QUEENSRYCHE drummer Scott Rockenfield

June 20th, 2011
by Marko Syrjala

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QUEENSRYCHE

SCOTT ROCKENFIELD

INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ

There’s always been lot of things going on in the Queensryche world and the latest news is that the band is about to release its twelfth studio album DEDICATED TO CHAOS. We had the pleasure to sit down with the bands drum wizard Scott Rockenfield prior to their triumphant performance at this year’s edition of the Swedenrock festival. Here are the results of that interesting chat. Read on!        

 

DEDICATED TO CHAOS

Let’s go on to your current thing. There’s a new Queensryche album called DEDICATED TO CHAOS out there. Now it’s your time to do the marketing thing.

It is time to market DEDICATED TO CHAOS. What do you want to know?

First of all, the last two Queenryche albums have been kind of team albums. How is this new one?

You mean team in terms of different people? It’s again a team album.  I mean – listen I think we’ve been making records that way since our first one. Since the early days Queensrÿche was always a team. It was a smaller team. But I think our whole reason for being a band and lasting for so long, is we’ve been all team players. We all respect each other in the band for what we do. And then through the years, of making records and touring,  and just surrounding ourselves with people that we need,  whether it’s crew guys, for the road and – or working with people,  making records, producers, or engineers, or songwriters or whatever it may be. Wherever inspiration comes from I think being a team has always kept us going. Otherwise, I think it gets stale. And I think this record is just another kind of defining moment for that, which is a team situation. A lot of people that we know surround us. Kelly Gray produced the record and engineered and mixed the record for us. And he’s been…

Right and Kelly’s been a part of the family since the early 80’s? 

Actually he’s been around since high school… So he’s actually been around with us for 30 years. So the team just kind of keeps going for us. And we got different crew guys with us, but some guys have still been with us for years and years as well. With this album, it was a kind of the same thing and we did our previous albums. We’ve used a lot of the same people, the team. Like I said, Kelly Gray was on AMERICAN SOLDIER, he had a big part of producing, engineering, mixing, he was all part of that, wrote some songs with us on that because we go into songs, he’s a great guitar player and musician and great ideas. And we have another guy that we’ve used for many years now since MINDCRIME 2, I think, and then on AMERICAN SOLDIER and this one, a guy named Jason Slater, he’s a writer and a producer and kind of part of our bigger team. He lives in LA and we live in Seattle. But he’s just kind of become a helpful hand in doing things. And just as you get older and you start doing it, it’s just fun to get new inputs and sometimes new inspiration whether it’s a suggestion or a player or whatever it maybe. But still that’s kind of part of the big team for us.

This time you also have a new member in band?

Right, we have Parker Lundstrom playing guitar, younger kid that’s been in with us now for a couple of years and toured with us on AMERICAN SOLDIER and toured last year on some shows that we did in the United States.

Having now such a young guy in the band, does he bring anything new for Queensrÿche?

Well he brings youth that he has. More youth than we have “laughs” I mean he’s a kid that we met in Seattle and was surrounded kind of close family friends. And he’s just a real dedicated musician. He’s a great guitar player and a dedicated musician. And we just realized that the time that we were getting to know him, and he was becoming part of our friendship, that we needed a guitar player who’s Mike Stone who we have just prior to that because he’s going to move on and going to do his own thing and wanted to focus on that. So Parker was just a good choice. But he brings – that he’s excited, he’s just enthusiastic to be here and be a part of it. He’s a great team player. And he offers great inspiration, suggestion. And it’s just real easy to be him.

When you’re now seeing him living his own “rock star” dream, does it remind about your own early years when you first made it big time?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean we were like that when we were that age too. It’s an exciting time when you’re young. And for us it’s a different thing now. We get excited in different ways.  We have a long history under our belt. And it’s a big career for us. It’s what we do to make a living. But he’s just – gets a chance to live that now, and be a part of it. And he teaches us as I think as much as we can teach him.

I do understand that.

I always learn but I’m old enough to be his father. But I think it works well together. He’s a great member of the team and he really blends in well. You know, he’s got great tattoos and stuff and he goes out a lot, he has fun every night because he can because he gets over easier. So we get to live by proxy through him “laughs”

I know the feeling “laughs”

It’s a lot safer for me “laughs”

This is actually kind of out of question, but when I first heard the new album name, it kind of reminded me Dream Theater’s SYSTEMATIC CHAOS?

