Interview conducted and transcribed by John Jeffrey Photos by - John Jeffrey & Diana MacDonald
Queensryche, regarded for many years a progressive Heavy Metal band (they now publicly denounce the title), has quietly amassed a solid 30 year career, touring almost nonstop, and selling over 20 million albums worldwide. Going strong for over 3 decades, the band shows no sign of stopping anytime soon, although over the past few years, the band has gone through several stylistic changes, which have many of their diehard fans scratching their heads in disbelief, questioning the choices made by their favorite band as of late.
With Queensryche on tour once again, we recently sat down for a 'one on one' with vocalist/frontman Geoff Tate, as we addressed the changes the band has made recently with their latest CD, "Dedicated To Chaos" (which many describe as a depature from the signature Queensryche sound), and how the band is celebrating their 30 year run. Speaking with Geoff, right after he finished his daily vocal exercises, a short period of time before Queensryche would be taking the stage, it was truly amazing to see, after all these years, how dedicated Geoff is to his craft, and the excitement he still exudes before performing. Geoff is a true professional, and this what he had to share with RockMusicStar.com.
RockMusicStar: The last tour Queensryche did was the "Queensryche Cabaret" show. What can fans expect from this new tour thematically?
Geoff Tate: Well, we're celebrating our 30 year anniversary, and we have a new album out called, "Dedicated To Chaos," and we're going to be playing 30 years of our music. Playing songs from all of our different records. And we have a visual show that accompanies the music. Kind of a visual retrospective.
RMS: You mentioned the new record, "Dedicated To Chaos," as it's been out a short period of time now, but already, there's a lot of controversy (especially on the internet) regarding the changes you've implemented with the song writing and overall sound of the record.
GT: Probably. With every album there's controversy.
RMS: But have you heard anything (negative) directly from the fans yourself?
GT: (Shakes head, motioning "No.")
RMS: What was the reason for the drastic change in direction on the CD? Was it an intentional move to be different, or was it just an evolution in the song writing of the band?
GT: Well, with each record, the band sits down for a pow-wow to discuss what we want to accomplish. Sometimes it's personal goals regarding your own instrument. Sometimes it's focusing on arrangements. Sometimes it's musical exploration. On this record, we really wanted to stretch out musically. On the last two albums, we've kind of taken up the concept theme, where we worked from a conceptual point. It's incredibly tedious to put an album like that together. You have to be very careful about how you connect at the dots, so to speak. How the music transitions from one song to the next. Does the music fit the lyrics? Does the story have continuity to it?
Dealing with the "American Soldier" album (Queensryche's previous release) was an incredibly emotional record to make. If you could imagine listening to hours and hours of tape, of people's life experiences, where they were shot or injured, or lost their family and friends. It just wrecks you emotionally. We actually had to stop making that record for a few weeks, and take a break from that. Just to kind of regroup, because it was just too much, sitting there every day, listening to that stuff.
So we really didn't want to make a serious record this time. We just wanted to take a break from that and kind of stretch out musically, and try some different things. So that was first and foremost on our agenda. Eddie (Jackson - bassist) and Scott (Rockenfield - drummer) brought in a lot of tracks that were kind of a spring board for the album. They tend to be more bass/drum oriented with their arrangements. So we kind of riffed off of that.
RMS: Do you ever feel your fan base wants Queensryche to be the 'eternal' "Operation: Mindcrime" era version of the group? And when you do something different than that, they can't seem to accept the change in your musical style?
GT: The funny thing is, when "Mindcrime" came out, people hated it. When "Empire" came out, they hated it. They (the fans) wrote us letters and talked about it. When "Rage for Order" came out, they hated it. The only album we released that people didn't hate, was our first one. That was because they didn't have anything to compare it to. Ever since then, every record we release, there's a group of people that are very vocal about their discomfort. So after awhile, it gets sort of tedious to listen to their opinion. Obviously, they're stuck in a certain time period. I'm very happy that they like something that we've done, but it's not something that we're going to keep doing (the same thing over and over). We don't want to be a 'Metal' band. We don't want to be an 'Industrial' band. We don't want to have any of those words attached to our name. We never did. We never said, 'this' is what we are. We always said, we are Queensryche, and we're going to be, what we're going to be.
RMS: With having 30 years of music to choose from, is it hard to put together a set list for a tour like this?
GT: It is. It's really hard. Because, maybe there's a song that you love, but maybe one of your band mates doesn't love it. Or, there are songs that you've played a million times, that you know the people coming to see you, want to see that. So you have to put that in. And there's some songs that you never want to hear again. You never wanna play. So you don't (play those). The fans will see the depth of our material. We cover a lot of ground, with a lot of types of songs. A lot of different moods in 30 years. Kind of a full feeling of what the band has done.
For more on Queensryche, please go to www.queensryche.com
Special thanks to Amy Sciarretto.