Geoff Tate

Geoff Tate

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Sometimes knowing an artist just by watching him on live shows has nothing to do with reality. And this totally applies to Geoff Tate whose strong onstage persona has little to do with the down to earth guy we met a couple of hours before the show in Bolingbrook of Illinois. Despite he had the flu and his sinuses were a mess, he found some time to have a real nice discussion about everything and about wines. So don’t waste more time and check it out below.

Hi Geoff, how are you?
Actually, I am pretty sick. My sinuses are blocked and I hope things will work for me tonight. At least, we have two shows (including this one) and then three dates off. So, I will probably get over this.

Yeah, you should do take of yourself. What is next after these dates off?
We have some Canadian live dates supporting Alice Cooper. it’s gonna be 45 minutes sets which is easy, you know.

Did you have any problems with Sandy?
A little bit, yeah. We got somewhere in Oakland, Ohio hit by 45 miles per hour winds and our wind shield went off (laughs). We lost that, but we got that fixed and there was nothing serious apart from lots of raining.

Ok, you have a new album coming out, the second solo album after 10 years. First of all how did you get the idea of releasing a solo album?
I had been thinking of doing another one for years but I just hadn’t the time. You know, QUEENSRŸCHE had been always my priority, so I kind of putting all my energy into that. Last New Year’s Eve I was sitting around with some friends and family and we were all making New Year’s resolutions like “this year I’m gonna quit drinking” or “do better at work” and I decided I was going to make a new record. And I started working on this the next day.

Did you write everything?
Yeah. I started on January 2nd and finished it on July 15th.

That’s quite fast, right?
It was quite fast, yeah.

So, did you have in mind what the music would gonna sound like or what did you actually want to do?
Yeah, I usually do; I have an outline of what I wanna try to achieve. I make a lot of notes and then I just start.

Are all the songs new ones or did you have any leftovers from the previous album?
No, it’s all new stuff.

So, how did you come up with the rest of the band?  I presume they were past associates and also you have your son in law with you, right?
Yeah, Chris is playing with me along with Kelly Gray and Randy Gane. With Randy and Kelly I go back many years making music together. Doug McGrew is playing drums with me and I know him for 30 years and Jason Ames who is my wife’s ex-husband, so we have been friends for a long time.

What about the new album’s title? Does it have anything to do with the upcoming national elections?
No. I think it’s one of this kind of titles that it’s so a big issue probably making up your own reasons for, you know, and I like that.

You have a track talking about “Dark Money”; again, do you get inspired by the candidates’ campaigns or stuff like that?
Yeah. Well I’m not really a political person but I like studying and observing how politics affect people and how political decisions affect people. I look at life from a social standpoint as well, so that song in particular talks about just through observing what. The song doesn’t really pick a side of what’s wrong or right, it’s just saying “this is happening, let’s discuss”.

After all, there are no sides in politics, both of them are after money, so…

I also liked the track “Change”; that song is amazing! You use orchestrations or something like that, I think. Have you ever thought of using more stuff like that in another album?
Yeah, I actually have a couple of pieces that are in the very states of completion that I have been working with Randy. I’ve been working on that are just voice and orchestra. So maybe at some point down the road I’m going to do that.

Did you do all the arrangements for this song?
Randy did them.

So, that stuff you talked about of doing an entire album with orchestrations is for the next solo album?
Next album? Next year? I hope so.

That fast?
It’s my goal.

I bet that the contract with InsideOut Music is not just for one album, right?
I can’t remember (laughs). It does not really matter anymore, it’s just like “-you want to make a record?” “-Yeah” and you make it. “You want to make another one?” “-Yeah, ok”.

They don’t have any problem with this? I mean, is there any time of pressure on you?
Nowadays, there is so little money from the record sales so setting album release dates doesn’t mean anything. I even don’t know why we bother having record companies.

After all you could do the entire process by yourself, right?
Yeah, it would be just more work doing everything by yourself. Anyway, InsideOut is a nice company; I know most of guys there for years. They are all like friends and it’s not like being in a corporate relationship, it’s a bunch of guys sitting around drinking beer and are like “let’s make a record company” you know.

So, how many songs do you have for the next album? Even though it’s kind of strange talking about the next one, though… (laughs)
I don’t know, I have a lot of stuff.

It’s on the same wave length with this one?
No, it’s a different kind of stuff, so I don’t really know if I have an album together yet.

You really like changing every time, right?
Well, yeah, I like collections of songs that they don’t sound alike. I have a lot of unfinished stuff that are in various states of completion like maybe there is verse chorus parts but they just don’t have solo section and nothing else.

You have one more band coming up with Glen Drover, Rudy Sarzo, Bobby Blotzer. So, what is the latest update on that?
Well, we have dates being booked now and I think we are going to start late March/early April...

…(interrupting) are we talking about US dates, right?
Well, there are some US dates but there are some European dates too and then some South American dates as well. We are going to try to take it anywhere we can.

So, this band has a name?

That’s a little bit strange for the fans’ point of view.
I don’t think so.

I’m saying that because the fans don’t know what is behind the scenes and what did happen between you, guys. It might be don’t care about it. But still there are some fans taking sides. Isn’t that strange? I mean, I don’t have an idea what happened with you and I cannot express an opinion about what happened.
I suppose for some people this would be confusing but I think most people attracted to QUEENSRŸCHE’s music tend to be a little bit more intelligent than the average Metal fans and they are able and capable to go to www.GeoffTate.Com look at all the information and find out what’s going on. So, they will not be confused anymore.

