QUEENSRŸCHE fans were stunned earlier this month when the news surfaced that the group had fired lead singer GEOFF TATE. In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, Tate reveals that he was equally stunned to learn that he was being forced out of the group he founded three decades ago.
"We’ve all known each other for 30 years," he says. "Our kids have all grown up together. We’ve been to barbecues together, and weddings, and divorces, and births of our children. For it to end in such a hostile way, it’s just mind-boggling. I just don’t understand it."
We spoke with Tate about his difficult final days in Queensrÿche, the business disagreements that drove them apart, their backstage fight in Brazil, the upcoming lawsuit over the name rights and his future plans as a solo artist.
Q: When exactly did the tensions within Queensrÿche first surface?
A: "Well, with every band there's tensions that arise over time. You've got different personalities all mixed together and there's always that kind of thing going on. We'd never been a band that had lots of tensions. We've had challenges with making records and with personnel changes. When Chris DeGarmo left the band in 1998, it was a pretty big hit for us. But really, this new thing is kind of out of the blue. I wasn't expecting anything like this at all."
Q: How did this new thing begin?
A: "I think it really began around February of this year. It mainly started with a disagreement about economics, about moving our merchandising to a third party. We had control over our own merchandising company for years and years and we ran it ourselves. It's a very successful entity, and the other three guys wanted to take it out of our hands and hand it over to somebody else and pay them more money to operate it, which just seemed liked a ridiculous business idea to me. That's really where the disagreement started."
Q: Where did things go from there?
A: "It forced us into trying to talk sense into them, our manager and myself and our business manager, trying to get them to see this was not a good deal. Why were they so adamant about taking money out of our pockets and handing it to somebody else? Our manager found another company that would do it for considerably less and they ultimately went with that."
Q: How about musically? Were you guys seeing eye-to-eye on the sound of the band at this point?
A: "Well, this is kind of a weird situation too. In the press release they said there were "creative differences." But to have creative differences, you have to have two entities or more offering up creative ideas. And that just wasn't the case. Queensrÿche has always been my idea, starting from the first record. Queensrÿche is about albums. It's about concepts and themes, and those concepts were mine. [Laughs] I started out with The Warning, bringing those ideas in for Rage For Order, Operation: Mindcrime... all the albums. I write 81% of the music and the lyrics. Of the 144 songs that Queensrÿche has released, I've written 116 of those. I am the creative energy in the band, especially since Chris left. When he was in the band it was more of a shared thing between him and I. But once he left, the burden was on me. I don't consider it necessarily a burden. That's what I do. I'm a creative person. I write everyday and I'm constantly coming up with creative ideas. I present them to the other guys and they go, "Yeah, sure, that sounds good to us."
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As previously reported, Geoff Tate has signed a worldwide recording contract with InsideOut Music.
"I'm very excited to join forces with InsideOut Music," says Tate of his multi-album deal. "They are very committed to progressive music and care deeply for their artists, working together with them to bring music lovers worldwide some of the most compelling rock music available."
As the frontman of Queensrÿche, Tate sold more than 20 million records and received four Grammy nominations. The band's landmark concept album Operation: Mindcrime thrust their unique social consciousness, expertly crafted lyrics and progressive style into the national spotlight in 1988, and was followed by Empire in 1990, the album that delivered the band to arena-headlining status and sold more than three million albums on the back of hit singles - 'Silent Lucidity' and 'Jet City Woman'" By the time Queensrÿche released Promised Land in 1994, Tate was universally acknowledged as one of the greatest frontmen in rock and metal, and a driving force behind progressive metal's most innovative force in mainstream music. Queensrÿche have released 12 studio albums, with one of their most overlooked gems being American Soldier in 2009, Tate's ambitious concept album that explores the consequences of war as told through the voices of veterans.
"Obviously, we at the label have been fans of Geoff for a long time," says InsideOut Music founder Thomas Waber. "We are looking forward to working with such a renowned musician - welcome to the InsideOut Music family!"
Tate is currently finishing production on his first InsideOut Music release. The album is planned for release this fall, with details to be announced in the coming weeks.
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