In an exclusive interview with Music Insight conducted last October, QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Michael Wilton alluded to a possible rift with vocalist Geoff Tate over the musical direction of the group's forthcoming CD, tentatively due in April via Sanctuary Records.Wilton, a fan of modern heavy music who believes that a return to a harder sound would be advantageous to the band's career, has pushed for a more aggressive approach on the as-yet-untitled effort — a position that has apparently met with resistance from Tate. "I believe this album should be hard and intense, [but] what I have heard so far is not that," Wilton said. "I have no desire to change QUEENSRŸCHE into an adult contemporary band. This should be a QUEENSRŸCHE album and not a Geoff Tate solo album." Tate, who has taken steps to distance himself from the group's traditional hard rock/heavy metal roots in various interviews conducted during the past year, has caused fans, as well as Wilton, to question the future of the band. "If a band has no passion and becomes stale, then I think it is time for things to change," conceded Wilton. "It all depends on where the loyalty and focus of the band is heading. "I love the hard aggressive music, but I think those days are dwindling in QUEENSRŸCHE," the guitarist added. "But I will always stick to my guns and be true to what got me this far." In order to satisfy his craving for a harder vibe than the one found on QUEENSRŸCHE's last few albums, Wilton formed SOULBENDER, a straight-ahead, heavy rock quintet completed by vocalist Nick Pollock (ex-MY SISTER'S MACHINE), guitarist Dave Groves, bassist Marty Vankieth, and drummer Wes Hallam. "Originally, SOULBENDER was just going to be a project band of mine," Wilton explained. "But when I got my musicians together, magic happened that I had not felt since the early days of QUEENSRŸCHE." When asked about the differences between QUEENSRŸCHE and SOULBENDER, Wilton stated, "For one, we all write the songs together, and love what we do," the guitarist said, referring to SOULBENDER. "Everyone in the band is pretty much equal, we all love metal and are confident we can add much to the genre." To read the entire interview, visit Music Insight at this location.