Embodying Freddie: An interview with Scott Maley of SUPREME QUEEN

SUPREME QUEEN, featuring Scott Maley, is set to return to London’s New Wimbledon Theatre on Thursday, 13th June, 2024. This event promises to be a significant homage to one of the most iconic rock bands in history.

Since their formation in the nineties, SUPREME QUEEN has become a prominent name in the tribute band scene, captivating audiences worldwide with their renditions of Queen’s music. The band has headlined major events such as the International Queen Convention in St. Tropez, where they performed for a crowd of 10,000. Their global performances have solidified their reputation as one of the most respected tribute acts.

Frontman Scott Maley has garnered acclaim for his vocal and visual likeness to Freddie Mercury. SUPREME QUEEN aims to recreate the original Queen live experience, and with their upcoming performance, they plan to introduce enhanced production values. These include advanced sound and lighting effects designed to evoke the atmosphere of Queen’s golden era.

An interview with Scott Maley of SUPREME QUEEN

This return to the stage offers both long-time fans and new audiences an opportunity to experience Queen’s music in a memorable way. The event highlights the enduring legacy of one of rock music’s most beloved bands.

In anticipation of their upcoming performance, I spoke with Scott Maley of SUPREME QUEEN about their journey, the art of tribute, and what fans can expect from their return to London.

Monica: You’re interpreting Freddie Mercury — no pressure.

Scott: I’ve been doing it for quite a number of years now, so it’s something that I’ve taken on board. It’s just my job, really. I know that sounds a bit blasé, but it is what it is.

Monica: How and when did you become Freddie Mercury? How did you prepare for it?

Scott: Do you want the short version or the long version?

Monica: I’m happy with the long version if it’s a good story.

Scott: In a nutshell, really, I was always into music. Ever since I was little, I loved music — lots of bands, a lot of classic rock bands. Some of them are still going now, some are not. I was a Queen fan. At the time, everybody liked Queen, so I bought albums and everything, but I didn’t think too much about it. I was always singing and trying to self-acknowledge about bands and things like that. It was right at the forefront. I was singing naturally, even though my voice wasn’t developed at that time. I joined a band in the early ’90s—my cousin’s band — and we used to do cover songs, mainly playing working men’s clubs. But the real turning point came when I joined my second band, a semi-professional band playing up and down the country. This was around 1994. We were asked to perform songs by bands we enjoyed. I had sung a couple of Queen songs before, but never on stage. During rehearsals, it felt very natural. I was always impressed and respected Queen and Freddie for his vocals. When I sang these songs, it just seemed to flow naturally. We played the working men’s circuit, performing at different clubs. We had a 45-minute spot, singing songs by Elton John, George Michael, and others. I found I could sing them all naturally. Eventually, we included a 20-minute Queen medley in our show, and it took on a life of its own. People wanted more Queen songs. To cut a long story short, it took time to transition fully into a Queen tribute band. We performed up and down the country for many years, learning our craft in various venues. It was like serving an apprenticeship. There were ups and downs, but we persisted.

An interview with Scott Maley of SUPREME QUEEN

©Photographer – Sarah London..

Monica: It’s certainly very interesting. I’ll give you a little anecdote about myself so you know who you’re dealing with. I was never a fan of Queen. I wasn’t until a few years ago. I was very rebellious, listening to more rock rebels, heavy metal, and punk rock. Queen was too soft for me. As I grew older, I started appreciating Freddie Mercury. Initially, I saw him as a drag queen, but with maturity, I realised he was truly rebellious and ahead of his time. He defied his era with his boldness, and that inspired me. I started seeing him as an interesting person with maturity.

Scott: I’m with you completely. I liked heavy metal and classic rock, but what always attracted me were the frontmen and guitarists. Queen, to me, was always on another level. In their early days, they were very hard rock. Freddie’s authenticity stood out, and their music covered a full spectrum from hard rock to ballads. Their live shows were incredible, and that authenticity came through.

Monica: Interesting you say “authenticity” because, in these times, authenticity seems rare. Growing up without social media, we valued being authentic. Now, with social media, people want to fit in, losing their authenticity. TikTok, for instance, is all about doing the same thing as millions of others.

Scott: Personally, I have no interest in that. I’d rather go back to real music and real groups who did world tours and promoted albums. It’s about the truth and authenticity. In our Queen tribute band, we try to stay true to that authenticity.

Monica: Yes, the truth. Social media often makes a mockery of everything, leading to mental health problems because people lose their sense of self. Authenticity is crucial. Growing up, we had tribes. I was into heavy metal, you were into Queen. We stuck with our tribes but secretly liked other music.

Scott: Absolutely. We had our tribes, but deep down, we appreciated other music. I remember listening to Level 42 recently and thinking how brilliant their songs were. The ’80s had simple yet genius songs, difficult to replicate now.

An interview with Scott Maley of SUPREME QUEEN

Under the Stars Queen Tribute Night..27th Aug 2011. Photo Credit Andrew Baker

Monica: Yes, the ’80s songs were simple but genius. We liked music in secret because we didn’t want to betray our tribes. Now, looking back with experience, we appreciate the variety of music from our past.

Scott: The thing is, just a little thing. I hope I’m not diverting from the conversation we’re having, but when I was talking about heavy metal and my love for it, which is still strong now, I remember when I was 10 or 11 years old, I asked my father to take me to see Motorhead at the Birmingham Odeon. At that time, there were rockers and mods, and it’s such a vivid memory with all these fans wearing leather jackets and the various smells and everything like that. It was a wonderful experience, almost otherworldly. But it wasn’t just about the band; as you said, it was about being part of that tribe and those fans.

