Queensryche – Paving the Road to Madness

Sunday, 30th June 2013 by David E. Gehlke

queensryche2013

The Geoff Tate versus Queensryche battle is good enough theater for Court TV or TruTV…whatever they’re calling it these days. The story of Tate’s deception, shady business dealings, and utter lack of respect has been told ad infinitum, so like the Todd La Torre-fronted version of the band, DR will take the high road and will focus on the present, which is the band’s freshly-released self-titled album, one that is as good of a return to form as there’s been in recent memory.

With La Torre, the former Crimson Glory singer out front, the core members of the ‘Ryche – guitarist Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield, along with second guitarist Parker Lundgren set out to recapture the essence of what made Queensryche such a viable metal/hard rock commodity from 1983 to 1994. Molten riffs, soaring harmonies, adventurous bass lines, and a backbeat in constant motion were re-inserted, serving as a reminder of just how potent the band was before Tate nearly drove them into the ground. Sure-fire gems like “Fallout,” “Spore,” and “Where Dreams Go to Die” are pristine and classy, harboring a fire that sat dormant for far too long.

Good vibes are all over the place when discussing this particular version of Queensryche, so when the affable, incredibly polite La Torre phoned DR from Wilton’s backyard, it was another opportunity to move forward and around the BS, which should be at bay until the November court proceedings, which will determine the owner of the Queensryche name…

Dead Rhetoric: About a year ago is when this craziness started to happen. From your vantage point, describe the whirlwind from joining the band, doing the album, and everything in between.

Todd La Torre: It’s amazing that one year has already gone by. I’m in Michael’s backyard right now – it was a year ago I was sitting at his house and we were talking about everything. To look back over the last year…so much has developed and it’s all been positive. It’s all been a progression. We’ve worked very hard psychologically, physically, and we’ve just poured our heart and soul into this belief that the band can and will move on with this lineup. It’s been crazy.

Anyone that’s been even remotely attuned to the rock/metal scene has been aware of what’s unfolded with the band, but our focus has required some discipline. We’re human beings too [laughs]. It does require a positive mental attitude in that whatever kind of energy we’re putting out, we believe we’re going to get back. We don’t want to focus on the bullshit. We want to think positive and do everything we know how along with our collective team and camp of people, to do things the right way and see that everything fits in rebuilding the brand and the name, and reaching out to the fans again and making them feel like they’re heard and are appreciated. That’s been the focal point. Obviously, this is the first representation of a body of work that we’ve put together, and overwhelmingly, it’s been received phenomenally well.

Dead Rhetoric: “Positive” and “professionalism” might be the two best words to apply the band right now. I know you mentioned you’re human and all, but there has to be that temptation to fight back…

La Torre: There is. It’s real hard. It is tough at times. You know, I’ve said some things that I knew would turn into a headline, but when you read and see people saying some of the things they say, you have to dig for it. Overall, it’s been very positive. Sometimes, if you’ve had a real bad day and you happen to catch something that rubs you wrong, yeah, it’s a natural defense mechanism to want to lash out. And I’ve done that a couple of times. There are times when I make no apologies, and there are times when I think that I still feel that way, but probably should have bitten my tongue because tomorrow is a new day and that shit will go away.

It’s just a process. It’s tough at times, but at the end of the day, we feel like we’ve handled things in a very human way and have tried to maintain professionalism because it’s really about the greater picture, which is the band and the brand, not some individual. Sometimes we as people have a tendency to take things so personal and you forget that sometimes when I say something, it’s a reflection on me, not all of the guys and I don’t want to bring that kind of heat to them. You let the other people duke it out and focus on the music.

Dead Rhetoric: Two years ago you were in Crimson Glory, and now you’re in Queensryche. Of course this has to of changed you, but in what ways?

La Torre: That’s a great question. I think that’s the first time someone has asked me that. I’m almost 40, so it’s not like I’m a 20 year-old kid who’s had a trust fund dumped into his lap and doesn’t know how to handle these things [laughs]. At the end of the day, I believe very wholeheartedly that I’m still the same Todd as I was before all of this happened, even before Crimson Glory. In ways that things have changed – I’m rarely home. I’m very busy. I live in Florida, and when I am home, it’s my little cave where I try to regroup and unwind. You’re always around people, but I like my alone time, also.

Sometimes I want to share in my experience, like sometimes I’ll be really excited about something cool that has happened. But sometimes I feel like it would come off as bragging. But, if I didn’t have a group of close friends and my family to share these things with, it wouldn’t have the same feeling. I’m like the kid on the diving board jumping up and down, going “Look mom! Look!” You want that kind of thing. Some people think “He’s too cool for us. He doesn’t return my phone calls.” I’m really bad with that, by the way [laughs]. People just don’t understand. I think that’s why some friends I’ve made in the industry, there’s a certain understanding and they reciprocate it because they too know exactly what that’s like. Overall, I don’t feel like I’ve changed it all. It’s a little bit empowering and all, but I don’t think it’s selfish at all to occasionally have a little pat on the back. Like, “We did it!”

Dead Rhetoric: This is one of rare moments that with a big singer switch, public opinion has remained on the band’s side. You’re in a very unique situation and one of the cool things about the new album is that you sound very aware of your history, but it’s not a total rehash of those albums. When you guys sat down, was it decided that you’d look back to those albums?

La Torre: I think there was an idea where those guys – Scott, Michael, and Eddie said, “What was it about those great albums that resonated so well?” We really love that stuff and let’s go back to – very loosely I would say – an outline of some of those dynamics. Like, the harmony guitars, Scott’s drumming, and Eddie’s bass tone, I don’t think there was any pre-determined style if you will, as to how the record was written, but those elements and the idea of what made those records so great was kept in mind. But when we wrote these songs, we started from scratch and what you hear is the way it happened.