Have you discussed about the setlist that you are gonna play with these guys? Have you personally decided what the setlist would be?
Not totally but we have a really good idea.

Can you give us a hint?
No, it’s gonna be a complete (high-pitched) surprise! We have a bunch of announcements coming up by the end of November.

Are you thinking making an album with these guys?
I’d like to. We’ll see what happens. You know, you never know till you get in a room together. Some people are really good players and not a lot of people are good writers. And you never know. Sometimes they are both. You just never know.

So did you hold any kind of auditions to come up with the lineup?
No. Rudy and Bob and I were talking about playing together for 30 years and Glen, I just fell in love with his guitar playing. He is a fantastic guitar player and a really cool guy too. Kelly and Randy of course are my friends for my entire life.

Back to the new album; you have a lyric video for “Dark Money” so are there plans to make another video for the album?
I don’t really plan on making one. The guys in the record company might have a different idea but we really haven’t talked about it.

After the Canadian live dates what is next for you?
More touring.

Are you gonna have some European dates?
No, not at this moment.

And what about any other movies ahead?
I have nothing else going on really.

Would you like to?
Yeah, I think if the right thing comes up and fits to my schedule. It’s a fun work, very challenging and hard work too. But you know what I like about it? When you are done working on a movie, you walk away and you don’t have to promote it, or go out and sing it every night. You just walk away, you’re done. That’s weird. People ask me “with that movie you made, what’s going on?” “Well, I don’t know” (laughs).

At the same time, you don’t have much control on this.
I don’t want control of it.

But in music though you write what you like, you sing what you like…
Into a certain extent, yeah. I think there is always a group of fans who want you to be what they think you should be. They always are trying to make you fit here “fit in that hole” (laughs).

This must be hard for you right? Or at least frustrating? Because they want to put you in casts and they expect from you to behave in a certain way.
I suppose it could be if I let it, but honestly, I don’t pay attention. I don’t really live too much in the past, I don’t even listen to the records that I do, you know; just make them and move on to the next one. I don’t really think too much about them. What is happening is more interesting than what has happened.

This is actually how you work with QUEENSRŸCHE: everything was changing, album by album.
Yeah, that was me always trying to push it; push the envelope and push the chemistry and get people out of doing the same thing every time. It’s like love making: you get with your partner and being together too many years and you have your ritual you do and very rarely digging outside of that, and it’s rare when people are able to stretch outside of themselves, of what their comfort zone is.

One last question and I’m going to be straightforward with that; if it was completely in your hands, no lawyers, no legal issues, what would you do with QUEENSRŸCHE? Would you say “ok, since we are not in the same band anymore, let’s stop using the QUEENSRŸCHE name”?
Oh, I tried that. They didn’t want that or they couldn’t. They couldn’t afford not to. They tried to put the RISING WEST band together and they couldn’t get any shows. It’s all about promoters, right? So, if a promoter doesn’t want to book you, cause he can’t make any money of you, then you are not gonna give you the money you require to put on your show, right? So they couldn’t so any shows; so they had to use more extreme methods by using the QUEENSRŸCHE name and firing me. And then they had to justify the reasons for firing me. “He is a bad guy” and “he took total control of the band and wouldn’t let us write music”. “Little me”, you know.

It’s gonna be a long battle, right?
No, it’s already over really; we have a court date next November that they tried to…  and here what’s weird: when they started using the name QUEENSRŸCHE, I went to the judge and I said “look, this is gonna damage the brand of the name. I propose that none of us use the name QUEENSRŸCHE until we settle on court”. And the judge said “no, both of you can use the name QUEENSRŸCHE for the next year until the court date”. Well, that’s the case, that’s what we have to do. So I put together my new QUEENSRŸCHE band and I announced it and then they took me back to court and said “we don’t want you to use the name QUEENSRŸCHE” (laughs). But you just said that you want to use it and we all can use it, so now you are saying you don’t want me to use it nut you can use it? “Yeah, because if you use it we are gonna be compete against each other and you are gonna make more money than we are”. Well, yeah! That’s what I tried to tell them in the first place. Anyway, it’s a big mess. But luckily I don’t have to deal with it anymore, not until next year.

Yeah, but there is something hanging on top of your head…
Even if it’s not come down the next year, they still have to pay me hell of a lot of money to go away. I own the name just as they own it, it’s a corporate dispute. So they’ll have to pay me a whole lot of money to go away. So I win either way, either I get to use the name or they pay me a lot of money and I never use the name and walk away from them.

Well, do you have any good wines to suggest us, since we are exploring lately?
Yeah, I make really good wine. You can’t find it everywhere but in a lot of places. In America, there are alcohol distribution laws, which means every state has its own set of rules on how they sell alcohol. So, as a wine maker you have to buy licenses for all the states and then you can distribute your wine to these different places. So, during the last years I bought licenses to the most of the states, so I have let’s considered it national distribution. But I only make so much wine, so there is so much of it available. Some certain areas of the country are buying more than others, so you can’t find it everywhere. But the best place to find it is online. You can go to my website and there is a little button called “Insania”, you push that and takes you right to the winery and you can talk to a very nice lady there named Amy and you say “this is where I live, how can I get Insania. And she’ll give you all the necessary details to find Insania in stores.

We are fans of wine so we will try it out. We love red wine.
Personally, I like white wine for breakfast and then red for every other meal.

White for breakfast you said? (laughs)
Yeah (laughs).

That would be strange to try and then go to work (laughs). Thank you, Geoff for your time! See you onstage in a couple of hours.
Thanks guys, hope to enjoy tonight’s show.