Interview With Killer Queen’s Patrick Myers

Photo courtesy of Killer Queen

BY REAGAN JOHNSON | Go Venue Magazine

I got the opportunity to sit down with Patrick Myers, lead singer of the band Killer Queen. They are one of the world’s most awarded and loved Queen cover bands. They are able to seamlessly bring Queen’s impactful music and legacy to fans all over the world year-round. They are about to kick off their next tour of the US on February 29th in Salina, Kansas at the historic Stiefel Theatre.

Go Venue: What are you most looking forward to about the US leg of your tour?

 Patrick Myers: “We like getting back out in front of American audiences. We get a really warm, enthusiastic, and excited reaction from the various different countries that we play in. There’s a very particular style of reaction, hard to characterize really, but that’s an American audience. I don’t know if it’s a cliché or not, but it seems to hold true. I think it’s because rock and roll music kind of began in America. You exported it to us, and we exported it back to you with the Beatles. It all came from America. There seems to be this sort of hunger for rock music that’s a very, particular American brand. So really, we love playing in America. We play there three times a year, we like it so much. We spend about three months a year there. We spread them out throughout the year. We spend about three months, maybe more, in America every year, and it’s a pleasure to do. It’s a huge place. I mean it’s exhausting touring it, but it’s worth the mileage. The audience is so electric and enthusiastic, and we like it.”

GV: Electric is a really good way to put it. I know a lot of kids of the younger generation whose favorite band is Queen, which always surprises me.

PM: “Yeah, we’ve come across this all the time. I think the sweet spot to discover Queen for a lot of people, it’s around the age of 13 or 14. But the weird thing is, it doesn’t matter what generation you’re at. So modern-day 13 or 14-year-olds discover Queen, and kids in my day at the same age discovered Queen. Everyone seems to discover Queen at the same time and keep doing that every single generation that comes along. So, we get a lot of kids who, we’re often their first rock and roll show. You know, they like bands, they’ve discovered Queen. They want to see a rock and roll show, they come and see Killer Queen. So, it’s something we’ve noticed many many times over. Particularly after the film Bohemian Rhapsody came out. That sort of solidified the legend of Queen, a lot. So yeah, it’s good to hear.”

GV: You guys have been touring for 30 years now.

PM: “Yeah, just over 30 years now. It’s been a lifetime, an odyssey. It’s been great fun. We’ve ended up playing some of the same arenas that Queen sold out with Freddie. We’ve done places like Red Rocks many times over, and Austin City Limits as well as Salina in Kansas. It’s been great. We’ve watched Queen’s star grow and grow and grow. Queen are bigger now than they ever were. The popularity is kind of universal. It’s brilliant fun to do, and the songs are a pleasure to perform. We’re looking forward to bringing all that magic out and putting it back on stage again in America.”

GV: Were you guys touring while Freddie Mercury was still alive, or did you get your start after he passed away?

PM: “No. What happened was I had played Queen songs. Not in a tribute or anything, just played in my school, at the school hall, in front of all the students. We played a few Queen tracks. Queen had been a big part of my life, but I hadn’t thought about forming a tribute. When I left home for university, we all sort of met in London. We went to London University, which is the same place Queen went to. That’s where they all met. When I left home, tribute bands didn’t really exist in the scene. There was this one band called Bjorn Again that did ABBA. I’d seen them and thought that was cool. I wasn’t sure where it would go or didn’t envision it becoming a huge scene. I didn’t think I’d be doing a queen tribute. What happened was, I’d gone away. You know when you leave home for the first time, you make a whole lot of new friends. You ask, ‘Okay, what are you studying?,’ and then the second question you ask is ‘What bands are you into, and what do you like?’. We all had a big range of different bands that we liked. Stuff I’d never heard of and stuff they’d never heard of. The band that we all seemed to have in common was Queen. So, we were playing each other queen songs, and messing about with Queen songs when we got the news that Freddie was ill. Then suddenly Freddie had died, and we were just devastated. It’s still devastating now, as a grown-up. We’d started singing the songs with a different kind of energy I guess, because we were upset, you know. It was sort of the songs we’d never hear Freddie sing live now. Freddie had been through this awful journey and kept it private. It must have been so scary and painful for him. The press was so merciless at the time for anyone with that illness. You know, they just destroyed what little life that person might have left. They’d just make it their mission to destroy them. And they tried to do that to Freddie, so it was all quite a lot to take on board. We thought, ‘Well maybe we could do a song.,’ because we’d all missed out on seeing Queen live ourselves. We were too young for their last tour. We were only sort of like 13 or 14 when they did their last tour. We thought, ‘well maybe we can put on a show or two ourselves and feel like we’ve been at a Queen concert and be part of this tribute thing that’s just starting..’ There wasn’t any other band that we knew of that was doing Queen. We were the only one, so we thought ‘Well let’s try and do this..’ I was studying acting at the time. I’d studied movement, and I’d been in rock and roll bands before in my teen years when I was at home. So, we put it all together. We did one show, and this one show took off. It was just like, extraordinary. We were playing in front of 1,500 or so people and they just went absolutely crazy for us. The guy who got us on said ‘Yeah, now I’m going to give you a tour.’, and booked the tour the next week. He booked our tour of the universities. We started doing the West End, the equivalent of Broadway, in London. We got national TV coverage and started winning awards. Then we started getting offered the same arenas that Queen had been offered. Like big places, they’d shot all their huge concert videos at. They said, ‘We’d like you to do it..’ It was like a big, weird dream. In some ways, it still feels like a dream you know. I’ve gotten used to it now it’s my day-to-day life. When I look back on it all, it does seem quite fantastical in many ways. It’s brilliant fun, and a real adventure. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to do it. Even though I sort of formed a band that I meant to do concerts, the whole thing still took me by surprise if you know what I mean.”

