STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
“The Key” is the 2015 album release from veteran progressive rocker and former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate. Fronting his solo band, “Operation: Mindcrime,” Tate is reaping the rewards of a multi-platinum career minus the creative boundaries.
“Musically, this album is quite adventurous,” says Tate, from his home in Seattle, Washington. “Of course, there are key elements in the music, melody and phrasings that are really identifiable. But, throughout my career I’ve opened my eyes and ears to new standards and arrangements, and that’s what keeps things fresh and exciting as an artist. We’ve thrown out the rules for this record, and it’s been really liberating. I’m a fan of old prog, and that music didn’t stick to rules. It’s inspiring and enjoyable to be able to explore. It’s great being in a position to write without constraints.”
“The songs on this record tell a story, and each song is a scene or chapter. Every scene is different,” adds Tate. “The words tell the story. The musical bed, the chord progressions and melodies — they set the pace. That’s how I envisioned this album in total — very theatrical and definitely cinematic.”
“Music is a personal journey, and all you can do is write what moves you. That’s what passion is. It’s so difficult, yet it’s such an important human emotion,” says Tate. “There are moments on this record that really impact me — the questions raised and the music those questions are set to. I don’t know if it will have that same effect on everyone else, but that’s where my passion and their passion meet.“
Tate and Queensryche rose to international prominence in the late 80’s with the release of the albums “Operation Mindcrime” (1988) and the multimillion selling “Empire” (1990). “Empire” yielded the hit singles “Silent Lucidity” and “Jet City Woman.”
“We did a lot of opening act slots for bands in arenas, coliseums and theaters,” recalls Tate. “YES, Jethro Tull, Blue Oyster Cult, Metallica, Ozzy Osborne, Quiet Riot, Dream Theater, ACDC — it was a great experience. I always figured it as a wonderful thing when a headliner asks you to open and shares their audience with you. I always felt very fortunate to be able to do that.”
Surpassing record sales of 20 million, Queensryche earned multiple Grammy and MTV Music Video Award nominations, winning Video Viewers Choice Award in 1991 for the song “Silent Lucidity.”
An integral member of Queensryche for 30 years, Tate left the band in 2012 to form his current group, “Operation: Mindcrime.”
“I don’t think it’s very much different from what I did in Queensryche,” says Tate. “I wrote a lot of songs. I tried really hard for years and years to make it not metal. My musical influences are pretty wide. I come more from the progressive rock and R&B background. I always tried to introduce those elements into what we were doing. I’m kind of anti-category, especially the ‘genrefication’ of music.”
“Even though I wrote most all of the music in the band, I was still part of a democracy,” recalls Tate when looking back on his time with Queensryche. “We always talked about everything and came to an agreement. It was very Democratic. In this situation, the last word is always me. I’m just starting to get used to that, because I’ve never been that kind of leader. I’m always more of a collaborator — ‘Let’s work together on this and make it happen.’ The name of the band has changed, but the songs remain the same.”
Joining Tate on his current Operation: Mindcrime’s tour in support of “The Key” are guitarists Kelly Gray (Queensryche) and Scott Moughton (Geoff Tate), drummers Simon Wright (AC/DC) and Scott Mercado (Candlebox) bassist Tim Fernley (The Voodoos) and keyboardist Randy Gane (Myth).
“I love touring and I love playing live, performing with like-minded people in front of like-minded audiences and being there in the moment together when all of our passions collide,” says Tate. “Typically I play a few songs off the new album, but really I focus on playing songs from my catalog of albums. I typically try to pull out different things that people haven’t heard before or that I haven’t played in years or ever. I like doing that surprise thing during the show.”
“I feel very strong, very positive and I’m looking forward to the tour,” adds Tate. “Getting to see all the people that enjoy the music and hearing them sing along to all of the songs — I love that!”
Humbled by recognition from fans and music critics as one of the all time greatest metal/progressive heavy metal vocalists of all time, Tate is proud of what he has been able to accomplish.
“I think I’ve done some pretty interesting things. I’ve certainly learned a lot and grown a lot from where I started out as just a kid coming from a military background,” reflects Tate. “I have a really fantastic group of fans that allow me to do what it is I do. I’m very happy with where I’m at right now,” adds Tate. “It’s a wonderful place to be!”
IF YOU GO
What: Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime
Where: Sellersville Theater, 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville.
When: Concert is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28.
Tickets: Call 215-257-5808 or check www.st94.com.
Info: To stay up to date with Geoff Tate’s Operation:Mindcrime visit www.operationmindcrime.com.