Brendan Crabb of Australia's Loud recently conducted an interview with vocalist Geoff Tate of Seattle progressive rockers QUEENSRCHE. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Loud: Many bands write and record a new album and don't want to see the inside of a studio again for a lengthy period of time, yet I understand QUEENSRCHE are already working on new material.
Tate: Yeah, we began the writing sessions for the next record about a month ago. We kind of go from one project to the next fairly rapidly. In today's world, you kind of have to keep coming up with new stuff, so we like that. It's hard to keep us out of the studio actually. (laughs)
Loud: The new album has just been released and the title seems indicative of the band's desire to change things up. Was that the intention from the beginning?
Tate: Yeah, usually before a record we sit down and kind of map out what we want to try to achieve. Most of the time we're pretty successful at planning it out and figuring out the sketching of what we're going to try and go for. With this record, I wanted to take a break from working with concepts and themes, and just really focus on writing a collection of songs that were indicative of where the band's at, at this moment.
Loud: The Internet is such a valuable promotional tool, but on the flipside of that there are the substantial effects of things such as illegal downloading. What's your take on that?
Tate: Oh yeah, the illegal downloading has pretty much gutted the music industry and it's working pretty well to gut the movie industry and books as well. It's pretty much an attack on intellectual property, and all the ways we have that set up and the system that was in place is completely wiped out now. So, on one hand I guess you could get real bitter about it and pine for the old days, but it ain't going away; it is what is and you have to kind of focus on what you can do. How are you going to navigate in this new frontier? I think that's really what musicians are kind of grappling with now, is how do we stay alive? How do we stay afloat economically now? So it's challenging, definitely. It's a big puzzle that we're all working on. (laughs)
Loud: Is there still a part of you that bemoans the fact that a heavier rock band like QUEENSRCHE can't really sell millions of records and match some of those earlier career achievements anymore though?
Tate: Well, a lot of things have changed since that time. One, rock music is not the pop music of the times anymore. People have moved on and that kind of music has really gone underground. The only people that are selling millions of records, and it's very few, are pop artists that are more attuned into I guess what they call urban music or dance music, that kind of thing. I guess there's a lot of ways you could describe it, but definitely rock music is back underground, kind of where it started originally. Two, you of course have the Internet and the downloading, so that just takes away all the outlets for selling music. Even the places where people bought music have changed. I know in the United States, I don't know how it is in Australia, but in the U.S. all the record stores have mostly shut down now. Businesses aren't stocking the physical product anymore. In fact, it's not just records, it's retail in general. People are moving towards purchasing goods on the Internet now, rather than going to a retail shops to buy it there. So it's kind of an economic indicator that things are really changing radically.
Loud: Also, perhaps after two concept albums in quick succession (2006's "Operation: Mindcrime II" and 2009's "American Soldier") perhaps there was there a real sense of wanting to strip things back somewhat.
Tate: Well, let's see what the past couple of records were. "American Soldier" was a pretty serious record really, emotionally serious. We interviewed different soldiers from different conflicts from World War II all the way up to the present to get their stories of what it was like to be a soldier in battle. Because none of us had had that experience, we felt the best way to go about writing something like this was to kind of take it from the people who have actually experienced it. So hearing all those stories was really an emotional rollercoaster, but the album turned out really good, I like it a lot. The album before that was the sequel to "Operation: Mindcrime", the finishing of the story, which is a group of songs and a story that we had been kicking around for a long time. In fact, we originally had planned to put "Operation: Mindcrime II" out after the "Empire" album, sometime around 1991 or '92 or something like that. But it didn't work out at the time, so we continued on writing from some other perspectives.
Read the entire interview from Loud.