Right but I’ve never heard them. I don’t know a lot about Dream Theater even though we played together, to be honest “laughs”

Right, what does the DEDICATED CHAOS mean? I mean, is there any deeper thoughts behind the title?

For us, the title was strictly… I think our big reason for the title is just the world we live in, our band world and our lives together for a long. They’ve been basically chaos. Being in a rock band, and making music and making a career and trying to make a living out of that requires – there’s a lot of chaos, it’s a lot of stuff, making records, and touring the world, its chaos. And I think current chaos has a lot to do with that with just people in society, social networking, and cell phones. You can’t run away anymore, the Internet. Our kids are living that now with their own sell phones. And it’s never going to go away. I think that’s a lot of chaos. And I’m kind of thinking that’s a lot of the inspiration behind the record for us.

How does it like to create new albums when every time the album comes up, there are always some people who keep on saying “Yeah, there is no Chris DeGarmo, it’s not going to be any good”?

That’s of course – that’s fine, they can say that. We make records for ourselves and travel and tour. And Chris, he decided to leave 16, 17 years ago…

Yeah, but some people still don’t get over it.

…and that’s okay. I mean the majority of people have gotten over it. There’s only some that don’t. But I don’t think it’s – it doesn’t bother me. It’s not for us. 

Right and one man don’t make a band.

…and it doesn’t. And we’ve had great success ever since. And we’re planning bigger shows and touring longer and doing more things than we ever did even back on those days. So we worked hard to get to where we’re at. We still got to keep working. This is only beginning this year.

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THE CABARET SHOWS AND MORE

The one special and unique thing what you did on last year were the Cabaret shows.

The cabaret shows, yeah.

Yeah, is there going to be more things like that in the future?

We don’t ever know? That was something that we did last year in 2010 because we knew we were going to make a record and rewriting it in doing. But we didn’t just want to do that and not get out and play shows. So we kind of started throwing some ideas around about what we could do. And the cabaret came up. Geoff and I went to a dinner theatre, which was kind of like Cirque De Soil, and we liked it so much, we started talking about doing something like that. How could we do that and have fun. And we always do everything just to have fun whether people like it or not. That’s really not why we do, we do it because we want to go and have fun. If they wanted to come and enjoy then they do, that’s great and we have a great career in that. But that was kind of hit. It was just another way to do something for ourselves and be different and have fun. And I think we weren’t able to bring it over to Europe or anywhere else just because it was expensive. We had like peep actors, people…

And it could be really hard to find the suitable places for show like that in Europe?

Yeah, it really is. But hopefully in the future there will be more things like that for Queensrÿche. That was just another way to do something different, you know?

How about making an orchestra album?

We have done some but not a full… but that’s all coming. We did a show a couple of weeks ago in Seattle that was with a 50-piece orchestra, and us. And we had Allen White playing drums from Yes, Mike DeRosier playing drums from Heart. And it was a benefit show we did in Seattle, a lot of fun. We did four songs with the orchestra that night. It was a lot of work. But stuff like that is always an option for us to get out and do something deeper. And we’d love to do something like that. Working with an orchestra is really a lot of fun. And I do a lot of that working on music for films, I do film stuff and it’s a little different but challenging.

How is your other band, Slaves to The System doing at the moment? Is there anything new in sight?

Yes. We’re actually going to try to finish the next one here soon. And Kelly who is working with us, he runs our inter-monitors for us on this tour and mixed the latest Queensryche records, he’s going to start working on mixing some new songs that we have in his hotel room. And we all do other things. Geoff’s got a wine that he promotes. And we play some shows promoting his wine back at home. It’s a little acoustic thing that we do together and I jump in and help him to do that. And that’s been a lot of fun. And we just try to do. We just… good work “laughs”

Is Geoff still doing solo shows as well?

Yeah, yeah. We find the time to fill in the gaps and do Queensrÿche and then that.

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Scott live at Swedenrock 2011

THE FUTURE

After you’ve been doing Queenryche almost thirty years and having all those platinum albums, world tours and so on, what’s actually the main goal for you guys at this stage of career?

