Legendary Rock Interviews recently conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Legendary Rock Interviews: I want to tackle a few of the misconceptions that people have about the band these days. I’ve seen and heard grumblings about some moves the band has made these last few years… like the cover album or the Queensrÿche Cabaret (adult-themed carnival-type show). Is it difficult for you guys to introduce different or novel concepts to a crowd that still consists of lots of the original “Headbangers Ball” core audience?
Tate: No. It’s been real easy. (laughs) I really strongly believe that music is a personal journey for everyone. It is definitely a personal journey for the artist or composer. You’re writing about how you feel the world or look at the world. You’re utilizing your inspiration and craftsmanship to come up with ideas and compose songs. It’s also a personal journey for the audience, ideally. How they take it, and how they hear it, varies so much. One person we meet will love a song like “Take Hold Of the Flame” from “The Warning” album and another person will not like any of that older material but they’ll like something like “Della Brown” off the “Empire” album. It just varies so widely from person to person and you can’t just use someone’s opinion as a gauge because everyone enjoys things differently and everyone experiences things differently and personally. So… what we’ve always done is we just write what we like, you know? We write what inspires us, we write what collectively is interesting to us and when we’re done with it, we share it with the world and what they think of it or what they do with it, you never know. What we do know is that we don’t ever wanna be in the position of where we’re trying to cater to people because once you start doing that you lose whatever it is creatively that was special about you to begin with. You have to create music you enjoy, that inspires you, not cater to your audience or you will totally lose your inspiration. Then it becomes totally a situation similar to clocking in to a job and putting in your hours, where you can’t wait to be finished and be gone. None of us have ever been interested in feeling like that. We like to and we need to experiment and try new things as a band. From our perspective, though, we hear just as many people liking the new material and new sounds as we do people who are into the old output. It’s really hard, as artists, for us to be subjective about our work and differentiate about the old versus the new and things like that. To get back to your original question, though, yes, the albums have to originally be “for us.” They all have been, “Rage” was for us, “Empire” was for us, the cover album you spoke of was “for us.” The covers album was all very well thought out and personal to us. They were all songs that were individually inspirational to us and we selected them from a very large pool of songs that we considered. That was the approach of that covers album, it wasn’t to cash in, it wasn’t to appease fans, it was for us. I don’t mean any of this to sound arrogant, I’m just trying to tell you the truth. This is the way artists work. I know a lot of bands use the slogan “we do it all for the fans,” but it’s not really 100% accurate, it’s more of a marketing slogan. (laughs)
Legendary Rock Interviews: Well, if it is true then it’s almost worse because then they’re just laboring on a product to appease the fan base and not really being artists at all but more master marketers.
Tate: Exactly. At that point, when you’re not creating to satisfy yourself, it is no longer art and I truly believe that music is and can be art. People can enjoy it either way and many do in many different ways; that’s why it’s so extremely subjective. Some people listen to music and they just hear a wall of sound, other people listen to music and they immediately pick out an instrument and follow the drums or the guitar and that’s how they listen. Neither one is wrong, just different. Then there’s also the way that people attach music and musical moments to their lives. If you’re a young person and you don’t have a lot of experience listening to music, you may hear something and identify with it and you latch onto it and it becomes important to you. The way that modern marketing goes, they put music into different genres and categories: “well, if you like artist A, you’ll probably like artist B.” It’s strictly a marketing tactic.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Is there a segment of the fanbase that for whatever reason thinks QUEENSRŸCHE isn’t supposed to write “sexy” or “romantic” songs?
Tate: I don’t know what they expect. (laughs) I live my life with very few expectations, I find that way I am always surprised and not sure what’s around the corner. I think in terms of writing, that life in general is just one big source of inspiration as far as things to talk about. One of the most interesting things that I tend to find inspirational is the dynamic of personal relationships. All relationships, friends, family, as well as intimate relationships… there’s just so much there to work with and talk about. It’s also a universal experience, almost everyone has at least some relationship in their life and even one relationship has a lot of different aspects to it. One of the driving forces in my life are my wife, and my five daughters. I am constantly inundated with their lives, their thoughts, their dreams and a lot of times they become the inspiration for a lot of my ideas. There’s a song on the new album, “Broken”, which is a song written from the experience of my grandmother passing away and her relationship with her husband. They had this beautiful relationship where they were very much in love for their entire adult life and were together, side by side for 55 years. Even when he died, he was still a part of her life, she constantly talked to him, he was there around her, constantly, in her thoughts. I suppose in her way of looking at the world, he never left. That song is really a conversation between he and her because as she was laying on her deathbed she was talking to him. I was in the room at the time and could hear the whole conversation happening. It was surreal and like he was in the room because she was definitely having a conversation one-on-one with him, answering questions from him, making statements. It was a very, very strange experience for me.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Tackling some other misconceptions… It seems like some people on web pages or message boards are laboring under the delusion that QUEENSRŸCHE is the Geoff Tate show. That you guys are like a lot of veteran acts that have one or two core original members when in reality you have four of the five members from the 1981 lineup.
Tate: Right. Well, I would caution you to begin with to not really read too much into what’s said on the Internet to begin with. (laughs) It’s a great technology, but it seems that there are a lot of whacked out people that suddenly have a voice and a stage on the Internet. Some of these people are people you normally wouldn’t be friends with or strike up a conversation with if you actually met them on the street but you find yourself reading what they think or feel about whatever because it’s the Internet. A lot of people, the loudest people often, base their argument from a platform of complete ignorance about whatever it is they may be talking about… including music.
Read the entire interview from Legendary Rock Interviews.
Photo by Andy Batt