Geoff Tate: “My next album will definitely be a concept album”

Geoff Tate:  “My next album will definitely be a concept album”
May 5, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More

In case you’re somehow unaware, the recent out of court settlement between original Queensryche singer Geoff Tate and his former bandmates is now settled.   Mr. Tate will be allowed to bill himself as “Geoff Tate, The Voice of Queensryche” while his bandmates carry on as “Queensryche” and Tate has the additional perk of exclusive rights to performing both “Operation Mindcrime” albums as a complete show. The hard rock/metal message board community can focus on countless other topics and fans of Queensryche can look forward to new music from both sides free of the drama revolving around the “court case” (which never actually went to court after all).   I recently had the pleasure of talking with Geoff again about the recent developments and what the future holds for him musically; read on……

LRI:  Hi Geoff, nice to talk to you again and nice to see all these Queensryche Farewell tourdates booked.  You’re a busy man as always and will be out on the road all summer including a show you’re doing near me with Alice in Chains.  Obviously you’re both from the Northwest, is that a band you’ve crossed paths with on occasion?

Geoff Tate:  Yeah!  Alice in Chains was a band that came up after us and played a lot of shows together and know the guys very well so that will be kind of a nice reunion. I haven’t seen Jerry (Cantrell, AIC guitarist) in two years or so I think so that will be nice.

LRI:  As a Queensryche fan I was happy to hear of the news about the settlement and actually think it has the potential to be a rare win/win situation.  Are you as relieved as I would imagine to move forward?

Geoff:   It feels really good to be done with it (laughs).  To finally come to agreements and terms and close that whole chapter for good definitely feels good. It means I can move forward and I am very excited about that.    I’m feeling good about it and am excited to move on.

LRI:  We’ve talked before about your involvement in the creation of the storylines for Operation Mindcrime and everything that goes along with it.  The fact that you’re retaining the Mindcrime rights makes a lot of sense to me as a fan of both sides and actually made me really happy but lots about this case made me not as happy.  Do you think you learned a lot about human nature from all the dust kicked up by fans, press and those in the inner circle?

Geoff:   Yes, quite a few hard lessons really (laughs).  The end result is a situation that’s very similar to the Pink Floyd thing where they get to keep the name of the band and continue on and I get to keep Operation Mindcrime which is my thing because I wrote the story and it makes perfect sense.  Again, I’m incredibly happy with the decision and the settlement.  One thing that people need to keep in mind is this never went to court, this wasn’t a judges decision, win/lose type of thing.  It really came down to all of us finally agreeing on what was really important to us and finding a place where we all felt comfortable and happy.

LRI:  You’ve got a lot of stuff going on aside from the Queensryche Farewell dates and have a new stage production going on in Seattle.  What can you tell me about the “Rock and Vaudeville” show?

Geoff:  The first shows had been in rehearsals for quite a while and these first shows in particular are five dates booked in Seattle.  It’s called “Rock and Vaudeville, The History of Rock” and it’s a pretty comprehensive history of rock music and how it’s changed and developed from the 1950s to now and we perform music from the 50′s, 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, 90′s and 2000′s and just show the progression that rock music has taken which is quite dramatic actually.  When you consider that rock started out as music that was derived from American blues and Country and Western to where it’s at now it’s an interesting journey to witness.  The music of course is augmented by the stage show performance, we have 23 people performing in the show, everything from really great singers to dancers to acrobats and aerialists and it’s an interesting, funny kind of show that is informative but also entertaining.  It’s a show I developed with my very good friend Jason Ames that we’d been working on for a while and in a way it was a great way to kind of get outside of the legal thing and get into more of a creative place and get my mind off the struggle with the legal case.  It was kinda therapy in a sense (laughs).

LRI:  I have read some Queensryche/Geoff Tate fans comments various places which basically read like they’re expressing relief that they feel they can now support both sides, which of course they always could have the whole time (laughs).  

Geoff Tate:  Yeah, that’s true.  I suppose it depends on the way you look at it.

LRI:  Do you think there were some fans who were withholding their loyalties so to speak while waiting to see how the dust settled?

Geoff Tate:  You know, I never really thought in those terms because it honestly was a really difficult thing to get through and one that took up a lot of my brain space and kind of….you know, I’m a creative person and I live my life in that space, creating music and shows and presentations….that’s how I live.  The whole dispute was really like an anchor in a sense because it kept me from throwing myself into the creative environment that I normally live in.  So, now that it’s done and we’ve reached a settlement I can just take a deep breath and move on and get back to what I like doing which is to create.

LRI:   Based on what you’ve written so far, is the new material you are working on more along the lines of your last solo album, “Kings and Thieves” or more like the your last Queensryche album “Frequency Unknown”?

