Roger Taylor wrote and recorded his first solo album in eight years after finding himself sitting out on a postponed tour with Queen and Adam Lambert in 2020 following the onset of the pandemic. Using his “free time,” Taylor began assembling new material throughout the 18-month lockdown for Outsider, the musician’s first solo release since Fun on Earth in 2013.
“Autumnal is a very good word for it,” says Taylor. “It’s slightly nostalgic and wistful, and quite adult, a bit more grown-up than my last couple of albums.”
Ruminating on mortality and the fragility of life, Taylor composed the music in his home studio on the coast of Cornwall in England, its instrumental essence captured in the opening track “Tides,” set against a backdrop of more natural elements and rhythms.
“Tides just completely came out of a feeling,” shares Taylor. “My house is by the sea, and the tides come in and go out, you can set your watch by them, you can rely on them in a way that they can almost be a friend. It’s about the inevitability of our short term here, our sure passing.”
Outsider spans the introspective, disconnected, regrets, and survival tactics of “Isolation,” and “We’re All Just Trying To Get By,” featuring KT Tunstall. “It’s the simplest statement really,” Taylor says of the latter track. “It’s what every life force on earth is doing, just trying to get by and proliferate and exist. That’s all we are trying to do, from plants to animals to humans, trying to survive.”
Throughout, Outsider travels through a present and rising to the future, in a more triumphant title track, addressing bullying and not being in the in-crowd. “It’s kind of harking back to school, but we’ve all had that in some part of our lives,” he says. “Everyone’s an outsider at some point, they feel excluded or picked on.”
“The Clapping Song,” the 1965 Shirley Ellis hit, later remade by the Belle Stars in 1982, offers a funkier pop, while “Gangsters Are Running This World,” crosses a political threshold. “In Queen, we always tried to be apolitical,” says Taylor. “But when you have the freedom to express yourself as a single person, you can say what the hell you like, which I’ve always tried to do. So many gangsters are running countries these days.”
Running seven minutes, “Journey’s End” is a fitting close to Taylor’s voyage, leaving Outsider off in an epic state.
“It has a quite whimsical, rather fatalistic atmosphere,” shares Taylor. “It’s basically about thoughts of mortality. It is a sort of acceptance of the fact that this is a journey, and that journey will come to an end. It’s a very musical piece with a sense of finality about it, but a sort of optimistic finality.”
To accompany the release of Outsider, Taylor and his band will play a 14-date tour within the U.K., beginning Oct. 2, which will feature a setlist from his solo career and Queen classics.
“I want everybody to enjoy it,” says Taylor. “I doubt I will be doing this much longer but I’m still able to do it, so I really embrace it. Will I be playing Queen songs too? Absolutely! I can’t stand people who don’t embrace a lot of the stuff they are loved for. Come on, admit who you are.”