The seeds of Queensrÿche were sown in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington by guitarist Michael Wilton, drummer Scott Rockenfield, guitarist Chris DeGarmo, and bassist Eddie Jackson over 30 years ago. Now three decades after the band released its debut self-titled EP, the trio of Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson, along with guitarist Parker Lundgren are once again ready to release an eponymous album with another dynamic vocalist: This time, Crimson Glory frontman Todd La Torre. Over Memorial Day weekend we caught up with Wilton to discuss the forthcoming new album, the band’s rebirth, its new vocalist, and its commitment to ‘Rÿche fans around the world.
In 2011, Queensrÿche released its 12th studio album, “Dedicated To Chaos“, to a largely non-supportive fan base and unappreciative music community. Critics panned it for the most part, and while it was a solid album, it was not distinguishable as a true Queensrÿche record. Former vocalist Geoff Tate had taken creative control of the band, and many considered it to be a Tate solo effort. Wilton did not write anything for the album, and much of his guitar work was absent from the final recordings.
Over the course of the following year tensions in the band took on air of hostility which lead to a show in Sao Paulo, Brazil where Tate exploded and physically attacked and spit on Wilton and Rockenfield. A month later the band performed its final show with Tate where the singer insulted fans from the stage. Shortly thereafter the remaining four members fired Tate and brought in La Torre.
Legal action ensued and both sides have been permitted to use the band’s name until a November 2013 court date where a further ruling will be made. Tate wasted no time in slapping together a group of high profile names like Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot) and Glen Drover (Megadeth, King Diamond). Drover and Blotzer have already left the band. Tate, along with a long list of special guests recorded an album under the Queensrÿche name, “Frequency Unknown“, or F.U. as it is displayed on the album cover. Once again fans and critics were frequently harsh and dismissive.
Todd La Torre, like Lundgren, is significantly younger than the founding trio: They bring an energy and fresh perspective to the group, while also respecting and fueling the classic Queensrÿche signature. This winter the band entered the studio to record the band’s thirteenth album. James “Jumbo” Barton, who worked on Queensrÿche’s highly regarded “Operation Mindcrime“, “Empire“, and “Promised Land” albums co-produced the new eponymous effort. The group’s goal was to return to the sound of the band’s first five albums while adding a modern touch to it. With “Queensrÿche” they have succeeded handily.
Despite being placed in an untenable position, Wilton and company have handled themselves with class and professionalism. They have returned the focus to Queensrÿche’s music and highly loyal fans. When the new record is released by Century Media Records on June 25, it should quickly become the band’s best selling record since 2003, “Tribe“. Wilton minces no words about the band’s goals and declares them to be “firing on all cylinders.” The fan response to live performances with Todd and the feedback over the new music has been unanimously supportive and positive.
Check out the full interview with Michael Wilton below and you’ll understand why he and his partners in mindcrime are such a class act. This is the real Queensrÿche!