An Interview with Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate

Kevin Keating
Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate (Credit: Ron Dukeshire)
Geoff Tate, original vocalist and founding member of Queensrÿche, took some time out of his schedule to speak with us as he prepares to launch his fall West Coast tour in about a week. They'll be playing SF at The Independent on Tuesday, November 12th. Tickets for this intimate show can be found here.

However, since we last spoke with Geoff in the summer of 2010, there's been turmoil between he and the founding members of the band. Geoff was relieved from duty in the Spring of 2012 and since then, the original members have been locked in a legal dispute over who will get to use the Queensrÿche name moving forward. With that said, read on to hear what Geoff was able to share about the legal dispute, the upcoming tour and more!

SFBayAreaConcerts: So there have been some changes since we last spoke. I think the big question is, how are the things going and can you talk about what’s happening with Queensrÿche now?

Geoff Tate: I can talk a little bit about it, you know we’re engaged in a lawsuit right now, and we have a court date that was set for November that got pushed back to January, but we’re probably going to settle the whole thing before then I would guess. We're kind of in the process of that now. So hopefully within a month or so we will have it all wrapped up and we can have a peaceful exiting, or whatever is going to happen. I don’t really know right now and I am hoping it all goes well and everybody is happy in the end and we are able to continue doing what we like to do.

SFBAC: So what can we expect on this tour?

Geoff Tate: A selection of songs from all of our different records, really. It’s kind of a smattering of everything from all the different records. It's always difficult to really pick, you know, a set list that you're going to perform, and you've just got to kind of think and pick a combination of songs that you think the audience is going to relate to, and you also want to put something in there that you think they would want to hear that they haven’t heard you play before. They are several songs in the set list that we are doing that we haven’t performed before, so that is going to be kind of a fun thing I think for people to hear those songs, you know?

SFBAC: Your shows have generally been fairly theatric, and because of that, I would assume it's hard to change-up the set list from night to night. What are your feelings on that?

Geoff Tate: I like to do that you know. I have tried doing that before... changing up the set list and for us, it didn’t work so well in the past, but with the band being different nowadays, different personnel, I think that that could possibly be a reality in the future. I would like to definitely explore that. I like that kind of thing... trying different things all the time and changing the set list around. I like the idea in theory.

SFBAC: You guys you have got a pretty hard-core dedicated fan base. Do you see a number of familiar faces coming night to night to the shows?

Geoff Tate: Yeah, we do we see a lot of that, typically regionally... Like if we're playing in an area, the same people will come to several shows and that’s always great. I love that kind of thing, and in that case, that would be a prime example of where changing the set list around would be a cool thing I  think.

SFBAC: Specific to the band arrangement that you've got now. How much of the make-up of this band is a touring band versus what will be the make-up in the studio with you moving forward?

Geoff Tate: Ah you know? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I think it’s the kind of tour you know, I will know more after December, January when things sort of settle down. We’ll kind of figure out what we are going to do at that point, but in the meantime, you know, the band I have right now playing with me are great guys, great friends, and you know, we are having a good time doing what we are doing and I would like to continue that.

SFBAC: Have you started work on a new album?

Geoff Tate: Yeah, I've started working on a new record. I started several months ago and I'm probably thirty minutes into it I guess... about thirty minutes of new music already and it’s going well. I'm enjoying it.

SFBAC: And as a writer, how does the music come together for you? Do you focus on a particular aspect of the song and then build from there? Or do you start with lyrics, how does the writing process work for you?

Geoff Tate: Well, there's no one way. It really kind of depends on a number of different factors. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you’ve got this melody idea just running through your head, and so a song will start that way. Sometimes it starts with you just dabbling around on your instruments and you come across a rhythm that you really like and you build off that. Other times you have a specific idea that you’re pursuing whether it be a storyline or a scene. You know, I kind of think in terms of scenes, and so I’ll try to paint the musical picture of the scene and sometimes it starts with a word, simply a word. There’s no really one way. The thing I am working on right now is a story that I have developed and I am trying to put the story to music and tell the story mostly through  music and melody, rather than telling it so much with lyrics.  I am including lyrics in it as well, but it won’t be like the focus of the piece. So it's kind of a challenging, a different way of working for me that I am really digging right now.

SFBAC: Is the story at all related to any of the stories that you have created in the past?

Geoff Tate: No. It’s a whole new thing... a different thing altogether.

SFBAC: So back to this tour, you and the new band are starting rehearsals soon. Without knowing the set list or presentation of the material, can you describe the process of a typical rehearsal for us?

Geoff Tate: Well kind of... we focus on the music first and typically we'll do that in sections you know? Like for example, Robert and Kelly and Simon and Rudy, they’ll get together and just kind of work out the rhythm part of the song structure of the various tracks and perform parts that they don’t feel confident on.  They'll want to go over and make sure they have them all down, or if we are changing the arrangement a bit to accommodate for the show, they will work on that kind of thing and then they get together as a band after that, and they will start going through the set. Timing it, and making sure it is the right time, and that the songs are in the right shape and that sort of thing. Then it kind of goes from there, unless we are adding more to it. It really starts with the music. Well actually, first it starts with setting up all the gear which is so tedious. We finally found a great place to rehearse in Seattle so that’s working out nice. So we just walk in and we plug in and it’s all set up and sounding good because sometimes you get these places that we're renting temporarily, and there's no extra sound setup for music and you have to do all this customization to the room, and that takes several days and then we can’t rehearse until you get that right. So this studio is great and it’s all setup and it’s very pro, and sounds good from the moment you walk in.

SFBAC: My last couple of questions are related to the music industry in general, and the shift from retail, to digital, and now to streaming outlets like Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, etc. What are your thoughts on the massive changes that are underway within the music industry?

Geoff Tate: That’s a good question Kevin; There is a lot change of course. It's happened in the last ten, fifteen years. The music industry is changing rapidly, and radically too. It’s an industry that’s in flux right now and everyone is trying to get a handle on how it will operate in the future. And we are all trying to customize it to make it work for us, and it’s difficult to do of course, because of the pirating. Because that’s of course what guts the financial end of it. It takes the economy out of the equation. So yeah, it’s a different world, and challenging to figure out what to do and how to make it work in today’s modern world. But I think all the rules have changed you know? The way it was running, the way it used to work, is completely different to the way it works now. And we're all trying to play catch up and figure out how to make it work.

SFBAC: And the labels that you've worked with, have they gotten it? Or are they trying to adjust as quickly as possible?

Geoff Tate: Well, they are trying to play catch up as well, they are trying to do it all with less people and less money and I don’t really think it is working yet. There's not one model that’s working great and that everybody is glomming on to that at all. It's all fragmented. Everybody is trying to figure out how to make it work and nobody has yet.

SFBAC:  Well Geoff, thanks for making the time to speak with us and we're looking forward to your show at the Indie on November 12th!

#buttons=(Ok, Go it!) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Check Now
Ok, Go it!