During Scott Rockenfield's extended leave from the band, QUEENSRŸCHE kept the identity of the drummer on last year's "The Verdict" studio album a closely guarded secret. While QUEENSRŸCHE has enlisted former KAMELOT drummer Casey Grillo as Rockenfield's replacement for live shows, frontman Todd La Torre ended up performing the drums on "The Verdict". An accomplished drummer in his own right, La Torre said in ensuing interviews in support of "The Verdict" that he aimed to stick to Rockenfield's playing style as close as possible. More recently, guitarist Michael Wilton said he was "voting" for Grillo to play drums on QUEENSRŸCHE's next studio album.
In an interview with "Joker's Electric Circus" show on Metal Messiah Radio, Wilton was asked about the writing process for "The Verdict", which is the third studio album to feature La Torre on vocals.
"It was built in such a way that kind of throws me back to the early '80s," he said (hear audio below). "It was a piece-by-piece put together of the songs. We had 20 ideas and we brought and refined those down to ten and built the tunes in whatever state of formation they were. I'm talking drums as well. The drums had to be constructed and we had Todd La Torre play the drums, who's an established drummer. No easy feat. These songs were scrutinized by everybody in the band and there's just so many great, valuable, spontaneous moments in this album. It's something that we're really proud of. When you do pre-production, it's more of seven days and all of the songs are done and you go in and refine them and get ready to record. With this one, [producer] Zeuss [Chris Harris] had to kind of organize everything and we built the songs as more of a three-week thing, but that's kind of how we did it. It was something very gratifying because of the chemistry of the band really was fulfilling the writing process, really being put on the spot to be spontaneous, to see how it all plays out. We're just ecstatic about it."
Wilton was asked about the band's break into the rock mainstream with their legendary 1988 concept album, "Operation: Mindcrime". The album netted several hit singles, namely "Eyes Of A Stranger" and "Breaking The Silence".
"That was our first experience with a big production video team," he said. "That's kind of what jumpstarted the band. That laid the way for the rest of that year and those tours. It was a great time for hard rock when you got MTV playing hard rock videos. I don't know what they do now, but back then, it was a great thing to have."
"The Verdict" was released in March 2019 via Century Media Records. The album was produced, mixed, and mastered by Harris (ROB ZOMBIE, ICED EARTH, HATEBREED) at Uberbeatz in Lynwood, Washington; Planet-Z in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; and Watershed Studio in Seattle, Washington.
The current QUEENSRŸCHE lineup features two original members, bassist Eddie Jackson and Wilton, along with La Torre and guitarist Parker Lundgren.