On August 17, The German Empire conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE/CRIMSON GLORY singer Todd La Torre during CRIMSON GLORY‘s European tour. La Torre spoke about how he met QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Michael Wilton and how they started collaborating, first as part of the RISING WEST side project and ultimately as the new lineup of QUEENSRŸCHE. The interview starts at about the one-minute, 30-second mark and lasts for 35 minutes.
La Torre, who says that QUEENSRŸCHE has been his favorite band since he was 15 years old, first met QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Michael Wilton at this year’s NAMM convention in January in Anaheim, California.
“I have nothing but respect for what Geoff Tate has done to the genre. His voice is still amazing,” Todd said. “The only thing that is constant is change. I hope the fans of QUEENSRŸCHE, and I’m one of them, will continue to show respect for him and all he has accomplished.”
In a June radio interview, La Torre stated about his collaboration with QUEENSRŸCHE, “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 [other] 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.”
Regarding QUEENSRŸCHE‘s plans to record new original music together, Todd said, “There’s some really great stuff that’s already happened. 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. 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. With a lot of the heavier, gritty, thrashier metal style… I mean, I love to do some of the death growls like Chuck Billy [TESTAMENT] does. Is that QUEENSRŸCHE sound? No. But if they want it kicked up and give it a heavier edge, I think that I have that, and that’s something that Geoff Tate never did. Not taking anything away from him, but I think I do show a wide range of versatility.
“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. They’ve told me, ‘Todd, don’t feel like you have to try to sound like our past. We want you to do you.’ And so the things that we have worked on together, there are elements that are indicative [of], or very similar to, the classic QUEENSRŸCHE vocal sound, but I’m still doing things that are me.
“It’s kind of frustrating for me when people say, ‘Oh, he’s come in and just tries to copy [Geoff].’ Well, if I sing [the songs] so close to the original [versions]… Obviously, I want to represent the songs in [their] truest form that I can do. I think, live, I still kind of end up phrasing things a little different and will do things kind of my way, but I try to stay as true as I can. So if I do that, people are like, ‘Oh, he’s a clone, he’s a copycat, and it’s never the same without Geoff Tate,’ which I do respect. On the other hand, if I’m so different, then they’re gonna say, ‘It’s nothing like Geoff Tate. It’s nothing like QUEENSRŸCHE sound. This isn’t QUEENSRŸCHE. It’s not even close to the same style.’ . . .So if the fans wanna hear the hardcore, classic heavy high-screaming stuff that they haven’t heard in many, many, many years, we’re gonna stay true to the classic material that the fans have been wanting to hear for so long and then we’ll be interjecting some new stuff soon.”
Tate, who was fired from QUEENSRŸCHE in June after fronting the group for three decades, recently sought to prevent his former bandmates from touring and operating under the QUEENSRŸCHE name without him. While ruling against Tate, the presiding judge determined that there was no legal reason why Tate couldn’t also use the name with an all-new lineup of musicians. “I don’t see any reason that Mr. Tate can’t have the benefit, if he gets other members, of whatever name he uses of using the brand,” Superior Court Judge Carol A. Schapira said during the July 13 court hearing. “I think [doing that would be] inherently confusing, although I’m sure the market can get these things sorted out,” she added.
On September 2, Tate announced that he was launching his own version of QUEENSRŸCHE with RATT drummer Bobby Blotzer, former QUIET RIOT, OZZY OSBOURNE and WHITESNAKE bassist Rudy Sarzo and former MEGADETH and KING DIAMOND guitarist Glen Drover. Also on board in the new group are returning QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Kelly Gray — who played with the band from 1998 until 2001 and also produced several of their albums — and keyboardist Randy Gane, who has toured and recorded with QUEENSRŸCHE and Geoff‘s solo group in the past.