“…the new foundation of the band is really solid, it’s such a situation that it’s a collaborative effort and it’s exciting, everybody’s throwing together ideas it’s not like one person running the ship, everybody’s pushing and pulling and it’s kind of odd for some people to be together so long and still respect each other as friends and then to have new people come in and I guess we just got lucky…”
From Release: Having sold over 30 million albums around the world over the course of their storied 30-plus-year career, Queensrÿche’s triumphant legacy of progressive metal classics is one of the most celebrated in hard rock and heavy metal and the band’s revitalised line up has consistently delivered high-octane live shows combining the hungry fire of a new band with the tempered experience of master showmen.
We gave Michael Wilton of Queensrÿche a call to talk about the band’s return to Australia this October, new fires, growth, the future, and much more…
We’re of course here because you’re finally headed back to Australia to see us in October. For those that may not have had the chance to see you before, how would you best describe a typical Queensrÿche show?
Well I mean obviously the fans love obviously for the music, and it’s a show, it’s an event. Queensrÿche is very proficient in their instruments and their performances and we put a lot of energy into the show and it’s a lot of fun, so I think those attributes keep people coming back *laughs* so if you haven’t seen us you’ll be in for a real fun, cool time and it will indoctrinate you into the ways of Queensrÿche. I’m trying to remember the last time we were in Australia, maybe 2011?
It has been quite some time and it now being your first time here with Todd can we expect more of the newer material or due to the time between tours will it be more of a hits type set?
Well it’s a balance of songs, obviously we have a thirty plus year legacy and plenty of songs to play, so yeah, Todd is just a fireball, he’s doing amazing, his respect for the songs is great and just got an amazing set of pipes that will just blow you away. This is the ‘Condition Human’ tour and obviously we’ll be slipping in some songs from that album, but it’s a good balance set of songs that work together, you know we try to bring songs from each of the albums that everybody wants to hear and fit it all in an hour and a half, so it’s not an easy thing to do when you want to change a set list that’s flowing really well, but you know what? We go with what works and we listen to our fans and it’s just a big balance of what they want and what we want. *laughs*
Oh so it’s request time, do you or can you possibly play ‘Another Rainy Night (Without You)’?
Yeah we have played that on the Queensrÿche tour before this one we were playing that and it worked out really good. Those songs from ‘Empire’ are still today just a lot of my favourites and everybody’s favourites and Todd did a great job on that one. That’s a real fun song to play too…
OK, so feel free to throw that one back in the set…
*laughs* OK, I’ll put it to the guys.
Do you have a stand out memory from a past tour here?
Yeah… we’ve been there a few times and it’s just been whirlwind, all I can say is it’s great fans and they’re so appreciative of us making the long journey to get there to play, for us it’s a great bunch of people that we get to meet and check out the cities. It’s always been a lot of fun and the thing you realise when you get there is that the cities are really far apart, they’re not like an hour drive or anything *laughs* but you get used to it I guess. When you want to go up north in Brisbane we’re like ‘oh yeah, where are we going next?’ ‘oh you’ve gotta fly’ and it was like a two or three hour flight. *laughs*
With ‘Condition Human’ released late last year being your second album with Todd has the band really found their footing again and settled in?
Oh yeah, obviously we’ve bonded, the chemistry is really strong, it’s set in and the foundation of the band, the new foundation of the band is really solid, it’s such a situation that it’s a collaborative effort and it’s exciting, everybody’s throwing together ideas it’s not like one person running the ship, everybody’s pushing and pulling and it’s kind of odd for some people to be together so long and still respect each other as friends and then to have new people come in and I guess we just got lucky… Todd gets along with everybody, he’s very easy going, doesn’t have a big ego and he realises the idiosyncrasies of the band. He’s really just become a mainstay and a friend, I think it’s something that was a shot in the arm, right? Let’s just see where this goes and wow, it’s really taken off for us, we’re really happy and the fans have really pushed us and really love what’s going on right now with Queensrÿche and we’re just keeping that rolling and trying to be a bit innovative in each album that we’re doing and keep touring and get to these countries that we haven’t been to in a long time like Australia.
I feel like it’s lit a fire under you guys too and the material just flows, can we expect even newer music sooner rather than later?
Yeah and you know what? When people are really involved and really creative there’s not stifling of creativity here, there’s no outside writers, it’s just band, but, we’ve got so many people with so many ideas it’s just great to see the energy and the enthusiasm to want to create Queensrÿche music. So that being said, we’re always writing, we’re always coming up with ideas it can tend to be like a jigsaw puzzle trying to put everything together but I think the general consensus from the record label is that a year and half to two years to create records, so I think the end of this tour, the end of this year we’re gonna probably get down in the dingy dark rooms here in Seattle and work on a new album.
You’ve been part of this band now for thirty four years!! What keeps you driven?
