Singer Geoff Tate is of course mostly known because of Queensryche, the rock/metal band where he sang his heart and soul out from 1982 to 2014. After the farewell tour with Queensryche, Tate founded a new band with the notorious name: Operation: mindcrime. That band already released two album, namely The Key (2015) and Resurrection (2016). Before the show in Heerlen, my hometown. I have a talk with Geoff and he turns out to be a very pleasant partner in crime.
A short time ago you released the second Operation: mindcrime album Resurrection, was it a difficult album to make?
“No, and I really love Resurrection; we recorded all three albums at the same time and Resurrection was, well I cannot really differentiate between the three albums in some ways because all the memories and thoughts blend into one, you know. It was in fact a prolonged time of creativity for us, getting all the ideas out.”
When will the third album be released then?
“This coming September.”
How did you come up with the idea of a trilogy?
“I liked the idea of a trilogy; I always have, in films and in books, so why not in music? The story is told over three cuts so that makes it rather interesting, I think, ha ha. So, let us make music on three separate albums and three separate acts, great idea. I was playing with that idea for a long time already and I did have a story, so… My wife and I took a trip to Spain and we walked across that beautiful country for 600 kilometres, we did the famous Santiago pilgrim trip and I wrote the story while I was on that hike.”
Could you please tell something about the story, what is it about?
“It is kind of about questioning the reality. Reality is one of those things that we learn, we learn what reality is through our parents; they tell us for example what we call a chair or a car. Our reality is defined by those names, right? We continue that practise as we get older, we define everything and therefore our reality is defined for us and in my story this main character called H develops together with his friends a technology, a computer programme that allows the user to see reality in a completely different way. That opens a lot of doors and opportunities and his friends want to take the programme and sell it to become filthy rich, but H wants to give it away because he thinks that this programme is going to change the way human beings live and interact in a radical way. So a problem arises between H and his friends and that is kind of where the first album called The Key leads us. The problem gets worse and his friends try to have H murdered and take credit for all of his work. The second album Resurrection is where H comes back from the dead basically – he was “killed”, very close to dying anyway – and he regains his energy and also tries to gain back what is taken from him; which leads us to the third album of which I cannot tell you anything yet, of course.. haha.”
How were the reactions, reviews of Resurrection?
“Don’t know and don’t care!! I got negative reviews all of my life so who cares? Definitely with Queensryche I got very bad reviews’ ha ha. Well, to put yourself in a position to judge art is pretty presumptuous, don’t you think? Art is something that everybody interprets differently and one person’s art is another person’s shit. Years ago, the first time we released an album we had a very bad review and it kind of hurt my feelings; who could somebody so close minded not see where I was trying to take the music… So, I stopped listening to what other people thought, especially people that are NOT musicians! If you cannot writ a song why are you judging it?? No matter what you do there are always people who feel badly about themselves, so they need to tear other people down; so they criticise, right?”
Will there be an Operation: mindcrime tour to promote Resurrection?
“I hope so, yes, after the release of the third album, we will put together a tour.”
You decided to do a full acoustic tour now, why acoustic?
“Why not, ha ha…”
How did you select the songs for this acoustic tour, what were the criteria for a song to end up on the set list?
“uh…difficult.., well I wanted to tell a bit of a story with those songs, so I took songs from almost every Queensryche album and tell something about it. How it came to be maybe, where my head was at the time writing the song, you know… My life through the music; in a way if you think about it I have been making music for 35 years and the new Operation: mindcrime album is my 18 th album, so there is a lot of music out there and a lot of experiences. So, that was my goal.”
You choose no songs from your solo albums, like for example the excellent album Kings & Thieves?
“No, I did not; honestly, there was not enough time, ha ha… I have about 135 published songs, so that is a lot and you have to leave out some, unfortunately…”
How did you put the band together for this tour?
“That is a funny story, actually. Last summer my wife and I were walking around Ireland. We go there a lot as I have five daughters and two of them married Irishmen, so we were in Cork visiting family and we hear this music playing. It sounded really great so we went to the park where this band was playing and they were really playing their hearts out, so much energy and we really liked it. I recognised the drummer Nathan Daly, Mark Daly’s brother, who is a close friend of mine and we talked and he invited us to a gig in the evening. We went and after that show I said to my wife: “that is the kind of band I should have for my acoustic tour”. So, we hired them, ha ha, just for this tour by the way.”
How do you keep your voice in good shape?
“I sing every day and I try to stay healthy. It is tough getting old, you know. But you do your best, however certain things will not be as good as you did when you were younger. My stamina is excellent by the way, I love to tour and I love to travel.”
What is your favourite Queensryche album?
“That is hard to judge; Promised Land is an album I am still very proud of. Empire was accepted worldwide and was extremely well promoted of course. Musically the album I like to listen to, even now, is the last one Addicted To Chaos; five songs from that album I play very regularly in my car or at home.”
I also like your solo albums, especially Kings & Thieves…
“Thanks, yeah I really like that album a lot. Unfortunately that record got no airplay at all but that is of course due to the promotional budget as there was none for Kings & Thieves. For Empire there was a promotional budget of 10 million and the album made 60 million, so that is huge; but then again for Hear In The Now Frontier there was no budget and so there were no sales!!”
Will there ever be a slight possibility that you will reunite with Queensryche?
“With the band you mean… well never say never, right? But for that to happen we all had to sit in the same room and have a good long talk. The last time we actually talked was I think way back in 2012, so… you never know”
Last question, if you were me and I was the musician, what would be your last question?
“Nice one, well I have to say that your style of interviewing is very comfortable for me because we are having a real conversation, as where mostly journalists have a piece of paper with questions on it and they read a question and they do not ever comment on your answer. That is awkward, your style is really relaxed and we really talk and that is nice. Talking is kind of a lost art, I guess, ha ha, thanks, man, I really enjoyed it.”
Thank you for your time and answers.
Interview by: Martien Koolen