Rod Smallwood stood up with his glass of wine and, as a joke, said ‘I think that Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson and Geoff Tate should do a project and we’ll call it The Three Tremors’. Everybody laughed, and we toasted it, and that was it. It was just dinner conversation.”
Geoff Tate: Hi, this is Geoff.
Wikimetal: Hi Geoff, this is Nando from Wikimetal
GT: Hi, how are you?
W: Good, how are you?
GT: I’m doing well.
W: Well, first of all let me introduce ourselves. We are the number one hard rock and heavy metal podcast in Brazil, it’s a real honor to have you on our show, thank you for your time.
GT: You bet, my pleasure!
W: I’m going to start asking, back in the day, what would you consider to be the main influences that Queensrÿche had in order to create such a different sound at the time, and who were the main vocalists that made you chose to become a lead singer on a rock band?
GT: Well, the 1960’s and 70’s were my real formative years, when it comes to music, and I was influenced by quite a few artists and bands from those decades which I consider to be an incredible artistic time in music. And I think the reason why it was such a wonderful time in music was because there wasn’t the strangle hold in industry surrounding the arts, that bands and artists were able to create pretty much anything they dreamed of, without having to conform to a genre in order to sell the record and the record industry was really a very strong industry, where people were getting paid for what they did, the work that they were doing. And there’s a system in place that really works well, so the healthy industry. Of course now, we’ve seen the decline of that because of the internet and music piracy, so it’s a whole different situation now. But I was very influenced by lots of different artists, musically. And I can’t really cite a specific artist right now, or anything like that, but everybody that was involved in rock music around that time, of course, was inspirational to me, and I learned a lot by learning their songs and their music, and from learning to play their music and so, that always rubbed off, and so when I started singing and being in bands I brought all those different musical influences into what I did and that was really the thing that helped shape, you know, Queensrÿche’s music, of course was, all those different influences.
W: Is it true that a couple of Queensrÿche songs, from the first albums, were originally from your previous band Myth? Any examples of songs that came from Myth?
GT: Yeah, let me think, there was. It was more music that ended up on our fist LP, the Warning album, songs like “Take Hold of the Flame” and “No Sanctuary”, “Before the Storm”, those were songs that I’d written when I was with Myth, before Queensrÿche became a band.
W: You probably have already answered this question many times, I apologize in advance but, honestly we don’t know the answer – maybe because our native language is Portuguese – but can you tell our listeners what is the reason for the umlaut over the Y on the Queensrÿche name?
GT: Oh yeah, it makes no sense, really. I think the umlaut over the Y was put there without an understanding of what meant in this language. So it is incorrect, because it doesn’t make any grammatical sense, it just kind of looked cool.
W: We really love all your albums, especially the “Operation: Mindcrime” saga but I remember when “Rage for Order” was released and it sounded so different and so modern at the time, almost like being a sound that was coming from the future. Can you share some of your memories from those days, and how you guys came up with this very unique type of music?
GT: Well, yeah, that kind of correlates with the previous question you had about musical influences. We were just trying to create our version of music, and what we heard in our heads. What we were trying to do was not sound like everybody else. We were just trying to create our own thing. And so we tried to do that by incorporating a lot different kinds of musical influences and do our music visualizing different sounds, creating sounds, not using standardized sounds that other people used, really. And also writing about subject matter that wasn’t typical in all of rock at that time.
You have to be in constant communication with everyone, and make sure that everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction.”
W: Changing the subject, unfortunately we Brazilians didn’t have the opportunity to see a concert such as the one you guys did playing live the “Operation: Mindcrime” part I and II, on their integrity, that can be seen at the “Mindcrime at the Moore” DVD. Do you think it will be possible one day to bring this concert to Brazil without the theatrical performances with the full stage actors and etc? I’m sorry that it was a sold-out gig, so is it possible to ever happen again?
GT: Yeah, I would think that it is possible, it would take a lot to do that. It’s very expensive to go to South America and tour, for any band. And so you’d have to plan for that economically, of course. And that is the major obstacle for any band touring, is trying to book dates so that it all makes sense from a business standpoint, so that you can survive, you know what I mean? But we’ve seen Brazil become a real strong market for rock music, over the years. So it’s getting bigger and bigger, and becoming more and more possible to do a tour there. I’d say is just a possibility.
W: One of the greatest moments on the DVD is the participation of Ronnie James Dio, and you also had the great opportunity to participate on the “Hear N’ Aid” project, back in the 80’s, which was organized by Dio. What do you remember of that project, which we love by the way, and can you share some memories about Dio?
