By Carl Begai
At this point, Queensrÿche fans and anyone who reads metal news feeds are aware of the controversial split between original vocalist Geoff Tate and the rest of the band. It’s an ugly break-up that will see both parties in court as of January 2014 to decide who gets to use the Queensrÿche name, with the fanbase taking sides and being quite vocal about who they think is the real deal. For the old schoolers that grew up with the band’s debut EP and first four studio albums (The Warning, Rage For Order, Operation: Mindcrime, Empire) it’s a no-brainer in picking the non-Tate version of the band – now fronted by former Crimson Glory frontman Todd La Torre – thanks to their new self-titled record. It’s the album fans who have held out for 20+ years have been waiting for.
“We just did what we felt,” says La Torre, “and the fact it’s been received so well makes it that much better.”
The album is short and sweet, clocking in at 35 minutes, which no doubt helps as well. Rather than pounding people into submission with their new / old direction, Queensrÿche chose instead to give folks just enought of a taste of the band’s rediscovered potential.
“We didn’t even know what the length of the album was until it was done,” La Torre admits. “We just liked what we had and said ‘Okay, that’s the album.’ We had other songs that didn’t make the record, but we decided to put the album out and leave the fans wanting more.”
They won’t have to wait too long if all goes according to plan. La Torre and his bandmates have every intention of using the momentum the new album has provided…
“We’re writing new songs for the next album now. We’ve got a handful of songs in various stages and its going to have a multitude of elements that are Queensrÿche. You’re going to have longer songs, heavier songs, softer songs, maybe something acoustic. We’re not boxed into any niche which is the beauty of what Queensrÿche has always been. I think that when people hear the word ‘progressive’, in musical terms they think of Dream Theater. The word ‘progressive’ to me, as it was in Crimson Glory and as it is in Queensrÿche, it’s the songwriting approach that’s progressive. It’s not so much about the virtuosity or technicality of the player, it’s about great songwriting and melodies. Twenty years from now, hopefully this record we just did will have stood the test of time.”
“We’re already getting phone calls from Jim Barton (producer) asking us to send him new songs. We’re not calling him, he’s calling us because he wants to get the next one going. The first record was pivotal, and the second one is even more the case because people are saying ‘Okay, the first one was good, but can they do it again?’ Yes we can and we will.”
In spite of the accolades for the new material, fan focus is on the classic Queensrÿche material in the band’s live set and how La Torre pulls them off. A fan before he was a band member, there are several old songs he loves to perform.
‘Roads To Madness’, ‘The Whisper’ and ‘Warning’, and ‘Prophecy’ is becoming one of my favourites to sing. It wasn’t on my favourites list before, but I’ve learned to navigate through all the material we play, so it’s less physically challenging. If I’m not sick and I’m feeling good, the material for me to sing on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest, is about a 6 or 7. There are some songs that are really tough, but overall it’s not that hard for me. There aren’t any songs where I say ‘There’s no way I can sing that,’ but there are parts of some songs that are a real bitch. But, when we’re done with a show I never feel like I’m to tired or that I can’t talk. I feel fine. I guess I just developed my own technique to sing this stuff.”
“We’re not playing everything just for the fans, but we are clearly in tune with what the fans want to hear,” La Torre adds. “Combining what the band enjoys playing and what the fans really want to hear, right now we have a perfect setlist. We’re incorporating songs into the set that are from the old albums; songs from The Warning and Rage For Order, and as the tour goes on we’ll be adding songs that people haven’t hear yet with me in the band.”
Photo by JHelm Photography.