I actually achieved a goal last year that was a lot of fun which was video games. I like to compose music for movies and stuff, but I got asked to do some music on The Call of Duty black ops video game last year, and then also play all the drums, ride all the drums and play all the drums with the orchestra because they wanted to make it a rock thing. And that’s a really big franchise. That game is a huge, huge deal. And so I was really honored when they called me and said, “Do you want to do this?” And I also – I got to compose some extra music for the game that was used all during the game if you play the game. So that was a big thing for me. That was a lot of fun. And it’s a hard industry to get into. But that was a nice goal. So I’d like to do more of that. Personally, I’m looking to do more of that. And I got some film scores that I’m being offered this year. Some big action movies that I’m being asked to compose all the music for. And to be honest for me, that’s a huge goal for me to get more of that.

A game world, it’s a new and different world and there huge goals to reach, I know.

It really is, and it’s a lot of fun, and I really enjoy it. And I started doing it, 15, 20 years ago, and got some great – I got a Grammy nomination from my first film that I ever did back in the 90s. So since then, I just wanted to do more. So that’s a lot of fun for me. I think everybody has their own goals of that stuff in mid. But as a band, I just think our goals are just to keep making music and planning shows and getting out until they won’t have us anymore. When the fans say no because they won’t buy our tickets or buy our records or enjoy our music, then it’s probably time for us to move on.

I know but like you just said, how long you thing that you could carry on doing Queensryche? I mean, physically there are some limits which are getting closer every day, you know what I mean? Have you ever discussed about the subject between the band members?

You know, we talk about it over glasses of wine now and then. Geoff and I do. And it’s really I think more just – I think we’ll be able to keep going as long as we can still have an audience that wants to see us because we have to make money doing it, otherwise – I have to make a living somewhere.

Of course, you have to "pay the rent"

 

Yeah, I got kids going to college and doing all that stuff. So I got to be able to support that. We never knew how long it was going to last when we first started, you know?

Right and there’s still Rolling Stones who keep on doing another tour even they’re about 70 years old soon.. “laughs” So there’s nothing to worry about…

Okay, see there you go. Listen – Allan White from Yes drummer, he lives in Seattle and he’s like…

He’s like 63 or something?

We hang out and do a lot of things together. Lately, we’ve been able to do some drum stuff together. He’s an inspiration to me. And he’s kind of the same way. So we just keep going, you just get through it on, you keep going. It’s what we do, if you don’t do it, then you got to find something else to do, and that’s fine. But you just go until something happens or you can’t go anymore. But I think we’re okay for right now. So keep going and figure it out as you go.

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You already mentioned the game world and the Internet, have you noticed that there are lots of young kids in the audience who come to see you because they’ve find out about you from that new type of media?

Absolutely. It’s a great tool if you embrace it and learn how to make it work for you and keep embracing it. I think you can win and l I think that the ability is really great. There are obviously all sorts of great avenues and mediums with the Internet, and social networking. I mean everything out there, is a whole different world than when you first started. Record companies are few and far between and only signing so many things. They don’t throw a bunch of money into careers. And you got to – our legacy has helped us with the record companies, I know. And so there are great avenues. I just think you have to invent and reinvent.

The only difficulty is – how to get your money out from that thing?

Yeah, and that’s the biggest issue that has plagued a lot of people and a lot of record labels that don’t know what to do with that yet. I think we’re working our best as a band to see how we can benefit us. And so far it’s working. It could turn – to a corner tomorrow and we have to redesign everything again. But we’ll just do it.

Our time seems to be up… The last question… What are your near future plans with Queensryche from now on? I know you’re going to Finland tomorrow but then?

Yeah, we’re going to Finland tomorrow. We’re going to do the show in there again with Judas Priest, we play Judas Priest on the same stage today night, so that’ll be a lot of fun. And then in July, we start a tour of all the UK with Judas Priest; it’s just us and Judas Priest. So they asked us to come over and do the whole tour with them, three weeks I think in the UK in July. And then July 29th is our first headlining show in New York city. And we do four months in the United Stated headlining. And then we take a break for Christmas and then we go somewhere probably in January again. So it’s all starting right out for us.

Didn‘t you guys tour with Priest earlier as well?

We did – actually we did 2003 I think – 2005, US tour in the summer. So we’ve been around them for a while. Like I said, they asked us to do this again. They’re fun to hang out with.

Okay Scott. Thanks for your time!

No problem.

 

FOR MORE INFO GO TO:

WWW.QUEENSRYCHE.COM

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QUEENSRYCHE LIVE PICTURES FROM

SWEDENROCK 2011 FESTIVAL

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