GT: Yeah, I have lots of memories about Ronnie, he was very influential to the beginning of our career. He was one of the first artists that we toured with, when we were starting out, he was very supportive of our music and our band. And he gave us a lot of insights as to how to operate, how to treat people and that kind of thing. He was a very civilized gentleman and very well liked. He had a great personality that was very giving, very open. And I think he really was pivotal in setting a positive example for us, as young guys just starting out. He was a wonderful influence, not just musically, but also on a personal level.
W: And how about the “Hear N’ Aid” project? I think your participation is legendary, it’s one of the most important parts of the song, so you keep that in your memory with a lot of pride, I guess.
GT: Well, yeah, at the time that song was invented I was just starting out as a singer and Ronnie, of course, was very supportive and gave me a lot of positive influence to the performance. And he was producing the song, so he was very “hands-on” regarding the construction of the song, the writing, and the performances that everyone was doing. His judgment was the last call, so to speak, on what went on the song, all those different performances, he judged them to be good or bad, you know. So I was very happy that he liked what I did and I worked very hard to give him what he was looking for. I’ve always been a very collaborative person when it comes to working on music and I’m very open to other people’s ideas and very respectful of their vision, really. For me it was a very stressful situation because, for example, I walked into the performance room, where we recorded, and there was a mic there, a mic stand and there was like “here you go, here’s the lyrics for the song, the headphones are set up for you”. So I’m standing there, by myself, in the room, and I’m looking to the glass to the control room and he is in the control room, with the engineering and there’s about twenty other people in there, all of his legendary performers. Ted Nugent is in there, and Rob Halford, and the guys from Blue Oyster Cult, and all of this different artists that I really respect the work and they’re all watching me perform. So it was very stressful for me to perform in front of these people that I have the most respect for. And being new at it, I was very nervous. But Ronnie really helped calm me down and coached me through the song, so it turned out ok.
W: Ok? Ok for you, but for us it was unbelievable. Anyway, we have a classic question on our show that we ask every single person we interview. Just imagine yourself listening to music on a random way, maybe your ipod on shuffle mode or a radio station, maybe a rock station, and then a song comes up that no matter where you are you start head banging immediately. Which song would that be, so we can play it on our show right now?
GT: Oh, wow. You know, I have a lot of records. I have something like eight thousand records on my ipod. I have a deep interest in all kinds of music. I’d have to say, for head banging, the kicker would have to be AC/DC. I love their music. And we toured we them back in the mid-80’s, it was a wonderful experience for me to witness how they perform and the energy that they give in their performance. And it was very inspirational to tour with those guys. And they were also incredibly kind to us and treated us very well on tour and, again, set a wonderful example for us in regards as to how we treat our opening acts.
W: And which song from AC/DC would you like to hear?
GT: Back in Black!
W: In our opinion, “Operation: Mindcrime” is the greatest story ever told on a heavy metal album, on a hard rock album. Is there any chance that that story becomes a graphic novel or a movie? We heard that a screenplay was already written, is that true?
GT: Yeah, yeah, it’s actually in the works right now to become a film.
W: Although there were some changes on the spot that originally was to Chris deGarmo, I’d like to know what’s the secret to almost keeping the whole band – yourself, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott – together for such a long time? What’s the secret for keeping the same people for such a long time?
GT: I think that any working organization has to have a very open mind to the needs and wants of everybody involved and communication is a big part of that. You have to be in constant communication with everyone, and make sure that everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction. So it takes constant vigilance to make that happen. So that’s pretty much the secret of it, really. It’s kind of simple in a sense that you need to always talk, to be in communication with each other.
I’d have to say, for headbanging, the kicker would have to be AC/DC. I love their music.”
W: Changing the subject again, can you tell our listeners about the experience of being an actor and narrator of the movie “The Burningmore Incident”? You also did a song for that movie, right?