GV: It sounds like things took off quickly for you, and you were playing a lot the same venues as Queen had before. What was the energy like for you the first time that that happened?

PM: “I think the first big one we did was Ahoy Arena, and we had a huge lighting rig behind us just like queens lighting rig. We had pyrotechnics going off and flames and all sorts of stuff. It was just an amazing show. That felt absolutely extraordinary. Just doing “Ay-Oh!” with 10,000 people all shouting back at you, and then watching them all put their hand in the air right in the back row and just go crazy for you, and just really enjoy the music. It was just extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary, and unforgettable evening really. So we’ve had a lot of places like Red Rocks, which is like 9000 people. We sell that out every year now. We’ve been there since 2016, with a little break for covid. We go back there every year. We’re back again this year. It’s just extraordinary. Queen’s music is very very very powerful. It means a lot to a lot of people. It’s just like unlocking a treasure chest really. There’s so many beautiful things in there that excite and audience, thrill and audience, move an audience. It’s like surfing really, it’s like riding this extraordinary wave, and we enjoy every moment.”

GV: You emulate Freddie perfectly. Is that something that you always wanted to do? Did you have any other artists that influenced you as much?

PM: “I didn’t plan to try and be Freddie before I started. It happened all at once. It was a very organic process that was played at high speed. I used to mimic other artists. I think it’s like when you’re trying to find your own voice. You try and experiment with other people’s voices first. A big part of me wanted to be John Lennon or Paul McCartney. I liked all sorts of artists. Whoever I liked I tried to do their voice. So naturally, I tried to do Freddie’s voice when I was a kid. I’d do sort of rockstar poses in the mirror. I was only a teenager, but it didn’t cross my mind that that would become a thing that you could do. I just thought that’s what teenagers did when they were having fun. Just exploring the world of rock and roll. You try on different voices for size and see what you can do. So that was how it worked for me. I didn’t really plan to do this. The Beatles were a big influence. John Lennon was a big influence. I was in America when he was killed, and I didn’t know who he was when he died. Because I was a UK student from England, everyone in America said ‘How do you feel? John Lennon died..’ I was like, ‘Who’s John Lennon?,’ and they said, ‘He was in the Beatles.’. I’d heard of the Beatles. I felt duty-bound to go and find out who John Lennon was because everyone was talking about him all of a sudden. I discovered the Beatles and discovered that John Lennon was amazing and fantastic. So, we and the Beatles. Paul and George, and Ringo, were all a big influence on me, and that’s what sort of led me to Queen. I wanted to find a band that was still going because the Beatles were finished, and John Lennon had been assassinated. I wanted to find a band that was still going, so when I discovered Queen in the 80s, I thought ‘Oh fantastic, they’re somewhere up there with the Beatles.’. Their production values are amazing, their videos are fantastic, and they’re still going and they’re great. They are getting stronger and bigger. So, it was an exciting time to be a Queen fan in the 80s.”

GV: Did you have any vocal training, or were you self-taught?

PM: “It’s a little bit of both. I’ve always been a mimic, so I could mimic David Bowie. I could mimic John Lennon. I could mimic Paul McCartney. I could mimic Freddie Mercury and Elvis Costello. A whole host of people. I’ve always been fascinated by that and that’s something I could do but I also have had vocal training. I’m mostly self-taught I have to say. I had fun training with George Michael’s vocal coach. Chris Martin’s vocal coach I’ve been to for a while Sam smith has the same vocal coach as George Michael. So yeah, I’ve had some other vocal coaches that were really good too. I’ve had some training, but I’ve also done this instinctively. It’s a bit of both.”