Geoff Tate:  Neither, actually.  The new material is something very, very different from both of those albums to be honest.  I look at this unique position I’m in now as a wonderful jumping off point because it gives me the ability to really go anywhere I want to go musically.  Where I wanna go is into more of a direction of what I feel I do best and enjoy most and that is writing albums and when I say albums what I mean is album-orientated music.  Albums where the music isn’t dictated by any commercial standards.  It’s kind of a more free situation where the music and lyrics can be anything I want them to be rather than having to conform to any standardized arrangements or styles and music where the end result doesn’t even have to be tailored or sacrificed even, to the abilities of the people I’m playing with.  The next album is going to go anywhere I want to take it.  I’ve got a pretty vivid imagination and I have this wonderful story that I’ve written that this next album is going to be based around and I’m very excited about it.  I’ve been working on it now for months and months and months in my spare time and am ready now to really flesh it out and finish it up now that the settlement is in place.

LRI:  That sounds pretty interesting.  So, it wouldn’t be totally erroneous to say it might be considered a “concept album”?

Geoff Tate:  Oh, it’s definitely going to be, yeah.

LRI:  In the past three or four years in interviews there was a lot of back and forth between you and Michael, Scott and Eddie about their creative contributions to Queensryche over the years.  Obviously, they were clearly contributing to their latest album but is it fair to say that both you and Chris DeGarmo honestly were doing as much of the heavy lifting as many people believe over the years?

Geoff Tate:  When you have a band, that group of people comes together for a number of different reasons, in our case it was musically, Chris and I had a very strong, clear vision of what we wanted to do musically and that vision was really about not having boundaries as to what we created.  We wanted to write and present music that we imagined rather than what other people expected or thought we should do.  That gave us a real positive jumping off point for the band and everything we did that followed.  We never really wrote records to conform to what other people or other bands did, we wrote records that we loved and felt strongly about.  That was always Chris and my vision and being the kind of personalities that we are, Chris and I, we just did that and the other guys in the band fell in line with that, they were comfortable with that setup and that’s how we operated for many, many years.  It wasn’t like we were dictators or land barons keeping the serfs out of the fields or anything like that (laughs).  It was not like that, it was more that it worked well, we enjoyed what we did, I’m speaking of Chris and I, and it worked so the other guys in the band were fine with that for a long, long period of time.

LRI:  So it wasn’t an out and out battle royal for songwriting credits but at the same time it wasn’t the democracy that the guys say is so important to the band now that you’re gone?

Geoff Tate:  No, it was never a democracy on the creative end of things….it was always a matter of “Ok, who has the idea that everybody thinks is the strongest?”.  If you didn’t have an opinion on it, well then, you didn’t have an opinion on it and most of the time that was the case there just wasn’t a strong opposition to anything and to be honest that’s still the way it was all the way up to oh, 2012 with the split. It was always “Oh, okay, great idea, let’s run with that, do you have anything to add?  No?  Ok, well let’s go with that then” (laughs).

LRI:  Do you think some of the fans sort of mistook your comments about not being a “metal guy” or however it was that you put not being tied down to the heavy metal format?

Geoff Tate:  Oh yeah, I’m sure.  People read whatever meaning they wanna read into whatever statements are made.  The way I feel about “metal” is I just don’t like genres in the first place.  I think genres are limiting and are kind of like wearing handcuffs for a person who’s a writer or who is creative because that means there is this box that you have to conform to.  Like I said earlier, Chris and I were NEVER interested in being confined by other people’s vision, OUR vision was the one we wanted to explore in and I think that’s a very healthy place to be.  Metal as a genre is incredibly limiting, it explores a very few emotions, angst and violence being predominant.  Once you’ve written from that point of view there’s only so many other ways that you can fashion and write music in order to express yourself.  That’s what I’ve always been interested in is exploring all those different facets and all those different emotions of humanity through music.  We just didn’t feel it was necessary to only spend time creatively exploring anger and violence (laughs).

Blu-Ray of "Mindcrime At The Moore" featuring both Operation Mindcrime albums performed live in Seattle.

Blu-Ray of “Mindcrime At The Moore” featuring both Operation Mindcrime albums performed live in Seattle.

LRI:  I do support the other guys in Queensryche but like I said, I think it is pretty cool that you have the opportunity to keep tending to the Operation Mindcrime concept which should give fans of both the opportunity to see two fairly unique live shows.  They’re MY favorite Queensryche albums but I thought to ask… are you comfortable with performing Mindcrime for the next 20 years or so if you choose to do so?  Is it still fulfilling?

Geoff Tate:  Oh yes. I love “Operation Mindcrime”, both albums represent a pivotal point in my creative development you know so both albums I am incredibly proud of.  I am very, very happy to have those and to be able to keep being able to present them in whatever way I like and that is the direction I am intending on going with as far as my future music as well, conceptual, story-based records.

