There are only 2 men in the world of Heavy Metal who brought music lovers a crisp operatic vocal style that we have all grown to love; the Metal God himself Rob Halford and this man, Geoff Tate.
Fronting the band Queensryche for over 20 years, Geoff Tate has shown us a side of Metal as well as music that few vocalists have been able to accomplish. His unique vocals, energetic stage presence as well as passion for his songs & his fans is quite hard to match and accomplished by few.
From the moment I heard the Queensryche EP I was hooked! This my friends is all about Geoff Tate & his new album ‘Kings & Thieves’ as well as his upcoming tour with Metal legend Alice Cooper.
Geoff was kind enough to spend some of his time with me to have a fabulous discussion on his career, his inspirations, the tour as well as what drives him to keep on creating for his beloved fans.
TFL: You are one of my all time favorite vocalists Geoff, so anytime I get to do anything for you is just an honor.
GT: Oh Thank You.
TFL: I was listening to the debut track ‘Dark Money’ and I have to agree with your Bio. You said that “I wanted to rock” and it certainly does! Was it hard to jump into another solo project for you?
GT: No, not at all! In fact I have been wanting to do one for 10 years and I just never seemed to have enough time to devote to it. It’s funny, it was New Years Eve and I was sitting around with friends and family, everybody was toasting and making New Years resolutions and it got to be my turn and it just popped in my head this is the year I’m going to do it, I’m going to make a new solo album. So I stared it on January 2nd and finished it on July 15th and accomplished my New Years resolution which I feel really good about!
TFL: One thing I have always enjoyed about your music is you are very much in tune with what is going on politically. I heard it in Operation Mindcrime as well as Empire even with the last Queensryche album. Is that an easy topic for you to write about?
GT: Well, I don’t really consider myself a political person. I’m not interested in politics at all, at least the game aspect of it all…a winner loser campaign all that stuff just bores me to tears. What I am interested in is I guess is the social consciousness of politics like how the decisions that are made effect people, that I find really interesting. I’m a people person, I love talking with people, I love having conversations & I’m interested in people’s relationships and how people interact together. Honestly I just follow that old rule right where you know, that’s what I write about stuff that I’ve lived through or been through or am experiencing or I’m interested in.
TFL: Well I have to agree with you, there is such a big difference in classes. I wouldn’t say poor but you’re either very wealthy or you are NOT is what it’s come down to so i too really relate to that when you’re singing about it & writing about it. Musically you have been a very large influence on me in my lifetime, your operatic vocals are so unique & when one of your songs come on you just know it’s Geoff Tate whether it’s Queensryche or something you’ve done solo. I very much admire what you have accomplished with your life.
GT: Thank You, that’s really kind.
TFL: Now you are here November 8th opening for Alice Cooper. Are you totally stoked about that show?
GT: I am!
TFL: Working with Alice, is that something you’ve done in the past Geoff?
GT: I have played many many shows with Alice over the years, in fact Alice Cooper has had a major impact on my life. He was the ah well when I was a kid I saw the ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ tour was my first concert. It just wowed me, I used that show…it defined my world view at the time (chuckles) ‘wow that’s a rock show?’ He was very theatrical & did unique things in the rock world at that time, it really influenced me and how I visualized a stage show as well as the interaction with the audience.
TFL: With your show now Geoff, what can your fans expect? Obviously you’re going to do as much ‘Kinds & Thieves’ as possible.
GT: Yeah! I’m doing a really interesting set, kind of a combination of both my solo albums plus my favorite Queensryche songs and the Queensryche songs that I hope are the audiences’ favorite. It’s always tough to put together a set list, well I have a lot of material to choose from it’s like I have too many choices (laughs). I guess i shouldn’t complain because that’s a good place to be.
TFL: What is a good example of a favorite Queensryche song of yours?
GT: Well it depends on the moment really, but I’ve got a few eclectic songs that I don’t want to say yet…kind of a surprise…songs that people don’t hear a lot you know songs that have not been played for many many years.
TFL: Well I’m excited because I have the full Queensryche library, including the EP so I have tunes the average person doesn’t have (laughs)
TFL So when you say eclectic I go ‘humm’ with the evil scientist grin like ‘oooh what could it be?’ (laughs)
TFL: I was very excited to hear this and see it so when Jeff asked me if I would do a feature I was absolutely hands down yes! Anything for Geoff Tate, it’s not so much anything for Queensryche…it’s anything for Geoff Tate.