Monica: I could talk about this for hours. As a tribute band, what challenges do you face in recreating that iconic Queen sound and stage presence? I’ve recently interviewed Gareth Taylor, the lead singer of the Queen Extravaganza. He doesn’t dress up, but I’ve seen you dress up. He just comes on stage as himself and mimics Freddie’s voice, but not the look. I appreciate that you make the effort to dress up. What kind of challenges does that entail behind the scenes?

Scott: It’s not really a challenge. When I first started this, and I speak for all the band members, we have different ages in the group. Our guitarist was inspired by Brian May, our bass player, and our drummer — all of different ages. When this opportunity came to me, it was something I wanted to do well, but it took time to get it right. I wanted to learn the music thoroughly. People sometimes ask if I had to study, and I always say it was already there, part of it was natural. The mannerisms, for example, came naturally to me.

Monica: It’s not difficult for you to embody Freddie. You look a bit like him, actually.

Scott: As I soaked in information, watching Freddie and reading about him, it just stayed with me. People used to say I performed Queen songs well, even when covering other artists. As I gained more knowledge and kept touring, I became more professional and in sync with Queen’s music. You’re always learning, but now it feels natural. Different bands approach it differently. Some might not wear stage clothes, but for us, it’s about the full Queen experience. Freddie’s flamboyancy was a big part of their image, and we try to project that in our performances.

Monica: So, as a tribute band, you aim to replicate Queen’s look and feel on stage.

Scott: Yes, if you’re doing a Queen tribute, you should do it right. We’ve been doing this for many years, and putting on the stage clothes is what people remember about Queen.

Monica: They’ll always remember the yellow jacket that Freddie wore.

Scott: Yes, that was from the latter part of their career. 1986 was their last tour, but that image is so prominent. You see fans of all ages at our shows, from young ones to people in their 70s or 80s. Queen’s image and music resonate with everyone.

Monica: I love that. Where did you find that yellow jacket? It’s stunning.

Scott: I was lucky to have someone who makes these things. I’m still wearing it. We’ve had new jackets made by a lady in England who also makes them for other Queen tribute bands.

Monica: So they’re custom-made for you.

Scott: She makes them for others too, as it’s a big thing now.

Monica: You look very much like Freddie in the photos I’ve seen. Do you normally go out looking like this? I mean, except for the clothes, because you look very similar to Freddie.

Scott: I’m quite a private person, so I don’t. I do my job and then put it away. I’m just a normal person, really. I’m quite shy.

Monica: I thought you lived and breathed the Freddie spirit off stage.

Scott: I’ve heard of people who try that, but Freddie wasn’t like that. He was a special kind of person. That was him, and it’s not me. I do my job well, but it’s just my work.

Monica: That’s good. I’m fascinated by those who feel like Freddie off stage. I’m writing a book about rock rebels. Freddie Mercury explored a lot of themes of rebellion and non-conformity. Which Queen songs embody these themes the most for you?

Scott: When we perform on stage, we stick to songs Queen performed live. We’re very perfectionist about it. You have to have the greatest hits in the set list. Queen knew how to structure a show, starting with hard rock songs to grab attention, then slowing it down with ballads. They were masters at it.

Monica: Which ballads do you enjoy performing the most?

Scott: Songs like “Love of My Life,” “Save Me,” and “Spread Your Wings.” These songs really mean a lot to people. Everyone can find something special in a Queen song.

Monica: I was more interested in finding out which songs explore themes of rebellion.

Scott: Absolutely. Songs like “Hammer to Fall” by Brian May, which is about nuclear attacks and the world in 1984. Even “We Will Rock You” has a rebellious undertone. There’s a book called “Queen and Philosophy: Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind” by Jared Kemling and Randall Lee that delves into this more.

Monica: Good tip. Queen made a lot of changes over the years. Why do you think they are still so impactful in our culture?

Scott: It’s because they were true stars. Each member could write songs, and their performances were legendary. They had personality and charisma that we don’t see now. Everything has been done, and today’s music doesn’t have the same impact.

Monica: You’re right. We had so many huge stars back then. Who is at that level these days?

Scott: Not really anyone.

Monica: When you visit London, what are your favourite Freddie or Queen shrines?

Scott: I’ve only visited Freddie’s home, Garden Lodge, many years ago. I don’t have much time when we’re performing. Our keyboard player visits everywhere and knows a lot about these places. He recently went to Munich to visit the old studios.

There’s another book you might like: “Lipstick and Leather: On the Road with the World’s Most Notorious Rock Stars” by Kim Hawes.

Monica: I shall see you on 13th June at the New Wimbledon Theatre. Thank you very much, Scott. You’ve been very helpful. Good luck with the tour. Take care.

Scott: Thank you. Bye.

 

SUPREME QUEEN – Spring / Summer 2024 UK Tour Dates include:

Thursday 23rd May               HIGH WYCOMBE – Swan Theatre  

Friday 31st May                     ST HELEN’S – Theatre Royal   

Thursday 13th June              LONDON – New Wimbledon Theatre  

Saturday 22nd June              CREWE – Lyceum Theatre   

Friday 26th July                    BRIDLINGTON – Royal Hall 

Tickets available from – www.supremequeen.co.uk/tour-dates/

 

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