QUEENSRŸCHE members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield and Parker Lundgren announced on June 20 that they were parting ways with singer Geoff Tate and recruiting powerhouse vocalist Todd La Torre of CRIMSON GLORY as his replacement. The new QUEENSRŸCHE lineup has already performed live, having played two successful shows in their home city of Seattle under the name RISING WEST.
In an exclusive interview with RollingStone.com, Tate reveals that he was to "shocked" to learn that he was being forced out of the group he founded three decades ago. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
On whether musical differences contributed to the split:
Tate: "Well, this is kind of a weird situation. In the press release they said there were 'creative differences.' But to have creative differences, you have to have two entities or more offering up creative ideas. And that just wasn't the case. QUEENSRŸCHE has always been my idea, starting from the first record. QUEENSRŸCHE is about albums. It's about concepts and themes, and those concepts were mine. [Laughs] I started out with 'The Warning', bringing those ideas in for 'Rage For Order', 'Operation: Mindcrime' . . . all the albums. I write 81% of the music and the lyrics. Of the 144 songs that QUEENSRŸCHE has released, I've written 116 of those. I am the creative energy in the band, especially since Chris [DeGarmo] left. When he was in the band it was more of a shared thing between him and I. But once he left, the burden was on me. I don't consider it necessarily a burden. That's what I do. I'm a creative person. I write everyday and I'm constantly coming up with creative ideas. I present them to the other guys and they go, 'Yeah, sure, that sounds good to us.'"
On rumors that he overheard the other QUEENSRŸCHE members plotting to fire him before a concert in Brazil and that he then pushed guitarist Michael Wilton to the floor and pointed a knife at drummer Scott ROckenfield:
Tate: "Well, you know how the Internet goes . . . The way it went was, we had a gig in Sao Paulo, and before the show we had a meeting in the dressing room. I asked them straight up about the rumors I'd heard about them replacing me. I was definitely concerned about this. What kind of plan was that? Was it serious? What was going on? They said that they weren't planning on replacing me, but they had just fired our manager, our office assistant and one of our guitar techs, who all happened to be my family members. I asked them, 'Why is this happening?' They really couldn't give me a straight answer, or any kind of answer that made any kind of business sense. It seemed like a personal vendetta against me. Anyway, the meeting was short and we went to do the show. I'm getting ready by my station, ready to go on stage, and Scott looks at me and he smirks and says, 'We just fired your whole family, and you're next.' I just lost it. I tried to punch him. I don't think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side. On my way, I managed to shove Wilton, and really, that was it. I cooled down and we did the show, and everything went fine. . . [There was] no knife involved. You can't really get knives into foreign countries."
On the other QUEENSRŸCHE members forming a side project called RISING WEST that was entirely devoted to playing material from the first five QUEENSRŸCHE albums:
Tate: "I looked at that forming of that band as a side project. I was surprised that all four guys went in the same direction. That didn't make such sense to me. That felt like some kind of calculated move, but I can't even speculate what they were thinking. But if they want to do a side project, I'm all about that. I've very supportive of everybody in the band doing side projects. . . [But] I would think if they were gonna do a side project, they should probably write some new songs and present them as a group, and then play some QUEENSRŸCHE songs too. If they wanna do that, that's cool. But to do only QUEENSRŸCHE material and only material that I wrote . . . I don't know. It's kind of a slap in the face. Honestly, I'm not angry over this. I'm more hurt by it all. This has been my life's work. It's been 30 years building this name and this image of the band. All the lyrics and the directions of the albums and the concepts, that is all from me. And to have them do what they're doing and kick me out — God, I didn't realize that these guys were those kind of people. It's shocking to me."
On how he was "fired" from QUEENSRŸCHE and whether the other guys have the right to carry on as QUEENSRŸCHE with another singer:
Tate: "[I was fired] by a legal letter from their attorney to mine. . . We're in a lawsuit right now and it's probably gonna get ugly. I filed a claim a couple of days ago. So it's all going to the legal system now to sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff. . . Well, they shouldn't [book gigs under the name QUEENSRŸCHE until this is resolved]. Definitely. It's a situation where, in my opinion, they're doing everything the wrong way. If there was a dispute over who is in the band, or who owns the band name, I think that stuff should all be worked out before they try to book gigs with the name QUEENSRŸCHE. . . I'm forced to engage in a lawsuit with them now. This is not something I want to do at all. I want to make records and I want to tour and live a creative life. I don't want to be bogged down in some legal hassle. My God, but they're forcing me into it. I have no other way to go. I can't give up my life's work and walk away from it. These are my ideas, my concepts, my life, that I'm writing about. What are they gonna do — hand it to some kid to sing?"
Read the entire interview from RollingStone.com.
Geoff Tate photo credit: Stephanie Cabral