Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with Geoff Tate

GEOFF TATE

Interview by Carl Buxton

Operation:Mindcrime is the band name former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate has been performing under in recent years. 'The New Reality' the third album by Geoff Tate's band completes the trilogy that was started by 'The Key' in 2015 and followed up with 'Resurrection' the following year, with many media outlets wrongly portraying the themes and ideology behind Geoff's vision, so who better to explain the trilogy's concept than the man himself. Fireworks hooked up with Geoff at his home in Seattle.


Geoff-Tate

I believe the worldwide release is on December 1st?

I believe so, yeah, I'm actually looking forward to that because I don't have a copy of it yet. (laughs)

Oh really? The studio must be just down the road from you – London Bridge studios, where the other two albums were recorded I believe?

Yeah, we recorded all the basic tracks at London Bridge, the bass and the drums, and then we did pretty much everything else in my house, between my house and my studio.

You must have heard the final mixes before submitting it to the record company I'm sure?

Yeah, I just haven't heard the whole thing as one piece yet, other than my initial demo of it that I did. It's always kind of different when you hear it back on a CD, at least for me – I don't know about the others – hearing it when you're mixing it or mastering it, that's one thing. But then to hear it on a CD it's quite different I think, kind of changes a bit.

How easy or difficult was it to stay focused for the three years that you've been involved in writing and producing this trilogy up until its final conclusion, and how happy are you with the result?

Well I'm very happy that it's finished. I quite enjoyed the whole process. In fact it became something that I lived and breathed for quite a long time. It was really a labour of love putting this group of albums together and I was so involved with every aspect of it. But I really particularly enjoyed all this collaboration I have with different people on the records.

Talking about drummers you've got Simon Wright, Brian Tichy, and Scott Mercado that you've used in the past. I think he brought his jazz style drumming from Candlebox to the table. Regarding drummers, for example, were you looking for specific qualities of musicianship for particular songs, or was it just a general idea to work with different people. I know you've said in the past you want to work with quality musicians and with Operation:Mindcrime you don't want to be stuck in a band situation with the same guys year in, year out.

Yeah, well for drummers, well, for everybody really, when you're putting together an album it becomes a bit of a social experiment (laughs) ...in that I wanted to pick drummers that I respect and I really like their work, and some people that I've worked with in the past. What I did was I just sort of fed them the material and see what they gravitated towards. In my experience, when somebody likes something, it's a huge motivator for them to perform well on what it is they're given, so I would just hand them the material and see what they wanted to play on, and they would always gravitate towards certain things, and that way I'd be kind of assured that I would get the best kind of performance I could out of them.

What if some guys picked the same song?

That didn't happen. I wasn't in that scenario where I had to make a choice, which is good. (laughs)

What has been the feedback from 'The Key' and 'Resurrection' so far, from the critics, fans, and general touring from the shows?

Oh, that's all been very positive. I haven't really concentrated on playing the new album much live. I'm just kind of letting it sink in with people.) I have a lot of songs that people don't know about. I guess I have...well this is my 18th album and something like 227 songs, something like that, a lot of people don't know about all the music out there and I find that interesting and somewhat comical, but it's also great fun because I get to introduce audiences to new material all the time who haven't heard it. (laughs)

Well I'm sure there are fans at your concerts who weren't even born when the first Queensryche album came out for example so...

Oh yeah.

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It must be interesting for you, especially as a performer to see a lot of young faces in the audience.

It is. It's really interesting, and they're young enough to be my children (laughs) That's kind of weird!

With the trilogy completed was the concept behind it, and correct me if I'm wrong, about virtual currencies, internet banking and stock trading?

(laughs) No, that wasn't it at all. (laughs again) I think that was somebody's idea. No, it's kind of a difficult story to tell really. It's kind of one that reveals itself the more you listen. But primarily, in a nutshell, to try to define it, it's about the struggle of human beings with each other and to accept a world view that is different than the one they grew up with – how about that?

I guess everything will make sense if you play them all back to back?

That's the idea, yeah. But don't play them backwards because that will mess you all up." (both laugh) "One of the key things to think about is really look at the title of the tracks. The title of the tracks kind of tells you a story as you read them, if that makes sense.

Kind of, but with the trilogy completed though, is it possible for you to expand on what you've just described to help the listener more understand the concept?

You know, I don't know what to tell you, honestly. The way that the lyrics are constructed, the way the songs are put together, there are key phrases that will stand out to the listener at various times, and those key phrases are designed to stand out, and to be repetitive at times and to make a point that you follow. If you follow that, it will take you on a thread, and that thread will lead you around and to a big circle and that's when it all kind of makes sense. (laughs)

But if you're selling your art, how would you sell it?

I wouldn't sell it. That's not my gig. (laughs)

But you want people to invest in what you're doing, surely?

Well, you know, if they choose to. I'm really not a good salesman. It's never been my forté or my interest. I think there are ideas on the records that will really cause people to think quite deeply about their own personal scenarios. I think that this time that we're living in it's a fascinating time. You can really see it exhibited every day in the news and how much turmoil there is in the world right now. It's like an undulating rollercoaster ride and I think the reason why there's so much turmoil is that we're all communicating with each other at such a high rate now. We're tuned in to what's going on all over the world, and we're talking about it and there are these massive discussions that are happening - social discussions like 'What are the lines?', 'Where do we draw boundaries?', 'How do we treat each other?', you know, 'What's right?', 'What's wrong?' It's like a global questioning of reality that we're in right now. For example, it's not okay to treat women the way some men treat women now, and we're seeing that in the news with all these allegations where women are coming forward and saying they've been sexually molested, and so we're forced to have a global discussion about well what is right, what is wrong.

It used to be okay and acceptable for people to own other people as slaves, and it got to a point where we said 'Nope! That's not right anymore' you need to change your ways, or it used to be okay for people to just randomly shoot each other and kill each other and take their land and their valuables. Well, we got past that, and we said 'No, that's not gonna work.' We used to think it was okay, and this cracks me up, with you being British, that British people believed whole-heartedly that the king and the queen were appointed by God (laughs) and they were holy and they were better than them, and they could do whatever they wanted and people believed that stuff, for centuries, it was a big con! People believed it was the truth, so now, because of our ability to communicate, we're questioning all these truths that we grew up and we're finding out that, wow, almost everything we know, we learned from growing up. Language for example, or our ideas on time for example. Time does not exist, time is a man-made construct and we're now finally recognising that and saying to ourselves, well, if we made it up, we can re-make it can't we? Yeah we can! We don't have to believe in what we learned from primitive people, we can get past that now. And that's kind of the message of the entire trilogy. It's a journey of one guy trying to pursue that concept of changing his reality and the struggles he goes through along the way, with people that don't want that reality changed, because they benefit from the way reality is at the moment.

You've just explained the trilogy rather succinctly. Thank you.

Geoff's band Operation:Mindcrime tours the UK and Ireland starting in Dublin on January 11th with support coming from his daughter's band Till Death Do Us Part. For the first hour he will be performing the album 'Operation: Mindcrime' in its entirety for its 30th anniversary.

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