What keeps me driven? You know what? It’s just something I love doing and it’s not like I’ve mastered it or anything like that in a sense, it’s something that just is ingrained in me and the fact that I can actually make a living doing it that in a sense is motivation right there. It’s just something I love, I love that I can reach into my psyche and transcend ideas *laughs*and people like them, so it’s just a wonderful situation. That keeps it going, that drive, I’m doing more than I have in the last twenty years I’m more energetic, I’m more motivated and it keeps me going.
Obviously over that time music and the industry is much different now but what for you over the band’s career has been the most notable shift or change with music?
Well what the biggest shift was going from analogue boards and analogue tape to the whole digital realm. That was the main thing, I mean once CD’s came out it was like ‘Ahhhh’ it’s the next wave and innovation of technology and from there it just keeps morphing and once it’s set in motion there’s not much you can do about it, right? You’ve just got to hope what you do remains relevant and I think just the innovation in technology into the music recording platform, that’s the biggest shift and that kind of happened in the late 80’s early 90’s and we say that and thought ‘oh boy, here comes the future…’ you think people are gonna scream about copying cassettes I don’t think so. Back then you didn’t have the internet, you didn’t have cell phones, it was very simple, your television maybe had twenty channels. All the press you did were in real magazines in real print and it was all at hands reach, now it’s all fragmented, you’ve got this program on the internet that’s doing this and you’ve got this program that’s a little different from that one but you don’t have to put much content, and this one you only get thirty words, and this one is only pictures… you’ve gotta have somebody that runs your media content and monitors it, it’s crazy. You know what? You roll with the changes, you have to and it’s the new way of doing things and you have to adapt or disappear *laughs* so Queensrÿche is always trying to be innovative as much as we can, and we’re doing as much as we can on multimedia and keeping ourselves relevant on all the social media. Yeah, it’s nothing like it was back in the 80’s that’s for sure… *laughs*
Fifteen albums in, when you look back to ‘The Warning’ how would you say you’ve grown personally as an artist?
The EP and ‘The Warning’ I was a kid, I think I was like twenty years old, twenty one years old, by today’s standards that’s pretty crazy, and so I attribute my growing up in listening to my father’s record collection, and going to see bands at concerts and having a love for playing the bass and the guitar and it just kind of blossomed for me. So as far as my growth, I mean ‘Warning’ we were still pretty influenced by the whole British invasion and that was kind of a lot where our heads were at and I think it was the chemistry was just starting to mend there, the source of the power of the band was starting to become realised as co-existing as five writers, and you know what? Life was happening so fast, that’s what I remember the most about ‘The Warning’. I’m in my early twenties and I’m flying over to London to work with the guy that recorded ‘The Wall’ and he’s recording my guitar parts and I’m like pinching myself. With each recording you learn your level as a musician, your proficiency gets better knowing how to relate to situations in the recording studio and it was a big eye opener and a big learning process for me, and cause I was about being a musician, I wanted to be a musician, I didn’t want to be a rock star. I wanted to be proficient and it’s been just a constant evolution of really refining and honing in on song writing ability as well as keeping the proficiency of techniques involved in the guitar playing. So yeah, I have the same fire that I did when we recorded ‘The Warning’ that I do now, but I’m a little more proficient and I can’t party like I did when I was back in my twenties that’s for sure…
Lastly let’s look ahead to the future so finish this sentence for me. The one thing that Queensrÿche wants to do in 2016 is…
To play other countries that Queensrÿche has never played before…
Are you working on that?
Yeah, we’ve had interest in like India, they have a very up and coming progressive movement there and they like progressive rock, so that’s looking good. China, New Zealand, I mean there’s all kinds of places we’d love to go. South Africa… I hope so. So it’s just something we’re rebuilding and rebuilding connections with people and it’s all a lot of obviously fan support, but in the business side it’s who you know and not burning any bridges. So we’re reconnecting the connections right now and that’s why all those opportunities are looking in and that’s what we want to do, it’s something that we want. It’s such a treat, you know? Now you’ve just got to make it feasible so you can get there *laughs*. You’ve gotta build up the mileage plus awards, right? *laughs*
Queensrÿche Australian Tour Dates:
Tuesday 11th October – BRISBANE, The Triffid
Thursday 13th October – ADELAIDE, Fowlers Live
Friday 14th October – MELBOURNE, Prince Bandroom
Saturday 15th October – SYDNEY, Manning Bar
Pre-Sale: 28th April 9:00am – 1st May 5:00pm
GA Sale: 2nd May 9:00am
Presented by: Tombowler, Metropolis Touring, and David Roy Williams
From: Washington, USA
Band Members: Todd LaTorre – Lead Vocals; Michael Wilton – Guitar; Eddie Jackson – Bass; Scott Rockenfield – Drums; Parker Lundgren – Guitar
Latest Release: Condition Human (Out Now)