Jim Ladd "Innerview" with Roger Taylor (Series 29. Show 9. 1984)Jim Ladd
Jim Ladd: Good evening everybody. Tonight we bring you yet another shy, polite and mild mannered Englishman. he's Queen's drummer by trade and for the second time he's off on a solo venture exploring strange frontiers. But I have to tell you, it wasn't easy getting our guest to open up. But, eventually the real Roger Taylor began to surface. England's music scene...
Roger Taylor: It's so fashion and trend conscious. It's definitely a case of this weeks thing, always, which is a bit depressing in a way because people tend to lose sight of what's actually good - that they're judgement and real objectivity on what is good, just disappears and it becomes submerged in what's this weeks thing. And that's why I think a lot of the things that are coming out are rubbish and very whimsical and they mean nothing really. I mean they do come out, but so many things come out and there's bound to be some good stuff, which is why so much new stuff does come out. I think very little of it sticks in the long run.
Jim Ladd: The English music press;
Roger Taylor: The English music press breeds a lot of paranoia in musicians actually. It's very difficult, it's almost impossible in England. In fact, I'd say it's impossible to be totally honest and just go out and do things there now. You have to be of what's this weeks thing and there's no way I'm going to be this weeks thing or Queen's going to be this weeks thing, because we've been successful now for twelve years or whatever. And it's impossible, so you have to go 'Hey screw them' I'm a musician and I want to say what i want to say.
Jim Ladd: Absolutely
MORE OF THAT JAZZ
Roger Taylor: After being this long in a band, you know and just reading stuff about yourself and how much stuff is misquoted or totally wrong or non-factual. I mean, at least you know what's right and what's wrong.
Jim Ladd: Yeah.
Roger Taylor: You can't believe the amount of stuff that is totally wrong, and a lot of what you read in the press simply isn't true, especially, I speak really for England because that's where I really know.
Jim Ladd: Aww come on now...
Roger Taylor: There's absolutely nothing that is absolutely right. They usually get the facts wrong or it's fabricated or whatever and it really is true.
I WANT TO BREAK FREE
Jim Ladd: And finally, our guest talked about his newest album "Strange Frontier".
Roger Taylor: I wanted to just say things that I felt strongly about and in an honest way, without trying to be too precious and people don't tend to say anything these days. They just seem to write songs for a market. I thought I don't need to do that because I don't need the money. And why don't I just say what i feel, and that's what I've tried to do.
Jim Ladd: Welcome to an Innerview with Roger Taylor of Queen.
MAN ON FIRE
Jim Ladd: For a second solo album "Strange Frontier", Roger Taylor has essentially assembled members of Queen to back him up. But for the most parts, Roger does it all himself. Which of course he plays the drums! But he also handles all the vocals and most of the guitar parts too.
Roger Taylor: The idea of "Strange Frontier" the whole title really, is supposed to be a point in time that we've supposed to have reached - that which is a point of self annihilation that we've never been capable of before, that's the idea. It's a part of 'temple frontier' really.
Jim Ladd: Have you ever been er, maybe in your youth or maybe are today, have you ever been involved in the 'No Nukes' movement?
Roger Taylor: Yeah, I'm involved in the English version, that's not called that, it's called the C.N.D. And I'm a member of it and I contribute and I believe what they're doing is right. And basically, a lot of the songs on this album are directly or undirectly about that.
Jim Ladd: Yes
Roger Taylor: Because I think that's the most important issue of the age, and that's what I wanted to write about.
Jim Ladd: I would like to quote some of the lines if you don't mind, because I think this one is particularly good. 'Freedom fighters come and go, bloody righteous and mentally slow'. Did you write that?
Roger Taylor: Yes (laughs)
Jim Ladd: That's a great line. It reminded me of some friends who are in the movement. Who are just too fanatical.
Roger Taylor: Yes it's the fanatics, exactly, that's the anti-fanatics, any fanatics. You know there's all these different causes that really don't amount. That really don't amount to anything. Because if there's one, you know, religious fanatics or whatever. There's the terrible need to become fanatical about something you know. This is the only path or something...
