Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime – 25 years on
“People tend to forget that it took a while to be accepted,” Rockenfield says. “The specialist magazines liked it, but generally the press and the fans found it a ‘getting to know you’ type of record. We were very lucky that MTV was beginning to pick up on our style of music. They made it known to us that if we made videos then they’d play ’em. So we did one [for Breaking The Silence]. And it seemed like within weeks we had a gold album.”
Three further singles – Eyes Of A Stranger, Revolution Calling and I Don’t Believe In Love – were released. The Queensrÿche train was finally beginning to pick up a head of steam. Another crucial factor was that by now the group had a new and powerful management team behind them.
Local record store owners Kim and Diana Harris had been the first to discover Queensrÿche, pressing up their independent EP and becoming the band’s first managers. But the arrangement was never destined to last. It was no coincidence that Queensrÿche’s breakthrough came as part of the powerful Q Prime management team that also represented Metallica, AC/DC, Def Leppard and Dan Reed Network, and later became involved with Madonna.
“Q Prime were capable of putting us on any stage in the world,” Tate says now. “And that’s what they did. [Manager] Peter Mensch was an interesting person to work with. He was always very forthright with his opinions, but he and his company taught us to keep an eye on business, which was a valuable lesson.”
Another thing Q Prime did was to form a protective cocoon around the group’s recording sessions, shielding them from the demands and expectations of EMI.
“When Peter and Cliff [Burnstein, Q Prime partner] stepped in they stressed that the creativity should continue to come from us,” DeGarmo said at the time. “They just contribute their advice and they don’t interfere. We submit everything to Cliff and Peter, and it’s them who talk to the record company.”
Q Prime were also able to up the stakes, putting Queensrÿche on to a tour of Europe with their stablemates and the hottest band of the year, Metallica. Then, more significantly, came a 48-date, coast-to-coast tour of the US by the same pairing. Before that Queensrÿche played support to another red-hot Q Prime band, Def Leppard. At the time, Leppard were playing their shows ‘in the round’ and still promoting the previous year’s enormous hit album Hysteria.
When I ask Geoff Tate which of those tours he enjoyed the most, he fixed me with a gaze that suggests I’ve just asked a complete no-brainer. “Hmmm, let’s consider that one for a moment,” he ponders. “Def Leppard: giant stages to play on… sell-out shows… scantily-clad women dancing at the front of the stage and baring their breasts at us. Metallica: sweaty young boys throwing bottles at us. Now let’s see, which of those would be the most fun?”
Once the laughter subsides, Rockenfield adds: “The real truth is that those tours were equally important for us, because they both did different things for Queensrÿche. Metallica were in the middle of this huge global onslaught, and halfway through they began to realise that this was a really cool package. By then our record was starting to explode, too.