QUEENSRŸCHE – Operation: Lovedrive

November 10, 2015, 4 years ago

Martin Popoff

feature queensryche heavy metal

QUEENSRŸCHE – Operation: Lovedrive

Seattle slide rule rockers Queensryche have been out with Scorpions (more of a long division band, when it comes to math), and the collision of these pan-world forces is this summer’s greatest celebration of heavy metal contrasts.

“Great guys; they’re like a machine,” chuckles Queensryche guitarist Michael Wilton. “They’re just really on schedule, for the most part, and their production is intense. And they’ve got huge video walls, and we get to see them work those with great accuracy every night. And a couple of the guys have come in and talked to us. They’re really supportive of Queensryche, and they’re really happy to have us on this tour. The bass player, Pawel, the other day, came in and just said, ‘Hey, the two bands’ music really works great together.’”

“They don’t normally arrive until later in the day,” adds bassist Eddie Jackson, “but Klaus did stop by and welcomed us on the tour. He’s in really good shape, though. I don’t know how old he is, but he looks the same (laughs). We were fans of that band and we grew up listening to Scorpions way back. We used to play stuff off of Virgin Killer.”

“Yeah,” laughs Michael, “I think one of the big things for guitar players back when we were in our teens, was learning ‘The Sails of Charon;’ that guitar solo was like, wow (laughs). It blew away every kid who was a guitar player.”

Queensryche, however, are in a “Steamrock Fever” over their own music these days, out promoting Condition Human, their second record featuring Todd La Torre on vocals—and, increasingly, lyrics.

“I write some of them,” says Eddie, “but LT does the majority of them. We all try to kind of contribute in some capacity. I like to sing a lot, and Michael and I will get in the same room with LT, and we’d be bouncing melody ideas and bouncing harmony ideas with him. But yeah, he’s really stepped up compared to the last album. The last album for us, we were very proud of, and he did a great job on that one too, but it was his first real recording as a singer. He recorded before as a drummer, which, he’s a really good drummer. But this time around, he kind of stepped it up. And for the most part, the majority of the lyrics is him. But like Michael said, I contribute as well.”

“I think that’s what’s great,” adds Wilton. “It’s not like all the weight is on his shoulders. It’s not like, okay, we just got off the tour and we just give him 25 demos—write some melodies and lyrics for them. You know, that’s daunting, for anybody. So if he runs into roadblocks, or if he’s not hearing something, Eddie will come up with a melody. And we all come up with lyric ideas. It’s just a matter of making it more of a band feeling rather than just putting it all on him.”

“All the compositions are like little snapshots, little stories in themselves,” says Michael, asked about the band’s message on this record. “But they’re not interlinked. So it’s not conceptual or anything. But they all represent our human perception of how we deal with an ever-changing life that’s really just moving really fast for us right now. The songs deal with human relationships, fatality, morality, love, time—all of these things are there in each story.”

“What you get with Todd is the real thing,” continues Michael, asked to compare Todd as a front man with Geoff Tate. “There’s no act. He’s very earnest and he’s very forthcoming to the audience. He’s there with open arms. This is me—that kind of thing. And there’s no ego problem with him. Singers generally have to have a little bit of ego, but he is in check (laughs). And the fans, they’re the ones that have accepted him. It’s just really miraculous how he has fit into the position so well.”

As for Scott Rockenfield, besides being the backbone of the band as their top-shelf drummer, there’s always been this perception that he takes care of the business side of things as well. True?

“Well, we all kind of have our own job descriptions that we take responsibility for,” muses Eddie, “but I think at times he might do a little bit more in this area. Michael might do a little bit more in this area. I might do something in this area, within the business, but we all try to keep everything in order and make sure… business relates to everything. I mean, as much as we would like to spend most of our time composing, writing, just creating art, we also have to run a business as well.”

Adds Michael, in closing, “I think the key is that everybody—at least Scott, Eddie and I—are really involved in all the books, the deals. Because for an artist, you have to keep abreast of what’s going on. Because once things slip through the fingers, it’s like, you’re in for trouble.”

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