Few bands have been surrounded with nearly as much controversy nowadays than Queensryche.
In their earliest years, the band’s music continuously dominated the airwaves with their signature sound comprised of progressive rock and heavy metal elements, dueling guitar solos and the epic range of lead vocalist Geoff Tate. The band created countless hits and a line of iconic albums.
But those were the golden years, and as time continued on the chemistry within the lineup began to fade and falter, as did the quality of their music.
After a line of decreasingly successful album releases, which showed the band’s sound moving less and less from what made them great to something that more heavily resembled that of the alternative metal genre, the levee finally broke and Queensryche split in two.
One version features the rest of the 2012 lineup with newly appointed lead vocalist Todd La Torre, dedicated to the sound of early Queensryche with a new self-titled album coming out this month; the other an all-star cast of heavy metal musicians with Geoff Tate at the front, who recently released their own album, ‘Frequency Unknown,’ which stays consistent to the band’s more recent direction.
Today I sat down with Geoff Tate to talk about his version of the band’s new album, his inspiration behind forming a second Queensryche, and pitching cell phones.
William Clark: Before we get into the new album, I want to talk to you about the recent events involving Queensryche. Straight forward: Do you think you were unrightfully fired from the band?
Geoff Tate: Well, you know I’m really not set up to talk about that kind of stuff right now. I’d rather that we talked about the new album and the tour, that kind of thing.
William Clark: Well, there are some questions that fans would like to hear the answer to. For reasons right, wrong or indifferent, you were officially fired from the original version of Queensryche. Now, normally when a lead singer is fired, he focuses on his solo career, joins a new band, or forms a new one entirely. What prompted you to form a second Queensryche?
Geoff Tate: Well I wanted to keep making records, and keep bringing, doing what it is I do. So I needed a band to do that, and I thought, “What a wonderful opportunity to play with a lot of great players that I’ve met over the years, play with some of my very good friends that I met over the years”. So, I did. Pretty simple, really.
William Clark: What’s your rebuttal to the recent statements by Todd La Torre, the new lead vocalist for the other Queensryche, calling the album cover for ‘Frequency Unknown’ a “cheap shot”?
Geoff Tate: I don’t really have a comment.
William Clark: Alright. Let’s move into the new album. What was your objective, working with a new lineup under the Queensryche name?
Geoff Tate: My objective? I think I kind of answered that in the previous question, William. I make music. I wanted to work with great people who could play well and were interested in working, and being there with their creative ideas. And my objective was really to continue making music, which is what I do, you know?
William Clark: Right. As if the album cover for ‘Frequency Unknown’ wasn’t enough of a statement, you dish out a string of expletives in “Dare”, which some have said is directed towards your former band mates. Is this true?
Geoff Tate: Um… no. I don’t understand actually what it is you’re asking. Expletives? What do you mean by that?
William Clark: Here’s one of the lines from “Dare”: “When you hit it doesn’t slow me down, I don’t give a fuck about those threats you’re throwing ‘round.” I mean, the song was even marked for having explicit content on the album.
(period of silence)
William Clark: Alright. What are some of your personal favorite tracks off of the new album?
Geoff Tate: I like them all. (laughs)
William Clark: Nothing wrong with that. What exactly was the inspiration behind the “Best Video Rant Contest”?
Geoff Tate: What’s the inspiration?
William Clark: Well, it generally wouldn’t be the first idea from a band to encourage fans to embrace the negative points of an album.
Geoff Tate: I thought it was kind of fun. Kind of a fun little contest, and it seemed to go over well.
William Clark: Recently you said that you were already working on a follow-up to ‘Frequency Unknown.’ How are those sessions coming along?
Geoff Tate: Um… good. Really good.
William Clark: Do you think the end product will be similar to ‘Frequency Unknown’?
Geoff Tate: I don’t know, it’s too early to tell. It’s a whole different kind of project. But it’s not a follow-up to ‘Frequency Unknown,’ it’s a standalone, separate project.
William Clark: So tell me, what is with the incident from a few weeks ago, where you took a cell phone from one of the audience members and pitched it out to the crowd?
Geoff Tate: Well, I think, William, what you’re referring to is thirty years of being a performer. And because I happen to be in a lawsuit right now, some actions that I have become very normal with as a performer are getting scrutinized and manipulated to paint a picture of me. And so I that’s what I think we are seeing now. Simple as that.
William Clark: So you think that footage is just people trying to make you look like the bad guy?
Geoff Tate: I think that’s the objective. I don’t think it shows me being a bad guy, it’s rock and roll. It’s what I do, you know? (laughs)
William Clark: If that is the case, taking cell phones from audience members and pitching them out to the crowd wouldn’t help matters.
Geoff Tate: Well thanks for that advice, William. You know, I actually have another interview that’s happening right now. I’ve gotta go, but I really appreciate the interview today and it was really good talking to you.
William Clark: And you as well. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.