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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Queensr├┐che

Interviewed by Greg Olma
Interview with Geoff Tate of Queensryche from 2007
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Your latest CD is all covers. What gave you the idea to put this kind of record out?
Geoff Tate: Well, that’s quite a departure for us. We’ve never done anything like that before. Live, for sounchecks, we kind of play this game where we play “name that tune.” Somebody will play a riff, we try to finish out the song, you know, to the best of our memory. Sometimes you can get through the whole thing, sometimes it’s up to the first chorus before it all falls apart. It’s kind of a fun exercise. One of our record company guys was at soundcheck one day, Kenny, and he said “hey, if you guys record that stuff, you know, we’ll put it out. What do you think?” That seemed kind of like a fun project to do for us so we all picked a couple of our favorite songs and kind of gave them a Queensryche twist. And it came out really well. Quite an eclectic bunch of songs really.
MSJ: I like the selection because it wasn’t a lot of the usual things that you see out there. The song selecting that you did was great because you picked those different songs. Who brought the songs in and how did you go about picking which ones to do?
Geoff Tate: We kind of thought the best thing for us to do was let everyone pick what they wanted and then we would try it and see what we could do with it. Everybody in the band had quite a variety of songs and artists they like; pretty large record collections really. So, it was really kind of simple once we came upon that plan, not trying to premeditate it, just kind of going with what everybody picked.
MSJ: Did you record any songs that did not make it to the final cut?
Geoff Tate: No. We all just picked a couple and brought them and did it.
MSJ: You just also released another greatest hits package that contained a bonus CD with a lot of unreleased gems. Do you have a lot more unreleased tunes that might see the light of day in the future?
Geoff Tate: Yeah, actually we do.
MSJ: It must have been fun going down memory lane.
Geoff Tate: Yeah, it was - quite an event really.
MSJ: I saw you on the Heaven and Hell tour. How did you enjoy doing the tour?
Geoff Tate: It was great. It was really a treat to play on the same bill with those bands; two bands that were very inspirational to us when we were first starting out. The albums that Black Sabbath did with Ronnie were incredibly influential to us. In fact, songs we referenced when we were talking about writing our own material. In fact, Queensryche was originally called The Mob inspired by the Mob Rules album. And then later, Ronnie James Dio invited us on our first ever tour as an opening act and kind of gave us our start in the touring world. And Alice was actually the first rock show I ever saw. I saw the Billion Dollar Babies tour when I was a kid. A lot of memories, you know, attached to what it is that those guys do. And really a treat to watch them play every night and see the years of experience in playing music together. Just seeing it from a different perspective. You know, especially Tony Iommi; really underrated guitar player. [He] just does some incredible stuff. And the way he and Geezer Butler play together, the way they bend notes together, in sort of, I don’t think they think about it anymore. They have a thing they do that’s really special.
MSJ: You’re coming back to Chicago in February. What can we expect on the next tour since it is not “an evening with…” like the last few times you came to Chicago?
Geoff Tate: Well, we have something kind of special in mind for this. We have Don Dokken, who’s an old friend, who’s going to be opening for us solo; playing an acoustic set. Then we’re playing kind of a selection of all our records plus some of the songs that we recorded on the covers album.
MSJ: Will it be divided into sets or will it be just one set?
Geoff Tate: I think it’s just going to be one set.
MSJ: Is there anything special that you look forward to when you get to Chicago?
Geoff Tate: I love Chicago. It’s probably my favorite city outside of Seattle in the United States - wonderful place. In fact, my wife is from Chicago and she grew up there so we usually have a lot of family events that take place whenever I go there.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended as a fan?
Geoff Tate: As a fan? Wow. Well, the last one we were on, the tour. (laughter) I think I was up on stage every night listening to Black Sabbath and Alice play.
MSJ: Going back a little bit, the Operation Mindcrime I and II albums, both of them were released during the same political climate. Did the current state of politics in the US fuel the Mindcrime II release and what are your thoughts of the future of the US political scene?
Geoff Tate: Well, I got a new song I just wrote called “Save Us Hillary.” (laughter) Which I hope will be a big hit. I’m really looking forward to the presidential campaign race this year, or the upcoming year. I think it’s just going to be mesmerizing to watch. I hope the country makes a good choice this time and I hope that we can kind of rise above the quagmire we’ve been in the last few years. I think that we really need a candidate that is going to bring everybody together. I feel like the country is really divided on a lot of topics so I have high hopes.
MSJ: If Jeb Bush makes it into the White House, can we expect an Operation Mindcrime III?
Geoff Tate: (laughter) Well, I don’t think that’s going to happen. (laughter)
MSJ: When are we going to see another Geoff Tate solo album?
Geoff Tate: I’ve got one that is nearing completion but honestly, Queensryche is really on fire right now. I can’t put the brakes on with regards to the guys and what we’re doing. We’re in the midst of making a new Queensryche record right now so we’re all very excited about it. We start recording in March so I’ll just have to wait a little while on my solo stuff until there’s a break.
MSJ: With regard to the new Queensryche record, what kind of style can we expect on this one? Tribe was very different from Q2K which was very different from Hear In The Now Frontier.
Geoff Tate: Well, this new one, I really don’t know how to describe it musically and that’s probably why I’m not a music journalist, but it’s a story. Not anything closely related at all to Mindcrime but it is in that vein of telling a story with the album. The entire album will be centered around a topic and we’re going to cover the entire topic with each song. And we have a stage show that will accompany it as well.
MSJ: What was the last CD you purchased?
Geoff Tate: Oh boy. That’s been a while. I can’t remember.
MSJ: Do you go on iTunes? Do you buy it that way?
Geoff Tate: Yeah, I have. I’ve just been kind of in a musical holding pattern for the last few years because I‘ve been really focused on either what Queensryche is doing or what I’m doing on my own. That seems to take up all of my musical space in my hard drive and my head. (laughter)
MSJ: Have there been any Spinal Tap moments on the last tour you did with Heaven and Hell or when you were doing both sets of Mindcrime?
Geoff Tate: Well, the Heaven and Hell tour went off without a hitch really. That was a very simple sort of presentation. Us opening and we only had 40 minutes so it was in and out; very action packed and that kind of thing. No real Spinal moments there but the Mindcrime show, that has a lot of variables, you know, with film, audio sequencing, actors, and props and things like that. So there’s more of a possibility of things falling apart, you know, and that kind of thing. There was a memorable moment where we were in the middle of a song called, uh, oh what’s it called now, I can’t remember my own songs. I can’t remember the name of it but it’s a song that Pam sings solo and there’s a moment where she’s singing and there’s this musical pause and on stage she’s being lifted up in the air; this big hydraulic lift. And right at the moment at that pause happens, we loose all the power on the stage and everything stops and everything, all the sound goes away, but the only thing that is on is lights. And there she is suspended about 30 feet up in the air and can’t get the hydraulic lift to come down and the crowd is waiting for the next song to start; to continue and there’s no continuing. She’s just standing there with her arms spread apart. It’s quite a Spinal Tap moment. It took about 20 minutes for it all to go back to normal. We had stage hands come out and close the curtains so we could all leave the stage. (laughter)
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