„Queen Rocks" press-conference

...or how I met Brian May for the first time personally

a report by Oliver Tamminga

You can find an edit of this press-conference in the Official Queen Fan Club magazine (Winter 1997 issue).
For the italian fans: You can find a translation of this report in the WWRY issue number 19. For more information about the Italian Fan Club please just E-mail Davide.

The 3rd November 1997 was the day of the „Queen Rocks" press-conference in Cologne. I knew that Brian and Roger would be there to promote their new album. So I made my way to Cologne.
I arrived at about 3pm at the hotel, where the press-conference should take place later on.
To spend my time I went to the Cafe first and had an expensive cup of  tea (DM 8,--!).
As I looked out of the window at about 4:20pm I saw two cars arriving. I went out of the Cafe to have a look who arrived...and....it were Brian and Roger together with Julie Glover and Jim Beach!
Roger was just going into the hotel, but I stood only one meter away from the man himself: Brian May!
I talked to him shortly, told him that I really like the new song („No one but you") and that I hope that it would be a big success. I also added that I would write a report of the press-conference for the Italian Fan Club.
Brian was very kind, but time was short, the securities wanted to go inside, so Brian said „See you at the press-conference".
It was fantastic to have met Brian personally for the first time, and have talked to him, but it would come even much better...
After this I waited about 30 meters away from the hotel for about 10 minutes. It would have been too early already going into the hotel for the press-conference.
Then suddenly I saw Brian and Julie going out of the hotel to have a look at the Dom (a famous old big cathedral in Cologne).
I went straight after Brian and Julie, as they recognized me.
Brian asked „What´s your name?" I said „Oliver, Oliver Tamminga". I couldn´t believe it, as Brian replied „Ah, Oliver, I know you". So Brian still remembered me, after all those years (but that would be another story).
Then I had the chance to talk  with him for about 10 minutes..
Two or four other people were suddenly approaching Brian and asking for an autograph, but left directly afterwards.
I had the chance to get some nice photos together with Brian, and to get some autographs.
We talked about different topics, not Queen-only topics, and I must say that Brian is such a nice guy.
I knew he would be nice, but it was incredible how nice he was.
I wasn´t nervous at all as I was talking with him. I felt as if he treated me like a friend, but that´s how Brian is!
As I knew that Brian also collects Queen-items, I gave him a little present (Sat 1 „Greatest Hits" CD from Germany, limited edition). He was very happy and told me that he didn´t have it in his collection so far.
After talking about 10 minutes with him, I didn´t want to disturb Brian and Julie any longer.So we went different ways by telling „See you later" to each other.

Then, at 5pm, it was time for the press-conference.
I still couldn´t believe what happened to me shortly before, as I entered the press-conference - by coincidence directly after Roger, Brian and Jim Beach!
I was the last person entering the room and there were already many photographers waiting for Brian and Roger.
As I was searching for a free seat, a nice woman greeted me friendly „Hello again!". I looked up and it was the lovely Julie Glover!
„No-one but you" was played, while photos of Roger and Brian could be token. I also had the chance to make two nice shots of them.

here´s one nice shot

Directly afterwards the press-conference started.
Here are the most interesting questions of the press-conference (edited shortly), and Brian´s and Roger´s answers.

Question 1:
The new album features mainly songs written by the both of you. There´s only one song by Freddie. Is there a special reason behind this choice of songs?
The songs were just chosen because they were rock-songs really. It´s just that Freddie was mainly writing different stuff, I suppose.
There are some collaborations on there.  This is meant to be a hard-rock album, with the exception of this new song.

Question 2:
The songs you´ve chosen exist in different versions around the world. You´ve chosen the regular ones. Are you saving the rare ones up for a kind of  Queen anthology?
We honestly think that the Originals are better. If I buy a compilation album of one of my favourite artists and then you get something of a different remix, you feel cheated.
We feel that the original versions are definitive versions. They´re the best versions to have.

Question 3:
Being back in the studio without Freddie. How was it, recording a Queen-song?
Quite strange. We´re without Freddie the whole time and it´s taking a lot of time getting used to it. This was originally intended not to happen. The song was just there. It is only because Roger and John reacted to the song and said they wanna do it. I have to say it was very good. It was very magical really. I think we felt like Freddie was there in spirit, because the song is about him anyway. And there are lots of little trademarks in there. There are lots of little quotes, which are very Queen-like, very Freddie like.
It was good fun actually. It was much easier than we expected it to be.

Question 4:
Are there more songs to come as Queen?
I would say not at the moment.
But I don´t see why not. It´s quite possible, it´s just that we don´t actually have any at the moment.
I think a lot depends how this gets perceived. On that we´ll depend how we feel long term, I guess. I don´t think we intended this to happen really. People may decide we can´t sing. They propably already did. (laughter)

Question 5:
Did you ever think about working with another singer now that you´ve got another song?
We actually have worked with quite a few other singers. But the idea of working with one permanantly is very difficult, ´cause Freddie is a very hard act to follow and it would seem very strange then with somebody else on any kind of permanent basis.
It would be very hard for someone coming in. It´s like some fabulous sportscar with three mad fucking drivers in it already, and if somebody comes in they´re gonna find it very hard. (laughter)  No plans at the moment, although George is great. We admired George as a performer, but his direction is very different. But we are us, and that´s different.

