Gary James' Interview With Geoff Tate Of
Queensryche has sold over twenty million albums world wide, performed in forty-six countries and received four Grammy nominations. And now it has been announced that lead singer Geoff Tate will leave Queensryche to forge ahead with his solo career. Just before embarking on his farewell tour with the group, Geoff Tate spoke about his time with the band and his future plans.
Q - Geoff, I think it was back in 1987, on a Sunday night in Syracuse, New York at a club called The Lost Horizon, that I saw Queensryche. Y & T (Yesterday & Today) opened the show. Do you remember that gig?
A - I remember the club, yeah. I don't remember that Y & T was opening. I didn't know that. Wow! I love those guys and I know them fairly well, so that's kind of cool.
Q - This farewell tour is being billed as "Queensryche starring Geoff Tate." Why isn't it just "Queensryche: The Farewell Tour"? Is it because as lead singer, you get the most attention?
A - Well no, it's a little bit more complex than that. Queensryche has broken up, split up. I am no longer in the band as of the end of August (2014). This tour is a farewell to the name basically for me. From September on I don't retain the use of the Queensryche name anymore. I'll be going as my own name from then on.
Q - After the tour ends, you will be billed as "Geoff Tate: The Voice Of Queensryche"?
A - I don't know yet. I don't really know how I'm going to do it at this moment. There's a legal issue I have to adhere to, so I don't have a clear answer for you at the moment. (Note: It was announced on July 30th 2014 that Geoff Tate will be billed as "Operation Mindcrime").
Q - What happens to the other guys in Queensryche.
A - The three guys that were originally in Queensryche are going to continue to be known as Queensryche.
Q - So, the public will have two versions of Queensryche out there?
A - At the moment, yeah, until September and then there will only be one.
Q - What can you do on your own that you couldn't do in Queensryche?
A - I'll start back in the day: When Queensryche first got together, Chris De Garmo and I as a writing partnership, our philosophy was no limits for our music. We didn't think in terms of trying to adapt to what other people thought we should be or wanted us to be. We pursued our imaginations and really were on a path of discovery and adventure. What can we imagine? What can we do with this music? That was the philosophy that we had. Over time that philosophy wasn't respected by other people in the band. They wanted to sort of conform to what other people thought they should be. So, it was a philosophical split really. What I have now is a wonderful place to be actually where I can imagine music. I can create music without the confines of what Queensryche means to anybody else. I'm very free now to explore whatever I'd like to do without having to conform to other people's ideals, other people's expectations or their imagination and do what I want do do. So, I'm very pleased with that and very excited about being in that place.
Q - In Led Zeppelin, the songwriting credit was split evenly among all the band members. Is that the way it worked in Queensryche? If not, would that have led to some friction?
A - The way we did it in Queensryche is whoever contributed to the songwriting process was credited. So, if you came up with a bridge section to a song or a lyric or a melody, you were given songwriting credit.
Q - You say the split with Queenryche never went to court. You're very happy about that. To me, that would suggest that since you're going to be out there performing and they're going to be out there performing, that each one of you will be getting a percentage of the other's earnings. Yes? No?
A - No. We're two separate camps and each will earn what they make based upon their own thing that they're doing.
Q - You told somebody that after this tour ends you're going to disappear. Will you be looking for inspiration for the next step in your life?
A - I'm always looking for that. My plan at the moment is to finish out the tour. I'm planning on recording a new album starting around October. So, I'm throwing myself into that, into the recording world. I've been working on this record for awhile and I'm very anxious to begin actually recording it.
Q - In the beginning, when a band forms, everybody seems to have the same goal. When success happens, money changes everything. Did you feel you had done everything you wanted to do in Queensryche?
A - Well, I think that analogy is probably true in a lot of situations. I honestly can't really talk about that part of Queensryche publicly because of our settlement agreement. I would probably just try to summarize it with the band went as far as it possibly could with the given chemistry in the band and it was time to part ways.
Q - You told one audience in Brazil, "You guys suck." You were quoted as saying you say that to some audiences being a front man, to try and motivate the audience. You're trying to motivate the audience to do what? Clap? Cheer? Stamp their feet? Could saying "You guys suck" lead to a violent reaction like throwing chairs? Is that what you want?
A - (laughs)
Q - Or maybe you do. I don't know.
A - Well, actually it was an audience at Rocklahoma in Oklahoma that I said that to and I've said that to audiences over a period of years, many times. As a front man, as a singer in a 'live' performance, you're always trying to motivate the audience in some way. That is a tactic that has worked many, many times for me. It's a challenge to the audience to stand up, get into the music, that kind of thing. In that context you're talking about, we were in the midst of a court battle, so the other side of the court battle has used that as a bit of ammo to their cause.
Q - I read that, in Japan, the audiences are very polite. So, they would probably not respond to something like, "You guys suck." They would applaud.
A - Yeah, that's happened before. It's a cultural difference. In Greece, the audiences sing along to every melody that you play. If you play the melody on guitar, they're singing the guitar part. And then throw soccer chants in there all the time. It's just a whole different cultural reaction to the music. Some audiences are very reserved and they sit down during the show. Other audiences would never think of sitting down. It depends on where you're at.