LRI:  Speaking of jumping off points, that’s pretty exciting to hear as far as your new music.  I know when we spoke before you had mentioned optioning both a new film and stage show version of Mindcrime.  Is that still a possibility at this point?

Geoff Tate:  Nothing is definite or even really “in the works” at this time and Mindcrime has been out there for 25 years and influenced a lot of different people from other musicians to filmmakers to theater people and authors as well.  I have been approached numerous times by people wanting to make Mindcrime into a stage show or a film and it often goes in stages; first there’s the contact they have with you initially, then there’s the “Well, this is what we wanna do” and you draw up a map of how you’re gonna do it.  Every experience I’ve ever had with it gets to a point and then it falls apart which is the story with a lot of films really; it takes years to make a story into a film just because there’s so many elements that have to be in place because of course a production is incredibly expensive to undertake.  So, you have to gather all of these financiers to make sure all of the money part of it is all together, hire the right production people to make it all happen and the money end is where it always seems to fall apart because it’s very difficult to get a number of people to agree and all work together in the same direction financially (laughs).  In the last few years, since the 2008 financial meltdown that really gutted a lot of plans people had as far as film making.  The industry is just kind of now recovering from that so the ball is getting rolling again slowly.

LRI:  Thanks again, Geoff, last question.   I’ve talked with other bands that find it incredibly frustrating looking out from the stage and seeing people immersed in their cellphones and even holding up iPads at shows and looking through them rather than enjoying the give and take of the live experience.   Do you think the whole YouTube video of the cell phone throwing incident was blown out of proportion due to the court case?  Did people, including some of us in the media, kind of overreact and not see the whole scope of what went down that night? 

Geoff Tate:  Well, I think it’s definitely becoming more and more difficult for people to stay present in the moment, in real life so to speak.  They’re constantly being distracted by their cellphones or their computers and they’re missing out on a lot of life, they’re missing out on the subtleties of life.  It’s too bad and it will probably effect our future generations quite extensively which we won’t really understand until years from now in the future so we’ll have to see how that unfolds.  As far as the cellphone incident, it was really a non-incident.  That was a situation where the guy who was involved in it was backstage after the show, laughing about it and it was really a non-incident as far as that night, it was blown into something completely different just because of the case going on at the time.  Whoever tried to make it into a story was doing it because of the legal issues going on, they were trying to create a “personality” for me because in their mind that would help support the other side if and when it came before a judge which of course it never did.

LRI:  And now we can all go back to focusing on the music, kind of a refreshing concept for everyone involved isn’t it?

Geoff Tate:  (laughs)  Yeah, like I said, that is really the best thing about this settlement and the whole thing coming to a conclusion.  We can go back to talking about the music which is what it’s really all about.

———–

For all things Geoff Tate visit www.GEOFFTATE.com

Queensryche Starring Geoff Tate, The Farewell Tour:

Tue 05/13/14 Cleveland, OH House Of Blues
Wed 05/14/14 Cincinnati, OH Bogart’s
Thu 05/15/14 Grand Rapids, MI The Intersection
Fri 05/16/14 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater
Sat 05/17/14 Chesterfield, MI Diesel Concert Lounge
Sun 05/18/14 Joliet, IL Mojoes
Sun 05/25/14 Rockford, IL Rockford Speedway
Wed 07/30/14 Hermosa Beach, CA Saint Rocke
Thu 07/31/14 San Juan Capistrano, CA The Coach House
Fri 08/01/14 El Cajon, CA Sycuan Live & Up Close
Sat 08/02/14 Las Vegas, NV House Of Blues
Sun 08/03/14 Agoura Hills, CA Canyon Club
Thu 08/07/14 Fresno, CA Strummer’s
Fri 08/08/14 Vacaville, CA Theatre Deville
Sat 08/09/14 Morgan Hill, CA Downtown Morgan Hill
Tue 08/12/14 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
Wed 08/13/14 Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre
Thu 08/14/14 Charlotte, NC The Chop Shop
Fri 08/15/14 Wilmington, NC Ziggy’s By The Sea
Sat 08/16/14 Winston-Salem, NC Ziggy’s
Sun 08/17/14 Atlanta, GA Center Stage Theater
Tue 08/19/14 Dallas, TX Trees
Wed 08/20/14 San Antonio, TX The Aztec Theater
Fri 08/22/14 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre
Sat 08/23/14 Scottsdale, AZ Talking Stick Resort
Sun 08/24/14 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theatre
Tue 08/26/14 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot
Thu 08/28/14 Wichita, KS The Cotillion
Sat 08/30/14 Bolingbrook, IL Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill

 

 

 

 

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Category: Interviews

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