He has one of the most iconic voices in the world of rock/metal. In fact, you will find his name on many of the “Top Vocalist” lists, including those by Hit Parader and That Metal Show. And that name would be Geoff Tate. Tate fronted the band Queensryche for 30 years (1982-2012) and found success with albums such as Empire and Operation: Mindcrime. Unfortunately, Tate and the band parted ways in 2012, and a nearly two-year legal battle ensued over issues including who had the right to the name Queensryche. For a period of time both Tate and his new bandmates, and the previous Queensryche members with new vocalist Todd La Torre were both performing using the name. In 2014, a judge determined that while Tate did not have the right to the band’s name he did have the rights to Operation: Mindcrime, being able to perform the album in full. Since that time, Tate has renamed the band that he has been playing with- now known as Operation: Mindcrime, who are now making their own path. They are currently in the midst of releasing an album trilogy. The first installment, The Key was released in September of 2015 and part two, Resurrection, will be available on September 23rd, 2016.
As Resurrection is part of a trilogy, obviously there is a story line involved, but Tate is hesitant to share too much information, preferring instead to the let the listener figure it out for themselves. “Well, I’m kind of shying away from really discussing the story much. I’d like for people to kind of discover it on their own, you know? And I think I kind of said as much as I’d like to say within the press release, you know?”
Well, for those who are just too curious, what does Tate share in that press release? Here is a little snippet of what he has mentioned, for those that haven’t yet read it: “The album Resurrection is the second part of our three album presentation or trilogy. It continues the story that began on the first album The Key with the near death experience of the lead character known as “H” and his subsequent recovery of the missing encryption key. With the Key finally in his possession, “H” has everything he needs to finally launch his long awaited project called “The New Reality.” Or does he…”
And although the band is named after one of Queensryche’s post popular concept albums, Tate says he hasn’t drawn on any past stories or characters for his new work. “The trilogy is kind of a standalone thing,” he said. “It’s its own story and completely different than, say, Promised Land or American Soldier, or Operation: Mindcrime I and II. It’s very different from that.”
As for the final installment of the trilogy, Tate isn’t giving away any info on that yet either, but stated that it will most likely be released in August or September of 2017 and that the majority of it is already done. According to him, “Yeah, it just needs to be mixed and mastered- just the technical stuff. So I’ve got a few months before I have to do that.”
Resurrection, as well as its predecessor, The Key, features cameo performances by some equally well-known artists. Megadeth’s David Ellefson has appeared on both albums of the trilogy so far, and Tate explained how this pairing came to be. “You know, I found myself sitting next to him on a plane headed for South America a couple of years ago,” he shared. “And I had never met him before and we got talking about music and everything, and being in a band- what that’s like, and kids and life in general. He asked me what I was working on and I said, ‘Well, I’m working on this new album I’ve got’, and he said ‘Well, what’s it like?’ and I started describing it. And we talked for hours- we had like an eighteen hour flight. And then we sat together on the way back to the United States again, so we got to know each other quite well. And just a couple weeks after I got back, I got an email from him and he had some song ideas he sent me. “He said, ‘Hey, maybe these might work on your album. Let me know.’ And I really liked the ideas so we started working them out. And there you go, they’re now on the record.”
Those that follow Tate’s social media were pleased to see the announcement of a handful of shows featuring Tate as well as two other vocalists- Blaze Bayley, who fronted Iron Maiden from 1994-1999, and Tim “Ripper” Owens, Judas Priest’s vocalist for several years. Both men also sing on Resurrection’s track,Taking on the World. According to Tate, “Yeah, we’ve got a band we’ve put together and the three of us are going to be performing songs from the bands we were formerly in- you know mine being Queensryche of course, and Blaze’s being Iron Maiden and Ripper was with Priest for a long time. We’re going to be doing three sets and then some songs that we’re going to be performing together as well. It’s really cool. Actually it started because- I was making these records and Blaze came through town and Ripper came through town and they’re both friends. And we started talking and I invited them to come over to my house and sing on some songs and see how that all turned out. And we had such a good time that we started talking about maybe doing a tour together. And so this tour, called Trinity, is the tour that we dreamed up. So I’m looking forward to that. That’s gonna be fun.” There are a series of dates in late November on the east coast, with no mention of any further dates at the moment, so fans may have to make a family Thanksgiving trip in order to see this pairing!
This album trilogy features a huge list of artists, in addition to Ellefson on bass and Owens and Bayley on vocals. Resurrection’s musician list also includes Kelly Gray (guitars, bass, vocals), Scott Moughton (guitars, keyboards), Randy Gane (keyboards), John Moyer (bass), Simon Wright, Scott Mercado and Brian Tichy all on drums, and of course Geoff Tate on vocals, keyboards, and saxophone. Having such a large pool to draw from guarantees no problem getting a tour line-up together if a member or two happens to be working on another project. And sometimes, one player has that special piece that completes the song at hand. According to Tate, “ Scott Moughton, for instance, wrote with me on a song called Which Side You’re On, and he just had all the guitar parts already written and performed really, so there wasn’t anything particular that Kelly felt that he could add to it. And the same goes vice versa. A couple songs Scott played guitar on and then Kelly played bass. Just really depended upon the song. Sometimes they both played on a song.” Kelly Gray also played with Queensryche from 1998-2002, and played with Tate in a band called Myth all the way back before Queensryche was even in existence.
