Queensryche Frontman Discusses Record Labels
Classic Rock Revisited recently conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Classic Rock Revisited: The new project, "Mindcrime at the Moore", comprises all the material from "Operation: Mindcrime" as well as "Operation: Mindcrime II", which were recorded quite a few years apart. What were the challenges of writing material for the second record so many years after the first, then presenting all of it live together as one continuous piece of work?
Geoff: That really took a bit of work. We didn't want to get too far away from the structure of the first album, but then again, we didn't want to stay in the same place, because time had passed, and we wanted to create sort of a present feel of where the story was at. It's in the here, it's in the now. So we tried to straddle time a little bit, and create a little bit more modern music, on vintage instruments. It was a very fun project to put your head into. The DVD is the culmination of all of that work that's really been going on for seventeen-some-odd years. We've been working on it for a little bit of time, then putting it away, working on it again and putting it away. So it's nice to see that it's finally finished.
Classic Rock Revisited: The "Mindcrime" show is a long and vocally demanding show, with a lot of ranges and moods. How do you stay in shape vocally for that while on the road?
Geoff: It's a bit of a challenge in that respect. I'm pretty strong as a person, physically, so it's not something that's out of my realm. But definitely exhausting, especially after six or seven weeks. It becomes quite a bit of a chore sometimes; not so much the singing aspect, but just putting yourself into that head space of that character, which is such a pitiful character. (Laughs) It's hard to be into him for that length of time, because he's so pathetic and so miserable, and God, you know, you just want to have a sunny day. (Laughs) I love performing the record, and I love performing on the stage for this show, but I am glad to be done with it now and on to the next thing.
Classic Rock Revisited: Those kinds of larger productions are famous for their technical mishaps. Did you have any kind of "Spinal Tap" moments on stage with this?
Geoff: There's so much going on with a show; so many pieces of gear, so many timing issues, personnel . . . there's so many things that can go wrong, it's amazing that there are nights when nothing goes wrong. (Laughs) It's an exception when things go right. Every night there's something; either a guitar string breaks or something minor like that, or somebody gets lost in the arrangement for a few bars and all of a sudden wakes up and turns it around. It's also inclusive of entire systems going down. Probably the worst thing that we had was, our entire film system crashed. It happened at such a weird place; it was at a spot where the music pauses and the band just holds out a chord, and then it's supposed to start again after eight beats. But the eight beats turned into sixteen (Laughs), and it just kept going and going and going. Luckily that night we had a curtain that closed in front of the band, and finally our manager came out and actually closed the curtain. (Laughs) We're all standing there, and I don't know why our lighting man didn't turn off the lights, but we're just all lit up and waiting for the system to boot up again, and it just wouldn't. It took about twenty minutes for the thing to boot back up, so we kinda had to take a short intermission there. (Laughs) At the same time, at the pause, Pamela — our Sister Mary character — at that point she comes rising up on this elevated lift that lifts her up twenty feet in the air. That's where the crash happened, so she's standing up there all by herself, lit up; every light in the place is on her, and there's nothing happening. It's just her standing there. (Laughs) The crowd applauds, and then they stop, and there's that uncomfortable feeling of, "I don't think this is supposed to be happening." (Laughs). Those kinds of things. That was the worst one, though.
Classic Rock Revisited: In your career with QUEENSRŸCHE you have gone from EMI to Atlantic to Sanctuary to Rhino. Do you prefer the commercial marketplace power of a major label, or the care and attention you get from a smaller label?
Geoff: Well, I've never really gotten the care and attention of a smaller label, so I guess I'm pretty happy with the majors. (Laughs). I don't subscribe to record companies . . . there seems to be so much emphasis on record companies, and I think record companies are very quickly becoming a thing of the past. In five years you won't have a record company, or the only record company there will be is iTunes. The whole industry is on its ear. It's changed so dramatically in the twenty-seven years we've been doing this, it doesn't even resemble the same thing anymore. The whole selling of records has become sort of a non-issue, really. So much music is being pirated now that record sales are down so much that record company executives are getting excited about selling sixty thousand records. (Laughs). When we started out, sixty thousand records was a failure. (Laughs). So that's how much it's changed, and we're seeing sixty or seventy percent drops in record sales because of pirating and that sort of thing. The industry has changed so much that we have to all re-think how we do things. Right now the only way most bands make a living is by touring and doing live shows, because even though people try to bootleg it, you still can go out and perform live and it's going to be different every night.
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