» Todd La Torre - Queensrÿche
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Interview conducted November 23 2019
Interview published January 19 2020

"If I weren't doing this, I would go back to insurance adjusting and I would be totally happy and totally fine. No problem."

Queensrÿche was in Stockholm and Metal Covenant met singer Todd La Torre before the band's show.

Tobbe: Tell me in what way you look at your latest record The Verdict at this point, like 9 months after it was out.

Todd: I mean, it has definitely gotten a lot of attraction. A lot of people seem to really like it. We get a lot of requests to play new songs in our live set, which is always encouraging. You know, that people wanna hear the new stuff. Everyone in the band is very happy with the way it has been received.

Tobbe: In retrospect, why didn't you guys come out right in the beginning telling everyone that you played the drums actually?

Todd: Well, we were waiting for Scott [Rockenfield] to make a statement, and he didn't. You know, we waited a month, we waited two months, three months, because it would have been nice to have that public endorsement. And not only that. I mean, I think a lot of people thought that he might have played on it, so when people heard the songs, not totally sure, it helped for them to listen without the instant bias against, you know, the reality.

So a lot of people thought "Yeah, that sounds like Scott.", and so they liked it. I think if you would have told people right away that it wasn't, there would be people that just instantly would say that they don't like it just because it's not him and they wouldn't give the drumming a chance. But the truth of the matter is initially we were waiting for a response from Scott.

Tobbe: 3 records now with you singing and in what way do you feel for each record at this point?

Todd: Well, on the first one [Self titled, 2013], you know, we didn't have as much time to do more. I mean, we had the songs, but there were a couple of songs that didn't make the album. But the first one was just so special for me, 'cause it was like "Wow! I'm actually doing a Queensrÿche record.". The second one [Condition Hüman, 2015] definitely took more time. I think you can tell that there was a lot more time put into that record.

And then this one [The Verdict, 2019] is just a continuation and I feel very proud to have done 3 albums with the band so far. There'll be many more. We still have a couple of records under contract with Century Media, so we'll definitely be doing two more, for sure.

Tobbe: Do you guys sometimes feel a little bit stifled by the name Queensrÿche and maybe can't develop the way you want to because of that name?

Todd: No, because I think that there's things that we've done since I joined the band that you would have never gotten with the original singer [Geoff Tate]. I mean, Queensrÿche has a very diverse… Our ability to do things is pretty wide, but, you know, that's why some guys wanna do stuff outside the band on their own, like I'm working on my solo thing still, that's been shaping up nicely, and that's more thrash, some black metal elements, you know, that I would never try to infuse into Queensrÿche. So I understand what Queensrÿche should be, but Queensrÿche still allows a lot of versatility.

Tobbe: Do you get offers from promoters and festivals to do a tour or festival shows with two singers, with both you and Geoff?

Todd: No. I mean, I've never heard of anything like that being presented to the band, and the band wouldn't be interested in that anyway.

Tobbe: I was asking because I was thinking about Helloween going back with Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen.

Todd: Yeah. That might work for them, but, I mean, there's no need to do that for us.

Tobbe: You seem the love the cruises that's been popping up the last decade. How many cruises have you been on?

Todd: I don't know, 7 or 8. Something like that. We did Sweden Rock, we did the Wacken cruise, we did the Cruise To The Edge, which was the Yes cruise, a bunch of Monsters Of Rock cruises, we just did the Megadeth cruise, and we're doing the Kiss cruise. It's hard as a singer, because of all the talking. That's brutal on your voice. But as a fan it's a lot of fun, because it's very close quarters and you get to see people all the time and watch a bunch of great bands. So, it's a fun thing.

Tobbe: Do you guys often talk about the difficulties of making a living out of music for a lot of bands today?

Todd: I mean, if I weren't in this band… You know, we're fortunate to tour in tour buses and get paid, well, to do what we do. If I were not in this situation, at 45 years old, I don't think that I would have the wherewithal to be touring for very, very little money. I mean, I would still love to perform, but touring is a very difficult thing. You know, it's not for everybody.

But that's where you make your money. It's touring and merchandise. I mean, we do make money in publishing, but record sales are a joke, so it's not like you're making a lot on album sales. And the streaming pays very, very little, so it's a joke.

Tobbe: Do you think that today's situation might be stressful for a lot of musicians, like, not knowing what tomorrow may look like?

Todd: Absolutely. That's why you have so many bands touring, 'cause that's one of the main sources of income. I mean, that's why we tour so much. You know, we like to, and there's a lot of territory to cover, but, you know, the days of taking a year off because you sold millions of albums, I don't have that luxury.

Tobbe: Might this kind of living in the end turn out to a major health issue for a lot of people, you think?

Todd: I think it ages you, in one way. On the other hand, there's, like, a youthful quality to it, because we're always laughing and telling jokes, and we're playing music, and we're smiling, and it's a good energy. So it's not like you're sitting at some shitty job that you hate and somebody is yelling at you to do your job. So on the one hand, the travel really tires you out and it ages you, but on the other hand it's a lot of fun and sometimes I think that it doesn't age you as much. So it's kind of double edged in here.

Tobbe: And food and drinking-wise. How do you try to stay healthy?

Todd: It's really hard, because a lot of times there's just deli meat, cheese, you know. You're eating at different hours, you're in different countries every day, or different cities or states. So to have, like, a healthy regimen is really difficult. You know, I've been trying to eat a lot healthier. I love meat, you know. So I'm really trying to change my diet and my eating habits. I like Coca-Cola, so I love to drink sodas, but on this tour I think I've had, like, 3 Cokes in the last week and a half. So it's not easy.

Tobbe: Besides singing and making music, what happens in a regular day in Todd La Torre's life?

Todd: When I'm home, you know, I spend time with my wife. My sister and my mother live near me. So I just try to spend time with my family. Like today is my mom's birthday and I don't get to see her. I won't be home for Thanksgiving. You know, there's a lot of time away from people that you really wanna spend time with. That's the hardest part for me. That's the part that I hate.

But, you know, normal stuff. When I go home there's, like, always stuff I need to do around the house. I like doing yardwork, so I like cutting the grass, I pull weeds, clean things up, or work in the garage, doing things, or whatever. Just like anybody else, you know.

Tobbe: If you wouldn't be able to sing anymore, or play the drums anymore, what would your life turn into then?

Todd: Well, I was an upholsterer for 22 years, so I have that business. Then I was also an independent insurance adjuster, and I made a ton of money doing that. If I weren't doing this, I would go back to insurance adjusting and I would be totally happy and totally fine. No problem.

Tobbe: Every career must end someday, and do you see a farewell tour, or will you just keep going and one day you just won't do this anymore?

Todd: I mean, I can't speak for the rest of the guys, but in my opinion I don't see Queensrÿche announcing any type of a farewell tour. I think that Queensrÿche will always be around, maybe the shows just become fewer. I can definitely see these guys doing it another decade. You know, I'm 45, they're in their [high] 50s, and I mean, as long as everyone's healthy and able...

I know that they would want to, but again, maybe the shows just become fewer and maybe we'll only just do some big, high-profile shows and you don't do, like, all the club touring, like 100 shows a year. Maybe you do 40 shows a year.

But I don't see Queensrÿche just calling it a day. No, I don't. That's my opinion. If everything's good and the guys still have plenty of energy and enthusiasm and they're excited to keep going, we'll just keep doing what we do.

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