Queen Of The Orient (Record Mirror, May 24 1975)
A few months ago Queen were the band everyone was talking about and the only reason why their name hasn't been on everyone's lips just recently is that they've been away on a world tour and thus let the Rollers take over as most talked about group. In Japan, however at this very minute, Queen are THE biggest. Big deal, you may say, what's with Japan? But don't forget Japan is the second largest record market in the world. Furthermore, a concert ticket in Japan costs around Â£4.50 to Â£5 and Queen were selling out 11,000 seater halls all over [the country where] there was the fan mania.
Queen's drummer Roger Meddows Taylor, "There were thousands of fans to greet us *literally* thousands And at one gig we had between four and five hundred security men."
Were they all necessary?
"Yes, I'm afraid they were. As it was a number of fans had to be carried out unconscious and many more were nearly crushed."
Were you frightened?
"No, not frightened, but we were a little alarmed. We hadn't expected anything like it. Nevertheless, Japan was definitely the highlight of the whole tour. The Japanese are so good at organising things.
How about the earlier American leg of the tour?
"That was great, too. We were fairly confident from what we'd heard that we would go down alright in the east and mid-west, but we were warned not to expect too much in the south and far west, but the show in San Francisco, for instance, was fantastic."
The American part of the tour was interrupted by illness, which has also halted things in the more distant past.
"Ah yes," says Roger, "I think people were saying to themselves 'there go those weeds dropping out again', but I don't think they realise just how gruelling touring can be. Actually we're all pretty tough and everyone's all right now."
"Apart from Brian's illness, Freddie was having terrible trouble in the States with his throat. He had nodes and the doctors wanted him to stop work for a month and get them operated on. He ignored them though and managed to get through it without resorting to surgery."
Having been away so long Queen should now be coming up with a new single and album, but, explains Roger, that can't happen for a while. We shall be starting to record the next album around mid-June, but we won't be able to finish it all in one go, because we have got to go back to America."
Why, surely the album's more important?
"Well, the trouble is that we spent an awful lot of money on the last
American tour and now we've been offered a good deal to go back and tour for about a month in August. We really must do it to replenish our funds. We simply can't afford not to, so the album won't be completed until after we get back."
So that means it won't be out until about November.
"Well, if we're lucky it might be October."
How about a single. Is there any chance of one before the album?
"No, I don't think so, because we don't write singles as such. In America they're going to put Keep Yourself Alive out again, because we weren't well-known when it first came out there."
Do you think it's a good idea?
"Hmmm, I have my doubts about it."
As yet the group have next to no material ready for the next album, but there are already ideas floating around for a title and for the sleeve design, though Roger is keeping quiet about them. Sheer Heart Attack's title was chosen by Roger and he's anxious to come up with something just as striking for the next album. "I hated the title of the second album, Queen 2, it was so unimaginative." One of the peculiarities of Queen is that they do not appeal to one specific sector of buyers. Their fans range from early teenagers to older fans of basically 'heavy' music. So, whereas most bands with a clearly defined market know pretty well before they release a single whether it's likely to be a hit or not, Queen haven't a clue.
"Apart from Killer Queen," admits Roger, "which was obviously catchy, I don't think of our singles as being immediately commercial. For instance, when Seven Seas of Rhye was a hit, I was very surprised. It was only intended really to draw attention to the album I thought that Keep Yourself Alive was a much more commercial song. "I think it is probably an advantage not to know exactly what will sell, because then you are not inhibited in your choice of a single.
"Quite honestly," says Roger, "I've no idea whether the next single will be a melodic thing like Killer Queen or an out-and-out rocker, although I've got a feeling there will be plenty of rockers on the next album."
The new album will definitely be recorded in Britain, although they don't know yet which studio they will use. But after all that globetrotting and time spent in America in particular, do Queen still think of Britain as their base?
"Yes," says Roger lugubriously, "unfortunately."
"Because it's so depressing to come back. I'd like to have stayed in Japan. You come back here and find everything's going wrong and in the shops, people are so rude."
Are you contemplating joining the flood of tax exiles then?
"No, at least not in the foreseeable future."
If Queen fans are getting alarmed about how long or short that "foreseeable future" might be, rest assured that it will last out at least to the end of the year because once the next album is out, the group will be touring here November/December--out to prove that, come The Rollers or whatever else may--Queen still rule ... OK?