18 Décembre 2015


Blaster & Evanessa

Interview Geoff Tate (face to face)

Hi Geoff and thanks for taking some time to talk to

Hi, you’re welcome. Let’s do it.

Ok, let’s go because I believe you’re about to go and have dinner, so we don’t have much time! Let’s start right away with your trilogy that has started with “The Key”, released last September. What about the sequels? How far are you in the creation of the next episodes?

The second one is finished and the third one is about… 85% finished.

What can your fans expect, musically speaking? Will it be a in the same vein or will there be surprises or changes?

It will be… (long pause)… I don’t know… I can’t describe it. I would be a terrible music journalist because I actually cringe at the thought of describing music. It’s indescribable to me, you know… it’s an emotional experience and I can’t put it in a nice little box. Still, in terms of songwriting I would say it’s stretching out from where the first album started. And we kind of went to different places, we we’ve been expanding our arrangements, writing longer pieces, longer passages, there’s more instrumentation… you know, that kind of thing.

Operation: Mindcrime has quite a number of players on the album, will it be the same for the next one or is it going to be a smaller band?

Yes, the players are the same that I’m touring with.

Out of curiosity, how did Dave Ellefson get involved in the writing of a song on your first record? It was “Re-inventing the Future”, wasn’t it?

I met him on an airplane, going to South America for a show; I had never met him before. We started talking about music, family, children, all the things that go with life, you know… And we spent 18 hours on that flight (laughs)! Going to South America and coming back as well. So we talked about our different projects and about a week after I got back home, I got an email from him saying "I was thinking about your album and I got an idea, would this work?"

Will you have any guests on the next episodes of the trilogy?

Yeah… But I can’t really talk about it yet, ha ha! It’s too early.

Can you tell us when you think the sequels to The Key will be released?

Well, if everything goes according to plan, the second part should be released next September. And the final episode will be released in September 2017.

When the whole thing is out there, would you consider playing special shows with the whole story?

Yeah, I would love that. I think every artist would love to play the entire new album they’ve just recorded because you’re excited about it, you know, by this new thing you’ve created. Unfortunately, reality is that audiences aren’t too acceptive of new music right away, it takes a while for them to learn it, understand it and digest it so it can become part of their lives… So you hardly get to play your new material in the way that you’d like to play it. You have to introduce it to your fans little by little, you know.

Yes, that’s exactly what my next question is about actually. Music is a passion obviously, as it should be, but it’s still a business at the same time. On tour, is it easy to find pleasure and keep balance between the things you like to do and the ones you have to do?

The pleasure I get from playing the songs that audiences want to hear is when we play the songs and the audience is singing along. That’s just a wonderful feeling… that I would always want to have. What you don’t want is for people to start looking at their watch, go buy a beer, leave the arena because they don’t know the music. And it’s always hard to guess what people are going to like. And it’s not the same thing from a country to another. From Europe to America, it’s vastly different. So you just have to kinda guess what it is that people are going to want to hear and try your best. After this tour, I’ll know a lot more what European audiences want to hear and I’ll use what I’ve learnt on this tour to choose the setlist for the next tour.

Isn’t it a bit ironic that the music you play is not nostalgic of old Queensrÿche in any way and you keep on moving forward and experimenting… and yet, the band is named Operation: Mindcrime? Is this contradiction deliberate or is it just not a contradiction in your opinion?

Well, I wanted a name that would be appealing to my fans, something they would be familiar with, something they could connect to. I am famous for my years in Queensrÿche and choosing a name that would be instantly recognizable made sense. The other thing is that, with that name, I could also tell people what I wanted to do, that is telling stories, making conceptual albums, even though “The Key” is obviously not “Operation: Mindcrime III”.

Ok. Now, I would like to ask you about your controversial reputation… You know you’re quite a controversial character in the metal community, don’t you?

Am I?

Yes, you must know, obviously. During the last years you’ve spent with Queensrÿche, and the split, etc. There are the Tate lovers and Tate haters, on the internet, you can see the passion and the heated arguments your albums, your choices, your behaviour have created in the past years… I wanted to know how you coped with that.

