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Killer Queen

Everyone wants to re-live something in their past. If you’re a Queen fan, you’re in luck. Killer Queen, the Premier Tribute to Queen, awarded Worldwide Best Tribute Band in 1995 will bring their phenomenal show to Florida starting in Key West on March 17th at the West Truman Waterfront Amphitheater, then in Delray Beach on March 19th at the Old School Pavilion, on March 20th in Clearwater at the Capital Theatre, and on the 21st in Vero Beach at Saint John’s Island Club.

Catching up with Lead Vocalist Patrick Myers, he revealed details of how he and fellow bandmates Bassist/Vocalist Brad Waissman, Guitarist/Vocalist Simon Small and Drummer/Vocalist Jonathan Howells take their approach to Killer Queen and what their goals are to emulate and tribute to this iconic band that the world knows as Queen.

SFL Music: Killer Queen is the oldest tribute band, one of the longest running beginning in 1993?

Patrick Myers: We started a while back now. Basically, there weren’t tribute bands when we began which is why we began. We were students at college when we got the news Freddie had suddenly passed, so we were the first bunch of kids who suddenly realized that we weren’t going to see Queen and there was no way of seeing Queen anymore. There was no tribute band to speak of. So, we thought well, let’s do a show just for everyone our age so we can all feel like we’ve been at any concert with the Queen music. Because, as far as we’re concerned, that was very much a right to passage concert to go to. So, we put this one show on and it took us a couple of years to put it all together after Freddie had died. So, our first show was back in 1993, which is, you’re right, a long time ago, (he laughed).

SFL Music: Time flies when you’re having fun, right?

Myers: Yeah, that’s right.

SFL Music: Were you a music student in College?

Myers: No. I’d been a music student growing up and as much as I learned guitar and I learned piano and I started writing songs and I’ve been sneaking into bars since I was about 15, pretending I’m a lot older and playing gigs, and so those gigs had gotten a little bit big and we had done some festivals and things, I couldn’t see a way of becoming a musician. It was just something I loved doing. I had no idea anyway whatsoever. In the back of my head it would be great to be a musician, I just didn’t know how you’d did it, you know? I also loved acting and I had done a lot of work acting too at the same time. So those two things in my life happened kind of side by side, but they never really combined. They were always very separate, and then suddenly I found myself in a situation where you had to pretend to be somebody else and you had to be onstage singing songs at the same time. Which was a bit crazy really because there weren’t tribute bands and the idea of doing that was slightly left field. We were thinking, oh, this might not go down very well because there wasn’t really a president for it, but as it happened, it went down great. It was brilliant fun and we continued ever since.

SFL Music: So, you were always a Queen fan?

Myers: Yeah. Well I grew up hearing all of these songs, but not knowing that they were all by Queen when I was a little boy. It was just a different world then. You’d see these bands disappear and appear on the TV and then you’d hear them on the radio without incident or anything like that. It was always slightly illusive, trying to find out or track down pop songs. I’d hear all these songs and every time I saw Queen, they always used to look really different you know, like they’d have great big long hair, then they’d have really short hair, and then they had mustaches, no mustaches. So, I always thought, oh that’s all the same band. So, I discovered it’s all the same band when I was about 13. My parents had been into The Beatles and I got into The Beatles and I couldn’t believe what they had written was an amazing body of work. How it changed so much. Such diverse songwriting, I thought well, who’s the next band to do this? I want another band, not The Beatles. If you like that you might enjoy Queen. They put these headphones on my head on a school bus and I was just blown away, straight away. I thought, oh wow, this is amazing. I’ve loved them ever since. Not long after that actually, I saw Live Aid and thought, oh they’re just amazing. Freddie and the whole band just sounded fantastic. So yeah, we’d all grown up, all our generation grew up thinking that they were the best thing ever because Queen was still very much reigning supreme in the charts all over Europe and south America right away through the eighties into the nineties. They never really had a particular period that was limited in any way. I think they died down a little bit in America in the mid-eighties or so, but not in Europe and the rest of the world. Everyone was just crazy for Queen. For us, they represented the perfect concert. A concert you really wanted to go to. So, we were searching to try and experience something like that ourselves. That’s how it kind of came together.

SFL Music: Is that your goal when you are doing these shows? Do you emulate the exact type of Queen show or do you put some of your own stuff into it? What can fans look forward to?

