By MIKE CHAIKEN
There are some classic rock bands that lend themselves to reinterpretation by other artists.
The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles are three classic examples of artists who have seen their material performed by others.
However, the music of Queen is not a likely choice for a cover song.
Although the British band’s songs are indelibly inked on the brains of even casual fans ( “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “We Are The Champions” are instantly recognizable), Queen’s music—and especially the vocals of Freddie Mercury—is idiosyncratic and complex.
But The Tenors— Clifton Murray, Victor Micallef, Remigio Pereira, and Fraser Walters—plunge head first into the catalogue with Queen with their latest single, “Who Wants to Live Forever,” which Freddie Mercury and the boys recorded for the soundtrack to “Highlander.”
The Tenors come to The Bushnell in Hartford on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Victor, in a phone call from Austin, Texas, explained there are certain classic rock acts that have a way with the huge ballad, ones that are dramatic and epic. And Queen had its fair share of them, including such tracks as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Show Must Go On” and others. Additionally, said Victor, “Freddie was a great singer.” He was always tackling these “beautiful melodies.”
These kind of big epic numbers with strong melodies are a good fit for The Tenors—which is manned by two classically trained singers and two pop-style singers.”
“It was always in the back of our minds to tackle (Queen),” said Victor.
“Who Wants To Live Forever” was their opportunity.
Victor said the Canadian group knew that when it came to Queen— and Freddie Mercury— it had some big shoes to fill. But The Tenors’ intent was never to replicate the original Queen song, said Victor. Instead, The Tenors wanted to offer up its own interpretation of the song.
And without patting himself on the back too hard, said Victor, “We did an amazing job.”
Victor noted there are a number of musical touches on the recording that make the song The Tenors’ own. For instance, there is a “huge intro” with a 100-piece orchestra that offers snippets of a Bach cantata before the voices chime in. Additionally, the song includes a instrumental duet between YouTube sensation violinist Lindsay Stirling and Victor on piano. Later on, the duet becomes a trio when Remigio joins in on the classical guitar.
Then the recording has the added attraction of The Tenors’ four voices blending together.
“We take it to another level,” said Victor of the song by Queen.
“It’s still rock music,” said Victor. “But it’s very epic.”
The song also has an epic video to promote it.
“The video was so much fun,” said Victor of the accompany film for “Who Wants To Live Forever.” For the filming, Victor said the group and film crew took over an old crumbling castle in Prague for the day. (Although Lindsay Stirling filmed her portion of the video in a forest in Los Angeles.) An additional level of cinematic splendor thanks to the efforts of the makeup artists and the costumes—which were authentic period pieces.
The story line also is appropriate to the story of the song, said Victor. In the video, he said, the four members play vampires pondering their immortality.
Noting that “Highlander,” from which the song was lifted, was about an immortal who was cursed to outlive the loves of his life, the video offers a similar tale as the vampires all outlive their loves as well.
In the end ,said Victor, the video offers a twist that explains how their characters have opted to change their destiny.
Victor said the video for “Who Wants To Live Forever” is unlike anything the group has ever done before.
“It pushed us to our limits.”
“We’re very excited about this release.’
When The Tenors looks for songs to record like “Who Wants To Live Forever,” they seek songs that will take the listener on a journey, whether they are listening to The Tenors on a CD or at a show. Additionally, said Victor, the group seeks songs that are inspirational and provide the listener with a positive message. The Tenors want to help the listeners find an escape from the stress of their lives and to offer them a message of hope.
And, Victor said, the group looks for songs that will work well for their four voices.
As a musical unit, Victor explained, “We have a lot of similarities and a lot of differences, which is good.”
Sometimes the differences can lead to argument, said Victor. But often the combination of ideas from the four will be synthesized into a strong whole than would have been impossible if drawn up by the members individually.
“You’re not getting one individual’s idea of what a show should be or a song should be performed, but the idea from four strong musicians, each stretching the next,” said Victor.
“It may be difficult (getting to the final product) but that (journey is) our prize possession.”
The Tenors come to The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, go to Bushnell.org or TenorsMusic.com
To watch The Tenors’ vide of “Who Wants To Live Forever,” go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbYG30ucL7Q