Well, I’m not aware as much as you might think. I honestly don’t pay that much attention to the internet. You know, my philosophy with music since I was very young – I started playing music when I was nine, I’ve been in school orchestras, I started forming rock bands after that – has always been : “write what you feel”. I don’t know how to operate any other way. So that’s what I have always done. Write music that makes feel a certain way. I’ve never tried to write what other people want or try and imagine what other people would like because then, I would spend all my time trying to figure out how to please this person but then it wouldn’t please another and it would be a never ending chase…

Well, whatever you do, you will be criticized for it anyway. If you change, you will upset the fans who want to hear the same thing over and over again and if you don’t change, then some others will say that you always do the same thing, right? Nowadays, it would seem that a large part of the audience wants to hear old familiar things that make them feel good, there are so many old albums played in their entirety or anniversary shows… And it looks like Operation: Mindcrime is no exception as you play a lot of old Queensrÿche classic songs.

Well, it’s also about the economy of trying to get people to come to your show. It’s a huge challenge. Even in the 21st century with all this huge communication technology. Getting people informed about where you’re at, what you’re going to do, where you’re going to play, who’s in the band… giving all that information to people is a challenge every band has to face. Every band has the challenge of playing what their fans want to hear and at the same time play what they want to play and present themselves in a modern context. For an artist like myself, I’ve got nearly forty years in this. Sixteen albums, a hundred and eighty songs, a vast history of life experience that is out there… Where do you start? Where do you pick from? Highlights from different points in your career? That seems logical. But some people don’t want that… Well, sorry, that’s the way things work (laughs)! I’m nearly sixty years old, ha ha ha! This is my life. That’s my life’s work, I’ve got to play something!

Nowadays, it also seems that people are hungrier and hungrier for live albums and particularly live DVDs or blu-rays… is there such a product in the works for Operation: Mindcrime?

No, I hate that.

Oh really? Why is that?

I don’t know, it’s just a lot of stuff you have to deal with. I’d rather be in the moment and not have to worry about how I look, ha ha ha… how’s the angle… if my big belly is sticking out, ha ha…

So, does that mean that you didn’t like recording all the DVDs you’ve done with Queensrÿche?

No, I’ve never enjoyed any of it. I’d actually rather have people roll their camera and not tell me it’s going… just record it, don’t tell me! Ha ha ha… To play music, you have to put yourself into a frame of thinking. You have to work up to it, it’s a performance. You play songs at the beginning of the show that will warm you up, and then later you’ll play other songs that are more difficult or need more dexterity, more air… You structure a show so that you can give your best. It takes work, and being distracted doesn’t help.

Operation: Mindcrime is now your main band but are there any other projects you are working on?

Oh yeah, lots of different things. I love projects, I love working with different people and collaborations. I’ve just worked with Tobias Sammet on a song for Avantasia. That was a wonderful experience. I recently worked with Dave Ellefson, great experience as well. I love that. I’m open to anything, really.

Now I have to ask you about Queensrÿche, you know. I know it’s not a very happy topic but there’s no avoiding it, really. We know the last years have been kind of challenging and sad at times because of the breaking up with Queensrÿche and everything that followed… How are you coping with things now? Would you say that you’ve gotten over it?

(long pause) I don’t think I’ll ever get over it, you know. Not really. Well, I’ve gotten on with life of course. I’ve gotten very wrapped up in what I’ve been doing, creatively. Very into the new albums, very into touring… But you know, when you’re betrayed at that level, it’s not something you ever get over it. At least, I can’t see myself getting over it. I’ll always be… weary. It’s really too bad because I think the legacy that Queensrÿche created when we were together was something very special and it shouldn’t have been treated like that, it could have ended so much nicer…

I had lots of other questions but I think we’re running out of time…

Yeah, it’s dinner time!! Ha ha ha!!

So, the last word is yours. Anything you would have liked to say, any message…

Well, it would have been nice to continue this interview but all the things I didn’t get to say will be in my upcoming book (laughs)!!

Oh really, is this book to be released soon?

Yeah, it will be released next year, in the Spring.

Ok, thank you for your time.

My pleasure. Thanks for the support.