Myers: I think the mission statement of our show is that if you want to feel like you’re a time travel concert, so you’ve gone back in time and you’ve seen the show, or you couldn’t see it because you were too young or whatever, or you want to see it again, that sort of thing. We very much keep ourselves out of the picture. There isn’t a place where we go, now here’s a little creation of our own. It’s very much like trying to look right and sound right so that people can invest in that moment. We’re very much about letting people feel like they are at a Queen concert. Obviously, we’re aware that there’s no replacing Queen, we’re not supreme, you know. We’re aware that Freddie was unique, that Queen had a very special, fantastic thing going. So obviously, we trained hard, we worked hard and we bring whatever talent we have to the table to try and make that happen. When we get emails back from the audience saying wow, I haven’t seen a Queen show, since I’ve seen Queen back in the 80’s whatever, we really feel like we’re there. That’s what we look for in terms of recognition and that’s what we look for in terms of guidance about whether we’re getting it right. It’s good fun that way. It’s very liberating music to play because it’s so well written and it’s so diverse in terms of songwriting styles and in terms of the emotion that comes through a lot of the tracks. Songs like “Who Wants to Live Forever”, “The Show Must Go On” “(These Are the) Days of Our Lives,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” they’re all amazing songs and they’ve got a deep emotional sweep. Plus, they just appeal to so many different generations and people. It means a lot to people. It’s been key moments of their life no matter what generation, it’s been framed by this music. So, being able to tour all around the world is kind of a nice sort of privileged position to be in really.

SFL Music: Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Freddie or and of the band members?

Myers: I was way, way too young to catch their last tour, so no. Not when I was a kid. The early years of the band I was getting my visuals worked on and hanging around a design company and it was the same design company that Queen were using to promote and get their stuff together for We Will Rock You which is their musical. So, they did come into the office at the same time that I was there and the client that I did the account also knew what I did and what I was there for, and knew what they were there for, and they tried to sort of engineer it so that I would turn up. They wanted me to turn up as Freddie dressed because we dressed up like Queen and we did get quite a good likeness, and I just refused. I said, there’s no way on earth I’m going to do that. I’d rather hide than embarrass them and embarrass myself like that. So, I had an opportunity to meet them. I had an opportunity to serve them tea and scones or something dressed as Freddie Mercury, but I flat turned it down. I just said that was such a bad idea because it was still relatively quite soon after Freddie had passed. To suddenly have some bloke turning up dressed as him just seemed insane to me. Not a very well thought through proposition. I was there when they were in the building and I’m not so much shy, but I just tend to not jump at things if there’s no reason to. I’m not one to rush over somebody if they’re famous just because I happen to like them unless there’s a reason. There are a few times I have done that, to have these conversations that don’t really mean anything is really strange, (he laughed). Hello, hello. I really like your work. Ok thank you. I’d rather just leave. The way I feel most comfortable is if someone is in my head and they’ve done amazing work and they’re creative, I like leaving it there. I like leaving those songs, my own impression of them, just where they are. I don’t feel much of a compulsion to rush up and meet people. Of course, when you do meet people by accident and these things happen, it can be quite lovely and exciting, but it’s not something I’d seek out.

SFL Music: You stuck to your beliefs.

Myers: I don’t wake up regretting it that’s for sure.

SFL Music: Is the band all the same members as when started?

Myers: No. We were taken by surprise, even with the media after the first shows, they offered us this huge tour. We were students at the time. We were working toward getting our degrees together and working out how to boil a kettle and make our own dinner. We’d only just left home. So, it was a little bit of a shock suddenly having done this show, to have a whole national tour that quickly. People stuck with it as long as they could and then eventually it boiled down to the lineup that we’ve got now which has been fairly solid for the world tour for 20 or so years. So, it’s not the very, very original people. We’re still friends. We still see each other now and again, but the lineup sort of settled down fairly shortly after that when we realized this was something that we had to make time for, make a commitment to do it right because it was so extraordinary what happened to us. Not only did we get our first show offer to tour straight away, but the tour led to the West End which is like Broadway. Within a year we were the first ever tribute to anything. The West End, we had our residency there that led two years down the road. We won some awards. We went to Europe. Then European arena venues that Queen had done their biggest work in got in touch with us and said, look, we want your show to be here. We’re not just producers. Would you be interested in that? We went, yes, (he laughed)! Of course, we would. It became where we were actually playing in the same venues as Queen, on the same scale and selling them out, which we’d done all over Europe. I mean, we play everywhere. We play concert halls as well. We don’t limit ourselves to just huge places, but we’ve done it and we’ve done a lot of other work on that kind of scale, which has just been amazing for us really because we were the kids that thought we’d never be at a Queen concert because of how things had worked out, and then we ended up playing the band and playing the same places that Queen themselves actually played which seems so surreal for us.

SFL Music: How did you end up being Freddie?