Question 6 (by me):
Will there be another Queen-tour with just you two as singers?
I don´t think we know. We don´t have any plans at the moment.
No plans, so we can´t answer in either way.
Ok, Oliver
Sorry, sorry about that

Question 7:
What about the Princess? How did you feel?
Very, very sad. We both went to the funeral. We were involved in a lot of the same things that Princess Diana was involved in.  The charity work and stuff, so we bumped into her quite a lot. And she was somthing very wonderful and very special and we felt terribly sad that she´d be taken away so soon. Strangely enough the last conversation I had with the Princess she just said it must be pretty hard for you still doing without Freddie, and I said yes, sometimes it´s hard and she said how tragic that he´d been taken away so soon- what a waste. So I guess everybody feels that about her. But strangely enough, in the way she died, she gave the world something as well. I don´t think that there´s ever been that kind of feeling in Britain.
It was a very strange time in the UK.

Question 8:
Do you think it´s good to glorify people like that?
In some ways no, I don´t think it is. But if they made people happy, I don´t see why they shouldn´t be remembered.
I think there is some similarity between Freddie and the Princess, because they both had the ability to make the ordinary person to feel like they had some kind of chance. That´s a precious gift.
And they had the same dress. (laughter)

Question 9:
Whom is the single dedicated to?
It´s written about Freddie, really, but I guess, if you write a song, songs have always more meanings than the first one you come across. The song in my mind started about 2 years ago. I just couldn´t find all the words.

Question 10:
Would you be part of this tribute concert for Diana, in spring time in London?
That´s tough to answer, because that´s the first we´ve heard of it.
We´re actually not a functional unit as a live-act either at the moment.
I don´t know. I think maybe we´ve done our tributes.

Question 11:
„No one but you" is the only new song on the record. Is it something like a new start for Queen?
Well, you mustn´t read too much in there. At the moment it´s just a song, and that´s all that´s happened. It´s not part of a grand masterplan yet. The song is on there because we thought it was nice to have a bonus-track on there, because all the tracks of course have been released before.
It is the first new thing we´ve done together, without Freddie.

Question 12:
Why did you choose that cover?
Why do you ask this question? ´Cause you hate it. Tell me, really? You like it or not?
I´m not really sure.
Shall we be honest? It was done in pretty much of a hurry and the concept behind it is the crest exploding. I think we all felt that perhaps it wasn´t quite how we imagined it would be, but time was very short, but it´s fabulous yes (laughter)

Question 13:
Do you think that this is your best cover?

Question 14:
Are you very into video-games?
I´m not, I think Brian is
Certain ones, I am. I´m not very into "Beat em up". I find it too boring and I´m not skilfull enough to get in. I like Doom, I think it´s a fantastic game, because you feel like you´re really there. And for the kids, they get really scared. You know Doom? Ah, Doom is fantastic. There´s lots of blood, but you really feel you´re there, and you go around those dark corridors and your actually in the point of view, graphics, and if something happens to you, really, you really get scared. I think this game I´m sure will be brilliant, but it´s not something which we´ve directly worked on the development of. It´s called "The Eye".

Question 15:
Are there any solo-projects you´re working on, the two of you together, or as single artists?
We´re both seperately working on solo-albums. Right, Roger?
Yeah, I think we´re both about 80% through!

Question 16:
As there was a lot focussed on Freddie, do you think that your individual talents are overlooked because of that?
Personally no. Part of being in a band is really accepting the fact that, if you have a singer, especially as one as flamboyant and outstanding as Freddie was, he´s the natural visual focus and I think if you don´t understand that everybody in the band has a different role, and if it worries you, that he gets the most attention, then I think you should leave the band. We would never have lasted if that was the case.
And we´re very proud of him. I guess we did use him as the focus point.

Question 17:
What about John Deacon? Was he involved in the compilation of the album? Where is he today?
Great question! (laughter)
These are very difficult questions.
He´s a complete mystery to us, I mean.
He´s generally involved at a distance. He´s very much involved, but he doesn´t get involved in the "day-today" bits of pieces, I guess Roger and I do that really. Where is he today? He´s at home, I think. But he does secret things, secret "Deaky things". Base players do that. (laughter)
But he´s never been seen spending money though.

Question 18 (my question):
One question to Roger first: Will you go on tour next year?
I doubt it, I would like to see how my album is received, so it´s unlikely
Why? Many fans would come and see you live.
Oh, you´re very kind. Thanks! If I felt that there was a demand there maybe, but it´s a lot of work involved. I have to finish my record first and see what happens.

Question 19 (my question):
Brian, will you go on tour next year?
I hope to, yes! If I ever finish the album.

The press-conference then finished.
Everybody was given a promo "Queen Rocks" press-kit, inclusive the CD, the book and demo-CD of "The Eye" and a
3 paged press-sheet.
Afterwards there were food and drinks for free (the best choice only!), served on silver tablets.

About 10 minutes later I went to the hotel lobby, where I sat down to relax for a while.
Shortly afterwards I saw Roger and Jim Beach hurrying to the exit. I asked Roger if I could have a photo with him, and he said "sure". I looked around me - nobody was there to take a photo with the two of us, except Jim. So I gave him my camera and he made a photo of us. Afterwards I asked Roger for some autographs, and talked shortly to him.
Then Roger left with a big "Ciao, see you".

After these fantastic events I didn´t want to wait any longer in the hotel for meeting Brian and Roger again later.
I felt they were very nice to me and treated me very friendly - so why should I possibly go onto their nerves in the end? They´re also just normal humans and need a bit of their privacy.
That´s why I then left Cologne, and went back home - very happily indeed...

Thanks to:
Brian (for everything, in short for being magnificent), Roger (for our short conversation, and for funny remarks), Julie (for being patient while I was talking to Brian, and for her loveliness), Jim (for taking my photo with Roger), and to my friends in Italy (Emilio and Davide) for their support!

this report is (c) 1997 by Oliver Tamminga