Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Dynamite with a laser beam: Questions for The Killer Queens!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dynamite with a laser beam: Questions for The Killer Queens!

 The Killer Queens are an all female Queen tribute band. The lead singer "Frederica Mercury" wears accurate Freddie inspired outfits like the black and white checkered leotard. They all wear snazzy outfits and look like they just stepped out of the salon. The guitarist "Brianna May" has a guitar *just* like Brian's Red Special. They had a really great set list, hitting all the Queen songs everybody loves and the more obscure. These ladies bring it in every way, not only do they master the look but they have the musical talent to match. They are a real treat and simply can't be missed if you're a Queen fan. When I last saw their awesome show at The Night Light I wanted to stay and chat up with these cool chicks. Being an obvious Queen fan, I am thrilled to finally found a KILLER Queen tribute band in the area! Sadly, I had to go get the last bus home so I wasn't stranded out in Oakland. The Killer Queens do shows on a regular basis, with their next shows on December 7th at The Blank Club and December 12th at the Red Devil Lounge.

 The next day I was able to contact the band and see if I could ask them some questions! Each member chimed in for this interview, thanks ladies! 

What brought you ladies together to form a Queen Tribute band?

Our story is similar to Queen's. Rogetta Taylor (Dana Parker) and Briana May (Joyce Kuo) had played in the same band before, and we knew Dawn Deacon (Donelle Rippon) through a popular local ska band, Monkey. One night Briana May was hanging out with a mutual friend of Freddie's and mentioned that she bought a Brian May guitar and wanted to start an all girl tribute to Queen. Our friend said she should definitely do it and that he knew the perfect Frederica Mercury, Nina Noir. She has his exact range and isn't afraid to rock the stage.

Is it safe to assume that Queen is also a band you are inspired by?

Definitely. All of us have been in original projects and have written and recorded our own songs. Queen is an inspiration when it comes to experimentation, not being afraid to be big and most of all to stay humble.

"Some people imagine Freddie as the fiery, difficult diva who required everyone around him to compromise. No. In our world, as four artists attempting to paint on the same canvas, Freddie was always the one who could find the compromise—the way to pull it through. He was daring, always sensing a way to get outside the box. Sometimes he was too far out ... and he'd usually be the first to realise it. With a conspiratorial smile he would say "Oh ... did I lose it, dears?!" But usually there was sense in his nonsense—art in his madness. It was liberating. I think he encouraged us all in his way, to believe in our own madness, and the collective mad power of the group Queen."
-Dr. Brian May, CBE
That is one our favorite accounts of Freddie through the eyes of Brian May.

Although in an alternate reality, I think it would be safe to say Queen is a band that is inspired by US, and that's why they wrote the song "Killer Queen."

There aren't many Queen cover bands out there because Freddie is a tough act to emulate and Queen's music is nothing simple, what do you think?

We found that certain songs had vocal or guitar parts that were impossible to reproduce live without adding extra members to the band.

Freddie has this overpowering presence and a voice like velvet. Frederica has spent countless hours watching live performances and tries to embody his energy and flare into our live show. As a classically trained opera singer and professionally trained pop and rock singer our Frederica has an uncanny ability to reach all of his insane notes with the same hard edge and soft release that only Freddie himself could create.

Since Brian May would often record with multiple guitars, Briana was faced with the task of finding the most prominent guitar part and creating ways to fill in the gaps. She has learned a lot from studying how Brian May would maneuver these challenges in Queen's live videos. She has mastered his unique solo techniques and fun bends and taps. Studying Queen is like taking masters level class at the top music university in the world. They don't do anything standard, there is no "formula", and it is as complicated as it can get while still sounding "pop simple."

All of us has grown as musicians in a dramatic way by learning these classic songs from this legendary band.

Not only for all of you to have the music down (I'm a Queen fanatic I should know) but you're also mavens of each of their personas. I bet you watched and listened to a lot of Queen videos?

Each of us have spent countless hours researching our individual members. It has been so much fun to come together and figure out represent each member from their style of playing to the clothes they would wear to how they would dress if they were pretty girls. It's been a humorous and fulfilled couple of years.

Briana was quite obsessed with watching live Queen videos long before she ever dreamed of becoming Briana May. She is not embarrassed to say that Freddie's stage performance has actually brought a tear to her eye, and that she had a huge crush on Brian May.

Frederica, how did you get those awesome spot-on Freddie outfits together?

I used to be a full time runway model here in the San Francisco Bay Area and during that time I have had the opportunity to work with many talented designers and stylists. I am lucky to say I have learned a ton from those experiences and can imagined what Freddie would be like if he was a gorgeous young diva. In some respects he already was. He had such a fantastic flare about him that crossed some gender lines in the Bowie era of rock and roll. Many of his spandex rocking costumes are back in fashion today. A few searches of the Internet has led me to several killer legging producers that make this insane designs that are very fitting for Freddie.

Brianna May, your guitar looks just like Brian May's Red Special! Where did you get it?

I want to say that I built it from pieces of a fireplace and motorcycle parts, but in reality, I purchased both my Brian May guitars online. But I did relic my Red Special to give it the look, feel, and sound of a vintage guitar.

Have you heard of The Jean Genies? They are an awesome David Bowie tribute band here in the Bay Area! You two would be like my dream team as far as epic tribute duos go (Under Pressure!)

Actually, funny that you mention them! They recently asked us to play a show with them but we were already booked. We will definitely have a night with them here soon!! Stay tuned!

Becca: I'm responsible for that one! They were looking for another band and I suggested you guys. 

Other than Queen, what bands inspired you the most?

The first songs Briana learned to play on the guitar were mostly Zeppelin and Floyd.

Frederica loves a wide range of music from Incubus to Bjork to Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor all the way to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.

Dawn Deacon was previously in a ska/reggae band and several punk bands. She also loves chip-tune music and bits and pieces from every genre except modern country.

Little known fact: She’s a huge nerd, and because of this, she convinced us to rock an 8-bit chip tune version of Bohemian Rhapsody at the 2013 Game Developers Conference. It was amazing!! - Rogetta Taylor

What does playing rock music in a band do for you?

Not only is it incredibly fun to play the glorious music of Queen, but we also get to work with some very talented and down-to-earth ladies. This is Frederica's first time in a band and she loves connecting with the audience in that way that only a live rock show can create. It is a dream come true to hear the whole crowd singing at the top of their lungs every single word to these timeless classics.

You know what song I would love to hear you do? “Spread your wings” that song is amazing. Can you gals give us a sneak peek of some of the Queen songs you will be performing in the future?

We would love to play "Spread Your Wings" - we absolutely love that song. Another fun hidden gem we are adding to our Queen repertoire is "It's Late" - Briana is having a grand old time playing the guitar on that one. Dragon Attack is another killer song that is less well known. We are also added Frederica's favorite "I Want To Break Free" to our ever growing set list. Be sure to come to our next show. We will be rocking a ton of new classics!

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