Prior to QUEENSRŸCHE's performance in Uncasville, Connecticut on March 8, guitarist Michael Wilton spoke with Jeff Gaudiosi of MisplacedStraws.com. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's new album, "The Verdict":
Michael: "We're a band that tours all the time, and just our experiences in life — how we view things, whether it's in the media, or whether it's just from personal experience — we tend to write about that. We raise issues that are no more than question marks. We're not here on a soapbox, trying to push any which way as a platform. We just write about what's interesting. There's plenty of bands that want to write about fast cars and pretty girls and drinking beer. They can do that, but we want to write thought-provoking lyrics. We don't want to spell things out for people — we want them to have their own feelings and viewpoints."
On the album's cover art:
Michael: "When you look at the artwork, you see a red, hooded character, and what's he doing? He's holding the scales of justice, and they're a little out of balance. And what's that behind him? It's a storm brewing. What comes to your mind? Uncertainty, and all kinds of things. It's all a heavy summation of what's in 'The Verdict', and you flip the album cover over, and it's calm seas. Ponder that. [Laughs]"
On the group's writing process:
Michael: "There's a lot of building up from the ground. Sometimes there's a lone riff or a part or even a lyric that you have to build. What's great about being in a band is having all the different creative elements putting spices into the idea, and not really knowing how it's going to turn out. It's so much fun to see how these things turn out when the song's done. This album was more of a throwback to the '80s, but without ['80s] technology, obviously. It was a summation of everybody's bits and pieces on hard drives, USB sticks. Basically, we had Zeuss [Chris Harris] to produce the album, and he was kind of the guy who orchestrated it all. He made sense of it all. We put together 20 ideas and refined it down to 10. Some of these songs were 50 percent done; some were 80 percent done; some were 10 percent done. It was a total band effort to get the songs to the point where everybody was happy with them. A lot of thought went into these songs. There's lots of depth to them; there's lots of diversity; there's lots of, shall I say, hit-you-in-the-face moments. I think that can be attributed to all the touring we're doing. We don't get a lot of love on FM radio anymore, so if we're going to tour all the time and we see what music's making people energetic and happy and having fun, let's write more music like that, and make it fun for us as well."
On choosing a setlist:
Michael: "It's pretty tough, actually, because of our discography. The fans want to hear the new music, so with this tour this year, we're splitting it basically 50 percent — 50 percent new QUEENSRŸCHE, 50 percent legacy QUEENSRŸCHE. Obviously, there's the casual listener that wants to hear the hits, and then you've got the hardcore fans that want to hear the new stuff. It's a marriage of the two. If you take one out, we get crucified. We get that guy who goes, 'I drove 100 miles for my wife to hear that one song, and you didn't play it' — and we know what song that is, don't we? [Laughs]"
On whether the group has any plans to commemorate next year's 30th anniversary of their album "Empire":
Michael: "I don't know. I can safely say [that] I don't think we're going to re-record any of our older albums. If we did, it would be live. But this 'Verdict' tour is already booked into next year, so we're going to be doing this for a couple of years. And I know we're going to want to get back in the studio a little sooner, just because of the fact that Eddie [Jackson, bassist] and I are getting older and we want to get some more records under our belts. [Laughs]"
On the struggles of pre-order platform PledgeMusic:
Michael: "One word — it sucked. For any business to get a phone call in the middle of the night — 'DEFCON 5. The money's gone' — it's horror. It couldn't have happened at a worse time, but every day, it's in a different state of evolution. Some people are getting their money back; some people aren't. It's a big mess. I've heard rumors that the FBI is getting involved now. We made a concerted effort to try and fulfill some of the orders that PledgeMusic was supposed to fulfill, and we're slowly doing that. We just hope that it works itself out."
On whether he keeps in touch with former guitarist Chris DeGarmo:
Michael: "I do. He's a high school buddy. Beyond the band, we hang out all the time and we golf together when we can. He's on the road more than we are, traveling and being a pilot. He loves what we do. He loves [singer] Todd [La Torre]. He thinks we're doing a great job."
"The Verdict" was released on March 1 via Century Media Records. The disc was produced, mixed, and mastered by Chris "Zeuss" Harris (ROB ZOMBIE, ICED EARTH, HATEBREED) at Uberbeatz in Lynwood, Washington; Planet-Z in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; and Watershed Studio in Seattle, Washington.