Former QUEENSRŸCHE vocalist Geoff Tate recently spoke with Cathy Rankin of Brickhouse TV. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On QUEENSRŸCHE’s classic 1988 album “Operation: Mindcrime”:
Geoff: “I can’t speak for everyone, of course — I only have my perspective — but I was really into it. I’d been wanting to experiment with the conceptual format for quite a while — actually, since the beginning of the band — and if you look at our first two albums, you can see that we were experimenting a lot with themes. I was trying to convince Chris [DeGarmo, guitar], my writing partner at the time, that we should go for a full-blown story. We just didn’t have the story at the time. When I finally had the story and it all started coming together, I think everybody in the band got on board and really contributed a lot of great playing and a lot of good energy towards the record. It was really kind of no holds barred. We went into it with the idea of no limits — that we were going to worry how to play it live later, that we didn’t want to put any restrictions on ourselves by saying, ‘Well, we can’t write this part, because how would we ever do that?’ We just went for it, really. We had Michael Kamen come in and work with us on some of the orchestration and some of the classical-themed music — the accompaniment on ‘Suite Sister Mary’, for example. That was fantastic, because his contributions really helped, I think, fill out that song especially. What I was feeling was excitement and just being engulfed in the story, and trying to make it as realistic as possible. There’s a lot of time and effort and focus spent on the segues between the songs and sound effects and how the songs flow together, that maybe if you weren’t a musician, you wouldn’t notice that, but you’d feel it — like the size of the room that the nurse is walking through. We had figured that out — what the dimensions were, and how many steps it would take to get from the operating table where Nikki was to the door. [Laughs] Little things like that.”
On whether he’s surprised that so many critics have praised the album:
Geoff: “Yeah, because they didn’t at first. It was an album that we put out, and I think that I can speak for the band in saying that everyone in the band was very pleased with it, and very excited and proud of it. We put it out, and nothing. It was sort of like our other albums — [we] sold a small amount of records, and we went on tour and supported it, and it sold a little bit more. It finally came down to [where] we’d spent almost a year on the road supporting the album, and our management said, ‘Time to make another record, boys. We’ve exhausted all the touring opportunities we have for you right now. Got any ideas for a new album?’ We were toying around with new album ideas, and we got a call from [someone at] MTV. He said, ‘I want you to make a video for this album. I love this album. I’m very into it. MTV is behind you. Do what you need to do.’ We scraped up every bit of money we could get and made a series of videos for the album. [We] put the first one, which was ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’, in conjunction with a single, and in two weeks, we sold 500,000 albums. Just, boom. Two more weeks, we went platinum. It really illustrated the power of television at the time. We had a good album, and we had some catchy songs that they could release as singles, and then we had MTV playing it every day.”
On the album’s sound:
Geoff: “What you hear is not the original album. It was remastered because we finished the album — one of the first albums made in digital, and we turned into the record company, and they were, like, covering their ears. ‘Oh, what is this?’ It was so hard… it was really hard to listen to. But that was exciting for us, because that’s what we were trying to make — this really hard album that was just brutal. Cruel was the word that we coined, listening to it. At this time, the record company and audiences weren’t used to hearing digital sound yet. We’d grown up with analog, so everything was softer and nicer and warm. This was really like a punch to the head. They made us remaster it, and I’m glad they did.”
On performing the album live:
Geoff: “Playing the album in its entirety on this [30th anniversary] tour has really been a real treat for me, because I don’t normally play one of my albums all the way through, although I’d like to do that more. This is really special and unique, and I’m really trying to savor every moment and every performance and be grateful for it, because it doesn’t happen all the time, and I don’t know if I’m going to perform it again. Maybe if I’m still able to, the 40-year anniversary. [Laughs] It’s a treat for me to perform it, and I love it, although it’s very difficult to do it night after night. Not so much the singing, but putting yourself in this kind of frame of mind for the character. I’m not a guy that’s like Nikki at all. I’m a lot more gregarious and happier, but he is really, really just an incensed character that is very angry at the world, and it shows in everything he does – his movements, his gestures and all that. Keeping that up for the amount of time every night, performing it, it’s tough.”
On the album’s continued relevance:
Geoff: “I think one of the things about ‘Mindcrime’ that appeals to people and resonates with them is that it does mirror society. It mirrors life. It deals with classic themes of power and no power, love and hate and manipulation, and those themes are prevalent in life. They don’t change. It keeps happening over and over again, although the names change — the players change — but what they do is very similar, age after age after age for who knows how far back. It’s just part of human development. Maybe someday we’ll get to this utopian future where we’re all enlightened, and we all don’t experience jealousy. Maybe we’ll develop past that – that would be great — but until then, it just keeps happening.”
On envisioning his retirement:
Geoff: “If and when I can retire at some point, what I’d like to do with my time [is] just spend it in the vineyard. There’s a point where you’ve got to kind of hang up your rock n’ roll shoes and only come out on occasion. I’ve got 19 albums, and I really want to do at least 20, so I think I have one more album in me, maybe two.”
For most of 2018, Tate celebrated the 30th anniversary of “Operation: Mindcrime” by playing the iconic concept album live in its entirety.
The “Mindcrime” live set covers all 15 songs from the album including such fan favorites as “Revolution Calling”, “Operation: Mindcrime”, “I Don’t Believe In Love” and the closing track, “Eyes Of A Stranger”.
His current touring band features Kieran Robertson from Scotland on guitar, Bruno Sa from Brazil on keyboards, Jack Ross from Scotland on bass, Scott Moughton from Canada on guitar, Josh Watts from England on drums and Geoff Tate’s daughter Emily, who is singing the parts of Sister Mary.