William Clark of Music Enthusiast Magazine spoke with Queensryche guitarist Michael Wilton about their new album, why Geoff Tate is no longer a member of the band and the other version of Queensryche featuring their former singer on vocals.
William: Looking out over all of the albums released so far under the Queensryche name, which do you feel was “The Last Great Queensryche Album” and why?
Michael: Well, if you’re looking at “record sales,” I think Empire was our biggest selling album. So, if you’re looking at it as sales, than that’s sort of the epitomy of where Queensryche collided with popular opinion, rather than being a speciality band. We were lucky to collide with MTV at the time where MTV was playing videos, we toured with some great bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and that really sparked the whole sales figures, it was great for the record company, and everything was really cooking back in the early 90’s.
William: There have been some details about Geoff Tate writing all of the material for the band’s past couple of records. What was the last Queensryche album you had a strong part in creating?
Michael: Well, we had an album called Tribe, and that was back when we were co-managed, when his wife started managing the band. I think that was the last album where it was a good creative output for everybody, and consequently we managed to get Chris DeGarmo back into the fold and bring some of his songs onto the table, and we got that going. So I think that album, even though it was kind of a quiet album I think that one has some special songs on there for different reasons.
William: Was there a certain event that made you and the rest of the band finally decide to kick Geoff out of Queensryche?
Michael: Yeah, I mean basically if you look at any business, it’s built upon the strength of it’s infrastructure. Viewing this as a business end and a creativity entity, we just weren’t clicking on all cylinders. You have basically situations that grow over time where decisions are being made, and people don’t quite agree with the philosophy. In a nutshell, we were creatively going different ways. And as a business, questioning some of the business decisions. I think those were kind of going in an opposite way of what others perceive. Just trying to keep a thread into your past and keep that fanbase. Trying to keep your albums on their coffee tables and not take such outlandish risks. Any business would question that.
William: What is it like, working with [singer] Todd [La Torre] as compared to working with Geoff?
Michael: Well, obviously you have a renewed energy. The chemistry within the band is renewed, and it’s got a different dynamic now. Basically we want to rock, we like the hard rock element, we like a bit of the progressive element, we want to collaborate with our fanbase and really make this a situation where we listen to the audience and hear what they want, and we build upon that. Queensryche has always been a touring act, that’s what we did in the early days. We were a guitar duo band and toured the world, and worked our asses off to get the respect of the audience. And I think that we’ve come full circle and we’re at that point again. For the following years we’re going to work our asses off and get the respect of the audiences again, and just really show this new energy and this new chemistry with Todd La Torre as our new frontman. And you know what, it’s just a lot of fun again. In the past, it was just becoming “This is a job. This is just a business, this is a job”, and there was no fun in it. It’s come back to how we started out in the beginning, a bunch of guys having fun, working hard and doing what they love.
William: I think that’s great. What are your thoughts about that other band named Queensryche going around, with Geoff on vocals?
Michael: You know, I try not to step on that subject too much. Obviously I’m aware of it, but I really do not pay too much attention to it. So I can’t really say, other than I’m really stoked on what we’re doing. I think what we’re doing is rebuilding the brand, rebuilding the business and just surrounding ourselves with fluent people who are willing to push us in a positive direction. In our previous situation, everything was being done by a family, basically, and it was kind of a one-trick-pony situation. Now, it’s like you’ve got to use your contacts and your friends in the business to push your business, and to help you generate positive growth. That’s kind of what I’m consumed with at the moment, and that other stuff is being taken care of on a legal aspect, and we’re all good with that. We’re really concentrating on rebuilding the business, rebuilding the brand and showing the fans who have been waiting so long to see a good hard rock show that we’ve got it.
William: How will the new Queensryche album compare to such recent outings as American Soldier and Dedicated To Chaos?
Michael: I think it’s going to be it’s own animal, I don’t think it’s going to be anything like those. As far as the last album, I don’t even know what guitar parts of mine were used. You know, American Soldier had some good elements, some great moments, but I think first and foremost there’s got to be a thread to your lineagy, to your past albums. And I think that is what we’re trying to capture, I think. We’re doing the inevitable, 180-degree flip flop, you know? We want to recapture elements of our past, but yet show progress in our writing ability. We’re progressive people, so in that aspect you know you’re going to get a little of the past albums, and by past albums I mean the first five. And then a lot of new creative energies, so I think it’s going to be quite a contrast to the last few you just spoke about.
Read more at Music Enthusiast Magazine.
Watch a trailer for Queensryche’s new album below.