|This is an excerpt from Brian May's appearance on the Radio 1 Rock Show (Wed 10 May). He was with presenter, Mary Anne Hobbs, for an hour and, below, is a transcription of the part where he spoke about working with Axl.
MAH: Speaking of good singers, we've heard a lot of rumours about the fact that you've been doing some recording with Axl Rose. And, in fact, many of the listeners, people including Louise in Inverness, Charlie Dixon, Ravi and Seth Lubin have sent e-mails in saying you must ask Brian what's he been doing with Axl. What's the score?
BM: Okay, well, I have a lot of history with those guys, as you know, because, well, I was on tour with them for a while. My own band supported them, which was great fun. They also did the Freddie tribute with us and I think I regard them as great friends, Axl in particular. And they just said come over and do some stuff. It's a long story, to be honest, and I won't bore you with all the details. But Axl was feeling he that was in a difficult place because the guitarist he'd been working with on this new album had, sort of, replaced Slash, because they fell out, sadly. I think that is sad actually because they're both brilliant talents and great with each other. But the guitarist that'd done most of the tracks had departed and Axl had a real emotional attachment to what he'd done, and yet he didn't want him on the album, I hope I'm not saying too much here, he didn't really want him to stay on the album because he'd disappeared, you know. So, he's sort of feeling a kind of divided loyalty and he said, 'Brian can you come and do stuff which I will like and I won't feel too bad about ditching this other stuff?'. So I did. I went over there and I think I played on three tracks and messed around on various other things. But it worked out pretty well, as far as I can tell. And it's very strange 'cause most of the Guns N' Roses people are not there 'cause Axl's sacked 'em all. So you're talking about Axl and the 'new' Guns N' Roses but, boy, is there a lot of energy there and his singing is outrageous. There's some great tracks on it.
MAH: Now this is really interesting because there has been so much speculation about this new album, 'Chinese Democracy' (potentially it's called) and there are many, many people who've spoken to journalists, who've played with Axl over a number of years now, who have laid claims recently that the only one track that Axl has ever laid down a vocal part for is 'Oh My God' but you're saying that there are more vocal parts then?
BM: Oh yeah, there's a whole album of vocal parts. In fact, there's two albums worth that they've got there, at least. They played me everything. Axl actually sat down and made me listen to everything (laughs) and there's some wonderful stuff there.
MAH: How do you deal with somebody like Axl though, when he sits you down and says listen to all of this? I mean can you really critique him and sit there and say, 'D'ya know what Axl, that's rubbish mate, you wanna bin that one'?
BM: Well, Axl sort of holds Queen and our whole thing in a great deal of respect, so I always figure as long as I tell my truth, he's fine, and it's always held out so far. He's always been very good to me. He will tell you if he doesn't agree with what you say, you know, I mean I went in and immediately Brian May opens his mouth and blab, blab, blab and I told him exactly what I thought of the stuff as it was, and some of it he went "yeah", and some of it he went "I couldn't do that". You know, like some of the suggestions and that's it, and Axl's a very emotionallly, kind of, connected person, I mean to the point where he's so intense about every single note that's on there and the solos that I played, he was totally into it, very much in the way that Freddie used to be. You know, Freddie used to go through my solos and say, you know there's this particular note here and, I think, if you did this and this and this. I thought I would go in there, you know, I'd forgotten what Axl is like and I thought I would just go in there and he'd like it. He did like it but he wanted to get into every single take of every single note and, you know, from one day to another Axl would've been in there like from 5 o'clock in the morning 'till 7 o'clock in the morning comping little bits of my solos and saying, 'can you get Brian to try this'. You know, he's utterly meticulous.
MAH: That's amazing. So, what's your position, you've just played this amazing solo, as far as you're concerned, and Axl comes along and says, 'you know what, I really don't like that B flat, or whatever it is, can you just change that?' Do you say..
BM: Oh I'm fine, I don't care because I'm there to deliver, you know, and in this context I'm a session player and people can take what they want, it doesn't bother me. I'll give my best and if someone will make a comment, generally it will be… You know, if someone makes a comment to you about your playing, and it's someone who cares, then it's probably going to do you some good, whether you like it or not. So, I'm always open to that stuff, always. There's always room for improvements.
MAH: Interesting. The other big question on the lips of our listeners this evening, "Would you ever consider touring with Axl, if he asked you to join the band?"
BM: I don't know if I would be up for those long tours anymore, you know, I did that for twenty years of my life, nine months of the year, and I'm not in that position anymore in my life. You know, I don't feel like I want to have that chaotic lack of balance in my life anymore. I dealt with it, and I loved it, but I'm just not in that place anymore. I don't think I could do that. If it was a short tour, it's possible.
MAH: Even if he promised never to ruin one of your solos again? (laughs)
BM: I'll tell you, Axl is a very persuasive guy. He's magic really, he is, you know, and I think he's not always easy, as genius very often isn't, you know, Fred was not the easiest person in the world to get on with, but someone who has that amount of passion and gives a million percent of themselves, you'll take any amount of stuff from, and I would from Axl, I think he's that good.
MAH: Shall we play one of his records? What have you chosen?
BM: Mmm. It's 'Welcome To The Jungle'. I heard this many, many a night because we toured with him all round the States and had a great time and everyone goes 'oh was it really terrible, are they complete bastards?' And I go, no, because they treated us with the utmost respect and consideration and had some very good times.
MAH: Brian May smiling.
BM: Mmm, familiar sound. They were such a great live band, you know, it's one of those moments in time when everything happened in the right way; I think really the last dangerous, magnificent rock 'n' roll band really, so far..