Heart of Steel: Interviews

Geoff Tate Interview

Interview and Live Photos by Maureen McQueeney

I've been a fan of Geoff Tate since the 80's. In fact, his band Queensryche was the only band that I was a member of the fan club for!! When I heard Geoff Tate would be playing at The Birch Hill, I knew I had to go...as luck would have it I was also granted an interview with the man himself. We spoke of his new solo CD which is a musical departure from what most know him for. We also spoke of Queensryche of course. It sounds like the future for the band might not be certain...considering members of his now solo band are the ones doing most of the writing for the upcoming Queesryche CD!!

After the interview I got to see the band live. They played a full 2 hour set opening with a couple of Queensryche songs which included, "The Killing Words" and "Gonna Get Close to You" as well as most of his solo cd and a bunch more QR thrown in the mix. The audience seemed to really be into the solo material. After the show I was able to meet the rest of the band. An eclectic mix of talented musicians that are truly excited about this new venture!

I just heard your new release and you sound incredible, as always.

Thank you.

I expected to hear something different from Queensryche, but the similarities were definitely there. Then again, it was completely different. :laughs:

I think what sounds similar is probably me. My melody choice and my phrasing are pretty identifiable, you know? But the music itself and the feel of the record is very, very different than Queensryche. The people I made the record with, the writers, they don't come from a metal or rock background. They come from jazz, classical, R& B and soul backgrounds so, that makes the music sound quite different then what the people might expect or might associate with Queensryche.


When did you make the decision to go solo?

When DeGarmo left the band, he was the main song/music writer of the band. So, it left a huge, gaping hole in the chemistry of Queensryche, really. So, that's when I began thinking about doing something else. It took me awhile to find the right people and figure out what they wanted to do, musically. And also, to keep Queenryche going at the same time was a lot of work. So it took me a little longer than I wished, but I really like the outcome of it.


Where did you find the guys?

Seattle. They are all Seattle musicians.

Seattle is a great place!!

Yea, there are quite a lot of good musicians in Seattle.


So is Jeff (Carrell) the person you did all the writing with?

Jeff, Howard, Evan and myself wrote a majority of the record. Scott Moughton and a gentleman by the name of Roco Polan worked with me in co-writing "Helpless."


I took a look at your touring schedule. It looks grueling. Every night of the week! How do you do that? Your voice can take it?

:laughs: Yea, so far!! So far so good!

So how is it going? (the tour) How is everyone out there?

Oh, It's great! First off, the band, we're just playing really well, having a great time. It's a really easy-going atmosphere within the group dynamic. The shows are going over really well. People are digging the show. I would call it a success. Things are going great.

So the Queenryche fans are really receptive this?

Yea, Queensryche fans are pretty open-mined, musically. They are kinda musically sophisticated, I like to say. They like a lot of different types of music. I think there is something on this record that they would find appealing.


Do you think most of the fans here are Queenryche fans or did you bring in a new fan base?

I don't know. I would think most of them right now are Queensryche fans. I think when they release the next single they are going to shop it to different mediums. I think we will see a different change in the audience at that point.


I read a few articles on the Internet that there was some "angst" between the members of Queenryche when you went solo.

No. We all sort of… We are a really dysfunctional group of people.

Like everyone! (we both laugh)

But maybe more so with us because we've been together for so long, and we don't often communicate well together. So, that's the point I was trying to make in the interview I did. We are just a dysfunctional group of people. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. We make it work. It's our little dynamic that we have, that works for us.


Where did all of you meet? The members of Queensryche?

Just the scene. The Seattle scene. It's a small music scene and everyone kind of knows each other.

Were you friends with Layne? (Staley)

No. Layne's been kind of a recluse for years because he was an addict. He just kind of lived to do drugs. He hadn't seen anybody.. especially after his girlfriend died, he went into hiding.


I also read that there was an interview on station WMMR - then afterwards, you released a statement thanking them (WMMR) because apparently during the interview, some stuff came out, but since then, all of the members of Queensryche have spoken and worked out their differences. And in that statement you capitalized the word, "ALL". Does that "ALL" include Chris DeGarmo?

No. Chris is not a member of Queenryche anymore. Chris won't ever… I can pretty safely say that he will never rejoin Queensryche.

So your relationship with Chris is completely over?

No. We plan on doing some stuff outside of Queensryche. But he doesn't want to be in Queensryche anymore.


Have you heard his band, "Spys4Darwin"?

Yea. Oh yea.

It's great stuff. I love it.

Yea, it's good.


Do you have any idea what happened to them? Suddenly, their website is gone and I can't find them.

Well, I would assume that they never got a record deal. It happens…


So, Queensryche is already in the studio… Who is doing the writing?

Well, we've done it quite different this time. I've been writing with several other people outside of Queensryche. Michael, Scott & Ed contributed on one song and the rest of the songs were written by myself with Jeff Carroll and Evan and Howard and another gentleman by the name of Mike Stone (?) contributed.


Wow! So the guys in your new band are contributing…

Well, we wrote the songs. Part of the plan was to … having written the songs, we hand them off to those guys and then they put their stamp on it. Nobody else plays on it other than Michael, Eddie & Scott.

Why did Kelly leave?

Because we asked him too.

(we both laugh) ok then…

What happened with "The Three Tremors" (Halford, Dickinson & Tate)?

Nothing. It was just kind of an idea that was lightly talked about at dinner. People do that. Often times, "What if we do this?" or "What if we do that?" And it just never got off the ground. I think once we started talking about it, we didn't really have anything in common musically. Secondly, to make a record you really have to focus in on it. Hang out together, write, it's a six-month endeavor - the writing. Then a few months to record it. And then a tour, you know? You have to be really able to put the time into it. None of us have the time. Maybe in the future we'll find ourselves with time on our hands and a want to do something. I think we all respect each other as singers but can we find some sort of musical ground that's common.


Well, if I can just finish this off with a couple of more personal questions. Like what do listen to on your time?

I listen to everything. I have a huge record collection. I listen to old stuff. Old favorites. I listen to a lot of Jazz. Real avante guard kind of musicians Jazz where there's no lyrics and stuff, I listen to R&B and soul from the classic Motown years. Let's see.. I listen to atmospheric stuff like David Sylvian, Oh god, just all kinds of stuff.


And what do you do up there in Seattle with your free time. I know you are married with 4 little girls, right?

Yea! I just hang out with them. My wife and I like to take trips. We go sailing; we go ride the motorcycles. We are going on a big trip in August. We're taking off and going to Montana to pick up her Dad, who rides, then going to Sturgis for the bike rally, then heading down to Reno to visit Grandma, then back up to Seattle. So we have this big triangle ride. It's going to be great!


Sounds like a lot of fun! I guess that's about it. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I appreciate it.


L-R: Scott Moughton (lead guitar), Chris Fox (bass), Jeff Carrell (R. Guitar), Geoff Tate (vocals), Howard Chilcott (keys), Evan Schiller (Drums)

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