On March 1st of this year Queensrÿche released their 15th studio album called ‘The Verdict’. The band is still on tour and before the show in Eindhoven I had the opportunity to talk to one of the QR guys, which I grabbed with both hands obviously. On the day it became clear that Michael Wilton [guitarist and co-founder of Queensrÿche in 1982] would be my partner in crime, so I was really looking forward to talk to this QR “hero”….
,,Well, you know the way you do it in the USA with the record companies is you put on YouTube basically videos with words, so, that’s how it started. We did ,,Man The Machine” and once that hit it kind of goes viral, so you get interviews, blogs, reviews; you know what it is like. All the hard-core fans listened to it and they were very positive. Lots of fans really enjoy the fact that QR has gone back to the way they used to be. The power metal, semi-progressive sound with lots of melody and exciting, you know. I think the first single really catapulted everything!! Of course, the record company also had to promote the album and I did over a 100 interviews. In these days it is feast or famine; you have lots of opportunities as a band, but you have to take them as there are so many bands out there doing what we are doing, so…. The reviews of ‘The Verdict’ were really positive in the press. In Germany `The Verdict’ charted top 10 and that has never happened for QR in the whole history. So, that was a great springboard to go out live and promote this album and this year is fully booked and we are going to tour ‘The Verdict’ next year as well. However, I also want the guys to write new songs, get another album out as I am getting older and I cannot wait 5 years between records, you know, ha ha…. The title of the album does not have a special, deeper meaning, but I believe that it deals with some of the semi-political/sociological means of the songs. `The Verdict’ is kind of symbolic as we are possibly in troubled times but there is always a bright side. It is definitely not a concept album and it is also not really thematic. There are different topics and viewpoints, like for instance inner unrest and troubled relationships.”
Could you please tell something more about my favourite track of this album, ,,Bent”?
,,That has a lot to do that the really important decisions are being made for the few and not for the many. I think it makes reference to the oil drilling in secret areas and the question is: “Is that right or does it just make jobs?’’”
On tonight’s set list are only 4 new songs, why?
,,Actually, 4 is a quite a lot when you think of QR’s chronologic 30 plus years, ha ha.. It’s now to the point where the hard core audience wants to hear more of the new songs and the casual QR fan wants to hear the hits; songs that they remember growing up with. It is a balance that we fight with each other as to which songs we can represent. For us there has to be a musical flow to the set list that is very important. The challenge for us is how we insert the new songs into the set list. We all make up the set list and everybody throws in ideas and this set list that we are using now turns out to be very successful. We have had so many compliments about this set list, so… now the challenge is going to be: what will we play next year?”
Are there QR songs that you feel you always have to play?
,,Sure, just like any other band that has been in the scene for so long…. But there are also lots of QR songs that we have never played live before….”
Well, how about songs from albums like `American Soldier’ or `Hear In The Now Frontier’?
,,Yeah, those albums did not really represent the band as a whole as it actually were albums from one person’s point of view, so… But we do not hear people screaming for those songs, you know, they want to hear tracks from ‘The Warning’, ha ha…. We were at Wacken and people still love those songs. But maybe there will be some surprises next year…”
Photo by Dirk van den Heuvel of DCH Photography [Alcatraz Festival 2019]
Best QR song ever written?
,,Ah, it depends on what you mean by that as far as no 1 single it is ,,Silent Lucidity”, that one basically shot 'Empire' up the charts and it was a top 20 album for a long time. There are so many great QR songs, ,,Queen Of The Reich” still holds up and ,,Empire” is also still a fan favourite.”
Life On The Road With QR is….
,,It’s, well we are older now, different, it is a sober bus indeed, ha ha….We are now more about the fact that this is a business. We work really hard, we play 100 shows a year, there is a lot of pressure, but I still love to tour.”
What Is The Shadiest Thing You Ever Did?
,,The shadiest???? Well, we are not really known for doing shady things, we are known for making friends, but, yeah…. One point, there were some obnoxious cars and motorcycles that were following our bus and they were really honking and being really obnoxious and our bus driver let the – ha ha – let the toilet out and it sprayed their cars and motorcycles, that was pretty shady indeed, ha ha….”
Guilty Pleasure (s)?
,,Music wise, well yesterday at Wacken I heard some interesting bands, Within Temptation was their name I think….for the first time in my life I saw Body Count with Ice-T, that was pretty wild and I saw Opeth, they were great as always. Eddie, our bass player loves ABBA, so… We all love hits from the seventies that is a guilty pleasure as well I guess, ha ha”
Which Records Changed Your Life?
,,I think for me that was The Beatles' ‘Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, that album really blew my mind. Also `Are You Experienced’; Jimi Hendrix really opened my eyes and later on I discovered Led Zeppelin, etc. Rock bands really changed my life and as a teenager, you want to hear rock so I listened to Priest and Sabbath a lot. When I was 17 I heard the debut album of Van Halen and the track ,,Eruption” was super cool, a real trendsetter in guitar music.”
What Makes You Angry?
,,Getting old, ha ha… Not being able to work out as I used to; that really frustrates me. But then again I am a hopeful optimist, so…”
What Makes You Happy?
,,Accomplishing things, setting goals and reaching those goals. We were at the crossroads of our career with a new singer and it was a tough time, which we went through but we are still here and doing well.” That makes me proud!”
,,Queensrÿche, ha ha…. WE are still very ambitious, I am married to this band and I am never going to stop; I am on a freight train to oblivion.”
,,I really do not think so, we have grown so far apart as personalities, so I think it will never happen. We have a great band now and we are proud of what we are doing, again we are proud of this Queensrÿche!! So, thank you for believing in QR and thank you for having us in your country to perform and thank you for supporting live shows as the bands really need that.”
Header photo by Raymond Helebrand of RH-Design
HBLS review `The Verdict' here
HBLS live review show Eindhoven 3 August here
HBLS live review Alcatraz Metal Festival 2019 ft Queensrÿche here
HeadBangers LifeStyle's chief Lilo with Michael Wilton, backstage Alcatraz Metal Festival 2019 [Photo by Dirk van den Heuvel of DCH Photography]