Todd La Torre says has that he has been embraced as the singer of QUEENSRŸCHE by most of the band's fans, nearly five years after he joined the group as the replacement for original frontman Geoff Tate.
After Tate was fired in 2012, a two-year legal battle followed where Geoff sued for the QUEENSRŸCHE name, only for his former bandmates Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson to respond with a countersuit. They eventually settled the dispute, with Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson continuing as QUEENSRŸCHE, and Tate now having the sole right to perform the albums "Operation: Mindcrime" and "Operation: Mindcrime II" in their entirety live.
Asked if he thinks he has been able to step out of Tate's shadows and put his own stamp on the QUEENSRŸCHE material since he joined the band, La Torre told the "Trunk Nation" show on SiriuxXM: "I think that, almost five years in, yes. To a large degree, people say, 'Look, you're the singer of the band. We see you as the voice of QUEENSRŸCHE now.'"
He continued: "Obviously, I have immense respect for what Geoff has done in the past, and I would never try to diminish the importance of what he's done for this band. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have the fortitude to be in the band that I'm in."
Todd went on to say that he "was a huge QUEENSRŸCHE fan" for many years before he joined the band. He explained: "When people come to our shows and they're, like, [very excited], I get it. Because I was… IRON MAIDEN and QUEENSRŸCHE were my two favorite bands since I was about 14. So I understand. I have a perspective that no one in the band has, because I've been on both sides of that barricade, if you will."
La Torre credited timing and luck for how he landed the QUEENSRŸCHE gig, explaining that he was far from an overnight success.
"In the late '80s through the '90s, I was playing in local bands in Tampa, Florida, playing all the clubs and all that stuff," he said. "And at one point, we had some management looking at us to sign us and whatnot, and it was this close. I was in my early 20s, and it didn't happen. And, of course, that's crushing. And so I didn't have any kind of notoriety start to happen for me 'till my late 30. And I think that rock and metal is a genre where if you're not 24 years old or younger or perfect looking, it doesn't matter. This style of music, I think, doesn't place the emphasis on those aesthetic qualities that other styles do. And, yeah, some people do say, 'Wow! I love your story.'"
He continued: "I've never been drunk in my life. I don't do drugs. I've never tried pot. I've never done any drugs at all. In short, it's not a sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll thing. And so, for me, if there was some kind of a premise to my story, it's that these things can still happen. And a lot of it is timing. Look, there are amazing musicians that will not be discovered, and that's just the reality of it."
La Torre also discussed the realities of being a touring musician in today's concert industry, particularly as it relates to his ability to make a living as a member of QUEENSRŸCHE.
"If I were not in this band and I didn't have the good fortune to do this, I would have to have another job [in addition to playing music], and that would be how I'd earn a living, and I know a lot of guys that do that," he said.
"I live in the same house that I bought when I was 21 years old. I live in a bungalow with my wife and my dog. I take Uber home and [people] think they're gonna pull up to this mansion with these gates and Ferraris in the driveway on the water, and I live in a normal, regular neighborhood like probably anyone in this room."
He added: "We travel well, we have a nice tour bus when we go out on the road, and we stay in nice hotels, but it's such a saturated environment that it's… I feel for those people that don't have the legacy of the band that I'm in, because it's… Anybody can make a video. Your CD is a business card to get somebody to come to your show. And this is, honestly, a testament to… [The fans are] the blood that keep the machine alive. Because anyone can click on a page, anyone can view a YouTube video. There's a distorted perception about someone's value with how many views their YouTube video has. It's a matter of how many people can they actually come to purchase a ticket, to sit there or stand there and watch it and maybe shell out their hard-earned money to buy a t-shirt. That's how we pay our mortgage, that's how we eat. We are eternally grateful for two people or two thousand or whatever it is, because it's a business and it's a job. Unless you're in the business, you don't really understand the multi-faceted aspects of what it really means to survive in this business."
QUEENSRŸCHE is preparing to enter the studio to begin work on the follow-up to "Condition Hüman", to be released later in the year via Century Media. Todd said: "Tentatively, we're supposed to start pre-produciton next month, so in March. That may be extended slightly. We just wanna put the best record out that we can, but we are in the demo phases of new QUEENSRŸCHE."