So by now you’ve probably heard the news: Geoff Tate and Queensryche have parted ways, and the remaining members – briefly known as Rising West for two shows in Seattle recently – will continue as Queensryche with Todd La Torre on vocals.
As a fan of both Tate and Queensryche, I feel both bummed out and excited by the news. I’m sad to see an effective end called to one of my favourite bands. Queensryche always meant a lot to me, especially Promised Land, for many reasons – Tate’s vocals, his lyrical intelligence and creativity, the band’s overall sense of melody, the rhythmic interplay, and of course great guitar work. I always respected the band’s earlier, more metal days, but for me Queensryche were at their best when they were pushing and pulling between their heavier sounds and their more melodic side. Check out the song “Open” on the overlooked Tribe album or “Right Side Of My Mind” from Q2K for examples of what I mean. Yeah, my view on Queensryche is not the popular one (Y’know, “Everything after Mindcrime/Empire/Promised Land/Hear In The Now Frontier [select one depending on which came out when you were still a teenager] sucked”), but as a listener all you can do is respond to what affects you emotionally, and there it is.
But as someone who really liked Geoff Tate’s solo album, I’m also excited by this outcome. Tate will now be free to explore whatever it is he wants to do as a solo artist, without clashing against the idea of what Queensryche is – an idea held by fans, his former bandmates and maybe even Tate himself. There seemed to be a definite disconnect between what Queensryche as a collective wanted to do and what fans would let them do. But now the fans who wanted the older, heavier stuff will be happy, and the fans who followed Tate beyond Operation: Mindcrime into Empire, Promised Land and the like may just find something they can connect with on Tate’s forthcoming solo album (which he has referred to as hard rock with progressive influences). And the rest of the guys will be free to play the heavier stuff and to create new material in that vein. And fans who liked both the earlier heavy material and the later stuff might just have two cool bands to follow now instead of one. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what Michael Wilton gets up to now that he’s being freed up to write heavier Queensryche material again.
By the way, Geoff, if you need a guitarist to do a Promised Land 20th Anniversary tour in 2014… *cough*
There have been rumours of dyschord within Queensryche for a while, with reports that the rest of the band aren’t so comfortable with some of the creative decisions of Geoff Tate (the Cabaret tours, cruise ship gigs, Dedicated To Chaos, etc). So it’s no big surprise that four of the band’s members – guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, drummer Scott Rockenfield and bass player Eddie Jackson – have decided to form another band while Tate works on his next solo album. What is a surprise is that the singer they’ve chosen is Todd La Torre of Crimson Glory, who is capable of perhaps the most spot-on Geoff Tate impersonation I’ve ever heard.
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Geoff Tate, vocalist for Queensryche (who just happen to be one of my favourite bands). Queensryche is about to release a bold new album called Dedicated To Chaos (via Roadrunner), and the ever-eloquent Mr. Tate took some time out to talk about the album’s unique direction and the changing way that listeners consume music.
Here’s a snippet.
Queensrÿche have an extremely varied back catalog – it all sounds like Queensrÿche but no two albums sound like each other.
In our stuff, we’re kind of a difficult band for a lot of people. We try really hard to stay out of categories and genres, and we don’t think of ourselves as anything other than Queensrÿche. We don’t attach ourselves or our thinking or identity to any genre. But the industry is kinda built around selling a genre. So record companies have a difficult time with us because we don’t fit neatly into a little package that they can market. We’re always experimenting with our music and pushing it in different ways, adding our musical influences into our writing. A lot of times people find that frustrating. They don’t see the art in it, which is beyond me, because that’s what I always look for in music. I see music as being strictly art. It’s not a competitive sport.
You can read the full interview here. Dedicated To Chaos is out on June 24 or 28 depending on which territory you’re in.