On January 16, Shred Shack conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE singer Todd La Torre and guitarist Michael "Whip" Wilton. You can now listen to the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On La Torre laying down drum tracks on QUEENSRŸCHE's upcoming album, "The Verdict":
Todd: "Yeah, I played the drums on this record. Our original drummer, Scott [Rockenfield], he had a baby back in 2017, and he took paternity leave, and he's still kind of been on that leave of absence. So we just continued to keep writing and doing things as a full band, like we've always done. He just wasn't available for this one. I think it all came together pretty seamlessly, actually, and we're looking forward to the release of this record."
On why it took four years for QUEENSRŸCHE to complete the follow-up to 2015's "Condition Hüman":
Michael: "Actually, the reason for the time is that we've been touring so much. And that's a whole story in itself — for bands these days, they've gotta tour to keep their name in the industry and to pay rent. So, it's a lot of touring. And I think a lot of the creative element in the recording of this album was due to the fact that we've been on the road for so long, and just seeing how the audience reacts to certain songs and certain moods, I think that kind of fueled the process for the writing of this album. This album, ironically, was not very full put together, compared to the last album, 'Condition Hüman', which most of the demo songs were written — 95 percent completed. This album was… First, we didn't know who was gonna play drums. Secondly, we probably had maybe two or three songs that were demoed all the way to the end. So when we had Zeuss [producer Chris Harris] come in and do the pre-production for this album, first off, we had to get the drums situated, which we did. And second was, basically, write the album in the studio, in pre-production, and then learn it, and then record it."
Todd: "Normally, certainly for the last one, we worked with Zeuss. Typically, we'd do production and then start recording. Like Michael said, on this one, we spent a good amount of time on pre-prodcution. And we basically get three piles — we have the definite pile of songs that we know will make the record; the next one that are really good but need improving; and then other songs that definitely aren't gonna make the record and that will kind of go in the parts pile. And we'll steal stuff from other songs that will improve the other songs that are in the album pile. But, yeah, we were able to do the pre-production, go home, rework those ideas that we discussed, re-record the demos and shape those up. Everyone was onboard by the time we were ready to press 'record.' There was some, still, experimentation during the recording process, but very minimal. We already knew exactly what we were gonna be recording."
On whether "The Verdict" will appeal to fans of early QUEENSRŸCHE or if it's musically geared more towards a fresh audience:
Todd: "Personally, I don't think we went in with a mindset of, 'Let's cater to a certain fanbase.' Michael would send me songs that he had that he just felt inspired to write at the time, and I think that's the most honest, true way to write and create art — without this preconceived kind of agenda. I think the only thing that we did that we went in this record mindful of was we knew that we wanted to have a few more uptempo songs, faster-paced songs. When we did the track listing on the last record, and you're trying to find a good album flow, we noticed, 'Well, that's a midpaced song. Okay, that's a midpaced song. Here's a slow one. Well, that's slow, but it's heavy. Where's the fast-paced songs? And so that was kind of the only thing we said — 'Hey, you guys are working on new stuff. If you're feeling like it, maybe try and write something a little more driving and heavier in that respect. And so when we put this whole album together, we got a really good-flowing album, I think."
Michael: "Also, being in this band for so long, I've seen a natural evolution in this rendition of QUEENSRŸCHE just grow as songwriters, as musicians and as people, as bandmates. And I think everybody's getting a little more comfortable at taking creative chances in their writing, and I think it's paying off and it's a good path to go down. Because when you've been doing this for over 30 years and you've written so many songs and so many rifs, it's great when these other guys are on the same level and coming up with Rÿchian riffs. And there's a hunger in the band too. We love what we do, and we work hard for it. We tour all the time now, and it's constantly… QUEENSRYCHE is 24 hours a day. And it pays off once in a while… [Laughs] But I think the band is in a good place with this album, and we're really excited for everybody to hear this."
Filling in for Rockenfield in QUEENSRŸCHE for the past two years has been former KAMELOT drummer Casey Grillo.
Asked by a fan on Facebook if Rockenfield's lack of involvement with "The Verdict" means that Grillo will handle the drumming duties for QUEENSRŸCHE in the studio going forward, the band responded: "We're just taking it one day at a time and trying not to look too far ahead. Things are always changing and we can't predict what the future will bring. Right now we're just concentrating on getting this album in the hands of our Rÿchers and touring."
"The Verdict" will be 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.
"The Verdict" will mark QUEENSRŸCHE's third full-length release with La Torre, following the departure of Geoff Tate in 2012.
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.