Interview conducted January 08 2017
Interview published January 17 2017
"I don't write music for
my fans. I write for me."
Former Queensrÿche frontman
Geoff Tate made a stop in Stockholm, Sweden
on his kind of acoustic run over Europe. The man was really sick, was
vomiting and had a fever, yet he managed to put on quite a good performance
and he insisted on not canceling our interview, but only to reschedule
it to after the show. As you may figure out I wasn't too keen on meeting
the man in that kind of contagious condition
Almost everything about music seems
to be so obvious for Geoff and even if he might act kind of strange and
unconventional from time to time he's still a quite funny guy in a way
and it's hard to not laugh when he put all these sides of his personality
Tobbe: Who is Geoff Tate, at this point
in life, in the early days of 2017?
Geoff: Who am I? Well, until yesterday I was
feeling pretty good. [Laughs] Now it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks.
I'm enjoying the tour. It's been a real fun one. I am with these younger
musicians [The Band Anna] and their enthusiasm is really infectious,
you know. And I like that. I like playing my music in different kinds
Yeah, this is kind of fun, because most songs
are written acoustically to start with. I usually compose on piano.
I can't even think of a song that wasn't composed either on piano or
acoustic guitar. So this is kind of like reverse engineering. You know,
kind of taking the song back where it started up being and it sounds
Ever since you put out the Promised Land record  or the Hear In
The Now Frontier record  I think you've been a person who generates
different feelings among the fans. Both positive and negative. So what's
it like to be someone who affects people's thoughts about music and their
desires about music?
Geoff: Well, you know, I don't really know how
I affect people. [Laughs] Honestly. Live, you know, of course, that's
very satisfying, when you come to a city and people are there and they
sing along to your songs. Of course I love that.
You know, music is art, and art is something
that people experience differently, you know. Some people are gonna
get what it is you're doing at a given time and other people aren't
gonna get it; they're gonna get it later. In fact, many people have
told me, over the years, "Gosh! You know, when Promised Land, for
example, came out, I didn't get it. But
now, I completely get it. It's one a my favorite albums.". - Yeah,
I understand that. 'Cause we move at different speeds, you know.
What I'm into right now, maybe you're not at
that point, or maybe you've already passed that point and you're into
something different. Who knows? But when everything lines up that's
cool too, you know.
Tobbe: About Operation: Mindcrime. The band.
How much work is there left on the third album, really? Is it pretty much
Geoff: Yeah, just mixing and mastering it, you
Tobbe: What's it gonna be called? I guess
you have the name already set.
Geoff: I do. But in fact I can't tell you. The
record company don't want anybody to know the name of it yet. I don't
know why, but that's how they wanna market, you know.
Tobbe: Do you have any loose plans for what
kind of chapter you will enter when the trilogy is done?
Geoff: I've got a couple of other projects in
the works, musically, right now. I don't know which one is gonna come
out first, but I'll let you know though when I do.
About the saxophone in your music. What kind of reaction did you, at first,
expect from the fans when you put a saxophone to your music?
Geoff: I didn't have any expectation. I don't
write music for my fans. I write for me. You know, it's all complete
personal satisfaction [Laughs] and I share it with people. Some people
like it, some people don't.
Tobbe: When I hear that saxophone I'm, like,
thinking back to the 70's crime series on TV and kind of get nostalgic.
Geoff: You know, Supertramp and Pink Floyd had
a lot of interesting saxophone work and those are probably my two main
saxophone influences in rock music. But I grew up listening to jazz
and playing in the orchestra at school, so. I think the first time I
put saxophone on an album was Promised Land.
Tobbe: Besides from today when you're sick
obviously, do you prepare yourself differently before an acoustic set
than you would normally do before a rock show?
