“Maybe it’s just about being an actor, you want to feel the artist when you listen to music,” Joe Mazzello says. The actor, who plays legendary bassist John Deacon in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, has a distinct taste in music. “I definitely have eras of music, but I always go back to bands who write their own music, they play their music,” he says. “It isn’t that fluffy, you want to feel that they’re expressing themselves.”
Below, Mazzello gives us a rundown of the bands he’s seen live, the bands he’s dying to catch, and what albums Jeff Goldblum gifted him for wrapping on filming Jurassic Park, where he made his iconic silver screen appearance as 10-year-old Tim Murphy, visiting his grandfather before dino hell breaks loose.
1. The Beatles, The White Album. I’m choosing The White Album because it’s the longest, therefore, I get the most songs out of this choice! It was Jeff Goldblum, as a wrap gift for Jurassic Park, who gifted me six Beatles albums, including The White Album. That’s one that makes me think of Jurassic Park, that makes me thinking of driving around L.A. with my dad, when we were doing movies as a kid. ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is the reason I wanted to play guitar, because I heard that song on the radio. That helped me, of course, get Bohemian Rhapsody many, many, many years later.
2. Queen, A Day at the Races. I think A Night at the Opera is their best album, but A Day at the Races is especially meaningful to me because it’s got ‘Somebody to Love’ on it, and I directed my first feature, and every day going to set as director, and knowing I was gonna have to put out a thousand problems, I would pump myself up, every day, listening to ‘Somebody to Love.’ It’s a fantastic album, ‘Take My Breath Away’ is just so haunting and beautiful. ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ was one that we would sing on set all the time, so yeah, I gotta throw a Queen one in there, and that’s the one I’ve gotta choose.
3. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Greatest Hits. I tried to stay away from Greatest Hits albums, because I know those are a bit of a cop-out. But I’m a big road trip guy, I’ve done 20 cross-country road trips in my life with many different people—my dad, my girlfriend, caravans—Tom Petty is just the quintessential road trip music and always makes me think of driving out West.
4. Third Eye Blind, Third Eye Blind. That album is absolutely my high school years. And Third Eye Blind is just a band that I think is misunderstood, people hear it and people think of less meaningful post-grunge pop-rock, but Stephan Jenkins is a freakin’ brilliant songwriter, and I don’t know if there’s ever any three songs ever put on an album ever that are as good as ‘The Background,’ ‘God of Wine,’ and ‘Motorcycle Drive By.’ Just something about the youthfulness and the aggression without it feeling suicidal or really dour, the way grunge does. It’s just a little more fun that makes me think of high school and the girls I was dating then. “I carry you around in my background,” is something I think about now with friends who’ve passed away or who aren’t here. It’s just a hit parade for me.
5. The Scissor Sisters, Night Work. From the moment I turn it on to the moment it ends, it’s party time. I used to listen to a lot more sad music, serious music, things that made me a bit more forlorn or wistful. I got to a point in my life, much more recently, where if I was in a bad mood, I didn’t want to listen to sad music. I wanted to listen to happy music, to something fun. Nothing has ever cheered me up as quickly as Night Work. Just the moment it starts, I want to start dancing or singing. It’s just such a different energy.
6. U2, Joshua Tree. It might be my favorite album ever made. I almost put Unforgettable Fire on this instead because I think ‘A Sort of Homecoming’ may be my favorite song ever written. It was almost like they were just on the cusp of truly finding themselves as truly epic writers, and Joshua Tree is essentially flawless to me. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ still resonates with me every day of my life. Every one of these songs like that, and I didn’t listen to U2 until their ‘Best-of’ album came out when I was in high school. I associate them with not just growing up, but living life and searching for meaning.
7. Incubus, Morning View. It was my college years. I wanted to get away from everything high school, go away to film school, and USC had the best film school in the country. I could’ve gone to NYU, I could’ve stayed here, but I decided not to. I decided to run away, and that was a time for Incubus where they didn’t have that misdirected aggression. I felt like they grew up a little bit for Morning View, their aggression was a little bit more directed and had a purpose rather than just brash and reckless. That album has always really spoken to me, and I think it’s funny how their music has changed with the way I feel about life. I was a bit more of a hothead when I was younger, now I’m a bit more docile, and that album was catching me right in the middle.
8. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs Another one of those albums that I think is perfect. I became aware of them when I was doing The Pacific in Australia, which was a very impactful moment for me. That was about World War II, who served in World War II. It was a very difficult job. I first became aware of them there, and especially the song ‘Rebellion,’ which I know isn’t on that album. But it was shortly thereafter that they came out with The Suburbs, which is when I realized how incredibly important this band is to me. And it’s music I would listen to before big auditions, and this album was something that I’d listen to to just really get in there and crush it. And I’ve still never seen them live, which kills me.
9. Fleetwood Mac, Rumors I really got into [Fleetwood Mac] about three or four years ago, and I got to see them live when they all reunited before Lindsey Buckingham got kicked out of the band again. It’s one of those perfect albums, ‘Go Your Own Way’ is one of my all-time favorite songs, ‘Songbird’ makes me want to break down and cry every time I hear it, and I feel like the combination of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, it’s just the power between them when you hear their songs together, and you know they’re written about each other, and you know they’re still angry about certain things. You just feel that in the music, and I feel that with past relationships that haven’t worked out, or what have you. And I love that Lindsey has a girl’s name and a high voice, and Stevie has a boy’s name and a low voice. It’s the perfect combination. There’s just nothing like them.
10. Counting Crows, Recovering the Satellites In terms of ‘A Long December,’ and ‘Mercury,’ and ‘I’m Not Sleeping,’ again, this is my high school. This was something I was really into in high school, and that was when music really became important to me, it wasn’t something that was really important to me as a kid. When I started dating a girl in my sophomore year who was so into music, and it made me want to discover who I was in that world and what it made me feel, The Counting Crows and that era was something that always made me emotional. When you listen to ‘A Long December,’ every time I hear that song, it affects me really deeply. And it’s always a reminder to never, ever, ever take anything for granted, take any moment with loved ones for granted, to never take any amazing experiences on movie sets for granted.
Bohemian Rhapsody hits theaters November 2, 2018.