“My Band’s Gonna Hate It”: Brian May Recalls the “Complete Insecurity” He Suffered While Writing This Queen Classic

While holding a PhD in astrophysics from the Imperial College in London, many know Brian May as the lead guitarist for the iconic band Queen. Helping form the band alongside Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, the group went on to sell nearly 300 million albums and landed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Queen was even awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Thrilled about the success that followed them over the decades, May recently discussed the anxiety that came with songwriting and how insecure he was about presenting music to the band. 

Videos by American Songwriter

Speaking with Guitar World, May explained the songwriting process surrounding the hit song “Hammer to Fall.” Featured on the album The Works, the song gained high praise from fans and even fellow bandmates, but according to May, “With me, it always starts off with a burst of activity, belief and inspiration. And thinking, ‘Ah, this is gonna change the world.’ And it’s usually followed by a period of complete insecurity, thinking, ‘Oh no, this is rubbish. This is never gonna work.… my band’s gonna hate it.’ And then working through it.”

Focusing on “Hammer to Fall”, May continued, “I think that’s true of ‘Hammer to Fall’ because I came upon this riff; I thought, ‘This is great. I can do anything with this; this is just what I want to hear when I put my guitar on.’ And then I got into the studio and played it to the guys; and they went, ‘Yeah, okay.’ It wasn’t like, ‘We love it!’”

[RELATED: This “Bohemian Rhapsody” Guitar Riff Is So Complex That Even Brian May Struggles With It]

Queen’s Brian May Still Struggles With Nerves When Performing

Continuing to work on the song, May eventually won over his fellow bandmates as they deemed it “Great.” As for the musician, he noted, “It takes a bit of belief, I think, to get from the first riff to the point where you’re happy with the result. I think it’s common to a lot of people – that moment when you spring it on your people around you, and you’re looking at their faces, and you feel very insecure in the moment.”

With May playing some of the biggest stages in the world, he never got away from the anxiety of performing as he concluded, “When I sing a song to someone, it’s always nerve-racking for me, no matter who it is…”

(Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

Leave a Reply

Elwood Francis Still Processing Taking Over for Dusty Hill in ZZ Top

“I Shouldn’t Be in the Band”: Dusty Hill’s Replacement Struggles to Process His “Weird” Place in ZZ Top

Former Red Hot Chili Peppers Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer Facing Lawsuit for Killing a Pedestrian