Geoff Tate is no stranger to the spotlight. During his time as the frontman and mastermind behind the powerhouse group Queensryche, he churned out fifteen albums and was nominated for three Grammys and five MTV Music Video Awards, for which he won Viewers Choice. From 1984 until 2011, Queensryche was one of the top progressive rock bands on the planet, selling over 20 million albums and constantly pushing the envelope and putting on insane performances across the globe. So it only stands to reason that someone used to this caliber of performance and success would have something special up their sleeve for their return to the game. For Tate, it’s Operation: Mindcrime.
Tate has surrounded himself with musical royalty for his new group, including John Moyer from Disturbed, Simon Wright, who has worked with ACDC and Ronnie James Dio, and Brian Tichy, who has shared the stage with Whitesnake, Billy Idol, and Foreigner (just to name a few). The name for the group comes from a concept album Tate wrote and released during his time with Queensryche, which is fitting considering the first project released by the group is entitled The Key, and is itself Part One of a three piece concept album devised by Tate. In order to find out what the lock might be, and what else is going on behind the mastermind himself, we sat down with Tate to chat about the tour and his show at The Catalyst this Friday, February 12.
GOOD TIMES: You guys are on quite the tour, with close to 40 shows in two months. As a musician who has spent his life touring, do you pretty much have it down to a science?
GEOFF TATE: Yeah, I mean over the years it hasn’t changed at all really. You hit the road and do as many shows as you possibly can. When you tour in the states there really isn’t too long to drive, so typically we drive at night and everybody sleeps, pretty much recharges the batteries. After that it’s sound checks, song arrangements, work on song choices and set lists so we can interchange them easily if we need to. We work on sections of the show that we wanna make better, interspersed with public appearances, up at 6am doing morning radio shows, and playing acoustically on morning TV. It’s a pretty active schedule.
GT: Your new album The Key is your first as Operation: Mindcrime. How would you say it differs from previous Queensryche albums, if it does at all?
TATE: Well, I wouldn’t describe it. I think it’s more of a one-on-one personal experience that people have. There really isn’t any accurate way to describe it. Art in itself is so subjective. Art is just art, not good or bad. You could not understand it or not be moved by it, but for you to put a judgment on whether it’s good or bad doesn’t make any sense. I have kind of a signature sound and way of doing things musically that is really based on my own musical journey, so you’re going to hear a similarity in what I do over the years. What I tried to do on this project is push a little harder to stray from the signature style and go into some unexplored territory. I would push the envelope a lot harder, but I have to balance the crazy stuff with the audience’s ability to keep up with me.
GT: You’ve shared the stage with some pretty awesome talent (including the guys in the band now). Who do you think was the most interesting musician you’ve played with?
TATE: There’s quite a few, but to name some I would say somebody like John Anderson from YES was really interesting, and David Palmer from Jethro Tull, but really Anderson in particular. He is a truly brilliant writer and incredible stage performer.
GT: As a wine connoisseur and owner of your own vineyard, are you looking forward to getting into to any wine tasting action in the area?
TATE: We typically go out to wherever we’re at, and we find a wine region if we have the day to ourselves. We go a lot with recommendations from people we know. We go with friends to a lot of places. I’m very fortunate to have performed in over 60 countries throughout the world, allowing me to develop relationships with people all over and correspond over the years. We’ve got friends everywhere from Alabama to Malaysia that we get to do cool stuff with when we are in town.
GT: What are you listening to right now?
TATE: Not much besides my own stuff [laughs]. I’m finishing up a three part trilogy, and all my spare listening time has been put into that, a little bit of building a new setlist for the US tour but mainly working on the last album of the trilogy. I’m looking forward to being finished with it this summer so I can start listening to some new stuff.