QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate was interviewed on this past Friday’s (April 19) edition of Eddie Trunk‘s “Friday Night Rocks” radio show on New York’s Q104.3 FM. A transcript of the chat follows below.
Eddie Trunk: How does it feel to be [back out on the road with the new QUEENSRŸCHE lineup]?
Geoff Tate: It feels great. It’s a good bunch of guys and, more importantly, I think we’re having a great time playing together and a great time hanging out, which is a big part of it, you know. There’s a great camaraderie that’s already beginning with everyone, so that’s a great thing. It makes it so much easier and more comfortable to tour, you know.
Eddie Trunk: In a certain sense, Geoff, does it feel like you’re starting all over again?
Geoff Tate: No, not at all. You know, in some ways I suppose it feels different, you know, because I’m playing with some different people. But they’re also people I’ve known for many, many years so it’s not like a big stretch of having to get to know ya kind of stages. So I don’t know, it just feels really comfortable, you know. We’re having a great time.
Eddie Trunk: Was that a big part in selecting the musicians for your version of QUEENSRŸCHE — to make sure that these were people that were not only musicians that you liked and that you thought could certainly handle the gig but also guys that you could really connect with and had some history with?
Geoff Tate: Yeah, well, that’s a big part of it, you know. You’re traveling together, you’re living together, so, you know, it’s better if people’s personalities gel and they can get along — that kind of thing. And also, you know, it’s very important to find people that can play the stuff. You know, a lot of times people, musicians, you know, you say, “Hey, can you sit in with us and play this?” And they listen to it once, they go, “Oh yeah, I got that.” Because they kind of interpret it as being, you know, kind of standard rock stuff. And then when they actually playing it they find, “Oh, wait a minute. This is a lot more complex than I thought.” It’s a little bit more difficult to wrap my head around. You know, there’s some strange stuff about QUEENSRŸCHE music, you know, different timings and different counts between sections. Odd things that happen. Very strange chord voicing, you know, on the guitar and very unique. That’s probably what makes the sound unique.
Eddie Trunk: So do you feel they’ve pretty much come together and nailed it or do you still think you’re working through some stuff?
Geoff Tate: Oh no, I think everybody’s doing really well now, you know. The first week out was kind of an adjustment period with the band getting used to playing together and then we also have a new crew as well so getting people, you know, tuned in to what we were expecting and what our expectations were and that kind of thing. You know, just getting things dialed in always takes a little while to get things up and running. But it’s going good now. Everything’s smooth and, you know, happy days.
Eddie Trunk: And I got a tweet or a text actually last night from a good friend of mine, drummer Brian Tichy [WHITESNAKE, OZZY OSBOURNE] who told me he’s coming on board the QUEENSRŸCHE camp in your band starting in June. Tell me about that.
Geoff Tate: Yeah, Brian’s taking over for Simon [Wright]. Simon has a commitment in South America for June so Brian‘s gonna take over and play with us and we’re starting rehearsals with him the beginning of May.
Eddie Trunk: Yeah, he’s an amazing player as well.
Geoff Tate: Yeah, he is. Nice guy, too.
Eddie Trunk: Yeah, and he sings really well, too.
Geoff Tate: Now that I didn’t know.
Eddie Trunk: Yes, he sings well and he also is an amazing guitar player. The guy’s… He’s kind of like a Dave Grohl, if you will. He can do a little bit of everything. It’s pretty remarkable.
Geoff Tate: Oh, that’s cool.
Eddie Trunk: So, yeah, anybody else has to take a leave or whatever you could probably pretty much plug him anywhere and he could more or less handle it. What’s the set now that you’ve put together for this band? I’m sure… and we’re gonna talk about your new record and your first with this band in a second, but as far as the old material, what was your approach to going out on tour with these guys for the first time?
Geoff Tate: Well we’re really focusing on the 25th anniversary of “Operation: Mindcrime” and so we’re playing that whole album in its entirety. And that’s really our focus. And then we do quite an extensive encore, really. Quite a few songs, kind of the more popular songs of QUEENSRŸCHE. And, yeah, pretty much that’s it really. The focus is on the “Mindcrime” record.
Eddie Trunk: And let’s talk about, of course, the new record, which, I imagine, you’re doing something from live?
Geoff Tate: We haven’t yet, no. We’re getting ready to do that though when the album comes out.
