Queen: the Beatweek interview

Within the last few years, Queen have made a resurgence in the media worldwide.  From the We Will Rock You musical on London’s West End to Adam Lambert fronting the band for a few UK gigs, it seems Queen have maintained a standing most all places save the US. Promotion of the band hasn’t been strong since the mid 1980’s when Queen did a major US tour. Aside from a resurgence in the early nineties thanks to Wayne’s World, not until this year has Queen been highlighted in the media for more than just a one-off American Idol guest spot.

The current buzz is surrounding the Queen Extravaganza, a Queen tribute band put together by Queen’s drummer, Roger Taylor.  There are other tribute outfits that have been around for some time, like Almost Queen, Killer Queen, and One Night of Queen, but this will be the first official, remaining Queen members-approved one.

“The other Queen tribute bands were the reason I wanted to start this one,” so says the Extravaganza creator and producer himself.  “I want our music to be represented in a scintillating way and not in an average kind of way.”

By choosing four vocalists, two guitarists, one bassist, one drummer, and one keyboardist, Taylor has created something akin to an experience, rather than just a rehashing of old songs from the catalog. With the help of Queen guitarist, Brian May, Taylor sorted through hundreds or thousands of submitted online videos to try and compile his idea of a fitting lineup.

“We weren’t just looking for copies of us, we were looking for … great musicianship, … great charisma, and the right people,” states Taylor. The people chosen for the job may not be experts on the stylings of Queen; however, they do have a one-up on the average musician. Taylor says, “Everybody in the Extravaganza has a tremendous knowledge of our body of work. They are absolute Queen aficionados, and I think some of the times they seem to remember things I’ve forgotten.”

There is surely a hope that new fans will jump on the Queen bandwagon because of the project. With all the hype surrounding the Coachella Tupac Shakur hologram, it leaves one curious as to which musician will next be represented posthumously as a hologram. Apparently, not the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.  “I would not like to perform with a hologram of Freddie.”  Taylor’s response should not really come as a huge shock.  Since Freddie Mercury’s passing in November 1991, the remaining members have been very protective of both Mercury’s and Queen’s legacy.  “It’s the real one or no hologram for me,” asserts Taylor.  “It just doesn’t fit too
well with me.  I don’t want to appear with a hologram of my dear friend.”

Show-goers unfortunately cannot expect a Freddie sighting at the Extravaganza gigs; however, Taylor thinks that “[One can expect] a fantastically uplifting night out, … a revelatory sort of trip through our cannon of music, and hopefully a lot of audience participation.”  According to Marc Martel, one of the project’s vocalists, “I believe there’s going to be some great possibly never before seen footage.”

For those not living in the US, Taylor and May are performing with Adam Lambert for a few European dates this summer. Some die-hard fans always get a little riled up with news of a new singer performing with Queen. “Regarding our tour, it’s not really a tour of Queen. We’re doing five gigs with Adam Lambert as the singer in the summer.” (read the Beatweek interview with Adam Lambert)

For Queen fans both new and old, the Queen Extravaganza is going to be a great show. It is without a doubt the closest that anyone stateside will come to seeing an official Queen production.

Learn more at QueenExtravaganza.com

Keri Franz

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