The Eyes of A Stranger.. Geoff Tate Speaks Out.
Geoff Tate is no exception to the world of Heavy Metal, having fronted 'Queensryche' from 82, he 1st recorded the bands demo but remained with his previous band 'Myth' up until joining the band permanently to record the bands debut EP 'Queen of the Reich' a successful EP that shocked the world with their unquiet style of music and amazing vocals by Geoff. This was followed by 'The Warning' in 84, a fantastic album what saw the band supporting 'Dio' around Europe and the UK.
Geoff has come along way since he recorded successful albums like 'Operation Mindcrime', 'Empire', and his last album with the Ryche was 'Dedicated to Chaos' in 2011. Since then Geoff went his separate ways and formed his own band having recorded 3 project albums with the likes of Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy/ Quiet Riot), Simon Wright (Dio, AC/DC) among other musicians.
I managed to catch u with Geoff Tate in December 2018 in Hull (UK) on his recent tour and had a chat about the tour, his days in the Ryche and the future. Here is what he had to say.
Well it is good to see you again Geoff, it has been a while. I'd like to ask you if you ever remember playing in Hull before? Also do you have any great memories from that tour?
"Well it is good to see you again, as for your question, I kind of thought the city looked familiar before and it has been a long time I believe. (Ed: It was in 84 when Queensryche supported Dio at the Hull City Hall). Wow that was some time ago. I have some great memories from that tour, it was our 1st tour of the UK & I think we did something like 30 dates around the country and I drove the band on that tour. This was because I wanted to see the countryside and see all the historical places and castles you have over here.
So I was constantly pulling the van over and taking my camera out and telling the band this is where a famous battle took place (laughing). We didn't have a big tour bus back then. (Ed: How did you get on that tour?) Well Ronnie was a big fan and he liked our stuff and he was one of our very 1st champions who paid attention to our music and liked it.
He was gracious to take us out on tour and he was great, he treated us so well and helped us with how touring works and he gave us all the stage room that we wanted on that tour.
He gave us the lights and the sound that we wanted it was fantastic."
That tour also saw you play and record you're 1st live video in Japan, that must of been a great experience.
"Well a lot of bands back then were filming the 1st shows in Japan, and MTV was starting to be very big back then. It worked out a lot faster than radio did."
It is strange that everybody knows about 'The Warning' album but not many people knew about the EP 'Queen of the Reich'.
"Yes that is true and still is, there are people who don't even know about the EP to this date. A lot of people who are fans of mine don't even know that we did albums after 'Empire'. I guess it depends on where you are at that time."
Moving on growing up in your youth was there anybody in you're family that were into playing musical instruments?
"Yes my dad, he played the woodmen's clarinet and my mother was a singer and piano player. I started playing the piano when I was 9yrs old and I played in school orchestra's up until high school. I built my 1st synthesizer from a kit when I was 16 yrs old from a company called 'Paia' I think they were called. (Ed: did you're mother show you how to pay the piano and also show you how to sing with the breathing techniques?) No she really wasn't into that, she wasn't really a good teacher"
What did you're parents think of you starting Queensryche?
"Well they couldn't believe I was doing it, I think they were in total disbelief as they were when you are kids and they totally supported me and were amazed how I did all those vocals. You have to go what feels good in your heart and mind, a natural thing."
So who inspired you to become a singer?
"Well nobody really inspired me to become a singer, it was just something that I fell into as I was the only one that could hit the notes (laughing). All the bands in high school at that time wanted to cover bands like Rush. I 1st started playing in cover bands that is how you learn. I was in a band called 'Babylon' that wrote some pretty cool music kind of more in line with Rush '2112', then I was in a band called 'Myth' which was heading more towards the Rainbow side of Rock.
(Ed: Do you speak to the old members of 'Myth' and try to reform?). Yes I still speak to the old members and our guitarist Kelly Grey was also in Myth & Randy Gane did a project in 2017. I 1st met Kelly in 1979 and we wrote songs together, it's easy making music but trying to sell it is another ball game."
When you look back at the albums you recorded with you're previous band 'Queensryche' is there an album that you really like or dislike?
"Well I really like the last album we did together 'Dedicated to Chaos' I thought it was a really good representation of collaborating with the band and everybody was contributing music to the project and I love the mix that Kelly got from that record."
As this is a tour for the successful album 'Operation Mindcrime' which has taken you around the world have you ever thought of doing a tour for the 'Empire' , 'Rage for Order' & 'The Warning' albums?
"Yes I have thought about it. I think we will do 'Empire' tour next and I am on a touring schedule from hell. I started the tour in January of 2017 until December 2018, I had 3 wks off the tour and the tour ends 23rd of December 2018.