Jim Ladd: It's interesting, because we're also going through a big conservative time, both in your country and in here.
Roger Taylor: Yes, that's right.
Jim Ladd: Of conservative leadership and er... You know, I'll tell you something that's real scary or at least to me that's real hard for me to understand is erm... Someone who got into Rock & Roll in the 60's and has been on the radio almost ever since. I did a... rap thing the other night about Ronald Reagan and I got, mini phone calls from young people listening to Rock & Roll music. Who were offended that I would attack the President of these United States.
Roger Taylor: Hmmm...what a shame...
Jim Ladd: I was, I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it!
Roger Taylor: There's a great new conservatism amongst young people that seems to be, and I can't understand it. Where's all the truth and er rebellious spirits gone?
Jim Ladd: Amen!
Roger Taylor: It seems that people, a lot of teens today are incredibly conservative.
Jim Ladd: Yes.
Roger Taylor: And I find that a bit disappointing , you know.
MASTERS OF WAR
Jim Ladd: If you had to give percentages to if we're going to come through this alive, what would you say?
Roger Taylor: I'd say in the long run, no. Unless something is done about it. Who knows when this will happen? But I think it's inevitable, unless something is done about it. Unless there's some curb on the race, the arms movement, continued escalation, people, countries and nationalism etc. Seems it's basically aggressive.
Jim Ladd: So you think that we're just on erm, the road to ruin here?
Roger Taylor: Unless something's done about it, and I think things like the 'No Nukes' and the 'Greenpeace' people, I think they're doing fantastic things. They're very brave people. Unless other people have the courage to think clearly about it and what really counts in the world. Yeah, I think we're on the wrong path.
Jim Ladd: Our Innerview with Roger Taylor will continue in a moment, right after these messages.
Jim Ladd: I'm Jim Ladd. We're back now with Roger Taylor as the conversation turns to another track on his solo venture: Strange Frontier. Now "Beautiful Dreams" which I was listening to, what I got out of this was almost a song about going back to the children aspect...
Roger Taylor: Yeah, exactly, yes. It's a sort of, I dunno... It starts off as like an innocent dream like you have as children. Just nice, innocent uncoloured dreams. And then the second verse goes on to growing up a bit and of course...personal experience, going through some drug things and finding...
Jim Ladd: Chemical dreams?
Roger Taylor: Chemical dreams you know, and then the third verse is back to the nuclear nightmare dreams. I used to have a lot of these. if I used to have a bad dream, it was usually about being involved in a holocaust and trying to grab everybody I cared about and erm...
Jim Ladd: Literally, you used to have them like that?
Roger Taylor: Oh yeah, I used to regularly, and that's where that came from.
Jim Ladd: How old were you then?
Roger Taylor: Oh that's recently, it's been over the last ten years I should think.
Jim Ladd: Hmmmmm.......
Roger Taylor: Every so often, I'd have a horrible one like that.
Jim Ladd: The line in there which may have cut my ear about the chemical dreams. When I began to have chemical dreams, the reasons for them were much different to what they are now. They had to do with expanding ones consciousness.
Roger Taylor: Yeah, that's what people were told (sniggers).
Jim Ladd: It seems that that's completely non existent anymore and it's just getting high and party.
Roger Taylor: It's just to have a good time now, and it's a very different idea. I think it's a good point actually. I don't know why, but I think something like the dream, like John Lennon said 'The dream is over'. I mean he was referring to something else with The Beatles, but the dream is over. Everybody was sort of optimistic at that point and I think there was a sort of mass realization that, 'Oh we're never gonna change the world'. It's just not going to change like that, and it didn't and all the bad things came out of that like; Altermont and all that. Those things like Manson I suppose. So people realized and rejected that optimistic philosophy. I dunno, that's what I think anyway.
