Geoff Tate discusses playing not one– but two– classic Queensryche records front-to-back on latest tour

Geoff Tate (Image from Geoff Tate Official Website)

Interview by: Val Tapia

Geoff Tate Photo by Ronnie Yonker

When it comes to veteran musicians and touring, the latter has never been more crucial over the last decade, at the very least.  So, it’s no surprise that, given the beating the music industry received when COVID-19 became headline news in March 2020, live music was one of the first businesses to immediately shut down that month.

Former Queensryche singer Geoff Tate knows this all too well because his current tour had to be rescheduled three times for his Tempe show, which finally hits the Marquee Theatre on Monday October 4th.  For our friends in Tucson, Tate will perform at Rialto the following night, October 5th.

Regarding the tour’s sudden halt, Tate explained to me in a recent phone interview how the last 18 months have impacted his band and team.

“Oh yeah, the last year-and-a-half has been very challenging for us.  We initially commenced this tour in Jan. 2020 and everything was going really well— for about a month.”

“The rescheduling of shows was extremely difficult, because my manager was working tirelessly with venues and promoters when it came to various laws and restrictions, they had in each market we play.

“We all wanted to work together to put everyone’s safety first”, Tate stated firmly.  “In fact, some venues we’ve worked with over many years literally put in new ventilation systems, which is incredibly expensive.”

“And of course, with vaccinations now available to us, that certainly changes things for the better.  We limit our meet-and-greets as well, and I wear a mask during that time.  Frankly, we all have to do our part.”

If nothing else, good things can indeed come to those who wait.  To that end, Tate and his band have resumed performing two very important albums (for very different reasons) from his past in their entirety: Queensryche’s seminal 1986 cult classic Rage For Order as well as its most commercially successful album, Empire, released in 1990.

It’s probably a safe bet to say that Tate’s loyal fanbase couldn’t be happier to witness this.

“Yes, our fans have really enjoyed hearing Rage For Order and Empire in full, and it’s been a pleasure for this exceptional band to learn the material.  It was important to them that they stay as faithful to the original recordings as possible, but we do include some little twists to the songs here and there.”

I asked Tate what two songs stand out for him on each of those records, and what he enjoys playing live the most on tour.  Admittedly, I had to push a little on that because he initially said “everything”.  So, I tried again!

“Hmmm… from Rage I’d have to say I Dream In Infrared. It’s a real challenge to sing live, but then again, Queensryche’s music in general was never easy to sing.  The other one would be London.  I really like the overall mood of the album: dark, light, and brooding.”

Tate added: “We worked with a great team of people on that album, Michael Wagner and (producer) Neil Kernon.  We were all on the same page with where we wanted to go direction-wise.  It was just a wonderful and memorable experience for the entire band.”

“From Empire, I’d say Hand On Heart is very enjoyable to play.  It’s one that was rarely played by Queensryche, mostly because we could never get it to sound right. Jet City Woman is the easiest song for me, because the audience knows every word of it and sings it back to us.  So that’s always a joy to play.”

“Again, we had a great team surrounding us on that album as well.  Working with Peter Collins and James Barton was fantastic during Operation: Mindcrime, so it was only natural to bring them aboard for Empire“, Tate recalls fondly.

Looking back at the early years of Queensryche, it’s astonishing to see the list of bands they opened for.  Tate recalls a few of them.

“Oh yeah, we were very lucky in that regard.  From Iron Maiden to Bon Jovi to Kiss, it was a great feeling to be “in demand”, if you will.  But we also worked very hard too, and I think all those bands recognized that.”

One band in particular stands out for Tate: AC/DC.

“Oh, AC/DC were fantastic to us.  Right when we after we released Rage, we were invited to open for them.  You couldn’t put together a more polar opposite bill, but there’s was nothing cooler than having a few drinks with Brian Johnson after the shows”, he said with a laugh.

Non-stop touring paid off for the band.  Enter late summer 1990, and Queensryche unleashes Empire, the album that would take them from cult band to arena headliner.  Songs like Empire, Best I Can, Jet City Woman, along with Queensryche’s first and only Billboard top-10 hit single Silent Lucidity were all over rock radio.

Tate continues. “Yeah, that was an incredibly crazy period for us. Being all over MTV, winning the ‘Viewer’s Choice’ award, all in the middle of a 14-month tour.  Funny thing is, yes, 14 months is a long time for a tour. But I still do tours like that now“, he laughs.

Upcoming Shows in Arizona:
Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ   October 4th @ 6PM
Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ       October 5th @ 7PM


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