Queensryche singer Todd LaTorre: “It’s not a hard thing to feel motivated or hungry because we are honestly excited about the music”
A decision regarding Queensryche and former singer Geoff Tate’s court battle is still in limbo but in so many respects the court of public opinion has already crowned the official “Queensryche”. It’s been an interesting headline that’s played out since the split but the real story surrounds the relationship between the fans and the band. The fanbase’s passion for the new album and live shows from the Todd LaTorre fronted Queensryche is a big part of the overall rejuvenation of the group. I spoke with Todd about that and more, read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: You’ve played plenty of gigs with the band now and had such a great response to the self-titled album. Were there times before where it seemed like there were fans who were withholding judgement until seeing you live or hearing the record?
Todd LaTorre: It was a mixture but I don’t think there was too much skepticism though, overwhelmingly, the people who’ve attended shows also support this lineup. I know there are some skeptics that come to the show that are curious although usually by one or two songs in, their guard is down and they’re taking it all in. It’s kinda hard to deny a good show and a fun performance, overall the energy is great. To be honest, the skeptics that come out we are just changing their minds one show at a time. I talk to so many people who will say “You know, I was really skeptical” and I kinda giggle; people say things like “You know, I didn’t wanna like you but wow, this is really great and I feel like I have my band back, thank you so much for being a part of this band and singing songs the way that we remember hearing them”. It’s been overwhelmingly positive.
LRI: I definitely got a feeling watching the show that I was seeing Queensryche and I honestly haven’t really felt that way since the early 90s. It definitely feels like the band I loved…
Todd: These are the guys who’ve been in Queensryche since the beginning, with the exception of Parker but he was in Queensryche before I came in and that’s the band Queensryche that everyone knows. That’s why it goes over so well, these are the guys who wrote those songs and have been performing the songs exactly like they were written. There’s no other interpretation of the music, we play it the way that they wrote it and the fans love it. The band is more animated on stage now, everyone is having a good time and feeling comfortable onstage now, laughing and smiling and it’s fun again for these guys. That translates into the performance and the the audience is receptive of that and when you guys are receptive to that you give the energy back which makes us have a better time so there is really a symbiotic relationship between the band and the fans. It’s a hard thing to deny if you’ve experienced it.
LRI: Is there any concern about getting comfortable? I put the record at the top of my best of the year list and lots of others did as well. How do you stay hungry or motivated when the response to the “rebooted” Queensryche has been such a lovefest?
Todd: It’s not a hard thing to feel motivated or hungry because we are honestly excited about the music. We’re focused on what we’re doing and we have a wonderful team of people who are working very hard to help Queensryche achieve the most that we can and so that positive energy surrounds us but we know there is still a lot of work to be done. There are a lot of creative ideas that we still have that didn’t make it onto the record so we’re currently motivated working on the material for the next record. The fact that the self-titled album debuted well on the charts and did well sales wise when you consider how album sales are these days, we feel very positive about things but it’s not hard to want to keep going, it’s not hard to feel hungry. We wanna keep making good music and we’re hopeful that the fans are just gonna remain on board with us and enjoy what we put out for them.
LRI: You know some people would insinuate that you were really motivated to succeed due to the court case but it sounds like you are really just in a good place creatively and in the songwriting groove.
Todd: It’s evident that we’re enjoying working together just as it was evident that the band wasn’t firing on all cylinders for the last many years and several albums. I think that’s very evident. Our latest record sold in approximately eight weeks what the band’s last record with Geoff singing sold in the last year so that’s also evidence that the fans are receptive to the new creativity that the band is putting out. Having me in the band now and Parker in the band, as songwriters contributing equally is a lot of fun for the other band members because they’re getting a new perspective on song ideas and guitar and drum ideas and vocals, all because we’re working as a team. According to other interviews in the past, from other guys in the band, they weren’t writing together as a band. There was cherry-picking of songs and they had outside writers and when Michael Wilton is being asked to learn somebody else’s parts for a track on a Queensryche record that in of itself is evidence that something is definitely wrong. There was a breakdown in chemistry and a breakdown in communication, a breakdown in the overall direction of the band, etcetera. Well, those days are gone and now they have their band back and have creative control and equality again which I understand was not happening for quite a while so that’s invigorating to those guys. Finally, they know they are creating music that is going on their record. Think of how many years that they wrote things that didn’t get to go on a record and having all these ideas in your head for all this time and now you’re in this position to make them all happen. Wouldn’t that seem empowering and motivating to you? It doesn’t stop with just the one record with us, this is just the beginning, we have so many other songs and song ideas that we are so excited about having people hear. That’s the real motivation to keep going forward.
LRI: I think the fact that “Where Dreams Go To Die” is the most “Queensryche” sounding song I’ve heard in years is proof that you and Parker have a pretty amazing songwriting partnership. Do you feel like it’s a really unique thing where you can write with any one of the guys?
