Don’t let the word “farewell” in Geoff Tate’s August tour give you the wrong impression.
The former long-time singer-songwriter of Queensryche isn’t hanging up his microphone. But he is bringing an end to an era with this run of dates.
It’s the last time fans will see him billed as Queensryche (or Queensryche Featuring Geoff Tate, as the current tour puts it).
“It’s only a farewell to the name, which is kind of monumental to me, at least,” Tate said in a late-July phone interview. “I’ve performed throughout my professional career with the name Queensryche, so this will be kind of putting a period on the end of the Queensryche sentence. This will be my last tour being associated with Queensryche in that respect.”
Tate, who performs at the Cotillion on Aug. 28, was fired by the other members of his long-time band shortly following a backstage altercation between Tate and the other core members of Queensryche – drummer Scott Rockenfield, guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson – at an April 2012 show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The group had just fired Tate’s wife, Susan, who was managing the band, and his stepdaughter, Miranda, who ran the fan club. According to the “Seattle Times,” the band tried to negotiate a buyout of the singer, but couldn’t come to an agreement with Tate. So the group fired Tate, which instigated lawsuits over the dismissal and which party would have rights to the Queensryche name.
Today, Tate still can’t understand what his former bandmates were thinking. “I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t even think it was possible,” Tate said of his firing. “Why would you fire the main writer? Why would you do that – and the person who is the face of the band and is the identifying key figure in the success of the group? I don’t mean that to sound egotistical because it’s not. It’s just the truth. Why on earth would you do that? It sounds like career suicide, especially at our ages. We’re all in our 50s, for God’s sake. Why would you break apart this successful thing at this point in life?”
After lawsuits were filed, things got even more confusing when a judge in July 2013 ruled that until the case was adjudicated, both Tate and his former band members could continue to operate under the Queensryche name.
The two sides, though, avoided the huge expense and the emotional turmoil of a trial by reaching an out-of-court settlement in April. The deal gives Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield (as well as newer members, guitarist Parker Lundgren and singer Todd La Torre) rights to the Queensryche name. Tate, meanwhile, will be able to tour and record under the title “Geoff Tate: The Voice of Queensryche.” Tate also won exclusive rights to perform the band’s signature concept albums, “Operation: Mindcrime” and “Operation: Mindcrime II,” in their entirety. Today’s Queensryche has announced that it has started work on a new album.
As for Tate, he’s hasn’t been sitting idle, either. He has been touring with the band lineup he formed after leaving Queensryche (guitarists Kelly Gray and Robert Sarzo, bassist Rudy Sarso, drummer Simon Wright and keyboardist Randy Gane) and has a new album that should be ready to record over the winter.
Tate chose his words carefully in discussing the new album, not wanting at this stage of the project to offer specifics about its lyrics or musical style.
“I can say in a general sense, that it’s conceptual, so there’s a story line that is followed and the music paints the picture and sets the atmosphere for the story to take place,” he said. “How that compares to what we’ve done in the past, I would say look to ‘Mindcrime,’ look to (the 1994 Queensryche album) ‘Promised Land.’ These albums are conceptual pieces of work, so I’ll be working within those parameters.”
Tate will resume work on the album after his current tour ends on Aug. 31. And he likes the musical and personal chemistry he has developed with his new band. The talents of the musicians, Tate said, allows his shows to be less tightly structured than those he performed with Queensryche.
“There’s a lot of ad libbing that goes on, which we hadn’t been able to do with the old Queensryche, because we played everything to a click track,” Tate explained. “We just kind of followed along. The click track was our tempo, our meter and our place holder. Well this, there’s no click track with this band, so we’re playing everything live. And so many times, I’ve looked at everybody and held my hand up and given them a four count, which means we’re going to extend this section four more measures. And so that’s a great thing.
“It’s kind of like in sports where you call an audible. You change up the plan and you create something new at that moment. It’s very much like that. And that’s very, very fun to do and very satisfying.”
If you go
Queensryche Featuring Geoff Tate
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 28
Where: The Cotillion, 11120 W. Kellogg
Tickets: $20-$23; www.thecotillion.com; 316-722-4201