Earlier this week Geoff Tate made his first comments addressing the split with Queensryche, the lawsuit filed, the altercation that was rumored to involve a knife, his upcoming solo album and more in a Q&A with RollingStone.com. “We’re in a lawsuit right now and it’s probably gonna get ugly,” he said. “I filed a claim a couple of days ago. So, it’s all going to the legal system now to sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff.”
Here’s some of the interview that definitively brings Tate’s side of the story out:
RS: How did this new thing begin?
GT: I think it really began around February of this year. It mainly started with a disagreement about economics, about moving our merchandising to a third party. We had control over our own merchandising company for years and years and we ran it ourselves. It’s a very successful entity, and the other three guys wanted to take it out of our hands and hand it over to somebody else and pay them more money to operate it, which just seemed liked a ridiculous business idea to me. That’s really where the disagreement started.
RS: Where did things go from there?
GT: It forced us into trying to talk sense into them, our manager and myself and our business manager, trying to get them to see this was not a good deal. Why were they so adamant about taking money out of our pockets and handing it to somebody else? Our manager found another company that would do it for considerably less and they ultimately went with that.
RS: How about musically? Were you guys seeing eye-to-eye on the sound of the band at this point?
GT: Well, this is kind of a weird situation too. In the press release they said there were “creative differences.” But to have creative differences, you have to have two entities or more offering up creative ideas. And that just wasn’t the case. Queensryche has always been my idea, starting from the first record. Queensryche is about albums. It’s about concepts and themes, and those concepts were mine. [Laughs] I started out with The Warning, bringing those ideas in for Rage for Order, Operation: Mindcrime . . . all the albums. I write 81% of the music and the lyrics. Of the 144 songs that Queensryche has released, I’ve written 116 of those.
I am the creative energy in the band, especially since Chris left. When he was in the band it was more of a shared thing between him and I. But once he left, the burden was on me. I don’t consider it necessarily a burden. That’s what I do. I’m a creative person. I write everyday and I’m constantly coming up with creative ideas. I present them to the other guys and they go, “Yeah, sure, that sounds good to us.”
RS: How did they feel about the last album?
GT: Well, you’d have to ask them about that.
RS: Did they ever tell you they weren’t happy with it, or with the direction the band was going?
GT: Nope. No. Nothing.
RS: So in February you started arguing about the merchandise business. How did things go from there? You played some shows after that.
GT: We had quite a few dates on the books. The plan was that we were all going to be doing some side projects and then we were gonna do a handful of Queensryche dates throughout the year. Everybody was going off and doing their own thing this year, and then we were going to regroup in 2013 for a big tour.
RS: I’ve read lots of accounts about what happened in Brazil in April. The story on the Internet goes that you overheard them plotting to fire you and then you pushed Michael to the floor and pointed a knife at Scott. What actually happened?
GT: Well, you know how the Internet goes . . . The way it went was, we had a gig in Sao Paolo, and before the show we had a meeting in the dressing room. I asked them straight up about the rumors I’d heard about them replacing me. I was definitely concerned about this. What kind of plan was that? Was it serious? What was going on? They said that they weren’t planning on replacing me, but they had just fired our manager, our office assistant and one of our guitar techs, who all happened to be my family members.
I asked them, “Why is this happening?” They really couldn’t give me a straight answer, or any kind of answer that made any kind of business sense. It seemed like a personal vendetta against me. Anyway, the meeting was short and we went to do the show. I’m getting ready by my station, ready to go on stage, and Scottlooks at me and he smirks and says, “We just fired your whole family, and you’re next.” I just lost it. I tried to punch him. I don’t think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side. On my way, I managed to shove [Michael] Wilton, and really, that was it. I cooled down and we did the show, and everything went fine.
RS: There was no knife involved?
GT: No. No knife involved. You can’t really get knives into foreign countries.
RS: The guys recently formed a side project called Rising West that was entirely devoted to playing material from the first five Queensryche albums. It seems to imply they didn’t like the more recent material. But they never actually said to you that they preferred the sound the band had in the Eighties?
GT: Hmmm . . . I looked at that forming of that band as a side project. I was surprised that all four guys went in the same direction. That didn’t make such sense to me. That felt like some kind of calculated move, but I can’t even speculate what they were thinking. But if they want to do a side project, I’m all about that. I’ve very supportive of everybody in the band doing side projects.
RS: But this is a side projects devoted to songs that you wrote
GT: Well, that is a little weird. I would think if they were gonna do a side project, they should probably write some new songs and present them as a group, and then play some Queensryche songs too. If they wanna do that, that’s cool. But to do only Queensryche material and only material that I wrote . . . I don’t know. It’s kind of a slap in the face.
Honestly, I’m not angry over this. I’m more hurt by it all. This has been my life’s work. It’s been 30 years building this name and this image of the band. All the lyrics and the directions of the albums and the concepts, that is all from me. And to have them do what they’re doing and kick me out – God, I didn’t realize that these guys were those kind of people. It’s shocking to me.
RS: How did they actually tell you that you were fired?
GT: By a legal letter from their attorney to mine.
RS: In your estimation, do they have the legal right to fire you and carry on as Queensryche?
GT: No. They don’t.
RS: What’s gonna happen now?
GT: Well, we’re in a lawsuit right now and it’s probably gonna get ugly. I filed a claim a couple of days ago. So it’s all going to the legal system now to sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff.
RS: Are they gonna be able to play dates as Queensryche before this is resolved?
GT: Well, they shouldn’t. Definitely. It’s a situation where, in my opinion, they’re doing everything the wrong way. If there was a dispute over who is in the band, or who owns the band name, I think that stuff should all be worked out before they try to book gigs with the name Queensryche.