Keep in mind there are still bands from the era who persistently tour small venues with one hit single from 1990, but live off that familiar logo, and people still go. Queensryche has always had legions of faithful fans that even supported them through the hit-or-miss ‘Operation: Mindcrime 2’ from 2006, and the tour that made 6th member Pamela Moore a bonafide superstar and actress in her own right. Fleshing out her performance of Sister Mary to perfection on the DVD of the show from the Moore Theater in Seattle.
Suddenly we have an alleged knife incident, logos changing, the entire landscape and image of Queensryche altered, alongside a court case of epic storytelling, claims of a singer being “the face” of the band, and dueling CD’s released by two different bands under the same name. Even a Spanish compilation album was released which cover artwork-wise very closely resembled the Tate Queensryche album, which was later noticed by many fans of both sides as a humorous “aside” that people on all sides joked about.
The two factions of Queensryche are heading into court for a lengthy trial at the end of January 2014, the Tate version having proven that they can have a successful tour but a critically panned album; the rebooted Queensryche having proven they can have a hit record on a well known metal record label and a very respectable series of concerts, ranging from outdoor festivals to hard rock package events overseas. Most fans would agree that if the Queensryche with Todd La Torre out front wins the name and the case that they must embark on an organized “we’re back” styled tour.
Here lies the challenge! Whoever wins, weather Tate or Queensryche, this is 2013! It is not, sadly, 1990 with MTV airplay (bands release music videos on YouTube now, and records on Soundcloud), gone is Metal Edge and Circus and many of the hard rock magazines that “made” bands into superstars in the days of ‘Empire’ and ‘Mindcrime,’ also to note is for all practical purposes a band from that era now falls into the “Classic Rock” genre, as even the members of the band are now middle aged.
Right now the Tate lineup sports 512,000 fans on Facebook, many of those of course being from before the split, while the Queensryche Official site is around 43,000. Just as well, the official Queensryche Twitter has been handed back to the rebooted group, and they recently redesigned their Myspace page as well. Fans will note that even though Queensryche Official’s Facebook has noticeably fewer followers or fans, the members of the band are consistent with replying to posts and responding when they are online: a nice change from the days of having to mail postcards and join fan clubs to get a genuine reply from your favorite artist.
The band is also personable to talk to, and many have felt that it’s somehow “cool” to like Queensryche again, partly helped along by the wide success of their new album with now 4 singles being pulled from it. Three for creative record label promo videos, and the upcoming concept video for “A World Without.”
Tate, on the other hand, released one single from ‘Frequency Unknown,’ along with a 30 second TV spot produced by his label Cleopatra Records; but bet the farm on the ensuing tour, for which had a few bright spots but was not marketed in the best possible way, partly due to the small size of the record label. He needed to plan the tour out, as most fans love the album ‘Operation: Mindcrime;’ yet once it was seen that the actual show didn’t have the theatrics/actors/set pieces of the 2006 version, it felt inferior, and just the music without the glue to hold it together.
Geoff has since reverted back to a selection of Queensryche hits going forward, while being billed as “Queensryche starring Geoff Tate.” For Tate, he had every opportunity to make it as successful as Roger Waters’ ‘The Wall’ tour. Two landmark albums, but somehow Tate wanted to go in a less successful route and play to smaller audiences for what could’ve been a groundbreaking tour.
The chips will fall during the trial. Everything will be retold and sides chosen all over again, but the real outcome may be where either side goes from here once the final judgement is decided. Can we truly revert back to the late 80’s/ early 90’s? Can Queensryche regain their chart topping, successful reign without a pending court case to hold them back? I cannot imagine either side winning and continuing to play county fairs and smaller package cruise ships with other bands of the same era. At some point in the victory celebration this spring, they would be wise to sit back down and say “We won, now let’s plan a huge tour, and followup album and really get on with it!”
As a fan I’m waiting to cheer when they are elevated back onto television, award shows: maybe even Saturday Night Live, a late night talk show, or something back in the mainstream of music. In many ways it’s like starting the entire band over from scratch, but if they wind up on a tour with Maroon 5, Anberlin or Florence and the Machine playing to a brand new audience they would truly be on their way to the reboot: at least what the La Torre-version has been hoping to achieve since April of 2012. I wouldn’t mind hearing “A World Without” as the theme song to an upcoming James Bond film. It will take every one of their fans to continue to support their heroes, but winning the name and putting themselves back out there in the mainstream will be well worth it.
For Tate he has the credentials; if he wins, to take the name along with half a million Facebook followers, to new heights with a larger record label. You can’t ignore his erratic behavior, but when he’s on, he’s really amazing in concert. Sure, ‘Frequency Unknown’ was a disaster in sales, and his former band trounced him as far as recognition and support with their self titled release: however, he could turn things around if he wanted to. As the other band has been urged, both Tate and Queensryche have a golden opportunity past the trial to be back in the spotlight with larger record labels, a proper tour, and returning to greatness.
Ultimately we all wish our heroes could reclaim that era of ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ and ‘Empire,’ but first both sides are going to clash over the very band name that has so far graced the cover two radically differing 2013 CD releases. May their next release achieve triple platinum sales, and be that bridge between Empire and 2014. Now the interesting part begins.