Rock Confidential recently conducted an interview with former QUEENSRŸCHE and current OPERATION: MINDCRIME singer Geoff Tate. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Rock Confidential: When you decided to move ahead with OPERATION: MINDCRIME, how did you know you wanted a group of like-minded contributors and not necessarily a normal band project?

Tate: I started experimenting with that idea when I put a band together to tour a couple of years ago. I didn’t really want to be in a band again. I’ve done that for so many years and I wanted to create a project where people were able to come and go. The kind of people I wanted to work with were the kind of musicians that are interested in playing in a lot of different areas and a lot of different kinds of music. I wanted to give them the freedom to do as many projects as they wanted to do with other people, and I wanted that freedom, too. This seemed to be the best way I could do it. So far it’s worked really well. Everyone is free to take on other projects and do other things and we come together when we can. I’ve got a large array of people to pick from for a touring band as well. Some people may only play a part of the tour, some may go in and out and some will play the whole time. It just depends on what they’ve got going on.

Rock Confidential: It had to be inspiring to have so many people add their musical interpretations to the story you’ve written.

Tate: It a fresh environment. In a way, it’s reminiscent of the jazz scene of the ’30s and ’40s in America. All these great players would get together and do a project together and they would split off, do other things and then come back together and do something else. It’s fun that way and it keeps things interesting. I like it when the drummer I’m playing with has just got off a tour or finished recording a record with an artist that does a completely different style of music and they bring those influences into what I’m doing. I love that.

Rock Confidential: The first part of the trilogy you’ve written is “The Key”. You’ve mentioned the songs are not laid out to tell the story in a linear fashion but they are all part of a puzzle. Are there specific stories on each album or will you need all three albums to complete the puzzle?

Tate: You’ll need all three. It’s one long story that takes three albums to tell. The first story, “The Key”, sets the story up and introduces you to the four main characters. It illustrates the conflict that arises between the four figures. The second album continues the conflict and hints at a resolve. The last album will come to the conclusion.

Rock Confidential: As you write for an album that has a storyline, is it a challenge to write a song that could be released as a single and stand alone without the context of the other songs?

Tate: Yeah, it is. I never think in terms of singles. I have never picked a single on any record I’ve ever done. That’s always been a collective decision. It’s strange what people pick and their reasons for picking a song to be a single. Not that singles matter anymore, because we’re not being played on radio stations. That was a real epiphany I had a while back. For so many years and so many records I’ve always thought in terms of adhering to the commercial radio format of songwriting arrangements. I realized that radio stations don’t really exist anymore — not the way we grew up with them. So I can do anything I want musically. I can write a six-minute track. I can wait two minutes before I get to a chorus. That was a real revelation to me and it really influenced a lot of the writing on this record. I’ve had some of the craziest things come up when discussing singles with record labels. When [QUEENSRŸCHE‘s] “Operation: Mindcrime”





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first came out, the record label wanted to release “Suite Sister Mary”, a 10-minute-long song, as a single to radio. I said, “What’s your reasoning behind this?” They wanted to break the song into three separate pieces and release three separate singles of the same song. That’s just bizarre. People get these ideas — something grabs them and they get inspired by a song and want to do something with it. You never know as a writer how your stuff is affecting people. Everybody hears and experiences music differently.

Read the entire interview at Rock Confidential.