GT: Well Thank You Tracy that’s really nice.
TFL: Your music has gotten me through a lot in my 40 some odd years of life. My 16 years old daughter is now a Queensryche fan so I’m bringing her to your show and this will be her first ‘Metal’ show. She has actually been on You Tube checking out some of your performances and she sees that I’m not kidding, you are quite vocally perfect live and sadly a number of bands just can’t deliver that live.
GT: That’s a struggle that I always have as a performer because I know audiences expect the song to be played like they’re used to hearing it but in years of playing the song I’ve got perhaps a different way of presenting it. Maybe one that’s a little more current, perhaps some of the things I change here and there, I try not to change the major melody themes because you’ve got to keep those in place I think. Little things I change like phrasing sometimes, live there are certain things you can do in the studio that you can’t necessarily do live because you only have one voice. I, as a song writer typically compose on piano or guitar so the songs usually start out in acoustic form because you want to hear what the chord changes are & make sure the notes you are using work well together. I like taking songs back and bringing them in their original form, I love that it’s kind of a test of the musician I think in a sense.
TFL: It’s always a pleasure watching you perform because you do interact very much with your audience, not a lot of front men do that. They get up, sing and thank you good night good bye (laughs) and get off the stage. You tend to really interact and almost feed off of the energy of the audience is giving you.
GT: Oh yeah definitely. A concert is not just a musical performance, it is an interaction, it’s a sharing; if you want to break it down to it’s ancient form music they figure is one of the first forms of human communication & vocalizing was the way we got across our meaning or message before we could actually speak with a vocabulary. I find it to be incredibly exhilarating.
TFL: I know you have inspired many many vocalists that I personally know, who inspires you vocally?
GT: Well I don’t know if anyone inspires me in a strict vocal sense. I suppose when I started out, I grew up in the 70’s and 60’s; those 2 decades in my opinion were some of the most creative times in popular music. I think it’s because the term ‘genre’ hadn’t really been defined as much as it is now. Bands didn’t feel pressured to conform and shape their music to fit a sales box. They were just called Rock Bands & so they were taking all of their musical influences that they cared to contact with and were inspired by and were channelling those into creating this new kind of music which we call Rock music. Nowadays there is tremendous pressure to conform into a genre of some sort that the sales people can use to market what it is you do and it’s a shame in a sense because it definitely takes a lot of the creativity out of music I think. It makes the actual musician feel like he has to stay within the actual confines of the imagination of the public rather than the confines of his own imagination.
TFL: Do those categories and genres bother you at all?
GT: Oh yeah, I hate being categorized and ‘genrefied’. I would rather be referred to as a Rock band or a Rock singer. I wish there wasn’t a term genre.
TFL: Well you’ve given me half an hour Geoff and I know you have a ton of these to do today so I have one last questions. When you think back over the 30 years of your career is there a particular pinnacle moment that stands out to you that you think back on very fondly?
GT: Oh gosh Tracy, I’ve got SO many moments. It’s been a beautiful life and I have to say so many amazing times and experiences. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to do this. The travel alone is worth it’s weight in gold. Being able to go to all of these different places in the world, I’ve traveled and played shows in 48 different countries around the world in front of millions of incredible people & had so many interesting conversations with people not just about music but about life, politics and you name it…I don’t know what else I could have done in life that has given me this much enjoyment, insight and I just feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to do it and I have the fans to thank for it.
Having such a heart to heart conversation was such an honor and one I soon won’t forget! ‘Kings and Thieves’ is being released on November 6, 2012 and is a MUST have rockers! Presenting tracks such as ‘Dark Money’ which has that political poke to it, ‘Take a Bullet’, ‘In The Dirt’ which has a really cool grind to it and two of my favorite tracks are ‘Evil’ and ‘Say U Luv It’.
You will find a song that grabs you and takes you back to a moment in time that opens up your memories & will not leave you with any disappointment. Geoff poured his heart and soul into this album and it OOZES Tate in every way, shape and form.
Be sure to check Geoff out while he is on tour as well, a live show is a MUST SEE! CLICK HERE to view his upcoming tour dates!
We welcome Geoff Tate into our Backstage Live Magazine family and thank him for his time spent with us and wish him all the best on his new album.
HORNS UP Geoff!