GV: What does practice look like for you guys?

PM: “Well, we tour around 100 dates a year, because we tour all over the world. We kind of are with each other most of the year. We’re working so much that there’s no time to schedule practice and such. If we’re doing a sound check and we want to do a new song, well just do it in sound check a few times until it’s ready. If it was different and we only toured for 6 months a year and then took the rest of the 6 months off, we probably would meet up and practice. Because we’re touring all the way through the year every year, and have been for the past 30 years, we’re just always working. That means that we’re always with each other and we’re always playing with each other. The guys are really good musicians, so I only have to send them a little guide track, and they learn their parts. Then we’ll try it out maybe two or three times, four times, five times, and after that it’s in the show. We like it and it’s working. We tend to hang out, and we have a lot of fun at sound checks. It’s not just rehearsal and stuff, we sort of play different artists’ songs and mess about, as well as do the queen songs. Yeah, it’s good fun.”

GV: How do you choose your setlists?

PM: “It’s a combination of things really. I think there’s threefre different things. Partly it’s where you’re playing, because some hits were bigger in some territories than others. So, where you’re playing is one thing. The second thing is ‘What hits have you absolutely got to play?.’ The ones that are must-haves at every show. Queen have got a lot of must-haves. The third thing is ‘What can we do that might surprise the audience and keep things less predictable?.’ You put all those three things together and add the main thing, which is getting the dynamics of the show right. It builds and then it retreats. Then it goes quiet, and then it gets BIG. Then it goes a little bit quieter and more reflective. Then, really big. You know those sorts of dynamics factor in to once you’ve made those choices about what songs you’re going to play.”

GV: Do you have a favorite song to perform or a Queen song that’s really important to you personally?

PM: “I love Innuendo as a song, which is off of the last album that Freddie did while he was still alive. They did an album after called Made in Heaven, and I love that album too. My favorite song is probably Inuendo at the moment, but it changes. My favorite song changes all the time really. Another song I really like is called It’s Late which is off the News of the World album, which doesn’t really get played very much. I think it was a US single, but it wasn’t a single anywhere else, I don’t think. That’s a really great song, I love that song. I sort of orbit around Queen’s catalog all the time, and I’ll discover something I haven’t listened to in a long time. A John Deacon track called You and I is a really beautiful song. Or a Brian May song that he sings called Long Away is a song I really like. There are so many different songs. They’ve just got brilliant songs, so many of them. It’s a pleasure to be in contact with that quality of material throughout your working life.”

GV: The impossible question, it’s always changing.

PM: “It does change, but there are certain songs that remain that I think are incredible. The Show Must Go On I think is an extraordinary song. The whole emotional import of that song I think is enormous. Freddie’s vocals and everyone’s playing on the track is just extraordinary. It’s one of the most powerful songs about facing death I’ve ever come across. It’s just a phenomenal song.”

GV: Have you ever recorded in the studio together as Queen?

PM: “A song that I wrote in the style of queen. It’s got us in and out of costume. We did this in lockdown as part of our thing to stay in touch with people.”

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GV: Do you have a solo career outside of Killer Queen?

PM: “Yeah, I’ve got songs that I’ve written. Some of them are Queen-like, and some of them are not. If you want to hear what my voice sounds like when I’m not trying to be Freddie. If I wasn’t doing Queen throughout the whole year, if the lockdown happened again or something like that and I had a lot of time off, I’d almost certainly spend more time songwriting because I really enjoy it. It’s a pleasure to do and it’s lovely taking what you’ve learned from Queen through the years in terms of structure and placement and all sorts of stuff about songs. It’s lovely to apply that with your own things and think ‘What can I do?’. It doesn’t necessarily have to sound like Queen at the end of it but its good experience.”

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GV: What do you think about people who don’t take cover bands seriously?

PM: “The way I look at it is, if you want to see a concert by Beethoven, you wouldn’t criticize the orchestra for just doing covers. You’re there to see Beethoven, so of course it’s going to be a cover. You don’t have to justify yourself as a band because you don’t do your own original stuff. The whole point of a tribute band is to celebrate a legacy. If there were only tribute bands and no original bands that would be a problem, but there aren’t. There are lots of original bands, and there are lots of tribute bands, so they can exist side by side. The songs are so good, they deserve to be heard, and they need to be heard a lot. People really want to hear them, and we really enjoy giving these songs to people on a nightly basis. It’s good fun.”

Killer Queen does just that. They deliver Queen’s music to eager crowds and make sure that their music is still able to be heard and enjoyed live around the world. I can’t wait to watch their show for the first time, having been able to pick Patrick Myers‘s brain a little. It’s going to be a show you won’t want to miss!