"It's The Beatles On Steroids"

MOJO, June 2019

The Foo Fighters drummer and Queen superfan on the musical "essence of Queen".

Taylor and Taylor My formative experience with Queen was when I was seven or eight. I was in my parents' car. They'd taken me to see the 1977 version of the movie King Kong - I was totally in love with Jessica Lange, who was in the Fay Wray role. Then on the way home, I heard We Will Rock You on the car radio. And somehow in my eight-year-old brain, We Will Rock You and King Kong kinda merged. We Will Rock You became the sound of King Kong walking.
  Then, a lightning bolt struck. It was my sister's copy of The Game album. I played that album until it wore out. At the same time, I got a drum kit, and I decided I was going to be a drummer. I pointed at the cover of The Game and asked my sister who was the drummer, and she said, "The blond one." Which was great, because I was a drummer and had blond hair too!
  From The Game I went backwards and discovered as much as I could. I remember going to a used record store and buying Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack. Live Killers became my drum bible - I learned to play the drums by playing to that and The Police's Zenyatta Mondatta.
  From falling in love with Queen I kinda fell in love with the idea of being in a band like Queen. Then I fell in love with the idea of being Roger Taylor, the bad-ass dude with his own face on the kick drum head. And he wrote songs! Bad-ass rock'n'roll songs like Modern Times Rock'n'Roll - a little more raw than Freddie, Brian and John Deacon's songs. So I modeled myself after Roger Taylor. I still do.
  For me, and not just me - it was the same for people like Axl Rose - Queen were kind of my music school. Like a Beatles record, Queen records had everything. I think the movie kind of spells it out - Queen are The Beatles on steroids. And I don't mean this in any disrespect to The Beatles because there would be no Queen if there had been no Beatles, and many of the tricks Queen used were Beatles tricks: stacking the harmonies, running the guitars backwards, writing big pieces of music that strung four songs together.
  Queen are more like The Beatles than they are like Led Zeppelin, for instance.They're rounded in the way The Beatles were. So if you could only have one rock album, it would have to be a Beatles album or a Queen one, because that's the only way you could guarantee having a bit of everything. If you have Abbey Road, or if you have News Of The World, you're in good shape. News Of The World has We Are The Champions, one of the most triumphant, amazing beautiful ballads of all time. It's got We Will Rock You. It's got It's Late, which is almost like the Faces - it has that looseness.Then there's Sheer Heart Attack, which is... the Foo Fighters. It's got Who Needs You, which is this fun, light ballad. That, to me, is one of their best records, but they're all fucking great - at least up until Hot Space, where the production starts to get in the way of the true essence of Queen. I once said to Roger that I'd like to see them take some of their more produced '80s songs and tear them down to the studs and rebuild them as Classic Queen Rock Songs - like redo Staying Power like they'd do it live.
  If I was to take three Queen songs to a desert island? Well... I think there's something perfect about We Are The Champions. I know everyone would pick this and/or Bohemian Rhapsody - but We Are The Champions is this sad, then triumphant, totally huge song. And really raw, in terms of production. I'd have to pick Under Pressure, I because it's one of the greatest songs ever and it has David Bowie on it - I mean, come on. And for my third song, I'd say Keep Yourself Alive, because it's Queen's first great 'fuck you' - like, "Fuck you, we're gonna have a drum solo in the middle of our first single!" So the first Queen single is their first great call-to-arms.
  In Foo Fighters, I think we, as a band, look toward Queen as the greatest live rock'n'roll band in the world - which they proved at Live Aid. And whenever we get onstage we carry a piece of Queen in everyone of our back pockets. It's what gives us the chutzpah, or the nerve to think that, yeah, we should be playing Wembley Stadium. Because it takes balls to believe you should be doing that. It takes Queen balls.

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