Eddie Trunk: Well the album will be out this Tuesday and it’s called “Frequency Unknown” and it’s a very significant record I would imagine in your history because it’s the first album with the QUEENSRŸCHE name that only features you from the original lineup. Tell me about putting this record together, Geoff, because when did you write this material? Was it written when things were disintegrating with the other band or was it all done after that had happened?
Geoff Tate: No, it was all done after that. Yeah, it’s pretty much we started writing it in, oh, sometime around my birthday. I think January, something like that. And jumped to the studio right away and things started rolling, you know. And it had a real good kind of organic start with the writing team. And then we started getting different people on board for performances, you know, which was really fun. And sitting down and seeing where people could take it, you know, take the songs which is always really fun for me. You know, every musician has a different way of interpreting music. You can have four guys play the same chord progression and it’s gonna sound different, you know, each time through with a different guy. So I like that part of musicianship, you know, seeing how people put their signature on things.
Eddie Trunk: And you reached out to a number of special guests on this record to come in and do a part. Can you tell us about some of those guys. I know you had K.K. Downing [JUDAS PRIEST] is on there. Dave Meniketti [YT]. Guys, of course, I’m a big fan of. Tell me about your approach to doing that.
Geoff Tate: Yeah, well, you know, just — let’s see who was else on it. Brad Gillis [NIGHT RANGER, OZZY OSBOURNE] played on it. Paul Bostaph from TESTAMENT. God, there’s a lot of people actually that I can’t remember. I don’t have a list in front of me right now. But it was really fun. You know, really fun hearing different people’s interpretations of the songs and then giving them, you know, free rein to play solos and seeing what they came up with. And seeing how each guy approached it, you know, like K.K., the way he performs and the way he approaches writing a solo is so different than what Brad Gillis does. You know, they’re two radically different approaches. And having never worked with them in a studio situation, it was really interesting to see that difference.
Eddie Trunk: I think, Geoff, outside o I know he did a cover of THE WHO, “Eminence Front”, for a WHO tribute, but outside of that this is kind of the first thing that K.K. has done since leaving PRIEST, musically.
Geoff Tate: I think you’re right, yeah.
Eddie Trunk: That’s pretty cool that you were able to pull him out of semi-retirement.
Geoff Tate: Well he’s a good guy. I’ve always gotten along with him.
Eddie Trunk: He’s a great guy. Did he get talking about maybe getting his juices flowing to start playing a little bit more? Did you get to talk to him at all?
Geoff Tate: We talked about a lot of stuff, you know, I think, but nothing that I could really feel comfortable about sharing with other people, really, honestly.
Eddie Trunk: Right. On the new album you also rerecorded some QUEENSRŸCHE songs. Tell me about doing that.
Geoff Tate: Yeah, I think we rerecorded four past QUEENSRŸCHE songs, and that was quite a trip down memory lane. I’ll tell you, really kind of a strange thing to do but fun. I enjoyed it.
Eddie Trunk: Was the idea just to put a different spin on them and show what you would do with them now with the guys you’re playing with now?
Geoff Tate: No, no. It was just done for the record company. You know, they wanted to have these different versions and they wanted them to sound as close as we could make them to the originals. And that’s what was really hard was making them sound that way, you know. With today’s technology it’s somewhat difficult to actually replicate some of that old sound gear and the way they were recorded and, you know, different studios, different gear, that kind of thing. Very challenging.
Eddie Trunk: They sound really cool, though. I mean there’s some different — some little differences in there and, obviously, you’ve got different people playing that stuff and it’s always interesting to hear their take on things.
Geoff Tate: Uh huh.
Eddie Trunk: So, Geoff, it’s been — I would say we’re coming up on a year since everything kind of imploded with the old band and it’s been, you know, quite the year for you and I imagine for them and for the fans and trying to decipher everything along the say. You also put out a solo album which shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle because there was some good stuff on it. Maybe it did a little bit, I think. Do you feel that way because of everything that went on?
Geoff Tate: Oh, you know, Eddie, I don’t know. I don’t really understand the whole, you know, position of records in today’s world anymore. It’s a whole different thing.
Eddie Trunk: That’s a good point. What doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. The record business is pretty different.
Geoff Tate: Yeah, it really is. It doesn’t, you know, even resemble what it used to be. So I make new music because I have to, you know, it’s something that’s in me to create music and to write and it’s really come down to that, you know. It’s not so much a monetary gain exercise anymore. It’s really all about the love of writing and making music. That’s what it is. I guess that’s what it’s always been really.
Eddie Trunk: Right.
