Geoff Tate, the distinctive voice of Queensryche says that releasing his first solo effort was an eye opening experience. He plans to support his new album with a summer tour, and with Queensryche working on their next studio album soon after, it is clear that his exploration hasn’t affected the future of his band. In fact, between rehearsals for his tour, Tate says he’s already writing for the upcoming Queensryche release.
“When Chris left the band I was sort of all the sudden shocked, and my world changed quite a bit. I’d been in kind of musical bliss working with him for years. We just had a great camaraderie and musically we were very close and saw things very similarly.
When he left, I was so suddenly faced with not having that partner — that sounding board — anymore and I had to start looking elsewhere for that. So it kind of led me to doing my own record and working with different people, and that’s something that honestly I wish I would have done earlier in my career, cause I really enjoy the collaboration effort with different people.”
Tate saw his solo album as an opportunity to work with writers and performers that he’d admired. Those performers included musician/songwriter Jeff Carrell, who Tate says he really connected with in the R&B department. He also chose Howard Chillcott on keyboards, because of his varied musical background, and because he wanted to work someone who could test limitless possibilities of a keyboard’s ‘music palette’. Additional contributors included Evan Schiller, who Tate refers to as the loop master, drummer, and programmer.
“I was looking to musically go in the direction of music that I like. I have kind of a wide or varied musical talent, so working within the confines of Queensryche it is kind of difficult to stretch out musically for me, and so, I wanted to kind of experiment with different kinds of music. Things I’ve always liked a lot and tried to write songs within that kind of direction.”
And fortunately, everyone who contributed to the album will be available to tour this summer. Tate says that they will perform the eleven tracks in their entirety and that they will also be pulling out some rarely heard Queensryche tunes that fans are sure to enjoy.
“Actually, I have all the players that played on my record coming on the road with me. Yeah, it’s great. They all managed to free up their schedules, they all had such a great time making this record that they all wanted to continue working on the road, so we managed to make it all happen.”
Tate’s varied musical talents and desire to stretch his wings and tests his limits stems from a history of diverse musical influences, which interestingly began with the sounds of Motown.
“My dad was a jazz fan and soul r&b fan, and he played trumpet so he used to play a lot of those kinds of records. I remember hearing the Supremes and thinking ‘Oh my God, what great music’. (They were) really classic songs, great melodies, great arrangements and all that stuff.
And then, when I was about nine years old, I got a transistor radio and all the sudden, wow, I had discovered FM. I heard Jefferson Airplane do ‘Somebody to Love’ and that just got me. I was a rock fan then.”
As Tate’s tastes changed from r&b and jazz to rock, he simply became a fan of music. He says that he enjoys all different kinds of music and lists favorites like Hall & Oates, Prince, and Massive Attack, and is impressed with vocalists like George Michael, Seal and Sting.
“Sting is amazing as well. He’s kind of like my hero in a sense because he plays a lot of jazz influenced material and r&b soaked up stuff as well and gives it a modern twist. And that’s kind of what I tried to do with my record too, is bring in all those styles of music that I love and just kind of tweak them out with modern sounds and a real modern arrangement which is you know, sparse playing and letting the vocal take front stage.”
Tate says that when it came to making his own music, he wanted to do something that was very different from Queensryche, but since most of the people who like Queensryche’s music are very open minded they are likely to enjoy his solo work as well.
“I don’t really explain it. I think people who like what I’ve done in the past are probably going to like this record as well. And that’s pretty much all the thought I gave to it really. I’ve always approached music as being sort of a selfish thing. It’s all about pleasing myself really. It has always been that way, and I look for music and inspiration in music and it’s really all about me when it comes to writing songs. When I’ve written them and then I make a record, then they belong to everybody else too.
People interpret them in different ways that are so far off from what I had envisioned that I gave up a long time ago trying to explain everything. I really like hearing what people think of it all. I don’t get upset if they don’t get it the same way I got it, because music is kind of like that, it speaks to different people in different ways.”