by Deb Rao
– Senior Columnist –
It is always sad to see the division of a band that has made such a great impact in the music business. In respect to both parties you deal with the card you are dealt with and move on. Queensyrche singer Geoff Tate has done just that with the release of Frequency Unknown. Geoff Tate’s new lineup of Queensryche features Rudy Sarzo on bass, Kelly Gray on guitar, Robert Sarzo on guitar, Simon Wright on drums and Randy Gane on keyboards.
The band recently made a stop in Las Vegas for a sold out performance of Operation: Mindcrime. Instead of putting Geoff through the drama of reliving the division of Queensryche, we concentrated on the rebirth of the band in this interview.
In order to move ahead you can’t relive the past. As a vital musician in the industry you move on to a new chapter in your career. Geoff Tate is an artist who doesn’t like to rewrite the same album and often reflects on the current state of the world. Frequency Unknown deals with the perils of what people are facing today. Including such strong topics such as terrorist attacks, and rape. In this exclusive interview for Hardrock Haven, Geoff Tate gives the fans an in-depth look at the making of Frequency Unknown included is a special track by track of the new album.
HRH: Geoff, thank you for checking in with Hardrock haven. We are all excited the 13th studio album by Queensryche entitled Frequency Unknown is released. It features a whole new line-up of Queensryche. What was your goal upon entering into the studio to record the album? Did you want to recapture the signature sound of Queensyrche?
Geoff: I really don’t know what the signature sound of Queensryche sound is. People have been asking that today. I don’t know what that means. Queensryche to me has always been about making different records and trying different things. Trying to redefine ourselves with each record really. We never really tried to play the same thing or make the same record each time. We tried to stretch out and try new things. I don’t know if there is a signature Queensryche sound? The goal was to write songs and music to reflect the times that we live in. We wanted to write music that was timely and fit for the way things feel for me these days. It is art. It is reflective of emotions, feelings and thoughts in the now of what I am doing right now. It is kind of like an audio diary.
HRH: How did you come up with the title Frequency Unknown?
Geoff: The title came from a phrase that betonies to us in the studio actually. When you are making music and you are putting a song together you have all these different parts that are supposed to work together. Sometimes when you are listening back to it something’s doesn’t click. There is a theory in the engineering world if you dial in these unknown frequencies nobodies knows what it is you find the weak spot of the song. It kind of gels together and all of a sudden it is now great. Like there it is it all comes together because I dialed in this frequency. But no one can tell you what this frequency is. It is an unknown thing. That became a little studio phrase that got thrown around while we were working on the project and that became the title of the record.
HRH: I think the album came out very well in the short amount of time that you had to put it all together. You had some great musicians backing you up including David Meniketti, K.K. Downing, Ty Tabor and Brad Gillis. What was it like working with these established musicians? It kind of gave the album a fresh new sound.
Geoff: Oh I tell you it was really fun. These are some of my favorite musicians and favorite musician-friends that I really like a lot. It was great to be able to work together. David Meniketti and I have done a few things together, mostly live. Everybody Rudy, Simon and I have all toured together over the years. But we never got the chance to actually make music together. It was really a treat to play with my friends and people that are great players.
HRH: Are you going to be working into the set some of the new songs? I know you recently played Vegas and performed Operation: Mindcrime. It will be really great to hear some of the new material performed live.
Geoff: We planned on waiting to put new songs into the set until the record came out. The new single is “Cold.”
HRH: You have one song that you wrote about terrorism on this album. What are your thoughts on the Boston bombing tragedy? I am originally from Boston and everyone there was so devastated by the senseless attack.
Geoff: What an awful nightmare. You are seeing more and more situations like this. Just random violence against innocent people. It is a tragedy. “In The Hands Of God” is kind of what that song is for. It is about the thinking that goes into an act like that. It doesn’t have any social merit. It is just a random act of violence that is justified by someone’s belief system. That is really the point that I was trying to make in the song. It is completely futile. The world moves on.
HRH: It is cool also that your re-recorded four Queensryche classics also on the album. New fans will be introduced to a few of the classics.
Geoff: It was kind of an interesting endeavor in the studio. It was a whole different typically kind of thing. Typically when you are in the studio you are creating something new. It was very inspirational to do that. To create these remakes was not inspiration at all. It is kind of an exercise in trying to duplicate something. There is a lot of effort that goes into it. I think they turned out pretty well.
HRH: Jason Slater he produced the album correct? Did you also co-write a couple of songs with him?
Geoff: Yes. I have been working with Jason for quite a few years. We have been writing songs. He produced a couple of Queensryche records over the years.
HRH: It is awesome to see you branch out on your own. You have a great new line-up. I have always said that the ’80s had such great front-man with unique voices that you just can’t duplicate. Your vocals are Queensyrche. You can’t duplicate that. It is really inspiring that you moved forward with a great new line-up. It is like the re-birth of the band. We wish you the best of luck.
Geoff: Well thank you very much Debby. I appreciate that.
HRH: Great. I hope to see the band perform again in Vegas.
Geoff: Well we always come back to Vegas. We can’t stay over too long!
HRH: What are your touring plans?
Geoff: We will be touring from the Summer into the Fall. Hopefully the Winter as well.
HRH: Would you like to do a short track by track so we can promote your album?
Frequency Unknown track by track break down by Geoff Tate:
Cold – “That is a relationship song. It is about a relationship going through a major change. Slightly hurt over things that have been said. “
Dare -“Dare is a song about standing up for yourself. It is kind of drawing the line and saying look; I feel very strongly about a certain thing and I would appreciate it if you didn’t cross this line. It is a song about establishing boundaries. “
Give it to You – “That is sort of a jam song that felt good at the time writing.”
Slave – “There is quite an established theory that we are all slaves. We are all slaves to something. People that we work for. We have to go to our jobs in order to live in society. We just can’t pull out and live off of the land. Most of us are not skilled to hunt and fish to provide for our families off of the land somewhere. We are slaves to the work. We are slaves to 9 to 5 or however we work”.
In the Hands of God – “Is a story about being in the mind of a terrorist. “
Running Backwards – “Is a song about rape and violence against you that happens. It stays with you all of your life. There is no escaping from it. You might come to terms with it. You might get used to dealing with the pain that you always feel. It never goes away. No matter how much therapy that you have. No matter what you do. It always stays with you. It is one of the most tragic things a person can experience. “
Life Without You -“Strictly a relationship song.”
Everything – “A hopeful relationship song.”
Fallen – “Is a song about addiction.”
The Weight of the World – “Is about analyzing your mortality. “