Paul Waller of PennyBlackMusic.co.uk recently conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE singer Todd La Torre. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
PennyBlackMusic.co.uk: I stopped listening to QUEENSRŸCHE when "Empire" was released way back in 1990. Personally, I just couldn't get on with Geoff's [Tate] over-the-top and theatrical vocals. I know that the majority of QUEENSRŸCHE fans would say those words are sacrilege, but I much more enjoyed the metal flavor running through the band's earlier work also. With the new record I have just that. Whichever side of the vocalist fence you sit on, musically this return to form is an utter relief for fans.
Todd: I actually stopped following the band after "Empire", but I think "Promised Land" is a really great record, though. I lost interest due to the musical direction that the band was going in; it was not something that was very appealing to me, so I understand why a lot of people began to drop off the radar for them. Now with this album it's completely different from what the band has put out in the last ten years, if not more, and the people that have a copy of the record tend to be saying, "Wow, this could have come out straight after 'Empire'." The style is more like the first five or six albums. This album seems to encompass the feel from the first EP through to "Promised Land". Songs like "Spore" are a little more progressive, and vocally, it could have gone on one of those earlier records. Then you have songs like "A World Without" or "Open Road", which are sort of "Promised Land" or "Empire"-ish type songs. I'm really proud of this record, but are we trying to compare it to "…Mindcrime" or "Empire"? No. Those records and "Rage For Order" were phenomenal. They are masterpiece records that deserve every bit of credit they have ever gotten and more. They were able to capture magic back then. What we are trying to do now is create our own new magic in 2013. We are already writing songs for the next record. I was just recording tracks for a new guitar part for a new song that I have just last night, and I'll be doing that again tonight.
PennyBlackMusic.co.uk: So you have already begun to plan the next album?
Todd: Yeah, there are already four or five songs that are in the works for the next record. Personally, what I would like to see on the next record would be to have a few songs that are even heavier than anything that made it onto this record. I would personally like to have at least one song in the six to eight minute mark, something that is like a "Roads To Madness" length. That's an intense ten-minute song. It's something that can really morph into another animal and does it seamlessly under the one-song title. Also, I'd like to be able to experiment with some of my higher screams that are a little more edgy and grittier. I think with this album there was some quantity of playing safe; I didn't get real scratchy on it, I tried to sing it cleaner. It's a very delicate balance you have between introducing a singer when all these people want to compare me to the great days of Geoff and I get that, so I can't be too different. I can, however, still sing my way, but there were some songs where I really wanted to get it super dirty and do some Rob Halford-type of high, gritty screams. The song content wasn't terribly heavy, so I guess the songs didn't dictate for me to do that yet. So, if we get into something that is a little heavier, perhaps I can introduce a cool growl that goes into a solo or get into some really sick shit like something off of Halford. That's the kind of stuff that I like to do. This record is a really good starting point for the band and for me, I'm really happy about it, and overall I have no complaints.
PennyBlackMusic.co.uk: Now at the moment you guys are in the midst of a court case with the original singer, Geoff Tate, primarily to gain control of the name QUEENSRŸCHE. Now I imagine the worst-case scenario for you is that Geoff wins and gets to keep the name. You must have discussed it as a band, so if this was to happen what would your plans be?
Todd: Well, that's a very fair question… I have two answers for that. Number one would be that we haven't entertained plan B that much. These guys really feel confident enough in their corporate contracts that they are the majority, and, therefore, they had every right to fire a member of the band, and there will have to likely be some sort of financial compensation for that person's percentage of the corporation or the band name or whatever it is. The second part of my answer would be that, if, in fact, these guys are not awarded the name, then I assume we will still 100% continue to keep playing and make records. We would probably have to go out under another band name, and then it would really be up to the masses to determine how they are going to support us. Certainly there is a lot of value in the name QUEENSRŸCHE from a business perspective, but, however, there is also a lot to be said for the guys that are playing, and it has to be said that there is also a tremendous value in that as well. Because there is two versions right now. That's kind of a testament to the value of who you are going to see, two bands using the same band name. So, our album has been released just now and we know what those sales figures were for the other side's album, and we are hopeful and quite confident that our sales for the first week will certainly exceed that, and that in itself is a testament to the fans and what they want to go and buy. I am not telling them to not go and see Geoff; I think that if they loved Geoff in the band then they should go see him. I would never tell people not to support him and that band. It would be completely unethical and very wrong; these are not good qualities to have. I have my own personal views about what I think, but if they can find music from him that they love, then I want them to support him. If they can find it in us, then obviously I want our support. If someone likes it all, then that's great. That's what it's all really about. It's about the music. You know, Michael [Wilton, guitar] and Eddie [Jackson, bass] have also worked their entire life and are the songwriters of these songs. They have every right to carry on with this name as a majority, and Scott [Rockenfield, drums] has always said in interviews that QUEENSRŸCHE has always been about the collective group and not about any one person. My personal view, and this is not just with Geoff, but it goes out to any other band, and it will probably be condemned due to me saying it out loud, but for one person to call themselves the band's name is not really fair… Look, these are the guys that not only wrote the songs, but these are the guys that performed the songs. Nobody is going to play these songs better than the guy that wrote it. Nobody is going to sing Johnny Cash better than Johnny Cash. I can't sing Geoff, I am not Geoff Tate's voice, I am just trying to do the best I can at representing the old stuff, and that's why it's so important for me to create new music with the band. Nobody is going to play Eddie Van Halen's parts quite like Eddie Van Halen. They might do a hell of a good job, but people want to see what is authentic to them. Geoff has a lot of great musicians that are playing with him, but I don't think the music is being played accurately. He's even been quoted as saying that he enjoys their interpretation of the music, so they are not playing it perfectly like the records while the guys I play with are, because it's their music. These fans are very critical, and I think that that matters. I really do.
Read the entire interview at PennyBlackMusic.co.uk.