Jim Ladd: It's interesting because a lot of good things that have come out of that even during the 70's, which took the tend of form the committee - fill out the forms - make an organization for women's rights, or... I think all of that also came out of the 60's, but it took a long time to get the dull boring work to change the laws and all that stuff.
Roger Taylor: Yeah, I suppose that's the realistic method of change. You have to go through all that red tape and stuff.
Jim Ladd: Great, right, once you dream it - you've gotta do it.
Roger Taylor: Yeah, that's right and that's the hardest part isn't it?
Jim Ladd: Uh-huh.
Jim Ladd: The second half of this Innerview with Roger Taylor will continue, right after this break.
Jim Ladd: Are you going to tour with this, as a solo artist?
Roger Taylor: Erm, I'd like to, but it's a huge project to put together a band etc, etc... We have a big tour with Queen coming up in Europe and hopefully going onto everywhere else. So at the moment I can't. Possibly next year I might put something together if we get the time. But I've just heard that our English concerts have sold out within an hour. All of them, which is great news, so...
Jim Ladd: Good for you!
Roger Taylor: We're really looking forward to getting back on the stage, as it's been two years. The English concerts just went on sale this morning and I've just heard that they've all gone.
Jim Ladd: That's great.
Roger Taylor: That's...great, I'm really pleased.
Jim Ladd: I do hear from a lot of bands that have made it, that are from England. That when they make it in America, sometimes they're English audiences turn on them.
Roger Taylor: I think, yes, that has happened a lot. It's never happened to us, we've never lost our English audience, they've been incredibly loyal. I mean the ones that like us, and they've stuck with us for a long time, really.
Jim Ladd: Yes, you guys kind of been the exception to that rule.
Roger Taylor: Yeah, well let's face it, we've been incredibly lucky, we've had a wonderful career. I mean we can't complain about anything really. I know we moan a bit at times but it's been very good. We've been all around the world and we've had a great time.
WE WILL ROCK YOU
Jim Ladd: The last Queen album that came out. A lot of people were kind of like '...ok, they're back...' you know.
Roger Taylor: Yeah (laughs)
Jim Ladd: And I think the reasons for that, at least in my perception of the band. Was because you were starting to say things, the songs had more meat to them. Was that part of your decision? I know you wrote "Radio Ga Ga" which every Jock in the world thanks you for.
Roger Taylor: (Laughs) They didn't thank me too much in the U.S.
Jim Ladd: Hey, I played the hell out of it.
Roger Taylor: Oh thanks a lot. It's a praise of radio really. A lot of people took it the wrong way. I think we were just trying to get back to what we felt people wanted of us and you have to make a living... We had an album "Hot Space", which we thought was a sort of step in a direction. I think it was a step in the wrong direction! It was, I thought, not one of our most enjoyable albums for me. And it's our least successful album ever I think.
Jim Ladd: What? The album before the last one?
Roger Taylor: Yeah, that was "Hot Space" yeah, but I mean with "The Works", we came a lot in the U.S. I think, and completely in Europe.
RADIO GA GA
Jim Ladd: I want to ask you one more thing about "Radio Ga Ga", the video on that. Did you know that you looked exactly like Flash Gordon before you did this video or...?
Roger Taylor: (Laughs) No, hehe, it hadn't occurred to me actually. Ahem, yes it's strange, I enjoyed that video. I thought it was one of our better video's and was one of the best we've ever done. And was great to have the opportunity to work with the "Metropolis" footage, which had been a favourite of mine for years. I had a copy at home, and eventually we found out we had the chance to get our hands on some of the footage. So we tried to fit ourselves in. It's a sci-fi classic. it's directed by Fritz Lang, a German director who was inspired by his first visit to New York. it was made in 1926 believe it or not and it all came about from there.
Jim Ladd: I thought that was...I'm not acquainted with that one, but I loved those old movies and there was one called "Things To Come".
Roger Taylor: Yes, yes.
Jim Ladd: That's where I thought you've got it from.
Roger Taylor: No, actually "Metropolis" came out before "Things To Come".
