John Deacon Interview
by Jim Kozolowski, 1977
I: To me Queen sound has always been noteworthy, because for the harmonies, for example.
I: How important emulation do you think the rhythm section is to the band, putting the sound across?
JD: Umm...I don't know its harmonies and Brian's guitar work are the main strong features I mean that have made us distinctive from any other group. I mean...umm I'll tell you that it's the most important thing that you can identify. And obviously Roger and I, umm. Roger has a very good drum sound. He sort of very takes care of to get to the good drum sound you know, but obviously Roger and myself have an own way of playing, character. It's not as distinctively as you say different as harmonies and all the vocals you know harmonies of the guitar parts...I don't know really...do you what sort of...could you rephrase the question, you asked me? ...what sort of parts...
I: One of the most, especially on the record, one of the most noteworthy things in Queen are harmonies, but to my mind, harmonies will stand up if they're all doing with rhythm tracks underneath which is really strong, and punch, and even more is Brian's guitar, that put the whole thing down.
JD: Yes, yes, I suppose it does in a way. We tend to forget because when we're making our album, we always do the backing tracks first, you know using the first two weeks, spending all the lots of time, and that takes a lots of time, then we spend fully more like two months for doing the overdubs you know tend to forget how much time actually we spend doing the backing tracks we did forget anyhow, but we do rehearse a lot before we're going so that the backing tracks sort is tight exactly the part we're playing. Umm... I don't know it's the things developed over the years. I suppose it's distinctive sound, you know.
I: I was surprised Actually Roger commented that in the studio, you are the most responsible for as far as ...(?)...you bit more aware, in charge of the production,
I: And it occurs me that it seems the bass players make good producers. Paul McCartney, Entwistle, and just because of the idea of the instrument that you play have the role for the band, and may be it makes you more maybe like what the guitar parts sound like and what you want,
JD: Umm... I don't know about that one (laugh) I don't know we all, we all four of us spend the great deal for the production side as you know we all have perceptive sound how all the things wanted to sound, you know, I mean and when Freddie's doing a certain thing, a certain vocal thing he knows the sound what he wants, and he thought he might better be technically explained and then Mike Stone comes in because, you know that's the thing he does he gets the sound people want you know, um...I don't know, perhaps Brian and myself we're perhaps more interested in technical side of things, you know about actually how to work the desk and that sort of things. I would do myself later on you know, to do that sort of thing and Brian and I both got a more equipments at home like graphic equalizer that you have, so we all use the frequencies you know so you're playing around those so you could find out what thing to do, and so in a way, yes I was interested in that sort of the engineering side, I don't really particularly play any part when we're making our album actually using Mick Stone you know, leave it to the professional (laugh)
I: I was thinking in turn to a view, saying you and Brian are getting into more technical way, is that something to do with your training school beforehand?
JD: Possibly yes. Brian and I were both science students. You know science sort of math and physics side, you know. I did electronic side in college as well so I mean I'm very interested in that side, and we're thinking possibly about building our own studio in England as well, when we get back this summer and it's about time now so we worked quite a lot of studios in England and we're getting to the point now where any one of them is sort of completely satisfied with the regard of equipments and everything you know, so we might try put the all together so that we always get studios as usable because it's up to our application(?). It will be the purely commercial studio as well, you know any other acts, for anybody else to use, it's nice thing to do I'll take quite an interest in that you know.
I: You're talking for about...(?)... as the thing as total of Freddie and Brain adds, Queen takes so much of your time that it's rather difficult to get involved with the other in studio, or even to?
JD: It may do, it may do I mean it's very true. Queen has taken the all of our time for last four or five years, you know. I mean we have in the beggining before we've started our first album we had time on then because we're very small and just did the gig, try to get you know try to get the record companies interested. But since we'd started then, we haven't had any time you know Bathboth sort of so that we could choose holidays for the last sort of four years you know. So we ARE very busy. And hopefully I mean the next year or in two we may have the time to develop other sorts of projects or get interested in others thing you know, like the thing that comes slowly through the group in a way you know many group's career's and find somebody in the band, perhaps venture out perhaps a little productional or something else you know, and depending on how well it does, when we're coming back to the group (laugh) when we didn't too well. Yeah, we don't much mix up with other groups at all. We're working on so much our own circle. And surprisingly enough we don't meet many other groups. You know like Thin Lizzy on this tour, we get to know them very well; of course on this tour they're doing their own dates in now onwards. So apart from that, you know I mean the groups we met last year you know we had one or two support groups you know like Kansas we met a year before and...
