[computer assisted music production] A lot. Not only for all the processing and editing functions when you have a finished song, but I also realised that it was a real writing tool. It was often the case that I was not satisfied with such and such part of a track, but now I would just lay it to rest, and when I had some other ideas I'd recorded them, and with Pro-Tools I could lay the new track over the original piece. In doing that, you can keep the original takes, but have the liberty to try new things without losing what you have already done; to paste them to such and such a place, to mix has them of other ideas... the possibilities are infinite. Besides, when you have finished with all the experimentation, most often you end up with a song that contains more ideas and small details than what you originally had in mind. This technology allows you to go further in the exploration of ideas. The only danger that exists with such a tool is that time passes by incredibly quickly. It is like a magnificent video game: you begin a thing and you are so fascinated by it, that when you take your eyes away from the screen it is 7 or 8 a.m., and you have spent the whole night there without thinking about it, without even having a bite to eat or going to the loo!
The only track we really recorded live is 'Slow Down' which I have played with my old band. Otherwise I had a plan, a frame to which people should play. I found a friend and a fiend in the computer. It is a friend because you can write wonderfully with it. For the album I spent most time with e.g. programming a good drum track. The track had of course not been used but instead of describing Cozy Powell what he should play he heard it directly. But a computer can also be terrible because you can become obsessed and spend your whole life with it.
While I was recording this album, I was fighting on several battles at one time. I was looking for the possible directions I could orientate my life to, and this idea (expressed in the song quoted above) comes from a friend, who offers a previously unreleased kind of therapy. These are little tricks that work with mind but nothing to do with a classical therapy, with which you have to go through your past again, back to childhood. It's an exceptional work on the brain little mental blocks. You just go backward a little and you try to spot the triggers that don't work. I was not going well at all, and he taught me how to create this space around me. For instance, if a pain related to your past obsesses you, you learn to "setup" this space between you and the past. It lets you be a bit stiller, to suffer less for the next five minutes, hours and sometimes days that follow. It also works physically.
[recorded live or not] It's a secret! In Another World! I wanted to do something like the story of my experience on the road. I recorded many covers for this album and finally I kept only three of them, among them, this one, which means my life is still there, in the rock 'n' roll world, and that I intend to stay there for a long time... Otherwise, I actually keep very precisely in me the memory of this first tour, and I make the connection with my current "trip".
I like "The Business" a lot. It makes me think of Cozy [Powell, drummer, who recently passed away]. Cozy was such a huge part of what I was doing all this time. He always reminded me of where the center of pure rock music was and I miss him very badly. It is impossible to replace him. He was such an amazing guy, very down-to-earth. He cared about every hit and there was a passion in his every hit. There was a thoughtfulness and a glorious oneness about him. He wasn't acting, he was that person and he moved in that way. He was the real thing and there isn't going to be another one of him. I like "The Business" because he was a big part of making it happen and I built stuff around his sound and feel. It was a great combination for me: I love the sound of my guitar with his drums, they're both very broad. I was very lucky to have that experience.
[the part of the song being a part of TV programme] Actually, more than that I think, quite a while ago. Yes, I did some fragments. This song, I common with a lot of other tracks on my whole album, was initially inspired from the outside. I got all these little kind of commissions and triggers and inspirations from outside, and this was a TV thing, yes. They asked me to write song about this guy who basically gets up every morning and tries his best and always tried new angles, but he never quite makes it, he's like the eternal optimist but the eternal loser. So, erm, I wrote them some fragments which they used for the TV series, and then I started to realise that I was writing about myself, you know, as always is the case. You're always drawing on something inside yourself, and so I developed the song and worked on it and it eventually became this thing called the Business. It features Cozy very heavily, as you probably can tell.
Cyborg started, effectively, like an ideal soundtrack for a videogame. Then began to matter some much interesting for me, something much deep. I adore Asimov, and I began thinking that song like a mental vision of the robot. In this work, must important thing is that I achieved to condense more ideas than in the past, making more solid songs. "Back To The Light" was a transition album, placed in a very defined moment. This time I worked aware of what I want to do with all other musicians.
Actually, that part started life as a synth. It's a song I wrote on a computer, using a sort of synth guitar. It was a quick job I did for a computer game. And it obviously cried out to be a proper guitar thing, so I went for it. These days I'm using my fingers to pick more. Because there are a lot of things you can do by plucking the strings in different directions. And it also links into tapping, because your right hand isn't holding a pick, so its free to go up on the fret board. I'm not heavily into tapping, but there are certain things you can do where the [right hand] finger can also hit a fret and get little transition notes, which can be really nice.
