Queensryche - Operation:Mindcrime Queensryche - Operation:Mindcrime

Metal Forces #29, July 1988


Geoff Tate fills Pat Price in with the new outlook of Queensryche

Being one of the fore-runners of classy heavy metal, QUEENSRYCHE fall into a new void of thought provoking metal with their new masterpiece "Operation:Mindcrime". This new release is just evidence on how professional and mature QUEENSRYCHE has grown to be. Quite more elaborate than the early 'EP' days, yet as heavy - both musically and lyrically. Now with four albums under their belt the band will just add to their dedicated following as one of the best heavy rock bands of the 1980's. So QUEENSRYCHE is obviously not unpopular by any means, but as it has been a long time since METAL FORCES has featured this great band in its pages, I began by catching up with lead vocalist Geoff Tate on the band's past.


So why did Geoff originally leave MYTH (a band he was already in) for QUEENSRYCHE? Geoff quickly replies:
"MYTH is going back some ways, you must really be a big QUEENSRYCHE fan (laughs). Anyway, MYTH was a band where we were writing original material that no-one was interested in and this is still the case with them since they are still unsigned by any label. And even back then QUEENSRYCHE seemed like such a better prospect. Also I had already played with the members of QUEENSRYCHE before joining."

But I remember that when the band first recorded the EP, it still wasn't confirmed that you were in QUEENSRYCHE.
"Well, I wasn't really in any band at that time. I was still looking around for different bands. I wasn't really interested in pining myself down to any one project. I wanted to be able to sing with all different bands and from there see what was going on."

Geoff Tate and Chris DeGarmo

What made you decide to stay permanently then?
"Well, after we did the EP, I went back and sang with other bands. Then Harris Management - who managed QUEENSRYCHE at the time - really wanted to get a commitment from me and make sure I would stick with it if they got behind the band all the way. They are the ones that basically convinced me to stay with QUEENSRYCHE."

Plus the possibility of all that strong press you got from the EP. That must have won you over as well?
"At that time we started getting some good feedback, but it was really in a limited form. What it really was was that MYTH and those other bands weren't really doing anything, so that's why I decided to stay."

You spoke of the Harris management. Back then it seemed that you carried on a good relationship with them - why did you split?
"Well, we had a contract with them and when the contract was up, they wanted us to renew it but we sort of took a critical look at the business arangements and thought to ourselves that we had reached a limit on this relationship. We didn't want to go on working together."

Overall most critics loved your EP, but criticised your first full-length album, 'The Warning', by saying it lost heaviness from the inital standpoint.
"We have never written records for critics. You can't please everybody. But we've always been into trying different ideas and being experimenal. I think if we had more of a proper mix on 'The Warning' they would have seen it differently. But those were heavy grounds to lay an accusation on us like that. There just wasn't enough guitars in the mix as there were drums and vocals. This was due to the project being taken out of our hands by the record company. They found a different producer to finish the record. We basically didn't have any faith in it either because this mix was very light. We were also very unhappy with it. But it's one of those things where you look back and take it as a learning experience."

Then with the next record, 'Rage for order', many accused you of becoming too light, image-wise. Almost Glam! (God, bite my tongue!)
"I sort of laugh at that and look at it as our 'Glam period' (laughs). The image change wasn't something we planned, we're just thinking of new ideas all the time. It's not something we focus on very much."

Personally, I respect you so much for trying to stay original for our times. And with each album the band seems to become more and more different with style, sound, song-writing and attitude, while still maintaining that same distinctive stance and approach. Which should make people realise that QUEENSRYCHE is sprouting originality.
"Well, some may dispute that (laughs). We're just always trying to experiment. We get bored always doing the same things. We solve this by trying to be different - doing things different. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but that's also how you learn. A great example is AC/DC. They put out a very similar album each year - not that that's bad - it's sort of nice. So their fans can expect what's gonna come out next. But in another scenario with us, people never really know what we're gonna do next. It's that surprise element which to us is even nicer. We've been exploring this since the EP."

Isn't there a greater chance of losing fans that way?
"I guess it's a tricky business - trying not to play it safe. Try not to lose as many fans as you gain. After 'Rage..' we took a long look at ourselves. We liked 'Rage..' a lot and over our career we try to keep notice on what album people related to more. So we decided to take the street vibe and excitement of the EP and continue it with the production ideas of the last album. So this new LP is sort of a model in a way."