I: Thin Lizzy is the band you're talking about that you didn't get along at all?
JD: Yeah...but surprisingly enough, yeah we don't tend really and I mean we're rarely ever going to our own studio if we're actually not performing ourselves you know, very strange thing you know.
I: Do you think that maybe that's detrimental to your band?
JD: Possibly, possibly. I don't know you know, because, we are perhaps insular in a way as a group, we're just hopefully involved in our own thing. Freddie did a little production job last year, that was last year just a single you know, and he squeezed in a sort of you know for a few days, ...did he mention it? yeah, and that's the extent of what anybody had time to do only things as well you know,
I: Roger has come out with backing vocals?
JD: Yes, he used to do a few, used to get the odd sessions sometimes, mainly sort of doing percussion thing you know, he's used to walking on them...
I: I know some of Fox in line with...(?) I know Roger is...
JD: Yes I know in a little bit on that. That was in conjunction with the studio we were working in last year in Sarm studios in London, and he met this Kenny Young chap and they worked at Sarm as well and he's got little friendly last year, and that's one of the thing he did tell me. So yes, somebody there to ask to do things as well, as in a same way as Ian Hunter last year, we bumped into him in New York over here last year. We went down to a studio where he was working on his album All American Alien Boy. And when we got in there and we all went down together, which was quite strange. He asked them to sing on it, and Freddie, Brian and Roger did a session backing vocals on one of the tracks you know, and...I don't know. I don't know who we're going to meet this year, and who might ask to do something else, you know (laugh) I think we might be bumping into Ian Hunter in Toronto, because he's up there this year doing his second album which's been produced by Roy Baker, he's the chap who did our first four albums with us, so we should oversee, going down there and he might try to get us to sing, name on a cover you know, to sell a few more copies (laugh)
I: Roy Baker the executive productions in other few things, ...(?)... Do you think the way Queen was put together and goes out in public is perhaps a delicate way of '70s after the game of business now? You rather had the whole campaign and I didn't get in the first press kit, EMI, give other bands, it's just over front (?) is like what's the hell, can cause me to bump it,
I: Whereas people are more interested in, or more art to see a band in support act playing a whole gig, which would bypass,
JD: Yeah. Umm, I don't know, it was the thing about the time when we came out you've really got to the level where it's like a chicken and eggs got came first success or doing the gigs in a reasonable size you know...where people came to see you know, umm... I don't know really it's strange thing, we didn't jump in a reasonably high level, you know we didn't start and we didn't have particularly successful first album you know. We didn't want to go in all the clubs and pubs gigs you know and I think within a group I think especially Freddie perhaps felt it was not where our sort of show's going to work you know, it's more like a largest theatre environment, we oughtn't play in pubs and clubs but now you know we've just have a punk thing in England, where it's back to order,
I: 'Cause I noticed more and more bands who are taking the same approach as you have, pacifically have one start
I: Doing one started
I: And I guess it curious, because if you think the more and more band follows that sort of approach, we could be approaching the end of the club scene completely.
JD: No, no.no.no.no
I: Perhaps Fox...
JD: Yeah, yeah I don't that sort of thing was not perhaps in a good way now, they are rather than in pubs and clubs still quite thriving in London in that circle, you know, I often sort of go and see the odd groups and I like to see those groups in that sort of environment, you know, it works very well.
I: Do you feel under pressure to produce the good one you have built up in band that are people expecting..., perhaps more then a...
JD: What do you mean, record or stage?
I: Well, I'm thinking like when you first started out there was always pre-tour or pre-record, and thinking more recently, some of big things are getting more across me whenever they hit more like ready-make audience form, and I thought it would adds extra pressure 'cause everyone's out there really just going, you know, well that's in a way do it, because that's the way everyone's told what's gonna one do it,
JD: Umm yes, I don't know we went into a more slowly from that, like we don't know Boston went in suddenly fairly big gigs over here,
I: They started after sighed as a support act after two or and never going out on tours...
I: (?) We asked the whole business matter too, because you've grown up, this rock isn't just music anymore, it's a whole part of entertainment industry, corporate video, and lot of mixing-in you know. I feel like rock stars in the '60s and '70s replace film stars in the '40s and '50s, idles who people were most interested in.
