Operation: Mindcrime - Geoff Tate

Operation: Mindcrime - Geoff Tate

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Geoff Tate finished his three-record project, with “The New Reality” being the third and final chapter, and this was the perfect opportunity for METAL KAOZ to get him on the phone to learn his immediate touring plans revisiting the “Operation: Mindcrime” album. Check out the chat below.

Operation: Mindcrime - Geoff Tate

Hi Geoff and welcome back to METAL KAOZ!
Hi Dimitris, thank you for having me.

First of all, how does it feel having the trilogy finished?
It feels really good; this was a very fulfilling project and I feel very good about finishing it. I also feel a bit relieved from the deadline pressure.

It must have been a huge part of your life, so do you feel burnt out at all?
(laughs) Not really... It is a funny thing when you’re writing a record; it is something that engulfs you and you think about it all the time, even when you are not working on it. You are going over ideas in your head and when all this stops, it is like having all this clear space in your hard-drive. It is a wonderful kind of peaceful feeling that I am hoping to hold on to for a while.

How much work was involved in the making of the trilogy? Did you work for three years straight?
Well, I wrote the bulk of the material at one time and then we recorded it all at one time. So, all this was done several years ago and what was left to do was finishing up the mixing and the mastering of the records each time. This was kind of an usual project in the fact that it was so spread out. It gave a lot of time to tour like last year - I toured for 6 months, so it was an interesting way of making a record but I really enjoyed it.

It sounds like you had a clear vision of what you wanted to do.
Yes, I had a fairly clear idea of what I want to accomplish. And it helped to have a big picture or an outline of what you want to do with a song or a piece of music, and then, you kind of fine-tune it as you go along by having other people contributing to the recording.

Although you have worked on eighteen albums so far in your career, is there something that you learned from working on this trilogy?
Well, I could not tell you clearly what I have learned, but I definitely did. Things that I will use on future projects and mostly these are technological stuff; like using certain mixing or mastering programs. I had a more hands-on approach with this project than I have ever done before and I found out that I really like that side of the project, and I think I will do the same in the future.

Speaking of future projects, do you have something in mind, like an idea or even a story that you could use to make another concept album?
There is nothing that is consciously there right now… (laughs)

Yeah, the clear space that you mentioned…
Right, I have clear space right now that I am enjoying. I am really focused on my family right now during the holidays and then get on touring in January that is around the corner.

Got it. What is the status of the OPERATION: MINDCRIME as a band? Is it the end of it?
I think so; it was put together specifically for this project and there’s been so many different people contributing to it and also playing with me live, so it has never been a band. But it has been a wonderful project with wonderful performances by everyone involved.

Does this also mean the end of your contract with Frontiers?
I don’t know, I think it is and, in fact, I have to look into that.

You will be touring in January playing the entire “Operation: Mindcrime” album, however after having recorded three hours of music, don’t you think that some deserve to be played live?
Oh yeah, I will be playing some music from these albums.

Ok, but the “Operation: Mindcrime” album is an hour long, so how much time will you have to add some new songs to the setlist?
I will have another hour at least but not when I will be doing the tour with ANGRA since I will be opening those shows.

Let’s talk about your touring plans then; you start in Europe and then you have the shows with ANGRA until April 21st; so will this be the end of this touring cycle?
Right now my plan is to extent this tour to North America starting in Fall.

Have you chosen the guest singers who will be joining in you? I mean, who will be playing Mary’s role?
I am going to make an announcement as we get closer to those dates mentioning everyone who will be involved.

Why is “Operation: Mindcrime” such a special album for you?
Well, it is a very much loved record by many many people and it’s so happens that this year to be the 30th anniversary from its release. So, it seems like a good idea to focus on that record for this touring season.

Is there something that really stands out when you think of the writing / recording sessions of that album?
Oh yeah, there are some really wonderful memories of working on that record. We recorded it in several different cities; not only Seattle it was Vancouver, British Columbia, Quebec, Montreal also in Philadelphia, the Amsterdam area, so it had a sort of an international feel by being in all those different places.

The concept of the album is still relevant to the times we are living, right?
There are a lot of things in that record that are timeless; first of, it is a love story and hopefully this will never go out of fashion. Secondly, the love story between Nikki and Sister Mary takes place in a turbulent world with an ultra-conservative political party in power and this is kind of similar with what’s going on right now. There is also the concept of people trying to dominate and control others for their own progression and this is a pretty common thing in human history, so these themes are considered as classic that really don’t go out of style. They keep coming back to visit us throughout the ages. I think this is part of humans continual, sort of, education that we have to keep reliving our past over and over again... (laughs)

Well, this is a strange loop and even though there is this saying about learning from the past, we keep doing the same errors again and again.
Yeah, this is like that comedy movie, I don’t know if you have seen it, it’s called “Groundhog Day” where the man keeps waking up reliving the day over and over again. It is interesting...

On top of this, we have the internet and all the “social media” that their purpose is to keep us “connected”, however those make us prone to manipulation…
I think it is a fantastic time to be alive in the fact that we are so massively connected with each other around the world and I think situations are escalating because of that. I believe that in the near future we will be seeing radical changes not only in the American society but all around the world.

However, people have become extremely fast in making decisions and choosing sides without thinking much.
Yeah, we shouldn’t be making snap decision about complex issues; we should be definitely aware of what is happening and the discussion needs to be happening worldwide about lots of issues and I think this will start happening more and more.

So, maybe your next concept album will be about a lighter subject dealing with the light at the end of the tunnel...
(laughs) Yeah, maybe; I need to have some balance, you know...

Thank you, Geoff, for your time and hopefully we’ll see you live in Chicago soon!
I hope so. Thank you for the interview, Dimitris, it was a pleasure talking to you.