FORMER QUEENSRŸCHE SINGER GEOFF TATE SAYS HE IS NOT SURE THAT THE BAND WILL EVER REUNITE FOR LIVE SHOWS, STATING [FORMER DRUMMER] SCOTT [ROCKENFIELD] “[HAS] A LOT OF MEDICAL PROBLEMS”
Marko Syrjala of Metal-Rules.com spoke with former Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate. Portions of the interview appear below.
Metal-Rules.com: Last week, you closed an essential chapter in your career when you completed the Operation Mindcrime tour, which lasted over two years. Are you going to put that album to rest now, or do we see more Operation Mindcrime gigs in the future, for example, at the next anniversary?
Geoff Tate: Yeah, the 40th anniversary [laughter]. Yeah, I’ll be in my 70s [laughter]. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll probably be doing it by then, but I’m glad I had the chance to do this one. It went a lot longer than I ever anticipated. I’m very happy about that. I think we did 28 countries and 26 months of touring. It’s a long, long tour. As you said, we just finished it two days ago in Australia. The last show was in Melbourne, which was a great show, actually, a really fantastic show. So, I’m happy to end it on a high note and in a good place and in front of a very enthusiastic audience, so that was good.
Metal-Rules.com: Another essential thing you completed a few years ago was the Operation Mindcrime album trilogy. (New Reality was released in 2017). I remember that when you started writing it. Then you said that trilogy was going to be one of your most ambitious work to date. Now that it’s done, and some time has gone by, how the whole thing went, and is there something you’d still like to do with it?
Goeff Tate: I’ve always wanted to play it live. I just can’t figure out how to do it, because it’s so long [laughter, yeah. It’d be a very long show. But maybe someday I’ll do a series of small shows, maybe film it or something like that. I’d like to do something like that with it. Yeah, I’m glad I did the whole project. I’m glad I got it out of my head, and I’m glad it came out, yeah.
Metal-Rules.com: When you promoted The New Reality, you announced that “the album would be the last for the band.” You said, “This group of musicians was put together specifically for this project…this is the last album of the trilogy and the last album for Operation Mindcrime”. So, does it mean that Operation Mindcrime band doesn’t exist anymore?
Geoff Tate: Well, it never was a band. It was just a project. And it was a group of people I put together [to] record the music that I had, and it was very fun. A fun project to do because of all the different personalities and all the different players and the scope of it. It was just a lot of music. So, it was challenging…We had a lot of good times making the record. But it never was a band. In fact, when we toured, we had all kinds of different configurations of those people involved, depending on who could dedicate their time to it at specific times. I think there’s a lot of people who always want to put the title band on something. There are bands. Yeah, definitely. Queensrÿche was a band. But everything doesn’t have to be a band. It could be a project, a group of people getting together, it can be one person, it can be two people doing the whole thing. But Operation Mindcrime never was “a band band.”
Metal-Rules.com: Years ago, there was a lot of talk and rumors regarding a possible collaboration between you, Rob Halford, and Bruce Dickinson. That “project” was known as Three Tremors, but it never actually happened. But in 2016, you had another project with Tim “Ripper” Owens and Blaze Bayley.
Geoff Tate: Trinity. Well, the idea of Trinity came from the Three Tremors. Rob Halford was doing a solo project, and Queensrÿche and Iron Maiden– the three of us all were on tour together. And we all had a day off, and we were at an Italian restaurant. And it’s a big dinner. Everybody’s drinking, telling stories, having a good time. And Rod Smallwood their manager brings the waiter over and says, “What’s this music we’re listening to? It sounds like opera or something.” And the waiter said, “Oh, it’s the famous opera singer[s]– it’s called the Three Tenors.” And Rod thought that was the funniest thing he’d heard. He stood up with his glass and he– “I’d like to propose a toast. I think that Bruce and Rob and Geoff should tour together under a new name, and we’ll call it the Three Tremors. What do you think?” And we all went, “Haha, yeah. Great.”
Metal-Rules.com: Actually, Tim “Ripper” Owens is currently touring with Sean Peck (Cage), and Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer) under the name “The Three Tremors.” They also released a full-length album under that name.
Geoff Tate: I don’t know who those guys are, but yeah. I think Ripper continued the idea along, and he’s doing it with somebody else.
Metal-Rules.com:….The current thing now is the Rage for Order – Empire tour, where you perform both classic albums in its entirety. Of course, you have always been playing a lot of tracks from those albums. But isn’t it challenging to go literally back, listen, re-learn, and then perform also a couple of songs you’ve never played live before?
Geoff Tate: Actually, there are several songs on the Empire album that I’d never played live before. So yeah, it was quite fun to do, kind of a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to play a lot of those songs. And the tour’s gone really well, so far. I’m really, really enjoying it. It’s two very different albums because we start with Rage For Order which is a pretty dark and moody album, right? And then Empire is a lot more up, and lively and accessible. I guess it’s a whole different kind of presentation, really. So, it’s kind of fun doing that in a way because you have your dark and your light.
Metal-Rules.com: As you said, there are a lot of songs on the set you’ve never performed live before. When you started rehearsing the tour, were there songs you had forgotten entirely?
Geoff Tate: Oh, yeah. All of them [laughter]. All of them. Yeah! [laughter]. No. It’s funny. I just had to learn the lyrics of two songs. Everything else I remembered. And I find that with me if I write something, I remember it. If I’m not the writer on it and I’m playing somebody else’s song or singing their lyrics, I have a hell of a time remembering it.
Metal-Rules.com: But you don’t need to use a teleprompter on stage?
Goeff Tate: I need a teleprompter on my phone to get the lyrics on my bone [laughs]…
Metal-Rules.com: The Empire album will be reissued later this spring, right?
Geoff Tate: Yes. The box set. Yeah. It should be coming out — I don’t actually know when it’s coming out. But I’m assuming it’s going to be coming out soon because I signed off on all of it, so.
Metal-Rules.com: Did the record company also discuss this project with the former guitarist and songwriter Chris De Garmo?
Geoff Tate: De Garmo? No. I don’t know if he wanted to or if — I don’t know. I didn’t talk to him about it. I know nothing. He’s so far removed from everything that it’s like he doesn’t really exist, except in our collective memory or something.
Metal-Rules.com: Yeah, it’s been forever since he left the band, and the music business overall.
Geoff Tate: Oh, it’s been forever. Yeah, over twenty years. My youngest daughter doesn’t even know him [laughter]. No memory of him [laughter].
Metal-Rules.com: However, last November you once again said that Queensrÿche should reunite because it would make sense, and it would be an exciting thing to do. Now that the Empire reissue is soon coming out, wouldn’t this be a perfect time and time to make it happen? If nothing else but a one-time performance by the band’s classic line-up. It would be a dream come true for the band long-time fans.
Geoff Tate: I don’t know if that’ll ever happen, honestly. I don’t see it as likely happening. Again, never say never because things could really change. But I don’t know if Scott will ever play drums again. He [has] a lot of medical problems and things like that now. So yeah, I don’t know. And Chris will never play again.
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