Chris Akin of "The Classic Metal Show" recently conducted an interview with guitarist Michael Wilton of progressive metal veterans QUEENSRŸCHE about the band's new studio album, "The Verdict". You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On QUEENSRŸCHE's musical development since vocalist Todd La Torre joined the band in 2012:
Michael: "This is the evolution of the band. This rendition of the band, we've been touring and recording with this lineup now for seven years. And we're at that point where, I think, everybody that is in QUEENSRŸCHE is becoming QUEENSRŸCHE. They're comfortable in their writing styles, they're comfortable in their performance, and we're really at a good point of our career. I think the creative element in the band is really sparked on this album, 'The Verdict'. This was definitely a different approach in the writing process, and it's something that we as a band are very proud of."
On whether there was a difference in the creative element in the band without longtime drummer Scott Rockenfield, who has been away from QUEENSRŸCHE since 2017 to spend time with his young son:
Michael: "Well, yeah. Obviously, this is a business, and you have schedules and deadlines, which, obviously, we're horrible at keeping. [Laughs] There was a deadline for when our producer, Zeuss [Chris Harris], was gonna be in Seattle, and you know… no pressure, just the world stopped and we found out that Scott wasn't able to record on this record. [Laughs] So, yeah, under the gun, we had to make a decision. We had two choices: It's either get an outside drummer or a studio drummer or, 'Hey, Todd. You said you're a really good drummer. Think you can do this and pull it off?' He was foaming at the mouth. He's first and foremost a drummer. He started playing drums when he was 16 years old and QUEENSRŸCHE was one of his biggest influences. In the pre-production, which was different than 'Condition Hüman', we had no songs written. I mean, we had ideas, we had bits and pieces from demos, and Zeuss had to kind of piece it all together and figure out a direction and what we were gonna do. And then, as we were doing that, Todd was not only writing lyrics and melodies, he was also writing drum parts. [Laughs] [There] was lots of spontaneous moments [with] everybody on the top of their creative game and contributing their elements to each song. Each song became so thought out to the point where everybody was really happy with it. And that process, for me, it's kind of like in the early '80s when we would all get together and have ideas and some of us would be lucky to have a Walkman or microcassette recorder. [Laughs] The technology was different, obviously, back in the early '80s. Now, we have hard drives. It's almost more of a mess to make any sense of it. And this really brought us together as a band, because we really had to perform under the pressure, and not just for deadlines, but for ourselves individually. It's kind of like you have a table with a big blob of clay and each person is forming that blob until it becomes something really cool. And that's kind of how I equate how the songs were built on 'The Verdict'."
On whether former KAMELOT drummer Casey Grillo will continue to perform with the band live:
Michael: "We're contracted with Casey. He's drummed with us now for two years, so why change? He's our touring drummer, and, fortunately, he lives down here in the Tampa area where Todd lives, so they're able to share drum parts and drum fills. [Laughs] He's got them all ready for the new stuff, because the setlist for 'The Verdict' tour this year is a balance of new and old, so we've gotta brush up on the new songs and some 'Condition Hüman' songs as well. Casey does an amazing job. He plays the songs respectfully. And the fans love him; he's exciting to watch. So it's great."
On why Casey didn't play on "The Verdict":
Michael: "Like I said, we were really under the gun, and scheduling. For what we had, as far as content, we knew what we had, and we knew what we needed to do. Just the idea of bringing someone else new, it was gonna add weeks, maybe months, and it was just more practical to use Todd."
On their current crowdfunding campaign for "The Verdict" where PledgeMusic reportedly is currently unable to fulfill orders, costing the band thousands of dollars:
Michael: "It's a mess. Crowdfunding is a glorified fan club where you're in a platform with millions of people and you can do pre-sales on CDs and the record companies love it. Yeah, a couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from the management and it's like Defcon 5 with Pledge. All the money is gone. I'm, like, 'What?' That money that they stole from us was basically going to pay for the orders people had made. When you order CDs from a record company, it's 'net 30 days.' When you order merchandise, it's payment on delivery. So, all of the sudden, it's, like, 'Wow, it sucks for us, but it sucks for the fans worse.' Some of them are getting refunds, some of them are not and it leaves a salty taste in your mouth all around."
On whether QUEENSRŸCHE will dig into their own pockets and fulfill some of the orders themselves:
Michael: "Yeah. Just in that sense, there's a lot of people, so it's a lot of work trying to figure out. It's like an honor roll, I guess. 'Did you get refunded or not? I don't know.' It's something that every day we're trying to ratify and make good with people. Obviously, you're talking six figures. [Laughs] It's kind of hard to take it in the shorts, but we're working on it and trying to figure out the best way that both of us can come out from it unscathed."
"The Verdict" will arrive on March 1 via Century Media Records. The disc was produced, mixed, and mastered by Chris "Zeuss" Harris at Uberbeatz in Lynwood, Washington; Planet-Z in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; and Watershed Studio in Seattle, Washington.
QUEENSRŸCHE's spring U.S. headline tour with special guests FATES WARNING will kick off on March 2 in Orlando, making stops in major markets such as New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and will wrap on April 3 in Seattle. THE CRINGE will join both bands on select dates.