Southeast Wreckmetal conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Michael Wilton prior to the band's November 23 concert at Klubben/Fryshuset in Stockholm, Sweden. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On having vocalist Todd La Torre play drums on the group's latest album, "The Verdict":
Michael: "When we scheduled the recording, you're on schedules — producers and engineers that have deadlines, and record companies that are expecting deadlines, and all of a sudden, you don't have a drummer that's committed to the recording. In a nutshell, we were panicked. To bring in an outside drummer, we would have had to scrap the whole project, and we wouldn't have had a record for another year and a half, so we tried Todd. When I first met Todd, I met him as a drummer, so that was something in the back of my mind... It's very natural for him. We put him to the task and put a drum kit with one of the songs up, and the producer, Zeuss [Chris Harris], hit record, and he played to the song. When the song was done, it was thumbs-up. It was a no-brainer. He kind of saved the whole recording, and we got back on schedule, because now we had a drummer."
On the album's collaborative nature:
Michael: "I think that now that QUEENSRŸCHE is a democratic process and everybody can speak their mind and everybody has plenty of creative ideas, everybody puts them into the pool and we build them. That's something that's a lot of fun, because you have so many different influences, and putting together the songs was more, I would say, organic. Not all the songs were finished writing in the demo phase, there was a lot of on-the-spot recording, a lot of improvisation, a lot of general finishing-up-the-songs in the recording process. I think that added to some of the more organic approach, and more of a not-so-much-a-cut-up-and-splice job. I think that lent it more of a band involvement in the writing."
On how material from the album is going over live:
Michael: "The fans love the album, so much that they're demanding that we play more songs in the setlist live. That's always a good thing, when they want to hear songs from your latest album, so we've been doing that. We've really blending the setlist, which obviously, when you have 30-plus years of songs that everybody wants to hear and you have a 90-minute period of time to get them all in, it's a challenge to balance it out with the legacy songs and the hits with the new songs. We try and balance it out the best we can. What we've noticed is that the fans really enjoy the aspect of the live application of the songs from 'The Verdict' in the set. They rock, and I think maybe some of the influence in writing the songs is generated from us touring so much. We're in a situation where people really don't buy music anymore, so [we're] touring all the time. If you're going to tour all the time, you might as well write songs that are going to be fun to play live as well... When we start next year on the U.S. tour, we're going to bring a couple more songs into the set... I like them all. Some of the songs are a little bit progressive in their origination, and it's a challenge to play live, so it's also fun for us to play live."
On the band's touring drummer, Casey Grillo:
Michael: "[Todd] knew Casey. They kind of live in the same area in Florida. We told him, 'Yeah, let's get a hold of him and see what he says.' I remember he was on some kind of vacation — some cruise — and he got the phone call. It's a daunting task when someone asks you to do something like what we were requiring him to do, and basically give up your life for us. [Laughs]. Fortunately, his wife said, 'You'd better do this. You'd better take this opportunity.' Casey's been great... the fans love him. He's a great player. KAMELOT was semi-progressive, and so are we, so he naturally fits in."
On whether Grillo will record with the band in the future:
Michael: "I think that would be a great idea. Obviously, the details have to be worked out, but I think it would be great if he's available. Time will only tell. I can't promise anything, but I'm voting for it."
On the band's 2020 plans:
Michael: "The seed has been sown that we need to start getting organized and start getting some demos ready for the next QUEENSRŸCHE recording. We're going to be pretty busy next year jamming and putting ideas together and getting something that hopefully, by the end of the year, we can get Zeuss back again and start working on it. Hopefully, the beginning of 2021, maybe get into the studio again. We'll see what happens. It's been almost three [or] four years [between] 'Condition Hüman' [and 'The Verdict']. I'm getting older. I don't want to wait so long between records, so I'm going to really push the guys."
"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.