Of course, a large majority of Operation: Mindcrime fans started out as fans of Queensryche and expect to hear their favorite songs when seeing Tate perform in ANY band. So is he able to incorporate a large chunk of newer tunes or is it more of the older songs? “Predominantly old,yeah,” said Tate. “You know, when you have a new album, even though, as the artist, you’re very excited about performing it all, typically your audiences aren’t ready for it yet. They need some time- living with the album- for it to become familiar with them, you know? So you don’t want to hit them with too much of it. You want to play a couple songs from your new album, but mostly it’s a selection of tracks from past albums you’ve done. And I think I’ve got about eighteen albums now, so I’ve got a lot of stuff to choose from right now.” But for those who have taken the time to listen to the new songs, Tate has received great reactions: ”Oh yeah, I think people like what they hear, you know?”
On a more personal side of things, Tate is also a family man, having four daughters and his wife Susan, who he has been married to for twenty years. Music seems to be a family trait, as two of his daughters have performed with him, both live and on recent recordings, something that Tate said could possibly happen again in the future. In recent years, Tate has also become a grandfather several times over. When asked how he likes being a grandpa, he responded, “ Oh I really like it. Yeah, it’s good gun. Except for when my grandsons destroy my stereo setup, which they did while- I just got back last night from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally… And I went to turn on my stereo system in my downstairs party room/rec room kind of thing and the kids have disconnected it all. Now I can’t get it to work!” He adds with a laugh, “Yeah, that’s the joys of being a grandfather!” Perhaps they were just trying to practice so they can perform with their grandfather one of these days.
An avid wine enthusiast, Tate has even developed his own wine. However, for now it is not available in the states. “Yeah, it’s just in Europe at the moment,” said Tate. “It’s called Insania. We make it in southwest Germany, in the Alsace area, on the border between France and Germany. And actually we’re having an album release party there are the winery in September. It’s advertised and people can find out about it on the Facebook sites and websites and all that. But it should be fun. We’re kind of creating a jam night in the winery. We’ve got a bunch of musical gear set up and a bunch of musician friends are showing up for it. And anybody that wants to come and jam is more than welcome. Should be really fun.” Here are the details according the Tate’s official Facebook page: “Ever dreamed of jamming with Geoff Tate. Saturday, September 24th is your chance! Record release party for Operation: Mindcrime’s upcoming release Resurrection at Weingut Rinklin in Eichstetten, Germany. Drink wine, eat food and listen to the new album. There will also be a live acoustic set by Geoff and friends as well as an open jam session with musicians. Bring your guitar, hear the new album, enjoy a private live performance, drink wine and jam with Geoff.” Definitely a once in a lifetime experience for those who are able to attend.
When he’s not performing or enjoying some Insania, Tate also loves to ride. In fact, immediately prior to this interview, he had traveled to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. “Yeah, I rode over with some friends and you know, it’s a week long, ten day festival. So we just hung out in Sturgis and rode through the Black Hills- all the different motorcycle rides you can do through there- and we went up to Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower, of course- and the Needles Park there, which is a really cool, winding road canyon ride. And just rode back last night and had beautiful weather.” He added with a laugh, “I’m incredibly sunburned but it’s part of the whole experience, you know?” Of course, he did come home to a torn apart stereo system, as mentioned previously, but maybe that’s part of the whole experience as well.
When asked about any bands that he enjoys listening to himself, he shared, “Well, I’m singing with Disturbed when they come to town next week. Quite like that band a lot, David’s a really cool guy and a very accomplished singer, and we’re gonna sing a track together during their show. I’m looking forward to that.” Obviously this interview was conducted before that performance occurred, but we now know that Tate performed Who Taught You How to Hate with Disturbed, along with Corey Lowery (Eye Empire) and Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge). Videos of the performance can be found on YouTube.
Tate is pleased with the work that he has done on this trilogy, and Resurrection in particular. “I’m really, really happy with the whole record,” he shared. “This whole project has really been very special to me. I’ve just really loved the way this one’s turned out in particular. There’s a lot of really interesting music on it and a lot of great performances by everybody involved. And I can’t say enough good things about it without sounding like I’m bragging. I really like it a lot.” And although we will still have to wait another year for the conclusion of the album trilogy, Tate says that he already has his next steps planned. “Yeah, I’ve got a project kind of in the development stage right now. Don’t know quite what that’s going to be all about yet, as far as where it’s gonna be released or who with or when yet. But it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.”
The band will be touring in Europe starting in December and will hit the states in the beginning of 2017. Tate will also be a part of the Shiprocked Cruise January 16-20,2017. In addition to preparing for the upcoming tour, Operation: Mindcrime recently shot a video for a track called Taking on the World and they gave fans in the Seattle area the opportunity to appear as extras in the video via a Facebook casting call. As more singles are released, we should be able to look forward to several more videos, telling the story of the trilogy.
And though Tate has stated definitively that he doesn’t foresee any Queensryche reunion in his future (time perhaps doesn’t heal all wounds), he doesn’t necessarily count out the idea of collaborating with Chris DeGarmo, who was also a major part of Queensryche before leaving the band and becoming a private jet pilot. His simple response was, “Possibly, yeah, if he ever gets back into music again.” It appears that DeGarmo has worked on some music with his daughter, Rylie, so perhaps that collaboration could be on the distant horizon.
Tate once had flowing locks but these days he keeps a close shave. Just for fun though, are there any hair care products that he recommends? “ Hair care products?!” he responded with a laugh. “Uh..well… I have a really sharp razor. That’s what I use to shave my head. That’s about it.”
As Tate gears up for promotion of the album, video shoots, tour preparation and the like, his immediate concern at the tail end of the interview was more simple, in reference to the mishap involving his grandchildren: “I’m gonna try to fix my stereo set-up!”