Todd: Yeah, we each have our own individual working chemistry, in a unique way just like we all have our own special friendships. We’re able to work together and create together in a very certain way. Michael and I have a totally different yet equal chemistry writing songs together and collaborating, as do Eddie and I and Scott and I. Everyone has their own unique relationships with each other as band members which can make for some pretty interesting collaborations. The beauty of that is that everybody is pretty open-minded and nobody’s feelings are hurt because we’re very respectful when we have maybe a constructive criticism on a song idea. Nobody’s ego is crushed or feelings are hurt as a result of our collaborations because we’re all really great friends outside of the band and ultimately we all just want what is best for the music. There’s always a sacrifice somewhere where somebody might wants something but the majority feels a different way but there is always sacrifice, that’s part of being in a band. If you want everything your way well, you need to do a solo record but when you’re in a band it’s a marriage with you and the other members and there has to be an understanding and a respect between the other band members that you’re not going to always get everything you want but if it’s for the best interest of the music and the fans then that’s where we all agree and that’s how we songwrite. Some times someone might fight for a certain something in a song but the others will say “You know, I know you really like this part but I just don’t think it’s best, I think maybe this would work”. Sometimes if we’re at a stalemate we may lean on Jimbo (producer Jimbo Barton) for that and be like “What do you think of this?” and he’ll say “You know, I have to agree with so and so, I think this is better” and we all take a vote and we move on to the next thing but it’s always a lot of fun writing with these guys. They’re veterans in the industry and they’re great songwriters and great people so it’s just a great energy all the way around.
LRI: You had a pretty diverse musical household as a kid and heard jazz, rock and all kinds of music. You grew up in Florida, were you a big fan of Savatage? What were some of your earlier exposures to heavy metal?
Todd: Yeah, I was a fan of Savatage. I was a big fan of Iron Maiden, Stryper, Dokken. I got into the thrash scene with Testament, Overkill and Slayer and all of those kinds of things but the really influential sounds for me were Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Stryper those were the initial huge sounds for me. I was a huge fan of power metal and still to this day, in the metal genre, power metal is still my favorite.
LRI: I know you’ve spent a ton of time on the drum throne and have played instruments before becoming a singer but it sounds like you definitely have a favorite style of vocal approach as well. When you were growing up did you ever, ever see yourself possibly fronting a band someday?
Todd: No, I never imagined being a singer for any band. My dream in high school was to be a famous rock drummer. I never, ever considered fronting a band as a vocalist and when I got into Crimson Glory that was kind of a fluke thing where I was kind of put on the spot and was able to deliver what I needed to and so it’s just been uphill from there with the vocal part although it’s nothing I would have ever imagined myself doing.
LRI: You must have had a lot of experience singing in the shower, how did you get the chops to the level where you could be considered for a band like Queensryche who have historically pushed boundaries as far as vocal performances?
Todd: Look, if I was in my car and playing “The Warning” or “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” I would sing along for fun and yeah I sang in the shower, I’d sing when I was working, I guess I always sang all the time but I was never a trained vocalist and nobody taught me how to sing. I was always really good at finding out how someone could make a sound, like how does a singer sound the way he does and would always tune into those different little nuances that made a singer sound a certain way. Why does Bruce Dickinson sound the way he does? There’s a certain tonality in his voice and in his vibrato and there was a certain way that all those guys do their thing.
LRI: You really kind of taught yourself then?
Todd: Yeah, it’s just like a guitar player where you’re learning Yngwie and trying to mimic his phrasing and his arpeggios and diminished scales and how he’d bend a note. You would practice that over and over to copy that because you’re a huge fan of Yngwie in the same way that I would hear Geoff Tate do something and be like “How does he enter the phrase that way?” or “I love the vibrato and how he carries the note out here”. There’s just all these different things that make a singer unique and after years of doing that you kind of take on your own sound but those influences are very much a part of the development of your own style. You wind up being kind of a mixture of those things that you gravitated towards.
LRI: It seems like your comfort level has increased onstage as a frontman in general over the past year. Do you feel like you are still honing your craft in that regard and will that help in creating the next album?
Todd: It definitely feels natural onstage with the microphone but I always try to think of ways that I can improve, I always think there’s room for improvement but I do feel very comfortable onstage at this point and a lot of that is due to the chemistry of the band overall. When you have a great relationship with the guys that you’re playing with you don’t feel that same pressure. I’ve been in the band for well over a year now and we’ve had a great response from the fans and so many of those people have accepted me as the new singer and they really like the new album and that takes a lot of the pressure off as well. I don’t feel any pressure from the outside, the only pressure I feel is what I place on myself because I’m always striving to be better.
Sat 03/22/14 Clear Lake, IA Surf Ballroom & Museum
Sun 03/23/14 El Paso, TX Tricky Falls
Sat 03/29/14 Florence, IN Belterra Casino Resort
Thu 04/17/14 Englewood, NJ Bergen Performing Arts Ctr.
Fri 04/18/14 North Tonawanda, NY Riviera Theatre and Performing Arts Center
Sat 04/19/14 Uncasville, CT Wolf Den
Sun 04/20/14 Manchester, NH The Armory
Fri 04/25/14 Jim Thorpe, PA Penn’s Peak
Sat 04/26/14 Columbia, MD Merriweather Post Pavilion (M3 Rock Festival)
Wed 06/04/14 Solvesborg, Sweden Sweden Rock Festival Grounds (Sweden Rock Festival)
Fri 6/06/14 Mt. Pleasant, MI Soaring Eagle Casino
Fri 06/20/14 Clisson, France Hellfest Grounds (Hellfest)
Sat 06/21/14 Idaho Falls, ID Sandy Downs (Rock The Falls)
View photos of Queensryche’s 2013 Detroit performance HERE.
Read our “Queensryche” review HERE.