The structure of this song came very spontaneously. I resisted the temptation of building it in a more classical way. It is actually strange and different and it is also quite exact to say it's not surprising coming from me... I like to find myself in places where there are no rules. This complete freedom came essentially from the fact that this song was set in a futuristic context where, by definition, everything can be imagined. Then I realized little by little that there were many more links with the actual period that I could imagine, human nature being what it is, with its moments of joy and grief. I have also always been a science fiction fan, in the sense that it becomes possible to transpose men in a different context. With my son, I become immersed again in many books of this genre, in which I found a great pleasure.
I love my girls. They were the ladies that came round on the whole tour with me, that whole year. Cathy Porter and Shelley Preston. I don't think they'll be able to come out with me this time, I'm gonna have to find some new ladies, because for a start they don't like each other. And there are other things, you know. I mean, I'm very happy for them, because they both have great careers of their own now, Cathy's been in many stage musicals now and is quite a leading light in Andrew Lloyd Webber's sort of armoury of singers. She's done very well, and Shelley's been on tour with a lot of people Belinda Carlisle and she's been making solo records. So I'll have to find new ladies, which will be..you know, that's the way it is.
I chose intentionally a song already with a little finishing touch. That song was the description of a Jimi's dream, his exact transposition in words and music. I remained fascinated by the text, by the widely of his oniric and sonor vision. There's really the vision of another world ... the record represents, in my intentions, the fight and the travel outside and inside ourselves, that we need to arrive to that better world.
It's so obvious, so simple, but it's a great riff, it's a great song. Deceptively simple, I think, you know. A lot of these old rock songs are very direct, you know "Carry your books home from school" etc but erm they say the stuff that we're all concerned with; you know, the love stories and stuff, and erm.. I got all the boys in to play this, this is the one track on the album which really was live. Cozy Powell, Neil Murray, Spike Edney, who was the guy who was normally playing keyboards round the back of the stage for Queen, and Jamie Moses who has become a very good friend, and support guitarist. We all came in and we just played loads of songs, stuff that we knew. you know, we all know Slow Down, we all know Maybe Baby, we all know "It's Only Make believe".
[Jeff Beck colaboration] Originally, I even wrote this song especially for him. Jeff Beck plays in another dimension. With only one note, he can floor you. When he came into the studio to record his guitar parts, I wasn't able to anything except sit down and watch him play; so much of what he does is magic. I didn't feel able to take my turn on a guitar and jam with him, he is just too much impressive! He played it solo therefore, but he was not completely satisfied, and said me that he would work on it and to come back to record it again. I had nearly waited for a year when Jeff ended up coming back to record this magnificent solo. With him, you cannot do it any other way; that is how he wants it! But you know that whatever he comes up with, he will make something brilliant out of it, and that is what makes the wait worthwhile. This chap is fabulous; you only need the minimum of patience when you have the chance to work with him!
The Guv'nor was a tune for a film about a bare-knuckle boxer. A true story. An English guy. Rather an unsavoury character, actually. A very scary kind of guy, who basically rose from the gutter because of his ability with his fists. The film didn't get made because they ran out of money. But I had this song. And I started thinking this would apply to Jeff. Because Jeff, in our world, is the guy on the block who's scary. He's someone you don't mess with. You don't even try to play his stuff. He is the Guv'nor: the standard by which you judge yourself. I think a lot of us view him that way. And there came a moment when I plucked up enough courage to ring him up and say, 'What do you think, Jeff? Do you fancy being the Guv'nor?' I explained the idea to him, played him the track, and he loved it. He thought it would be a good laugh.
When I was a teenager, when I bought records, I was always looking for something magical, hidden. "Track 13" is a bit in the same spirit, I think one can detect the presence of Freddie there. On my album, the end of "Another World" is rather an echo to the first "real" song, "Business". I wrote it late at night, I had switched off from reality and besides, in the end, you can hear the phone ring and abruptly bring me back down on earth.
In fact there is one song on the album "Why don´t we try again" and that is something quite personal for me from a few years ago, and I didn´t feel it was right for a Queen-album so I saved it. And there was a moment towards which I thought "Yes, this is good for this time".