Brian May/Kerry Ellis: Exclusive Interview
The album took 5 years to complete in-between your busy schedules; will it be a relief to really explore these songs in the live environment?
Kerry Ellis: It is what I personally am most looking forward to, it is time to share the songs with a live crowd, feel their reaction and grow from it. It is quite a challenge to recreate Anthems live as there is so much involved, but we will find new ways of exploring and playing live, I cant wait, it’s going to be magical.
Brian May: I've been looking forward to this opportunity for a very long time. Kerry's voice and interpretive instincts are hugely inspiring, and have given me an outlet for the skills that I have, in writing, playing and production. In a sense this is the final frontier...the climax of a project we've both believed in for almost 9 years.
Brian, do you still get a buzz hitting the road? You are playing some very different venues on this trek, does that add to the challenge?
BM: Yes, it's as much of a thrill as ever. The World is changing, and I'm fascinated by the new challenges that are out there.
Kerry, do you have to prepare differently in performing a gig to that of appearing in a musical?
KE: Yes very much so, performing Anthems will be tough as vocally it is just me with some backing vocals, in a musical you have a whole cast of vocal support, its also more of a wild and free experience doing your own show as you are not restricted by a script or character. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to do both and long may it continue.
Can we expect the tracks as they appear on the album or with there be any different arrangements for taking them into the live arena?
KE: That would be telling! The exciting thing about seeing a new show is that you are taken on a journey of surprises, if you know what’s coming it takes away the fun.
BM: Yes...we are already working on the formats and the arrangements...they will be based on the album versions, but LIVE is horse of a different colour! We can be very free.
Will you be performing any other tracks in the set outside of the album?
KE: There will be a few unexpected elements.
BM: Yes! A surprise or two!
Brian, was performing an album in its entirety anything Queen ever considered?
BM: Strangely enough, no. I suppose we were closest to it when we first went out, on that first headline tour of the UK, this moment with Kerry feels a lot like that. Anything can happen.
Can we expect any Brian May lead vocals? A dip into some of those great ballads you have written perhaps, ‘Leaving Home Ain’t Easy’ would sit nicely up there…
BM: Ha! You'll have to wait and see! It's a nice thought, but of course I will be leaving most of the singing to Ms Ellis.
How will the band be set up for tour, who do you have out on the road with you?
KE: Well as this is the first outing for Anthems we are not taking the orchestra with us this time that’s all at the Royal Albert Hall, so it’s just the core root that will be with us.
BM: Yes, in the Albert Hall we will have the whole huge orchestra and chorus as well as our band, but on tour it will be more raw - just the two of us and the 'Anthems Ensemble' ! Our band is handpicked and we're very proud of them! Our secret weapon is Rufus Taylor, who just happens to be Roger's son, but who at the age of 21 is probably the most powerful drummer I have ever heard...and I have heard a few.
Kerry, can we expect some classy wardrobe changes during the set? If so, is that the cue for a Brian May guitar solo spot?
KE: Of course! In fact I was working on that today, it’s one of the perks!
Any particular highlights on the Anthems album? Do any tracks mean more to you than others?
KE: I must admit I love it all and each track is on there for a reason, so each one is special, but every time I hear ’I Loved A Butterfly', it does make me go all funny.
BM: That's a hard one... but my favourite is probably ‘Dangerland’...which sees Kerry conquer a new world!
‘Dangerland’ is clearly of Queen-sized proportions…
BM: Oh! You noticed ! Ha ha. I had not seen this question! Yes, it's one of the biggest things I've ever engineered... and this was a moment when I realised I was still in tune with writing Rock. I've enjoyed taking things into a new arena, with the orchestra organically connected to the rock backing tracks. Bigger ! Louder ! Better !
‘You Have To Be There’ is real standout track, a song that even Freddie Mercury may have tackled.
KE: This song is so powerful. I first sang it for the writers Benny and Bjorn at Hyde Park in front of 50,000 plus people. It gave me shivers to perform, and even though it was the first time people had heard it you could hear a pin drop - it was incredible.
BM: Those ABBA guys are great writers. This song was already pretty rock-based, so I did less adaptation on it than most on the album... just added some trademarks! But it was all built around Kerry's instinctive and passionate performance - she is one of the first to sing this song in English, and has made it her own.
Which track has been remixed for the next Kerry Ellis single release?
KE: ‘Defying Gravity’! This song has the potential to reach people everywhere so we have made a club mix to hit the dance floors.
BM: Yes. Then I am hoping we will follow up with ‘Dangerland’ for the rock vibe of the tour.
‘I Loved A Butterfly’ on Anthems and Martha Rossi’s cover of ‘We Believe’, it must be nice to see your Cosmos Rocks material given a new life?
BM: That album already seems like a long time ago. I have always felt that the material was a bit underdeveloped, so its good to see some of it has another life.
Once you complete the Anthems Tour, what is next for Kerry Ellis?
KE: Hopefully more music, more tours, maybe even a number one single! That would be nice.
Queen’s 40th Anniversary, A Sky At Night, Save Me, We Will Rock You, the release of Anthems and now a UK Tour…You like to fill your time don’t you!
BM: I do...I just figured it out...I have just 5 careers...Music, Astronomy, Stereoscopy, Animal Welfare, and ... family! It's insane, really, and there are times when my head spins. But this tour with Kerry will be one of those great times when I have to concentrate on one thing at a time. It will be worth it.
Tickets for the Brian May and Kerry Ellis Anthems Tour are ON SALE NOW
To book tickets please contact the venues below or call 0844 888 9991
For online bookings please visit http://www.ticketline.co.uk/anthems-the-concert-tickets
Tickets priced between £42.50-£40 (Boxes), £39-£37.50 (Adults) & £35-£29 (Concessions)
Tuesday 3rd May 2011 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 0151 709 3789
Thursday 5th May 2011 Gateshead Sage 0191 443 4661
Friday 6th May 2011 Sheffield City Hall 0114 278 9789
Sunday 8th May 2011 Nottingham Royal Centre 0115 989 5555
Monday 9th May 2011 Birmingham Symphony Hall 0121 780 3333
Wednesday 11th May 2011 Edinburgh Festival Theatre 0131 529 6000
Thursday 12th May 2011 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 0141 353 8000
Saturday 14th May 2011 Cardiff St. David’s Hall 0292 087 8444
Monday 16th May 2011 Manchester Bridgewater Hall 0161 907 9000
Wednesday 18th May 2011 Milton Keynes Theatre 0844 871 7652
Thursday 19th May 2011 Southend Cliffs Pavilion 0170 235 1135
Saturday 21st May 2011 Bath Forum 0122 546 3362