Jim Ladd: Is that right?
Roger Taylor: Yeah, it's still a masterpiece. Giorgio Meoroder is bringing it out. he's re-releasing it and he's actually found footage which has never been seen. With a complete soundtrack and he's coloured certain scenes and that's being released pretty soon I think, and Freddie has a song on it.
Jim Ladd: So many of the stuff nowadays, maybe because of the media is young, is erm, pathetic.
Roger Taylor: What, videos?
Jim Ladd: Yeah, videos.
Roger Taylor: Yes, absolutely - I totally agree with you there. And you see so many visual clichÃ©s just being trotted out again and again, usually with nothing to do with the song. I mean there are some good videos...
Jim Ladd: Sure.
Roger Taylor: ...that help, but a lot of songs really don't need a visual accompaniment. But unfortunately we're in a sort of trap now, that if you release a single, you're almost forced by the market and rules of the business to make a video. And some of our videos have been good and some have been bad. But some of them haven't been necessary.
Jim Ladd: I love the song "Machines" on there, the one about the machines.
Roger Taylor: Oh great, I enjoyed that. I wrote that one with Brian in fact.
Jim Ladd: Great song.
Roger Taylor: It's a subject that's been much sort of tried, but I mean it's a sort of obvious thing. Brian wanted to make it a battle between the human side by using the real drums and guitars etc, and a totally synthetic side, the machines you know. The drum machines and the synthesizers and the Fairlights. So the thing is meant to be a battle between the two, with the idea of basically going back to humans.
MACHINES (OR BACK TO HUMANS)
Jim Ladd: What was it that got you guys off into disco-land, so far at the time?
Roger Taylor: I think really, looking back at what it was. It was...John's always been R & B orientated, our bass player. Who wrote "Another One Bites The Dust" which I never thought would be a hit, which turned out to be the biggest selling record of the year. And I think that was the song that catapulted us into taking that road. I think we went too far and did too much.
Jim Ladd: So it was John and not Freddie then?
Roger Taylor: Yeah, it was really John, yeah. But I think really that's what started us with that, and we went too far in that direction no doubt about it. Everybody in the band feels that way now.
Jim Ladd: That was amazing because I would never picked that song to be the hit that it was. it was played at football games...
Roger Taylor: Incredible. I tell you the guy that picked the song for the single was Michael Jackson. He came along to the Forum and er...
Jim Ladd: You mean THE?
Roger Taylor: The Los Angeles Forum, and after the show, he said because he liked the record and he liked a lot of our old songs as well. Why didn't you release it as the first one you know. We didn't think it would ever be a hit! Eventually we did release it and obviously, you know it was a hit.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
Jim Ladd: You four guys as a band, have long surpassed this weeks thing because you've got the talent to do it. I mean that's what it comes down to me. Some of your stuff I love, some of your stuff I can't listen to...
Roger Taylor: Yeah, same here.
Jim Ladd: Yeah, but you can't deny, you gotta look beyond that because they're a lot of people who may love a song that I hate. But the talent of the musicians, the four of you, is undeniable.
Roger Taylor: Oh, thank you.
Jim Ladd: I mean, you can't be knocked on that level, right?
Roger Taylor: No, absolutely and I feel erm, yes I hope that will come out. I mean I don't like some of the things we've done, some of it I don't like at all. And some of it I'm proud of you know. But, at least we're still here, stronger than ever and still doing it, so it must prove something I'm not quite sure what.
Jim Ladd: You also still be interested in the quality of your work, again I'm not judging personal tastes here, but the records are always very quality, the music is quality, the production is at a point...
Roger Taylor: Yeah, but by this time if we haven't learnt how to make a decent record then we should have given up. But we have found that when we haven't tried so hard, it hasn't turned out so good. So you've got to bust you're whatever every time, you gotta really push yourself every time.
Jim Ladd: Yeah.
Roger Taylor: For success, it's difficult because there's people a lot younger than us now coming up every week. Almost a generation younger now!