Song - Artist - Album
There Will Be a reckoning - Billy Bragg - Tooth & Nail
The Endeverafter frontman was yet to be born when albums like Sheer Heart Attack and A Night At The Opera were starting to captivate an audience in the States. But those records were part of his father’s collection, allowing the 26-year-old Grant to grow up with the band.
Unlike his older musical peers—like Charlie Benante, Rachel Bolan and Jimi Bell—who were largely unaware of Innuendo and latter era Queen, Michael says he was thoroughly pulled in after hearing “The Show Must Go On.” The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert DVD made the poignancy of those lyrics even more apparent. “I was shocked. It hit me like a ton of bricks: a dead man is singing this song! And he knew when he recorded it.”
Grant says he then went to the beginning, begging his parents for money to buy the debut Queen album. “I love hearing bands in their infancy, I guess because that’s where my own band is.” But that 1973 album made such a sweeping impact, at first he almost didn’t understand it. “It was very progressive, and I wasn’t even on that level yet. It was one of those albums that took me awhile to absorb.”
It would be the series of Queen albums released over the period from 1974 to 1978 that became some of his all-time favorites, Grant says. “They were riding this creative wave and just killing it. It was to the point where I wished I wrote those songs.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is the prime example out of many that he wishes he had written. Michael says he was the cool kid at high school parties, because he played the Queen albums that would make everyone “lose their shit!” Conscious of how music affects an audience, he noticed that track would cause people to raise beers overhead, sing at the top of their lungs and go crazy.
But did Michael Grant ever score with the ladies, as a direct result of spinning Queen at those parties? Laughing, he admits, “there were definitely times I would close on some ass, just because of Queen.”
The conversation about Queen for I made the singer realize even more how much of an influence that band has been to him. Already a student of many different styles of music, Queen gave him the courage to try to distill those elements into a single, distinct sound. “They were the testament that you can play whatever the hell you want, as long as you make it your own.”
The contrast of the entire Queen catalog, from songs like “Tie Your Mother Down” to “Somebody To Love,” is like night and day, Grant says. “We wanted to have that aspect to our own music. With Kiss Or Kill, we wanted to be different on every track.” The debut Endeverafter CD was recently released in the UK on Powerage Records, and he thinks “Poison” is the most Queen-influenced track on the album. “It’s progressive, and there’s a little bit of light and shade. It’s heavy, but there’s still melody all over it.”
Freddie Mercury was one of the greatest frontmen in rock history. Watching DVD footage of his flamboyant charisma, Michael says he admires his conviction as a performer. “Love him or hate him, he was doing his thing. He was very confident without being cocky. There was such a confidence—almost a punk edge, without being a punk—and I really love that. He was a very spellbinding performer, even with the mustache,” he laughs. “And that’s a hard thing to do.”
Over the course of twenty studio and live albums, Freddie’s voice never lost its capacity or range. Learning firsthand how the wear and tear of the rock and roll lifestyle can affect a singer’s voice, Grant believes that an overlooked aspect of Mercury’s compositional brilliance might have been writing songs that would be comfortable to sing in later years.
Or maybe it simply came down to the gift of an amazing voice. His singing on the Innuendo tracks that captivated Michael Grant is powerful and robust, belying not only age, but even the debilitating stage of his illness. “He must have been in so much pain, and I think it really transcends to the tracks. If you listen—now knowing that—some of the cadences of his vocals, and some of the intricacies of the writing, you can feel that he was feeling his own end of time. Some of that stuff that was captured on tape is spellbinding when you listen to it now.”