Geoff: That's a good question. They're night
and day. The rock show is completely and utterly dominated by an acoustic
drum kit. So fucking noisy. It's constantly [makes noisy sounds] in
your head. And this [acoustic] is so much easier to listen to for many,
In one week of rock show my ears are constantly
ringing, right? And this one, they're not. So it's a nice break to get
off from that. So yeah, when I do a rock show typically I don't use
wedges monitoring. I use in-ears. That way I can control my mix a lot
better and turn the drums way down. [Laughs]
In this show of course it's very open and it's
acoustic instruments, so I can use the wedge style monitors, you know.
Acoustic monitors is what they are. Which is nice. That way I can hear
the audience and hear what they're singing and hear what they're saying
and comment. You know, like anything.
Do you feel like the acoustic show is an easy task for your voice, comparing
to what you do when you're doing a rock show where you've gotta be more
high-pitched and stuff? Do you notice any differences how your voice feels
Geoff: No, it's pretty similar actually. It's
more about isolating your music mix, so you can control it better, because
in this situation you're listening to a really nice blend of all the
instruments and you can hear them all naturally without a lot of amplification,
but in the rock show it's so loud that it completely overwhelms the
vocal a lot of times. So you have to account for that when you're setting
up your monitor mix, you know. It's difficult.
Tobbe: When you were out on the Trinity
tour with Blaze Bayley and Tim "Ripper" Owens, was it emotionally
tough for you guys to share the job as a frontman, because you usually
do that job on your own?
Geoff: No. I don't have an ego like that. No.
I mean, I don't need to be a frontman. I don't need to be standing up
there, you know. I'm perfectly happy sharing responsibilities. I'm just
adopting music, man. I'm a songwriter. That's what I am. That's how
I define myself. People are always so equipped to define a person, aren't
they? I don't understand that.
Tobbe: Now you're doing acoustic stuff,
you're doing Operation: Mindcrime, you have been singing the Queensrÿche
songs for years ever since you split up and you have done the Trinity
shows last fall. So isn't this maybe confusing for the fans?
Geoff: Well, it's the 21st century and they
can catch up. [Laughs] Guess what I'm doing next week? I'm getting on
a cruise ship and I'm singing with a guitar player named Bumblefoot.
He and I are doing a set of music together; just the guitar and vocal.
That'll be real fun. Might be confusing for people too. What's he doing
Tobbe: Well, but you never know. Kind of
like what you said "What is Geoff Tate doing next week?", so.
Geoff: Well, I just don't understand the limitations
that people put on other people. You know, I can do a lot of things
and I'm interested in a lot of things. I can also fix my car. You know,
I like mechanics. I build wooden cabinets and I had a wooden sailboat.
I have things I'm interested in doing, you know. It's not like I can
only do one thing, you know. [Laughs]
You have a different band when you're working on the acoustic set than
on the rock shows. How come you don't use kind of the same guys for both
kind of shows?
Geoff: 'Cause I like this band. My wife [Susan]
and I were walking through Cork City [Ireland] in the fall, September,
and I heard this music playing and it was that band, playing on the
street. And we went and watched them and we looked at each other and
said "We should take them on tour with us. That would be really
So, here we are. They're fine musicians. Really
good musicians. They're accomplished and they have their own album that
they're working on right now that we hope to have out probably by the
Tobbe: You're a busy man. Do you always
Geoff: Yeah, pretty much. I tour a lot and write
songs a lot and work in the studio.
Tobbe: The artistic aspect in your personally
is quite tangible, I think, and has your strive for artistic freedom ever
stood in the way for Geoff Tate to become even more popular?
Geoff: I don't know. I don't really care about
being more popular.
Tobbe: Most guys actually do. They wanna
play for bigger audiences.
Tobbe: I don't know. I'm not the musician.
I'm just asking the stupid questions, man.
Geoff: I don't know. I don't get it, you know.
I've played in front of bigger audiences. I've played in front of 275000
people before and it's not any better than playing tonight. Yeah, it's
Tobbe: You come closer to the people here.
Geoff: Yeah, you do. It's a little bit more
realistic, you know. It's more like you're sitting in a pub, having
drinks and singing songs with the people.