Interview | Geoff Tate – “I do not listen to metal music actually….
Jeffrey Wayne Tate, who of course rose to metal stardom with Queensrÿche is still a force to reckon with; especially the `Operation: Mindcrime’ album (1988) and `Empire’ album (1990) were commercially successful – over twenty million sold – and the music on those albums is still some of the best prog metal ever recorded. In 2012 Geoff Tate was supposedly “fired” by QR and he renamed his band to Operation Mindcrime in 2015, releasing three albums with that band. Geoff Tate also released two solo albums – `Geoff Tate’ in 2002 and `Kings & Thieves’ in 2012. Furthermore, Geoff Tate also sang on the two Sweet Oblivion albums `Sweet Oblivion’ (2019) and `Relentless’ (2021) and of course Tate is also known as a wine enthusiast and he, together with his wife Susan, even launched his own brand of wine called Insania. So, enough to talk about, so without further ado here we go….
PLANS FOR AN ALBUM
Geoff, do you have any plans for a new solo album or an Operation Mindcrime album?
,,I have not made an album in six years’ time, so it is about time, right? Actually, I have a lot of songs sitting there you know and a couple of different projects in the work you know; actually, I have just started working on a new Sweet Oblivion album and that will be number three; well, I am not really working on it, I have been listening to the music for that third album. I have not sung anything, yet I am just waiting for me to hit it, you know…”
You only do the vocals for Sweet Oblivion right?
,,Right, yes, the vocals and the lyrics, so not composing any songs for my Italian friends yet, but you never know what will happen in the future…”
So, thirty-five years ago `Operation: Mindcrime’ was released, I cannot believe it is already “that old” as the lyrics are still really contemporary, right?
,,Yeah, you’re absolutely right, things do not change that quick, my friend, ha ha ha”
Why again an OM tour, you could have picked another QR album, or not?
,,The answer is simple, promoters; they go, can you play it and I then answer of course I can, ha ha…”
BEST QUEENSRŸCHE SONG EVER COMPOSED
Which band accompanies you on this tour?
,,We have Jack Ross, who has been with me for six years already, on bass guitar, James Brown on guitar, Danny Laverde, the only other American, on drums who has been with me since Covid and then a new Frenchman, an amazing guitarist called Amaury Altmayer, who was recommended to me by a friend of a friend of a friend. He is a great guitar player, and he really is an asset to the band.”
How do you prepare yourself for a gig?
,,I exercise a lot. However, the eating is always a problem, of course you need energy for the show, but you cannot eat too much because you get lazy then, so you have to eat early and then take a walk, exercise; just keep moving that is the main point.”
How do you keep your voice in such terrific shape?
,,Practise, practise, my friend, work at it and be and stay healthy. I try to sing everyday as days off are what gets me; a couple of days off the road and then I come back and it takes me three days to get back up speed again, you know. The fact is that the older you get the harder it gets, right?”
What is the best Queensrÿche song ever composed?
,,……. Silence…. Can you ask me an easier question, ha ha…. I don’t know, man. Well, there is a QR song on the last album (`Dedicated To Chaos’ (2011)) we did together called ,,Hard Times’’ and from a songwriting standpoint that one is probably the top of our game we got to. It is one of my favourite QR albums actually, the one I listen the most to; best memories that last one. On `Dedicated To Chaos’ everybody contributed writing on it, and it has a real band feel to it. It means a lot to me, and ,,Hard Times’’ is really an amazing song. There is another great song on that album called ,,Broken’’; I love that one too, but I cannot listen to it very much as it is too emotional.
Well, let’s see, from my solo stuff, from the first album I recall a great track, which is called…. I cannot remember the name of the song…. Oh, yeah ,,Helpless’’ is the name of the track, I like that one although it is really hard to judge your own material or be critical about your own songs as I tend to change certain things in QR songs now and then nowadays. For instance, there is a part in the ,,Queen Of The Reich’’ song I do not sing anymore because I just cannot stand it, hated it, and my drummer says you left that part out every night and I think you should put it in, ha ha….”
How about the `Frequency Unknown’ album released in 2013?
