Patrick Prince of Powerline recently conducted an interview with Geoff Tate, the legendary QUEENSRŸCHE frontman and one of the most acclaimed vocalists in the history of hard rock and heavy metal. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Powerline: [“Kings Thieves”] is your first solo album in more than a decade. Is there a reason for the wait — or was now just the most opportune time?
Geoff Tate: Well, yeah, I have been trying to make another album for years. Honestly, it’s really about time. QUEENSRŸCHE has always been my priority time-wise, so I just kept putting a solo album on the back burner. I made a New Year’s resolution that I was gonna do a solo album this year, so I call this my New Year’s resolution so I’m feeling pretty good about that. I didn’t quit drinking but I guess I’ll save that for next year. [laughs]
Powerline: As far as you’re concerned, how is this solo record different than the last one? What have you learned from the last one?
Tate: They’re really two different animals. The first solo album, for me, was really an exercise, exploring my musical influences. So there were a lot of jazz influences, RB influences, classical influences, that kind of thing on it. But not very much rock. There are only three kind of rock tracks on the record. When I was gearing up to make the new one, I thought how I really wanted to go out and tour solo, so I have to have enough material to really put on a good show. I thought, you know, I think I”m gonna make a rock record. And I’m kind of a list-maker so I started making lists of what kind of record I wanted to make. I started looking at my rock influences, really, and those were [PINK] FLOYD and GOLDEN EARRING and DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW, these kind of bands, that I have all their records and I love all those bands. And then I thought I’d make a traditional rock record with that kind of traditional instrumentation that those bands used, you know. That’s kind of my thinking going into it, really, to make a solid rock record and one that I could play live — one that could balance out my material that I have solo-wise.
Powerline: How does a singer who is the face of a well-known successful band effectively create a separate space for his or herself with a solo career?
Tate: I don’t know. [laughs] I don’t really know. I think you just write what you feel. At least that’s the game plan I’ve always followed. Just write about what’s important to you and create the music that you love. And that way your passion will be there. And hopefully the audience picks up on that passion and they feel similar things that you feel. For me, music has always been about communication and expressing myself and hopefully connecting to other people with what I’m interested in.
Powerline: It can be, I’m sure, kind of liberating in a way. You don’t have to pass it around and see what other people think. You just go for it.
Tate: Yeah, definitely that, you know. I can only speak for myself but starting out with QUEENSRŸCHE so many years ago, you know, we were all just kids coming out of high school. We didn’t really even know each other and we had a lot of success very quickly, and, you know, you’re kind of stuck with each other to a certain extent. You’re dealing with each others’ personalities, each others’ own musical abilities and limitations and that kind of thing. So, making this record, I have to say, was very liberating because I didn’t have to deal with anybody else. I can pick the people that I wanted to have on it. I could work with people that I wanted to and not sacrifice or compromise on areas that I’ve had to in the past. I think that shows in the fact that I wrote this record very quickly — which is what I do. I am a writer, I write all the time and I move pretty fast, you know. I like to put out a record each year. And with QUEENSRŸCHE I never could do that because I always had to wait for the other guys, you know.
Powerline: Well, not only are the songs heavier but the titles themselves are harder-edged. I mean, “The Way I Roll” almost sounds like an urban song, you know what I mean? Right away you get that impression that this is an album that’s going more for the jugular.
Tate: Again, I think it’s the mindset going into it. I think with every record an artist typically has a couple goals that they want to create with the working situation. For me, one of the things I wanted to do was just to make an immediate, raw kind of record. When you listen to it you realize it’s not slick or overproduced or anything like that. It’s just pretty raw. It’s us sitting in the room playing music together and recording it. And a lot of what you hear is first, second, third takes where the vibe was there and we got it as far as it went. I didn’t want to rehearse to death. I didn’t want to take the life out of it.
Read the entire interview from Powerline.
Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral