Geoff Tate describes “The Key” and much more in this exclusive interview

Geoff Tate describes “The Key” and much more in this exclusive interview

unnamed-1-200x300That legendary voice and sound of Queensrÿche that we all remember is back under the name of Operation: Mindcrime


The Key features a dozen songs (see entire track listing below) and marks part one of an epic musical trilogy that initiates that very question within a web of international politics, the world economy and social ethos.

Who remembers that classic release of Operation: Mindcrime from Queensrÿche, you know the one that had an intriguing storyline of a recovering drug addict who becomes disillusioned with the corrupt society of his time and reluctantly becomes involved with a revolutionary group as an assassin of political leaders? Well, Tate is back with a vengeance, working non-stop on the trilogy of a deeply woven and mystical masterpiece that will clearly show us that the mind will be altered into a new understanding and reality. As he embarks on this new musical journey and as the stories unfold we may feel that nostalgic mindcrime handed back to us from such a long time ago.

Tate describes “The Key” and much more in this exclusive interview.

SSL – Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and Seattle Sound Live, this is like a huge honor for me, mostly because I am a huge fan.

TATE – Great, Thank you.

SSL – Congratulations on the new album “The Key” that is slated to be released on September 18th.

TATE – Thank You.

SSL – Let’s talk about the album, I know there is a high anticipation for the release, I heard “Re-inventing the Future” and to me it sounds like the Queensryche I grew up on, after all you are the voice of Queensryche, the song sounds like you are picking up where you left off from Operation: Mindcrime album, is that what you intended or is it…

Take a listen to “Re-inventing the Future” here

TATE – No, that’s just how I write, as a song writer you just never know how people are going to hear your music because we all hear it differently.

SSL – I agree.

TATE – We all have different musical tastes, different kinds of record collections and different life experiences and we all process that information based on our own personal lives, you know? So, you really don’t know how your music is going to affect somebody, you just have to go into it liking what you do and being indulgent in your passion for it. The world will do with it as the world will do.

SSL – Yes, it has been said that “once you release it out into the world and how everybody perceives it and interprets it” it’s not yours anymore.

TATE – Yes, it’s true, you share it with the world, people discover and some people don’t discover it, some people love it and some don’t, you know? you just never know.

SSL –Right! Let’s talk about this trilogy, so it’s going to be a three part release? Is that correct?

TATE – Yes, it’s a story that takes 3 albums to tell and it follows a narrative and it has 4 main characters that are introduced in the first album “The Key” and it follows along 3 separate records. The Key will be released in September and the second one, we are in the mixing stage now and will be finished in a couple weeks and the third one is mostly written except for the last few tracks. I hope to have all that wrapped up by October as planned.

SSL – Wow.

TATE – If I am organized enough, it will happen.

SSL – How did you do that, most bands take a whole year, sometimes two years just to release one album. How did you pull that off?

TATE – I just work really hard, I am a workaholic when I get into a project. This one, I really started it officially back in November 2014. The previous September my wife and I took a trip to Spain and we went on a pilgrimage hike, we hiked the Camino de Santiago, it’s a 500 mile route through Northern Spain. It is a really long and involved adventure, you walk like 15 miles a day, every day and there is a lot of time to think. I had been toying around with this idea I had about a particular story and I finished it while I was on the walk. So, when I got back home I started putting musical ideas to the outline I had written and then I started getting other people involved, other writers like Kelly Gray, which is joining me on this project and we have worked together for many, many years. Randy Gane on keyboards and Scott Moughton on guitar, we started to put musical ideas to this story and it just started rolling you know? We had really great momentum going and when everyone gets on the same page and starts throwing out creative idea after creative idea, it’s just fantastic, I love that kind of collaboration. So, we have just been working, working, working 10-15 hour days since November to get it all finished.

SSL – That sounds incredible.

TATE – When you get on a roll like that, it’s good not to stop, it’s better to keep going and keep going so that you don’t lose that momentum that you created.

SSL – With the release of 3 albums like that, where does it leave you with touring?

TATE – I have plans to start touring in the states in January 2016, we are going to do a run of dates in Europe in November and then take the holidays off and start in the states in late January.

SSL – Okay.

TATE – The show will be a combination of all the material that I have written over the years and the centerpiece will be the new album, I would like to play it in its entirety as a showcase of the show.

SSL – With all 3 combined so you get the whole story?

TATE – No, No, I am not going to play the second or third album until they are released.

SSL – Oh, okay I get it. So you will be touring behind “The Key” and then the second and third will be released shortly thereafter. I am just shocked that you will be doing 3 albums like that back to back, it’s amazing. It’s not really traditional in a sense, is it? (Tate plans to release the three albums within six months in between each album)

TATE – No, it’s not and it sounded like a great idea at the time when I committed to doing it and half way through it, I thought what did I get myself into this is so much work and I don’t know if I could get it all done.

SSL – Right?

TATE – But, it is coming along really nicely and I am really happy with the second record too and the third one, we haven’t begun recording it but we have written the tracks for it and its just waiting to be polished and expanded.

SSL – I know you released a few tidbits here and there, can you give the readers any little hints to what the other songs will be about lyrically?

TATE – Well, because it’s a narrative and because there is a bit of mystery regarding the storyline, I kind of don’t want to divulge that as a spoiler you know?

SSL – Okay, I understand.

TATE – I can give you a little bit of an overview thou, it has to do with a subject, a subject of reality. I don’t know if you are a parent or not?

SSL – I am.

TATE – Okay, then you know as a parent you start really early in your child’s development defining what their reality is, we say this is a chair, this is a dog, this is a cat, this is a car, this is the sky, this is a branch, we have names and definitions for everything and that in a sense is a way of defining what reality is. So we grow up with that and rarely do we question what it is that we are taught.

SSL – Right.

TATE – So, in the story, a guy discovers an event, an algorithm, this program that you access by a computer and when you insert the program the information comes up on the computer screen and it gives you the ability to see beyond the reality that you were brought up with, the reality that has been programmed into you. So, this is a life changing piece of work its something that dramatically changes the way people look at the world, the way they interface with the world. The four characters realize wow, this is incredible and then the question arises, well, what we do with it. Do we sell it for massive wealth? Or is it something so important that we should give it to the world? Because it’s going to change everything.

SSL – Hmmm, Interesting concept.

TATE – So, because of that question a giant conflict arises between the four people, some want to keep it and some want to sell it and get rich and others don’t. So, this conflict is what is expressed in this first album and it also develops the characters, you are introduced to them, who they are and what they think. I have given voices to the characters, Kelly sings the part of one character, Scott sings one of the other ones and myself, I am a character and Mark Daly (TheVoodoos) from Ireland is the other voice. So, between these four characters the story is told.

SSL – So, that leads me to ask, since all three albums are going to play off of each other, will the 12 songs on “The Key” have that same element and play off each other as well?

TATE – Yeah, if what you mean by playing off each other, it will be introduced with some familiar themes, musical themes? Yes! That is part of the beauty of writing a musical piece like this, is that you establish characters that are defined by the melodies they sing or certain core progressions that appear when their story is being told from their point of view. So we bring some of those themes back and forth throughout the next two albums to help establish the characterization.

SSL – Wow, it sounds very interesting.

TATE – Yeah, it’s pretty cool, all kinds of little hints and phrases, there is musical effects and musical notes that can lead the listener down the path like breadcrumbs along the trail so that they can find their way through the story. You know? I am kind of anxious to hear how people interpret the story and see if they grab it and grasp on to it.

SSL – Right!

TATE – I have had some wonderful conversations with people over the years regarding the Operation Mindcrime album for example and what was going on with the story and how they interpreted it, you know? I love those kind of conversations with people.

SSL – I know what you mean, totally. I have the same dialogue come up on almost all of my interviews, for example, how did you come up with that song? What is the meaning behind it? The answers are usually, Well, I was dealing with this or I was going through that. And the listeners, most of the time they take what they want from it, it either resonates or it’s something entirely different to them. Between the lyrics or instrumental aspect, it can take on a whole different meaning.

TATE – Sure, yeah, and that kind of brings us back to what we were talking about before, how differently people interpret music you know?

SSL – Yeah, and that’s the beauty in music actually.

TATE – It is, it’s a wonderful thing about it and it’s something that is incredibly ancient too, music has been a part of our human story for millennia.

SSL – Right, I tend to get into the bands and the writers that have a MESSAGE behind the music, because music can be such an influence to some many different people and they do interpret things differently but when you are actually speaking about topics that have something to do with life and meaning it just sets it apart from other music that talks about stupid shit. (Yeah, I went there and it sounded so much better in person) Laughing.

TATE – (Laughing) Well, there is room for stupid shit too (laughing)

SSL – (Laughing) I know, it’s just how I see it, I like message based music is all.

TATE – Yeah, I do too.

SSL – I know about all the court stuff and after all that settled is that when you decided to name the band Operation: Mindcrime?

TATE – Well, I chose that name for two reasons. The first and foremost reason is that I needed a name that will be recognizable to my fans and a name that they were familiar with. You know, I spent 35 years finding everything that I did and created, spoke about and thought about under the name of Queesnryche. So, not having that name anymore left me kind of adrift in the 21st century where it is very difficult to let people know who you are, where you are at, if there is a new album out or appearing in their city. It is not like it used to be where there was one magazine or one newspaper that covered entertainment. You know? Now, our news is so selective and we program our own news and we select our own channels of information and topics etc. In a way we are cut off, in a sense, we have all these possibilities but, we customize our playlist and our information playlist, you know?

SSL – Right!

TATE – So, I needed a name that people recognized and reason #2, I wanted to continue making conceptual music, conceptual albums, story albums and the words Operation: Mindcrime say that. It lets people know that this is going to be a project like the album of Operation: Mindcrime.

SSL – That’s what I was thinking! Other than it was your baby! It was a no brainer but, I had to ask, I mean I grew up on that stuff, it’s like wow…… (Flustered voice)

TATE – (laughing) Yeah, I kind of grew up with it too.

SSL – The line up, I know you have some of the members that you have worked with before, I noticed that you stated somewhere that “I want to work with different groups of people. And I want to constantly be changing it up to make it interesting and different. And I want to play with as many great players as I possibly can” Does that mean you will be changing the line up? On part two or?

TATE – Yeah, I wanted to create an environment where the musicians felt like they weren’t tied to the project so to speak, where they could go and do other projects, tour with other bands and write on other peoples records and they weren’t locked down to my project and I wanted to have the same feeling too. It’s kind of like the approach the Jazz musicians took in the 30’s and 40’s where you had all these great players that would get together and do different things and go off and do other things you know? It is a really nice environment because the type of players that I want to play with are of the same mind, they want to do other projects and be involved with other things and play with as many people they can play with. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to launch yourself into a different group of musicians and to graph what it is that they are doing and to adapt to that. You know? It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to do that, I never had the chance being in a band for so many years being tied to the same people. So this way it works for everyone involved and we are all free to go do other things and come together when we can and want to.

SSL – Yeah, it seems like it would give you more creative juices as well, instead of pumping out the same thing over and over again?

TATE – Yeah, it keeps it interesting, definitely. I will give you a great example; Brian Tichy, one of my drummers that has been playing with me, he will go do a tour with somebody and come back doing drum tracks with me and say “check this out” I learned this with so and so, and he brings in this new information that maybe I have never been exposed to before and I find it inspiring to take the music in different directions. Which is what I am all about, variety.

SSL – I think it is cool too, when you bring in other members like an all-star lineup, I think it grabs the fans attention as well.

TATE – I think so, I think it’s interesting and it kind of leaves a mystery as to whom will be playing tonight when I go to the show type of element.

SSL – Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, fans like to see that kind of stuff.

TATE – It’s nice to have variety from one show to the next.

SSL – After all of the dust has settled with Queensryche, and you are definitely moving on, has it changed your perspective in the music business?

TATE – On the business? No, not really. It definitely has opened my eyes to the complexity of human behavior you know?

SSL – Yeah!

TATE – That’s been a real education but, beyond that? No. It was a fair and good settlement that we came to and I feel good about it and just moving on now and just getting back to the creative mode and leaving all that other stuff behind which is not fun to be living day in and day out, I much rather be songwriting.

SSL – I can only imagine it was pretty stressful.

TATE – Definitely!

SSL – Well, I think it’s great that you can now move on and do what you do best.

TATE – Yeah, it’s a good feeling.

SSL – Well, I think I covered just about everything on my end! Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

TATE – Thanks for listening and I hope to see everyone while on tour, we are really looking forward to it.

SSL – On the behalf of myself and Seattle Sound Live, we wish you continued success and we have the upmost respect for you and will be waiting patiently for the release of “The Key” Thank you for your time, it was such a pleasure talking with you today.

TATE – Thank you very much Shanna, Thank you for the interview, take care and stay cool and we will see you in a few months.

SSL – Thank you!


Operation: Mindcrime Website
Operation: Mindcrime Facebook

Joining Tate on The Key are a hard-hitting cast of familiar faces and new collaborators: bass players Dave Ellefson (Metal Allegiance) and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob), drummers Simon Wright (AC/DC), Scott Mercado (Candlebox) and Brian Tichy (Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne), guitarists Kelly Gray (Queensryche) and Scott Moughton (Geoff Tate), keyboardist Randy Gane (Myth) and vocalist Mark Daly (The Voodoos)

Re-Inventing The Future
Ready To Fly
Discussions In A Smoke Filled Room
Life or Death?
The Stranger
Hearing Voice
On Queue
An Ambush Of Sadness
Kicking In The Door
The Fall




Shanna Torp

Shanna Torp

Shanna is a contributing editor at Rock Paper Rock and the resident interview guru. She is currently the Owner of SLT Social Media Services and is gearing up to finish her BA in marketing.

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