GT: Yeah, that was a real interesting experience. I received a call, kind of out of the blue, from the production company that was putting together the film and they wanted me to be a part of it. And I said, at the time, I’d never done any acting before, and they said “well, let’s do a screen test, you can test for the film and we’ll see how it all goes”. So I did the screen test for them, and they liked what I did and so we started our work together and it was a wonderful experience, learning how to do it, really. It’s something I’d like to do it in the future even more. I think acting is kind of like an extension of what I do on the stage anyway. So it’s not like a huge stretch for me but it’s hard, it’s a difficult thing to do. And good actors make it seem easy just like great musicians make it look easy. But there’s a lot of detail that goes into it, a lot of thinking that goes into it, so you have to prepare yourself for that. You have to know the rules, know the character that you’re playing. And you have to spend a lot of time thinking “what would that character do?” or “what physical characteristics does that character have?”, “what would that character do in that situation” or “how would that character react?”. You have to have all that planned out in your head when it comes down to the camera. For me, I kind of lived and breathed the rule. The film was set in New York, a very weary environment, and I wore the same clothes for a week and a half. I really got into the character that I was playing. And for me that really worked. I’m not one of those people that can just “turn it on” and “turn it off”, I think I have to converse myself into character quite a bit in order to get a believable performance so that’s kind of the way I went about it, I just lived and breathed that character for that time that I worked on the film.
W: Talking about Brazil, your relationship with Brazil, I heard your cell phone had a message of… Was it João Gilberto?
GT: Oh, yeah, yeah! It’s one of my favorite artists.
W: Alright! So I’d like to ask you about your relationship with Brazil, your memories about Queensrÿche’s show in Rock in Rio, in 91, I was there, so I’d like to ask what memories do you have and what can fans expect from the upcoming show in São Paulo?
GT: Well, that Rock in Rio show was my first experience in Brazil and it was quite an over-the-top experience, how big that show was, it was something like two hundred and twenty five thousand people there, it was just an enormous show. Everything surrounding the show was over-the-top and enormous as well from the the accommodations, where we stayed, and how we got to the show… It was kind of hectic and exciting, there was a lot of people there, a lot of people involved in the backstage area. The stage itself was huge, the biggest stage I’d ever played on at that time. It was all quite of overwhelming. Plus, coming to Brazil, a different culture, from any place I’d been before, I got to know some people there, quite well, that were working with us, people that we’re still in contact with today, years and years later. These people we still do business with and still have relationships with. So it was a wonderful bonding time with Brazil and the people. The whole thing was just amazing, and we’ve been back several times since then, and played different shows and always had a great experience. So we’re really looking forward to coming down to Brazil.
W: So can you choose one song from Queensrÿche that you feel really proud for having written so we can listen to that one in our show now?
GT: Let’s see. What can I pick? How about something off of “Mindcrime”, I love “Revolution Calling”.
W: Is it true that a couple of years ago there was this idea of bringing together yourself, Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson on a project called Trinity? Is it true and why didn’t it happen?
GT: I get asked that question a lot and I think Bruce and Rob both get that answer too, quite a bit. We all toured together, several years ago, on the same tour in America. And it was a day off, we all went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant. We were all having a great time, eating dinner, drinking a lot, and the music that was playing in the restaurant was opera music. And Iron Maiden’s manager Rod Smallwood, asked the waiter to come over and asked what this was, that we were listening to. And he said “Well, it’s a record called “The Three Tenors””. Rod thought that was really funny for some reason and he stood up with his glass of wine and said “I would like to make a toast. I think that Rob and Bruce and Geoff should do a project and we’ll call it “The Three Tremors”. That would be fun”. Everybody laughed, and we toasted it, and that was it. It was just dinner conversation, but somebody said something to the press about it and we’ve been answering the same question.
W: I’m sorry about that! But anyway, it would be fantastic to see that. And that’s a lot like Rod, we know Rod, so I can picture him doing that at the restaurant, anyway. What would you say to a kid that is thinking of starting a singing career?
GT: Well, I would say… Follow your heart. Be into the music, totally. And don’t worry about fame and fortune and that kind of thing. That comes later it’s dependent upon how committed you are to your music. Take everything you have into it and be open minded to working with people. Develop a good collaborative outlook on creating music and always follow your heart.
W: Would you leave a last message inviting all of our listeners to the show in the 14th of April in Sao Paulo?
GT: Hi, this is Geoff Tate from Queensrÿche, and we’re excited to come to Brazil, excited to play our music in São Paulo, for everyone. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in the show, at the 14th of April!
W: Excellent Geoff. So I’d really really like to thank you for your time and for being such a great guest on our show. We really think that you are one of the greatest rock singers and voices, not only in hard rock but in any kind of music, we’re really fans of your work so we’re always here to support anything that Queensrÿche and Geoff Tate does. So thank you once again for your time and we’ll be there for sure on the 14th of April in São Paulo.
GT: Okay, well, thank you very much and thanks for the interview. I really appreciate it and I’m really looking forward to coming to São Paulo.
W: Excellent! Thanks a lot, Geoff.
GT: Okay, bye bye!
W: All the best.