According to Billboard.com, Seattle progressive rockers QUEENSRŸCHE have officially parted ways with vocalist Geoff Tate and have replaced him with CRIMSON GLORY singer Todd La Torre.
“Over the past few months, there have been growing creative differences within QUEENSRŸCHE,” drummer Scott Rockenfield said in a statement. “We want our fans to know that we hoped to find a common resolution, but in the end parting ways with Geoff was the best way for everyone to move forward in a positive direction. We wish him the best of luck with all of his future endeavors. We can’t wait to bring QUEENSRŸCHE to our fans with Todd behind the microphone.”
The statement also said that scheduled QUEENSRŸCHE performances “are on hold at [the] present time and revised routing is being worked on. Fans can check the band’s website for all of the latest tour information as it [becomes] available.”
On May 29, QUEENSRŸCHE members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield and Parker Lundgren announced that they were forming a project called RISING WEST with La Torre. That band made its live debut at two sold-out shows June 8-9 at Seattle’s Hard Rock Café, performing rare and classic hits from the first five QUEENSRŸCHE albums — from the 1983 EP through 1990’s “Empire” — as well as a cover version of the IRON MAIDEN staple “Wrathchild”.
QUEENSRŸCHE was scheduled to open for the SCORPIONS on June 11 in West Valley City, Utah, but the band canceled its appearance the day of the event, with Tate going ahead with the show, backed by his solo group.
Speaking to the “Streets Of Rock Roll” radio show, La Torre stated about RISING WEST‘s live debut, “It was amazing. I’ve actually been told how critical the people of Seattle can be with their music — they take it pretty seriously, and seeing as it is [QUEENSRŸCHE‘s] home turf, I expected to be severely ridiculed. To the contrary, I felt widely accepted. The fans were amazing. We sold out the place both nights. Our merch was gone the first night.”
On the topic of how it feels to be performing with members of a group which he has called his “favorite band since [he] was probably 14 or 15 years old,” La Torre said, “To be able to play those songs with the actual members was really a dream come true. . . I mean, I met them 20 years ago at a signing session they did in Clearwater, Florida. And they signed my ‘Warning’ album cover; I still have it. In my home studio, I have ‘Promised Land’ signed and beautifully framed by all the members. So when this actually came to be, I had to pinch myself. . . This resonates very personally for me because I have a lot of emotional connection to this music, and the fans do, too. . . And the band, as a whole, is really excited. I mean, even the bandmembers’ wives have told me, ‘Todd, these guys haven’t been this happy in 10 years.’ I’m seeing them glowing. I mean, they’re smiling; we’re laughing. We laughed so hard at practice, at rehearsal, and it just all feels very comfortable and natural. And I couldn’t be more honored. This is a legendary band that’s never had another vocalist front those members. And so, out of all the people in the world that could have gotten chosen or would be vying for that position, I feel very lucky and fortunate that they chose me.”
When asked about RISING WEST‘s plans to record new original music together, Todd said, “Actually, there is new original material. And that’s a goal that they wanna do. . . I think that performing the classic tunes or any QUEENSRŸCHE material that they wrote is a good bridge to them being true to their original works. . . Obviously, we wanna try and write something that’s heavy, but also has a common thread of what is QUEENSRŸCHE‘s sound — very melodic guitar parts.” He added, “Vocally, I’m in a very unique position because a lot of people like to throw around, ‘Oh, he’s a clone, he’s an imitator, he’s this, he’s that.’ And I feel like I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. My style of singing and phrasing is very similar to Geoff Tate and Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford. I mean, a lot of my high metal screams are grittier and dirtier, like Rob Halford. My vibrato is more similar to Bruce Dickinson or Geoff Tate. A lot of the crying and ways of entering a vocal phrase and phonating, the way I say words, are very similar to Geoff Tate. I wear my influences on my sleeve, but I also think that I have a heavier vibe than Geoff Tate ever had. . . But the new songs, we want them to be heavy but still try to maintain… As a writer, the people that love the roots, a lot of those people don’t wanna move past that; they love it. But as an artist, you wanna spread your wings, and you wanna try things that are creative, and you wanna still stay current. So it’s like, ‘OK, how do we achieve, how do we pacify the masses?’ You don’t wanna write a record that sounds like 1986. But you don’t wanna sound so changed that the older fans aren’t finding that common thread in the music that they loved that is from the early-to-mid-’80s or even early ’90s, like ‘Operation: Mindcrime’. I mean, that’s regarded as one of the greatest concept albums of all time, and it’s stood the test of time. Is that a real heavy, heavy metal record? In my opinion, no. I call it ‘metal,’ but it was progressive and it had a lot of wonderful instrumentation and elements, and it’s a masterpiece of a work. So we just wanna do what we do.”