,,Yeah, there is some good stuff on that one too, nice that you mention that one as lots of people do not remember FU; actually, there are a lot of people, journalists as well, that do not know that we made albums after `Empire’…. Ha ha ha…”
,,Yeah, man, the question I get asked most is: “what have you been doing since 1991?” ha ha ha…’’
LIFE ON THE ROAD WITH GEOFF TATE
Life on the road with Geoff Tate is….
,,Moving constantly, it is actually quite fun, my wife and daughter are with me, and we spent all day exploring the city, shopping, sightseeing, meeting with friends and have a nice meal, come back to the venue and do the show, go to bed and move on to the next city.”
What is the last thing you do before you go on stage?
,,I go pee, ha ha ha…It is a big deal as it is very hard to sing with a full bladder.“
Do you have any guilty pleasures, music wise I mean?
,,Honestly, I hardly listen to music. I have music in my head all day, singing melodies into my phone and so on. Actually, my daughter wanted to know more about music, and she asked me: “what should I listen to?” and I said: this is what you do, you start with ABBA, and you go to Zappa and everything in between; so, from A to Z.”
What makes you angry?
,,Let me think, …….. prejudices and….. ignorance, yeah that really.”
What makes you laugh?
,,When people fall down, ha ha ha, really simple stuff.”
What is the shadiest thing that you ever did?
,,Shadiest, wow, I try to prime myself of being an honest person; well as a child I stole something from a grocery store and my mother forced me to return it and the shopkeeper threatened me and scared the shit out of me, so I never did that again, ha ha..”
What is the best thing about being a musician?
,,When you have a really good band and it is a wonderful comradeship and when you are playing together and you hit those notes so accurately, that is amazing and everybody looks at each other in the band and yeah we hit it, we played it great; you cannot beat that.”
PINK FLOYD AND YES
The worst about being a musician?
,,Lack of respect you get from, you know from every other walk of life; you know especially like financial institutions. You can make millions of dollars and they still go like are you planning on having a real job, you know, soon ha ha ha. That kind of thing gets to you, really.”
Do you still have ambitions?
,,Music wise not really but I have things I want to do, I still have a couple of albums in me, so ….”
Was there a record that changed your life?
,,So many, yeah. The first time when I heard `The Dark Side Of The Moon’, it really affected me and ,,Wish You Were Here’’ really got me as well. The whole mid-seventies were a blast for me, a band like Yes really impressed me. I once had the honour to give Jon Anderson a lifetime achievement award and I got time to talk to him and I asked him how he wrote some of the stuff he did because it was so ahead of its time, like the sounds he got. It was not like a dispatched library that we have today we just pull 1.000 different sounds if you have to create songs from scratch; how did you do that and Jon just laughed and said: “Well, we just got on with it, you know. You had to keep your vision in your head, you had to reach beyond what was available to you in a sense to create stuff”.
I remember on some of the first QR albums we were trying to stretch out and do things instrumentally and there were no instruments for it, so we like making stuff sounds and using early samples and emulators and other things to create musical instruments out of everyday stuff because that was what you had to do.”
What is your favourite metal album, and do you consider QR music metal music?
,,I always hated that term, you know. It is such a big genre and they had to start breaking it up into smaller subgenres; but when you get down to it, metal is just a marketing term, so that does not really interest me. I do not listen to metal actually …”
THE WINE BUSINESS
Something complete different now, how is the wine business?
,,The wine is flowing my friend, ha ha… we have just been to Germany doing a wine festival and it was great.”
What is your favourite wine?
,,I really do not have a favourite wine, I love German wines, French wines, but not so much into American wine, not really. I am honestly afraid to drink them, you know, they are just filled with who knows what, I just worry about that…..ha ha ha .We do not have the controls on the wine industry like you have in Europe you know. Take, Germany, rigid controls, France, rigid controls, so that is why German white wines are phenomenal, I really love them.”
Last question, if you were the journalist and I was the musician what would be your last question?
,,Nice one, well, when are you going to retire? (very loud laughing). I think I have seven years to go, better said I am going to give myself seven years if I do not change my mind by then…. I have at least two more albums in me. So…”
Are they truly coming?
,,Yes, they are coming, ha ha, thanks for your interesting questions.”
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Cheers.
Header photo by Edwin van Hoof