Geoff Tate: But the industry was just in such a state back then where, you know, you could make a record and then you could do a reasonable tour and you could make ends meet pretty well just following that schedule, you know, financially I’m speaking. And nowadays, you know, you just can’t sell that many records so you have to tour more of course. So it’s a whole different way of doing things.
Eddie Trunk: But being that it’s been almost a year now that this has all gone down, when I first had you on “That Metal Show” and we discussed it, it was much more raw. It was much more… It had just happened and you were really, I felt, at least in talking to you then, still trying to process it and still very much stung by everything that had happened. And you kind of reflected that in the interview when we had you on the TV show. Now that some time has passed and you have your own band and you’re out there touring and you’ve got a new record coming out with it Tuesday, are you in a different place with it now? I mean, how do you feel? Are you excited? Are you optimistic? What’s your thought process after everything that’s went down in the last year as far as the future and where your head’s at?
Geoff Tate: Well, you know, when you have your life’s work, and you all of a sudden are not doing that anymore in the same way, it takes a while to sort of adjust your mind to, you know, the possibilities of what could be in the future. And, you know, there’s a lot of stuff you have to process and sort out. And I’ve done that now so, you know, I’m on the… I guess I’m on the road and moving ahead with my life and my music and my relationships and just enjoying life. And it’s a great place to be in, actually. I wish I could have been in this position a lot earlier in my life. I never really realized how slightly miserable I was, you know. I guess you get used to your misery, you know, you get kind of used to the way things are and you just accept it and you live with it. But then when you’re, say, divorced from that situation and you realize, “Gosh, I’m so much happier now.” And it’s a wonderful revelation really to realize that you don’t have to be miserable. You don’t have to be stuck in the situation you’re in. You know, life goes on and it is what you make it. So I’m busy making it.
Eddie Trunk: Have you heard the [recently released] song [“Redemption”] from the other [version of QUEENSRŸCHE]?
Geoff Tate: No, no I haven’t.
Eddie Trunk: Do you have an interest in it or do you just choose to not even kind of think it exists?
Geoff Tate: No, Eddie, I just have honestly no interest at all in anything on that side of the tracks. I’m very happy on my side of the tracks and moving where I’m going and I don’t want to look back.
Eddie Trunk: And when will this be resolved as to which… Is it November that once and for all one QUEENSRŸCHE will more or less be anointed?
Geoff Tate: I suppose so. That’s a good way to put it. Anointed. Yeah, I think November is our court date and I suppose some things will be decided by then. Maybe even before then, I don’t know. But definitely by November we have a court date where we have to go in and actually, you know, move ahead from there.
Eddie Trunk: And the last thing, Geoff, is the fans. You know, obviously they were obviously put into this. QUEENSRŸCHE has a very passionate fan base. I find in talking to the fans some have felt the need to choose a side. Some have decided, like myself, to, you know, I’m not only a fan, but I’m friends with all you guys for a long time to just give everybody a platform and let the fans listen and decide. But for you, what have you seen in the fan response that you’ve been out there with this band and what are you hearing from the fans. And what are some of the things maybe that you think are out there that are erroneous or out of line that you maybe want to set the record straight on?
Geoff Tate: Well, you know, from my perspective I just see people coming to the shows and having a good time and celebrating the music. And, you know, nothing’s changed in that respect. I do caution people, in my opinion, I don’t think people have to choose a side at all. These things happen with people, relationships, bands where people go their separate ways and, you know, there’s a reason for it and life moves on and why not roll with it and just enjoy what each camp has to offer. You know, if you don’t like something somebody’s doing then no big deal. Go listen to somebody else. It’s not worth getting all worked up about, you know, and getting emotional about. It’s music. It’s subjective. It’s art. It’s somebody’s idea, you know, and people make those choices to be upset about things. All I’m staying, I guess, is choose to have a good time in life. It’s too short to get all worked up about stuff that doesn’t matter.
Eddie Trunk: And the last thing — and there’s a number of people that pointed this out and I think it’s kind of funny. The album that comes out tomorrow, or Tuesday rather, is called “Frequency Unknown”. The cover features a fist with the F.U. initials. There’s a number of people that have read into that as being not too subtle of a dig at your former band. Coincidence or not?
Eddie Trunk: Oh, gosh. People read so much into everything. It’s kind of funny, isn’t it?
Eddie Trunk: Well, a big fist with the letters F.U. You know, it’s — you don’t have a bouquet of roses under it so maybe it would be a little different if that was pictured.
Geoff Tate: Well I don’t think a bouquet of roses is very metal, do you?