Interview Robert Cavuoto
On December 1st, iconic metal vocalist, Geoff Tate released his latest CD entitled The New Reality via Rat Pak Records. It is the third and final chapter in his project band, Operation Mindcrime’s musical trilogy; with Resurrection as the second chapter released in 2016 and The Key being the first chapter released in 2015. Operation: Mindcrime is a creative platform that continues in the spirit of the historic album of the same name, spawning concepts as grand as the music. Operation Mindcrime features a variety of multi-talented musicians such as Kelly Gray, John Moyer, Simon Wright, Scott Mercado, Scott Moughton, Brian Tichy, and Mike Ferguson.
I sat down with Geoff to discuss how The New Reality fits into the trilogy, his tour to support the 30th anniversary of Operation Mindcrime, and what will be his next endeavor.
Robert Cavuoto: Can you tell me how The New Reality ties into the concept along with your two previous CDs; The Key and Resurrection?
Geoff Tate: The whole project is a story but a different kind of story. It’s a little vague, a little dangerous, and doesn’t follow a complete narrative, like a book. It’s meant to be a bit of a mystery. There are “musical breadcrumbs” that are left throughout the story and across the three CDs. There are certain words that jump out to let the listener know they are on the right path. The more you listen to it the more you will discover things. Then it will make sense.
Robert Cavuoto: I found the CD to be quite rhythmic, tribal, and ethereal at times. Does that lend itself to the concept?
Geoff Tate: Yes, rhythm plays a big part in the delivery of the music. I’m looking for really good driving music [laughing]! Songs I can drive my car to and be entertained. It feels like it fits in modern life as we are always on the go. In decades prior, people actually sat in their living rooms or listening places to listen to music. I don’t think we do that much anymore. We are all mobile and on the go.
Robert Cavuoto: How would you classify this CD to a fan who wants to pick it up?
Geoff Tate: Honestly that not my job to classify the music. Music is not meant to be described; it’s meant to be listened and experienced. I have never been one to categorize my music as I let others do that. I don’t often agree with the categorization anyway [laughing]. I leave that alone it’s a testy subject for me. I think the categorization of music was designed to sell, and I’m not a salesman, I’m a musician.
Robert Cavuoto: Does it feel cathartic after so many years with Queensryche to create songs and CDs the way you envision?
Geoff Tate: When you are working with a group it’s a different process. There is a sense of compromise that you have to achieve because you are working within the strengths and weakness of those players. There is stuff they can-or-can’t play or will-or-won’t play. You define who you are and what your music is based on because of that group of people. Now I don’t have to work within those confines. I can do what I envision. Queensryche never started out with a definition of who we were. Again that was other people who defined us and put us in a category. There was no place we were supposed to be other than what we invented for ourselves. That’s the just same philosophy that I always kept; there are no limits to what I can do musically. I do what I hear; I perform or write what I like.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you feel that you are a better songwriter now than in the 80’s with Queensryche?
Geoff Tate: I tend not to use the words “better” or “worse” when it comes to music. I’m more of an experienced songwriter now. I have done a lot of different musical presentations and written a lot of songs; this is my 18th album with 250+ songs. I have gained a lot of experience writing music [laughing] and have tried a number of different things; a number of different times. Sometimes the same thing with a new twist.
Robert Cavuoto: My favorite tack on the CD was “It Was Always You,” can you provide some insights into its creation?
Geoff Tate: Scott Moughton and I wrote that one. It started off as trying to create a mood; a little bit of a foreboding feeling. It expanded as it went along. The best way to describe it is when you have a feeling about something or someone; a feeling of distrust but you don’t know why. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to be distrustful, you just feel it intuitively. The more you think about it, the more things become revealed to you. The song is about that revelation where someone is behind something which was going on around you.
Robert Cavuoto: When you play live, how will you go about presenting the songs from the three CDs that make up the trilogy?
Geoff Tate: Live is a different animal, I try to play music my audience will want to hear. There are popular songs expected for me to play, so I try to play them in a different form or instrumentation. I like to do different presentations of the older classics as well. It’s fun for me, and I think its fun of the audience. I also try and introduce new music or pull from my catalog that I haven’t played in many years or ever played. On this upcoming tour this January I’m going to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Operation Mindcrime by playing the album in its entirety. That’s about an hour set and then the last 30 minutes will be pulling from my catalog of fan favorites and my favorites.
Robert Cavuoto: Speaking of your favorites, can you share some of the favorite songs you’ve written and look forward to performing live?
Geoff Tate: I like everything [laughing]; there are songs I don’t play anymore that I want to revisit. There is a song off The Warning album, “Before the Storm” which I haven’t played in years. I listened to it just recently and was quite enamored with it. There are so many [laughing]. What I find interesting is a lot of people don’t know how many albums I have. Maybe they got stuck in a period of time with releases and then discover four albums they didn’t know about. They will see me at a show and tell me that just rediscovered the albums. I like doing that myself with a band I admire. It’s always a real treat digging into a band’s history and taking everything you can from them. It’s a real interesting journey like a treasure hunt.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you feel you are in a good place now without Queensryche?
Geoff Tate: Oh heck yeah, very happy! Life is good, and I can’t complain. I get to make music and travel the world presenting it to people. I can take my family along as I enjoy their company.
Robert Cavuoto: I read that this will be the last Mindcrime album; can you clarify that and share what the future holds for you musically?
Geoff Tate: People have been asking me this lately. It started when someone asked me during an interview where they read Operation Mindcrime is not a band it was a project. I told them it was and it was always meant to be a project. It was put together to achieve the goal of presenting this trilogy. Now that the three albums are done, the Operation Mindcrime project is over. Now people are asking why is the band over? [laughing] It never was a band in the first place! It was a bunch of great musicians that I assembled and asked to be a part of and contribute to my story. It’s a project that reached its end. I don’t really know what lies ahead musically for me. I know I have a year and a half of solid touring ahead for me. I’m looking forward to that. We will do North America in the summer.