Why Tate won’t let Queensryche fight go
Geoff Tate says he can’t let Queensryche go without a fight, because the band has been his life’s work.
He doesn’t believe his former bandmates should continue under the name after dramatically sacking him last month.
And he’s revealed the “horrible” experience he lived through when the rest of Queensryche refused to play the last gig they had on their schedule, leaving him to hastily assemble a solo performance.
On June 20 guitarist Michael Wilton, drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson announced they’d be continuing their career with guitarist Parker Lundgren and new frontman Todd La Torre.
They’d recruited Crimson Glory singer La Torre to front a side project named Rising West – but quickly changed their name after dismissing Tate, who later said it had been a purely business decision.
And he claimed his own departure came just days after they’d dismissed his wife as band manager and several other members of his family, with Rockenfield telling him just before a concert: “We just fired your family and you’re next.”
Now Tate tells Billboard: “I think they’re not very good business people. Continuously in our career they had tried to make bad decisions. I had to put my foot down and say, ‘No, this is ridiculous – can’t do this. This is going to end up costing us more, and what’s smart about that?’
“Honestly, it’s so hurtful that this kind of thing is happening. I’ve worked all my life in creating a positive image for Queensryche – the music and public appearances, the lyrics, all the press I do. For this whole thing to come unravelling like this and become very public is so distasteful for me. I can barely stand it.”
But he adds that, despite the tension, quitting never crossed his mind: “It’s my life’s work,” he says. “I can’t really walk away from it – it’s me, you know.”
His former colleagues’ lawyer informed him they wouldn’t appear for a Scorpions support show in June, just a day ahead of the performance. Tate says his first reaction was disappointment.
“First and foremost I was thinking of the fans that had paid to see us play. Then it’s a trickle-down effect: the promoters are upset, the Scorpions are upset. Everyone was counting on the band to show up to fill their contractual obligations.
“It was horrible. I’m just glad I got to play. People in the audience were very supportive and gave us a standing ovation. It went really well, even though my solo band were tried because they had to drive 12 hours to get there.
“It’s very different to expect to see a band play, but the band don’t show up and the singer does an acoustic set. I was concerned people would be upset about that. But I think they honestly enjoyed the set.
“Just one of those situations where you do your best and try to make everybody as happy as you possibly can – given the circumstances.”
The singer believes his former bandmates should come up with a new name if they want to keep going. He says: “They should do it standing on their own two feet, with music they write and albums they create. That would be the honourable thing to do, rather than trying to make a living off what I’ve done, what I created.
“I would think they would have the decorum and respect for what was built over the years to take care of that stuff before they launch into a public arena and claim themselves to be something they’re not.”
Tate’s legal papers say he was co-writer in the creation of over 80% of Queensryche’s songs, and he admits he missed the input of former guitarist Chris DeGarmo, who left in 1997. “Chris and I worked really closely,” he says. “We were really in sync.”
After that, the singer says it was a battle to encourage the rest of the band to contribute. “Every album cycle I’d say, ‘Please contribute.’ It’s always been a constant conversation.”
Tate’s lawsuit is scheduled for a court hearing in November. Queensryche have declined to comment.