Will your stage show now become more elaborate and theatrical to coincide with the comceptual means of 'Operation:Mindcrime'?
"We'd like it to be theatrical for that reason. So in this case we're preparing for a headlining tour of the States like we did on the 'Rage' tour. It will be our own presentation. After that we'll do a support tour, plus even though we'll do older material, possibly still as a medley, our main focus will still be on our new album."

'Operation:Mindcrime' is a conceptual LP like that of the WHO's 'Quadrophenia' ('Tommy' was too tongue in cheek) or PINK FLOYD's 'The Wall'. Do you think this will categorise you? Maybe as the PINK FLOYD of heavy metal?
"Personally, I would say that's a bad comparison, we are much different than FLOYD in our approach. The band just enjoys working on a conceptual theme. We've been doing this since "The Warning". It was done in a sort of mythological format so we decided that didn't work well with the 1980's any more. For people to understand what you're saying today I think its best to make your lyrics more contemporary on the ideas of more modern situations."

Geoff Tate and Chris DeGarmo

Are you trying to say that more rock lyrics are changing back to the statements that were made in the 60's?
"Yes, the ZEP era is gone, instead making things vague statements are made more concrete (sic). Our new album is representative of this. It's like a social commentary on contemporary things which deals with main characters throughout the album. A lot of it was inspired by people I've met over the years. That with situations which are going on in the media today - the properganda (sic) machines, all the scandals with stuff like the TV evangelists to scams on the Iran-Contra affairs and a comment on the governments 'hush hush put it in the background' deal. 'Operation:Mindcrime' is basically about the act of manipulation of the masses. Keeping them ignorant to certain things and preying off society's inaccuracies, lack of education, dependency on drugs etc."

Would you classify QUEENSRYCHE's changing personality as metal?
"Obviously our music is heavy, so we don't have a problem with the metal classification. We are proud of our metal roots and have all the ingredients of a metal band. Like I said before, we just try to experiment with the genre a lot. To push it into different areas."

What do you think of the present metal scene?
"I find it dividing into different categories. You've got your glam metal, your thrash metal, your pop metal, it's quite ridiculous really, but then in a way it helps because I wouldn't want QUEENSRCYHE to be labelled into a group related to something like POISON."

Where do you think QUEENSRYCHE fits then in this over-crowded metal scene?
"That's an interesting question! We're sort of on our own really! The best category I've seen us classified under is 'Progressive Metal', I think that's a good comparison."

How about the comparison of your vocals to that of old PRIEST and Rob Halford?
"I used to get the Halford comparison all the time, but not that much any more. It was a natural progression for me. Even though Halford wasn't a major influence when I started - I didn't even really get to hear PRIEST til 1980-81 - and even though old PRIEST has become an influence and part of some of the other members roots, I feel it's still a coincidence that our styles are similar. We just both studied the same type of music theory and voice education."

One thing I think the English and Europeans are curious about is why you toured with BON JOVI last time you toured Europe?!
"Well, let me try and explain. We originally had a headlining tour set up, but we split with our European management in October 86 and being that we were managing ourselves back then, we cancelled the tour. We felt without proper management, the outcome might've been a disaster. So we got an offer to back up BON JOVI and since we feel England and Europe are important places to play, we felt we had to live up to our obligations. BON JOVI wasn't the best touring situation for us because they relate to a more teenie bopper girl audience, which is fine, but for us it was tough. A very tough tour. A lot of audiences around the world are different. Japan for instance is too ecstatic. It's one thing to be ecstatic but another thing to actually listen to what's going on. Through the entire show they just scream, and you wonder, ' Are they getting it?'. But you still appreciate each audience for what it is."

So where do you think the 1990's will take QUEENSRYCHE?
"Over the edge. (laughs) Hopefully we'll still be here - if the world's still here."

Well, I'm not too sure if the world will still be around, but one thing's for sure, the greatness of QUEENSRYCHE will be around forever. Hopefully QUEENSRYCHE's new album will bring them great understanding and success to prepare for the 1990's. Let's hope so.