JZ from “The Dark” on Minnesota radio station FM94 recently conducted an interview with former QUEENSRŸCHE and current OPERATION: MINDCRIME frontman Geoff Tate. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On making OPERATION: MINDCRIME a reality:
Geoff: “First off, it’s not an actual band. OPERATION: MINDCRIME is a group of different musicians all getting together to contribute to these three albums that I put together. I believe, I can’t remember exactly how many people played on the albums, but I believe it’s something like sixteen to eighteen different musicians on these records. There’s three records: ‘The Key’, ‘Resurrection’ and the new album is called ‘A New Reality’. It’s a trilogy of albums that tell one story. It’s like telling a story in three acts and each act is an album. This group of musicians was put together specifically for this project. It was great working with everybody. I worked with several different writers contributing to the music and lots of different musicians, guitar players, bass players, drummers, keyboard players, everybody that contributed did fantastic work. We recorded all the basic tracks for all three albums at the same time a couple of years ago and then, as I finished the records, the record company put them out once a year. And this is the last album of the trilogy and the last album for OPERATION: MINDCRIME and it’s coming out in December.”
On the stylistic direction of OPERATION: MINDCRIME:
Geoff: “It’s really quite different. It’s a return to my musical roots which are [in] progressive rock, primarily, is my influence, so there’s a lot of that kind of sound in the song arrangements and the instrument choices and things like that. But, it’s challenging music. It’s definitely musician-oriented music. It’s catchy in the melodic sense and lyrical sense, but musically, it’s pretty challenging stuff that not everybody is going to be able to pick out everything that’s going on with it because it’s pretty in-depth and complex. It’s not for kids. [Laughs]”
On QUEENSRŸCHE‘s “The Lady Wore Black”, which is found on the band’s 1983 self-titled EP:
Geoff: “Gotta go way back to 1980-81 and at that time, I’m living in the country outside of Seattle in a place called Redmond. It’s a beautiful, rural area. The band QUEENSRŸCHE is not QUEENSRŸCHE yet. We’re just a bunch of guys that got together and decided to write some songs and record them and see if we could take our demo tape and get a record deal. I was playing in a number of different bands at that time. I started working with the guys in QUEENSRŸCHE on this particular four-song EP. ‘The Lady Wore Black’ was the first song we wrote together. We had been in the studio and we were working nighttime at the studio because it was less expensive to work at night, so we had been up all night and working on the music. We wrote this beautiful piece of music, but I didn’t have any words yet. I had some melodic ideas, but I didn’t have the words. I left the studio, I guess, about eight o’clock in the morning. It was one of those late summer days where it was kind of foggy at night and the fog lifts in the morning. So it was kind of sunny with fog everywhere. And I’m walking home because at the time, I couldn’t afford to own a car. I’m walking home and I’m walking through this valley, there’s this river valley, I’m walking to my house. I walk past this woman who is sitting in the park and she’s all dressed in black and boom — it just hit me. The song lyrics came to me and by the time I had gotten to my house, which was probably a half hour later, I had written the lyrics in my head. So I scribbled them down on a piece of paper and came to the studio the next day and we cut the song.”
On the challenges the music industry presents:
Geoff: “When I started, the industry was running strong. It was super-successful and they had a model that they were using. ‘This is how it works.’ Over time, especially toward the mid-to-late ’90s, everything changed in the industry and the Internet changed it where people were able to download music for free and not pay for it. It radically changed the industry because it took all of the money out of the industry. It’s like if everybody walked into their local supermarket, loaded up their basket full of food and walked out without paying for it. Pretty soon there wouldn’t be any supermarkets. They need the money to make it work, right? Basically, downloading and illegal downloading gutted the music industry and took the money out of it. So everybody pretty much left. For example, when I was with EMI Records in the ’80s and the ’90s, there were 10 thousand-plus people working for the label. Now there’s 21 people working for the label, what label is left. It’s pretty much administrating the catalog of what’s there of previous artists’ work. So it’s just gutted it. Nowadays, new bands starting out have a really difficult, I think, an impossible time to try to get themselves noticed and to get…it’s Catch-22, for example. You have to play live in order to get an audience, but how can you afford to play live if you can’t sell tickets? So, what do you do? You have to go on YouTube, you have to create some sort of sensation about yourself and hopefully enough people will like what you’re doing and those likes will translate into people buying tickets to your show if you could possibly get to where their town is. [Laughs] It’s really difficult. You basically have to have somebody taking care of you, another band looking out for you and helping you out and giving you a leg up and getting you on their tour and exposing them to your audience. Or, you have to have some investor who’s got super-deep pockets who’s willing to lay out multiple thousands of dollars to help you get you on the road to help you gain an audience.”
“A New Reality”, the third and final of a concept album trilogy exploring international politics, the world economy and social ethos, will be released on December 1 via Frontiers Music Srl.