A brief chat with Geoff Tate guitarist James Brown

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By Val Tapia, BADS Contributing Writer
Photo thanks to Jörg Schnebele (JSPICS)

It must be a pretty cool gig playing with one of hard rock’s most enduring and respected singers, that being former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate. Or at least, that’s what guitarist James Brown told me in a recent phone chat.

Tate and his current band make an “encore” visit to Tucson (Tues. Oct. 3) and Phoenix (Wed. Oct. 4) on the Big Rock Show Hits tour that features an all-Queensryche set. Here’s what Brown had to say during a quick break from a soundcheck in Michigan earlier this week.

Beneath a Desert Sky: James, in December 2022 when Geoff last played Phoenix, I believe the band did “double-duty” onstage with your opening act, Mark Daly. Is that correct?

James Brown: Yes it is. We did a 35 minute set, and it was great. It’s definitely challenging to play two sets like that, but it was a lot of fun.

BADS: How did you meet Geoff?

Brown: I met him in my home country of Ireland. I’ve played a lot of the pubs there, and as simple as it sounds, I met Geoff and his wife Susan after a gig one night. We had a few drinks, and next thing I know, he invites me to play in his band, which I’ve now been part of for two years.

BADS: What got you into playing guitar?

Brown: I started when I was about seven years old, however, at that age I was much more interested in playing with Legos and just being a kid. I’d say I really started getting “serious” about the guitar when I was about thirteen or so. I remember hearing Pink Floyd  and was totally blown away from that moment on.

All of us in the band are Queensryche fans, although I can’t say I’m really into metal music all that much. I’m more into bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers. That said, I like all kinds of music really.

BADS: This is the second time you’ll be playing Phoenix (and Tucson) on the Big Rock Show Hits tour. Will it be the same set list as last time, or are you mixing things up a little bit?

Brown: We’ve dropped and added a few songs since the last leg of the tour. I’d say about a third of the show has been changed. I think the fans will enjoy the (revamped) set list this time around.

BADS: What are some of your favorite Queensryche songs to play live?

Brown: I really enjoy playing I Am I from the Promised Land album. Just a great rocker that’s a lot of fun to play— and one that Geoff nails vocally onstage. For purely emotional reasons, I also enjoy playing Silent Lucidity. Sometimes it’s hard not to shed a tear on that one because it resonates with so many people.

BADS: It’s been well documented that Geoff had heart valve replacement surgery in June 2022. How is he doing health-wise?

Brown: He’s doing great. After that procedure, Geoff said he’s been feeling better than he has in years. As a result, his singing is stronger than ever as well.

BADS: By any chance, is any new music from Geoff on the horizon?

Brown: Yes. In fact, after touring ends in December for the holidays, we’re heading to Montana in January 2024 to record some new material. Actually, the plan is we’ll be in Montana again in July (2024) as part of Geoff and Susan’s side business called Backstage Pass Travel. And possibly do some more recording there if time permits.

Basically, what Geoff and Susan do is they play the role of hosts and invite fans to travel with them. We do cool acoustic sets, while getting to experience whatever city or country we’re in as much as possible. It’s an awesome time for us and the fans!

BADS: Would you like to say anything to the fans in Phoenix before we conclude our chat?

Brown: We’re looking forward to returning to Arizona once again. I hope the fans enjoy the show— so come out everybody. After all, it’s called the Big Rock Show Hits tour for a reason (laughs)!

IF YOU GO:
WHO: Geoff Tate w/ special guest Ivory Lake
WHERE: Celebrity Theatre
WHEN: Wed. Oct. 4 @ 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
TICKETS: $25-$65 plus tax, available at celebritytheatre.com and the Celebrity Theatre box office.

For our friends in Tucson:
Geoff Tate w/ special guest Ivory Lake are scheduled to perform at Rialto Theatre on Tues. Oct. 3.
Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Showtime 8:00 p.m.
Tickets are $30 plus tax and available at ticketmaster.com.

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