Myer: How I ended up being Freddie was because I was just always singing. Every time there was an empty corridor with stairs going up and down it, and there’s a great reverb and a natural echo in the corridor, I’d always sing when I was young. Much to the annoyance of the people I was sharing the flat with. So, in order to shut me up, they decided to put me on a stage. I always enjoyed singing and I always enjoy being other people because I like acting. I like jumping into different characters. So, without thinking about it, when you’re a kid, every time you’ve got a favorite popstar, you automatically do an impression of them. You don’t think anything of it. Whether you’re a kid from the fifties holding your hair brush and singing Elvis Presley or whether you’re pretending to be Bruce Springsteen or Brendon Urie or whoever is the current person from your generation. People start by doing impressions. So, I was always doing impressions of everyone I loved. I’d do impressions of Freddie, I’d do impressions of Elvis Costello, I’d do impressions of David Bowie. I’d do impressions of Lou Reed. I’d do impressions of Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys. I could do everybody I like. So, it wasn’t crazy to me when we started to sing Queen songs because Freddie had died. I just automatically try and reach for Freddie’s styling of his voice because that’s how I’ve learned to sing. I’ve learned to sing by copying and of course I have my own style as well and my own voice as well, but it didn’t bother me, strike me as a strange thing, when you sang someone else’s songs trying to sound a bit like them because as I said, we were quite young so, I wasn’t too far away from that whole thing. So, that was how we did it and in terms of visually, we just, kind of tried it out. We bought costumes. We got accessories and stuff because I was studying drama. We had the whole costumes department there. We work really hard at making the look as close to Freddie and Brian and Roger as possible and that’s how we put it together. No one else wanted to sing, that’s for sure (He chuckled). No one else was crazy enough to want to try to do Freddie and because I was so young and naïve, I just thought wow, you could go and see what happens, (he laughed). We did the first show. We realized if we were going to do this as a tour, we were going to have to get some serious vocal workouts going. So, I’ve worked hard on the voice and I carried on training and studying acting as well so, that kind of helped. It all fell together quite naturally, but yeah, we do work quite hard on the visuals. We try to look as much like them onstage. when we walk off stage, no one else knows who we are. We look so different, incredibly different.

SFL Music: So, I have to ask you, do you have cats?

Myers: Do I have cats? Oh, yes. I do have cats. There’s a song he wrote for the cat which is a great song called “Delilah,” which I think the rest of Queen hated, but I’ve always like that song too. I think it’s really sweet. It’s just a classic. It’s really, really good. I’ve got a couple of cats I have to say. They’re a father and son combination. The father is still very protective of his son. He keeps looking out for him and offering him his food and making sure he’s eaten first and all that sort of stuff and it’s very, very, very sweet to see because cats can be sometimes a little bit indifferent to one another. These two have just been such close companions. It’s wonderful to watch. Yes, cats are a big part of our life too, but I think they’d be anyway. That’s not part of our act (He laughed). We don’t bring the cats onstage to be more akin to Freddie.

SFL Music: What would you advise new musicians who want to form a tribute band?

Myers: I don’t know because we fell into this before there was a whole tribute scene. I didn’t plan to do this for any period of time at all. This was just something that I wanted to do so I could feel like I’d been to a concert and that we enjoyed so much, we kept on doing it. If it wasn’t Queen music, I don’t think I’d be able to be in another tribute band. I love Queen music with a passion and I enjoy the variety and the affect it has on the crowd and how much it means to them. So, I’d be really struggling to offer another band any kind of meaningful advice. If I were a band with the way things are at the moment, I can see why people do tributes because the record industry is so kind of stifled and not really producing the same amount of talent coming through that used to. It’s a different kind of world out there so, I could see why people would reach to do tributes. The only thing I’d say is follow your heart. If your gonna play songs and you’re going to do them night after night, it’s got to be stuff you love, you know? It’s got to be stuff you really enjoy. Just keep thinking well, can we make it a bit rare? Can we make it a bit better? Just keep doing that again and again and again. It gets more and more fun to do. I don’t really have any really big super cool advice to give. This all fell together in the weirdest of ways for me and if you’d have told me the day before I left home for college that I would be spending the next 26 years of my life touring the world, playing arenas and singing Queen songs, I just would’ve looked at you with such a puzzled, quizzical look saying why? What? How would that happen? I’m sorry, I don’t understand. It wasn’t something I had planned. It’s something that we decided to do and then decided to continue. It just came from the heart really, and the fact that it’s now a massive tribute in history and it fills up arenas like we do, you could basically spend your life singing about songs if you so choose. It’s just so surprising to me. Good luck to anybody who wants to do that. Good luck to anybody who wants to carve their own new path as well. It still baffles me, the whole music industry and how it works. In terms of my own personal experience, it’s been a fantastic ride. I’m just very grateful that I’ve been able to do these things.

SFL Music: Is there anything else you would want SFL readers to know?

Myers: I think Queen were a very exciting band to see live. I think they kind of create very much that blue print for an exciting rock and roll concert with a call and response with songs like “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” So, if you want that feeling of that sort of high excitement, high drama and real release then, the Queen concert is the perfect night out for that. That’s what we intend to provide. That’s why we roll into town. As I say, a lot of people bring their kids to their first ever rock concert and they just absolutely adore it because it’s just so quintessential rock experience. So much fun. So brilliantly written the songs, so great to share with an audience. Those songs are sort of written with an audience in mind, so you’re not performing at an audience, you’re performing with an audience and that’s what makes each night sort of slightly unique and different and have a real kind of energy to it, because you’re creating that energy with an audience rather than just singing at them.

So, SFL readers tune up your singing voices and go back in time for a night of fun and lasting memories!

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