JD: Yes. Lots of things, visuals as well we thought of that even in the early days, you know. I mean basically I was the newest member in a way, because the band was formed for 6 months with a few other bass players when I came along. I was in a college in London. Even then, they had this theme basically wearing black at the time on stage, that was a theme of what to wear, you know and lots of ideas Freddie I think about in early days how we should put over the show you know, and but it started slowly best over the years.
I: Whereas Freddie, because I have read some criticism in the past that said Queen on stages perfect to the point of scurrility, everything is choreographed, lights, you know, everything like we are sitting thinking 'cause I remembered Freddie was singing this and in one point tambourine waiting for him, and when all I want to see was expression in the whole gig, it's wet sponge, like tambourine,
I: But, do you think... when I asked Roger about that he thought scurrility was the wrong word, that's the professionalism, would you approve what he said?
JD: Yeah it's true. I wouldn't say our shows are perfect every night either,
I: But it is...
JD: Yes, it is a rehearsed show, yes, it was analogy of going to see a play at the theatre, where everything has to be in place and whole things, everything being works, all works together to get the best effect you know it's more like an actor learning a part. And playing a part rather than, yeah it was not, it's always difficult because it's been different every night. Even though show is basically rehearsed, but mainly all the thing's done you know for the effect, you know, lights and design to go with the music, you know, just to enhance the music, what's happening with the music.
I: Let's get back to when we were talking about the rock's' musicians who have been more than just musicians and like entertainers with analogy rather to play to that context. Try to give hold of place, girls was just a pooh-poohs (?) Do you think that music that's created today is earmarked to last to endure or is it just we're just running around making things to dispose the society and what's gonna...?
JD: I think it'll last for a long while, yes. It's so, it's so big you know, it's not sort of thing, records are selling so many copies you know, I'm sure a lot of our generations are still playing in ten years time you know and in the same...
I: Twenty years more, would it be still original version, or would it be...?
JD: I think some of them some of they'll endure. I mean things like, things like mainly The Beatles, you know. They'll endure, you know, I mean?c
I: That's the question I ask started by interviewing The Beatles is one group practically everybody mentions.
JD: Yes. Their songs have very lasting quality, I don't know.
I: Which one is?
JD: I don't know, definitely, definitely, I don't know.
I: Does it bother you so much that rock has become self-corporate to certain extent?
JD: Yes I thought it does in a way. It does get to the point in way. I mean lots of things that are in a way, things like sort of the punk things in England is what they're reacting against, because it's getting a bit too much that way. In a way it costs thousands dollars before you could actually go out to put the show on because you'll need equipments, all the lights you know, and that's more just going out and playing you know. And it's bit that way, but it's very difficult in a way 'cause once you get this sort of level, you've got to sort of live with it in a way 'cause certain amount of business goes attached with it, you know, I can't you know ignore it completely you know, you have to keep one eye on it, so...
I: It goes with cycles. The music shapes business and business shapes music,
I: Do you think, how if that was the fact people go concerts expecting entertainment, expecting more of a show, whether it be music video, theatrics or fashions, but when we get right down to the bare bones, do you think all those thing are necessary? For example, just like The Genesis you know, for the first few years, they have their own theatrics, lights and Gabriel you know what they're doing search in a theatrics in a way, get so far as the echoes, and more successful now than before. If one of the things is really, you know that necessary?
JD: I don't...I'm not sure really, because when we don't get as much opportunity to see the people's show, people as to see the show we'll do sorts of acts touring in America, and at the moment. I've never seen a Kiss show or ELO coming over. And Zeppelin was on the scene,
I: They name off making video puts hold-up.
JD: Then, because they're coming soon. (Laugh) We're waiting for actually waiting to go and see somebody else's' shows, sit down there with the audience and all sorts of you want see it through so you want a (?). It's...I don't know we perhaps certain thing about being insular...we don't tend to take so much notice of, you know, what other contemporary acts are doing. You know.
I: Then you've got seen each other?
JD: Yeah, yeah. I mean we'd pay for the views and what are the people have done you know. I suppose we are fairly insular I think in a way of what we do our show. That sort of things... we wouldn't say we're totally influenced by anybody at the time, you know.
I: Would you see, read the secrets to the successful bands in '70s now is rising and being able to taking variety of styles and sympathize them all?
