On Thursday, April 3, House of Blues, West Hollywood, will host a night of progressive heavy metal when Queensryche featuring Geoff Tate perform the critically acclaimed 1988 album, Operation: Mindcrime, for the 25th anniversary of its release. Geoff Tate ranked as one heavy metal’s leading male vocalists and considered “the voice” of Queensryche, along with a stellar lineup of musicians, have received accolades from audiences for their performance of the concept rock opera.
It’s no secret that Queensryche has had their share of controversy over the years with personnel issues. In 2012 Geoff Tate announced a new lineup and would tour as Queensryche starring Geoff Tate the Original Voice to distinguish them. We were able to catch up with Geoff by phone in between tour dates. We wanted to know how the tour was going and to chat a bit about what’s behind one of the greatest voices in heavy metal today.
GEOFF TATE: Are you out in sunny LA?
Q: I am. Where are you right now?
GT: I’m in very cold Texas.
Q: Where do you call home?
Q: So you’re used to rain.
GT: Well yeah, yeah, but it’s nice to get away from that. I was hoping I would do that on this trip, but not so.
Q: How long have you been touring?
GT: Forever. Yeah, we've been touring a lot lately. So I think we’re out until some time in September.
Q: You've got a great band together for this tour.
GT: I do. And what you will see is a very well-rehearsed band who’s been playing a lot so it’s a very tight show; pretty entertaining. I’m enjoying myself.
Q: Who are the band members?
GT: I have Kelly Gray on guitar and Randy Gane on keyboards; two gentlemen that I've been playing music off and on with since about 1979. And then I have Robert Sarzo on guitar, who I've known since about ’85. And then I typically have Rudy Sarzo on bass and Simon Wright on drums, but they just left for another tour, and so I have two other gentlemen stepping in for them who've I've played with a lot, John Moyer, who was in Disturbed on bass and Brian Tichy from Whitesnake on drums.
Q: Now, this show will be all the tracks from Operation: Mindcrime. Tell me about that.
GT: We’re focusing on the 25th anniversary of Operation: Mindcrime on this tour, so we play the entire record and if the audience loves us, then we come out and do an encore of popular tracks.
Q: So how have the audience’s receive it?
GT: Very well. We haven’t missed an encore yet. We must be doing something right.
Q: You’re touring through September. . . will Rudy Sarzo and Simon Wright come back during the tour?
GT: Yeah, Simon and Rudy will be back in May for the continued dates. In September I think that’s when we’ll stop touring all together and I hope to make a record at that time.
Q: Will that be a solo or Queensyrche project?
GT: I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. I know what the music’s going to be. I don’t know what it’s going to be called yet.
Q: You are considered one of heavy metals best male vocalists and That Metal Show ranked you #2 on their Top Five list of vocalists recently, how do you maintain your voice?
GT: My secret?
Q: Well you don’t have to give me your “secret” but do you have a ritual, vocal exercises? You’re singing some pretty demanding stuff.
GT: Well, you know, honestly I don’t think about it much, really. You know, I was born with an ability to sing and then I went to school and learned about music and learned about voice training and I studied with an opera singer and learned the mechanics of how to do it correctly without injuring myself. And so, after that I just stopped thinking about it and focused more on the creative side of writing and songwriting and using my voice in a creative way to express the song and to get the melody across. And I think anyone familiar with my work notices right away that I have a unique phrasing style and I have a very unique choice of melody and I experiment a lot with backup vocals such as harmony work.
Q: You haven’t had any problems so obviously this is working for you.
GT: Like I said the material’s very demanding . . . I've done 19 shows in a row with no problem. Two hour sets every night. And I don’t have a problem. And I think it’s basically the training and then not thinking about it so much. You know mind over matter, you just don’t put yourself in that position where you’re fretting about something, because fretting about it and worrying about it tends to bring on problems. I see a lot of singers who walk around with scarves and they’re reluctant to go out in the weather or do anything physical. They’re afraid to lose their voice and I think that exacerbates the potential for disaster.
Q: Your family works alongside you right? They’re part of the family business.
GT: Yeah. My wife is my manager, has been for years and years. One of my daughters runs our merchandising arm of our company and she went to college, got her degree in marketing. I have another daughter who is a singer and she sings with me on occasion on tour and does singing on various records as well. My son-in-law plays bass with me and guitar in my solo group.
Q: That’s nice, it’s a family business.
GT: It is very nice.
Q: Tell me about the acting you've done.
GT: I've done a little acting. I played a role of a very disturbed serial killer. It was really fun to play. It’s called the “Burningmoore Incident.” That was my first major acting debut. I found it to be quite challenging and really fascinating too because there’s a lot of stuff you have to learn. You have to become this other person and so you have to do a lot of training to become that character. I like learning things. It was very enjoyable to do that kind of work.
Q: Before we go, I’d like to hear about your wine, Insania.
GT: I have a wine called Insania. We make a red and white. They’re Bordeaux style wines that are made in Washington state, which is where I live. Washington state is the second largest wine producer in the country behind California of course. We make some very, very good wine. If you’re wine fan, you’ll definitely like it.