I start it up again in February 2019 doing a series of tours in places like Turkey, Cyprus and other places. In March I join up with 'Avantasia' tour which starts at the end of March and it is going to be a really great show with various singers and musicians. put together by Edguy singer Tobias Sammet.
The tour goes to the UK, Europe, USA and Asia. This is my 2nd appearance on this project and the songs that I appear on are rather spectacular and I was very impressed with them. Tobias wrote all the lyrics for the album I just did my part in the studio for the album."
How has this tour been going for you? Does it take it out of you touring for so long?
"I feel good, strong and I love my band and there playing their asses off every night and I am on my 3rd drummer now. I have a drummer from Brazil who had played with Jeff Scott Soto, Yngwie Malmsteen, and he is only do this run of the tour. I have known him for many years and he told me that he knew all my songs and if I ever needed a drummer I'd be the guy for the job."
Moving on let's talk about the last album 'A New Reality' how long did it take to record this album?
"Well I recorded all 3 albums together back to back, I think it took about 6 months to record them all. There was a lot of process writing the songs. I had all of it planned out and I had all the sketches of the songs and musical pieces put together in a blue print. The hardest thing for me was picking which take to use on the album,
I had lots of different people playing on the albums and they pulled out so many amazing performances. So I had to choose which take I wanted to use for the songs on the records. They would give me 5 takes of excellence."
Where all 3 albums a concept album?
"Yes they were, there are themes that you can hear from the 1st album that you can hear on the 3rd album and there are bread crump's of the audio dialog and also musical phrases that show up on throughout the records if you put them all back to back. I suggest you listen too them that way as it is rather fun."
How well is the last album selling for you so far?
"To be honest I really don't know (laughing). I don't play any of the songs from that album on this tour."
Do you have songs wrote for the next album yet?
"To be honest I am not sure if I will make another record. I really don't se the use in it anymore, I think the whole way we have done things has turned upside down now. There is no normal now so dedicating you're life is what it takes to make a record it just seems kind of silly and you put it out there and spend 2 yrs promoting it. Then you have to write another album and people really don't listen too albums anymore, they listen to songs and make their own mixes. (Ed: Did you write songs whilst on tour and did you find that easier?)
Yes I have a portable recording studio on tour and any idea I have an idea I will record that piece and I use pro tools and I set it up in any room. I think every albums that I have made since 'Promise Land' I have used this technique on the on the road."
On the last record you had people like Rudy Sarzo and Simon Wright play on the record, why didn't they come out on the tours with you?
"Well they toured the 1st album with me, I always anted to make this a project and not to be a band and I spent 30yrs in a band and that was a long time to spend with the same people. So when I left Queensryche I just wanted dot work with a bunch of musicians and I had never done that before.
You get fresh ideas working with various people and you are pushed and to take the leap of faith and when I left Queensryche I started playing with different people and trying different things and it has helped me get outside myself to experience of these different musicians.
Everybody has a different idea on music and I have really been enjoying that. I liked the idea of working with Simon, we talked about it when he was in AC/DC and Rudy I love touring with him too, we talked when my old band toured with Quiet Riot. I never once said you have to be my project when they wanted to do other projects, I wanted everybody to have their own freedom to come in and out and work together and there was no pressure to be a band."
After that you did the 3 tremors with Tom Owens, Blaze Bailey, did you do some shows South America? What songs did you do for those show?
"No we did some dates as a fun thing in the States and it was very difficult to get the 3 of us together at any one time especially Blaze and he has a different way of touring to what we have. We did our own songs and at the end I think we did songs from each of our sets."
Moving on, what is the highlight of you're life so far?
"Well I haven't really looked at it that terms of best or worst it was more like and I had played shows in 63 countries around the world and I tour consistently and I sold record when record labels were selling records. I have raised 4 kids and been married for a long time. Only my daughter Emily is interested in singing the rest are not into it, Emily has her own band who you may of watched tonight."
Have you thought of releasing a live DVD/ Blu Ray?
"No I am not really leaning towards that, I have done them in the past I am more into social commentary and it is a really amazing time that we are living in right now. We are all able to comment on a big global discussion were we are heading right now."
If you weren't a singer what job would you be doing? Do you ever get any bands asking you if you would produce their albums or do vocal tracks?
"I guess nothing, I could do anything Nothing is holding me back only me. Yes I get asked a lot by bands if I would produce their albums or do vocal tracks for their albums."
Would you ever consider been a vocal couch?
"No I am a horrible teacher, my way of teaching is 'Come On!! Why can't you do that?'' (laughing).
Well thank you Geoff for doing the interview, best of luck for 2019 . Do you have anything to say before we finish the interview?
"Thanks for supporting and thank you for reading this interview."
Thank's to Red Sand's Pr & Susan Tate & Geoff Tate for the interview.