, but that’s the nature of the game. You can’t be perfect. You can’t hit the ground perfect. You hit the ground, okay? And you evolve to the place where you hopefully want to be. So by the time you get to the end of the tour, you’re really good.

“Sound checking is the real kind of baseline of touring, really. If you don’t soundcheck while you’re in the process of touring, you’re static and you’re kind of dead. That’s my feeling. I know it’s Roger’s feeling, too.”

READ MORE: Brian May urges fans to listen to ‘greatest’ Jeff Beck guitar solo

Roger continued: “We just wouldn’t feel happy unless we felt we knew exactly where everything was – the set up the sound, even if we’re doing several nights in one place.  You want to go in the next day and kind of make sure everything’s sounding right. It’s tuned right. Everything’s in the right… And there might have been something you weren’t happy with the night before. You want to correct it, you know.  And then we might just change a song, and so we’ll rehearse a new song to put in and just try things out, really. But I think Brian and I certainly not happy with just going on cold. We like to know that everything’s right and that hopefully nothing’s going to go wrong.

“The soundcheck. Normally at 4 o’clock, I go first in the secure knowledge that Brian is going to take ages, so I can do mine fairly quickly. And then I’ll vacate the stage and the other guys will be in there, rhythm, bass, keys and they’ll be running through stuff, technically, harmonies, stuff like that.  And then Brian will come on to get his sound and then we’ll get together as a unit and play ensemble. Yeah, that’s the way it normally works. Yeah.”

Brian May’s ‘gut-wrenching’ favourite Bohemian Rhapsody movie scene [BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY]

Freddie Mercury’s last song was recorded in incredibly rare style [FREDDIE MERCURY]
John Deacon was ‘severely traumatised’ by Freddie Mercury’s death [JOHN DEACON]

Brian May added: “We call it a soundcheck, but part of it is to check the sound and it’s always necessary, but the rest of it is to just try stuff out, even if it’s only a few bars.  Like ‘What happened last night? Oh, that happened. What if we do this?’ And and you gradually, gradually evolving the show, finding out little bits that didn’t work as well as they could. Maybe they could be improved. ‘Oh, let’s try. We didn’t try this song for ages. Maybe we try this?’ And if it works out well in soundcheck, you put it in the next night.

“But it can be all sorts of little, small, tiny, little things. Like ‘if I do this, you know, generally you do that which conflicts, you know, so maybe we… Oh yeah, okay I’ll do this’. And you adjust those little things which, which improve. They call it Kaizen in Japan and you improve tiny little things all along the way and suddenly the whole shows an improvement. And that’s why the show is so good, I think.  I mean, I hope it is good. People say it’s good.”

Next week’s Queen The Greatest Live is titled Rehearsals – Part 2: Preparing for the biggest show of all time.

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