JD: Not really, as good as music.
I: While lots of bands are all successful now, it' like maybe articles just picks up roots from, it's like the people picking Queen out of '60s the '70s productions and techniques.
JD: Yeah just good a... I don't know. No secrets successful at all.
I: You don't sympathize either? (Laugh)
I: Do you find it all ironic whereas Elvis was '50s and the Beatles '60s Queen's been said to be '70s, in terms of a new direction or creating a new happening, is it all possibly given the competition that adds for a group to be a happening?
JD: I wouldn't have thought that really. You know cause really lost of acts it's a...it's big wheel you know. I don't know, it is time like, umm...some of the late 60s and early 70s group like Zeppelin and The Who and The Stone perhaps step down a little, you know 'cause they've been around for a long while,
I: Given the dimension of scurrility, who might regard some bored (?), do you think that you're most liable to have the charge rubbles against which tend to be just more than just codes to begin with?
JD: I hope not, I hope not. I mean
I: I didn't get that last night, it surprised me.
JD: Yeah, because live shows are always different in a way, because we're playing it live you know, so, I hope it wouldn't come across. I hope not anyway (laugh)
I: Just people mention you playing in Madison Square Garden, you know it's whole trip gives energy instead of (?) yarning for the old days (?) just see somebody involved in the process. If Queen were to break up or to decide to call it a day, would you go on in another band?
JD: I wouldn't do go to another band. No, I mean we'd all definitely involved in the music business someway or another, because we're all living with it, and in it, and also we've got all sorts of things we would like to do. I don't know as the time hasn't come yet, I think we've got a lot more within a group as well.
I: Try not to imagine which way?
JD: (Laugh) No, I don't know. I wouldn't go for another group, you know, I wouldn't, I wouldn't personally myself ever do solo album or anything like that, because I don't.... it's been very difficult for one, any group's any one individuals ever to live up to close to the group as a whole had at all you know. Very difficult indeed, you know. It hasn't happened rarely, just say like The Who and The Stones and Bill Wyman or Entwistle to have their solo effort, you know, I mean I haven't heard much of...but, umm...
I: Bill Wiman doesn't do so well. (?)
JD: No, I mean the music for any good you know.
I: It's OK. It's a kind of rapid.
JD: Yeah, does he write material?
I: Some of them, yeah.
JD: Some of or somebody else just wanting to do you know, if you've been working with other guys for years you know, it's nice to have a freedom one day to go on and do something you know, but I suppose it could be true for others as well. When we work as Queen you know, when we do things, it has to be sort of ...in conjunction with anybody else, it get sort of passed by anybody else, whereas I sat for the ideas people in the group would like to do, but I can't bring out because when we works through and get an album a year, right? It take the whole year, world through and we sort have ten or twelve tracks on it, and perhaps that doesn't have a full scope. Everything will be possible you know what is capable within the four individually, you know. I mean we were all sorts of you know we could all actually do on a Queen album, but that may come you know as twice as time, doing the thing on the side as well, I wouldn't see myself, in case of anybody actually going out, doing something separately, or say more for the conjunction with the group's still there and perhaps the other things as well, you know. I think we may not actually be performing ourselves in going perhaps I say on a production side, doing things like that, you know.
I: And the band uses the studio's another instrument anywhere, and I think occasions that confuse me exactly we always see the sole album while somebody in the group,
I: When using at least one or two people from the group anywhere, now I always wonder what's the point. I mean royalties.
JD: Umm, yes I suppose it's ego in a way, just having their albums,
I: It doesn't seem necessary.
JD: I know one person who did was Bryan Ferry, isn't he? Because in Roxy he's got his new own solo album and still he uses Paul Thompson and John Gustafson and couple of others you know.
I: He has got a new one on this tour.
JD: Has he? Has he? Has he still?
I: He's gonna use Paul Thompson.
JD: He's gonna yes. I mean he's sort of Mr. Ferry but Thompson was a part of Roxy as group. Now, it's like being a drummer in Ferry's band, you know it's (?) in a way...
JD: Because the first thing he'd do would be a tour in England before Christmas. He's first toured England, coming over here. England first, yeah.
I: He's got a new album before tour.
JD: That'll be about time for me...I think I beat you this time. (Laugh) Nice. It's fine. It's good.
I: Will you shake hands?
JD: O.K. thank you.