Queensrÿche’s 75 Percent

Queensrÿche has been going through some changes this past year. Singer Geoff Tate, who has been with the band since 1981, had to be physically restrained from his bandmates before a show in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in April.

The incident stemmed from a change in management – namely, removing Geoff’s wife Susan as manager, daughter Miranda from an office position and another Tate relative as guitar tech.

The three founding members agree the shift occurred – but they and Tate disagree as to how it all went down.

Basically the bandmates were concerned that Tate’s influence was harming the unit – including his alleged unwillingness to perform songs from the first five albums, and that his efforts on the latest albums led to the last one selling all of 20,000 copies.

The parties have moved on, with Queensrÿche scoring a new singer, a new tour and new management under the Irving Azoff umbrella. Tate has also moved on with a band, selling it to buyers as “Queensrÿche starring Geoff Tate – The Original Voice.” Suffice it to say, the other 75 percent of the 30-year lineup – Scott Rockenfield, Eddie Jackson and  Michael Wilton – want it known that they’re the heart and soul of the group and are keeping the name.

Tate told his side of things in a recent Rolling Stone interview, explaining that he was blindsided by the news just before getting on stage (the band argues in court documents that they had called an earlier meeting that Tate did not attend). 

Let’s start there, with Tate saying he couldn’t get a straight answer as to why the firings occurred?

(Scott) Well, Brazil is going down in history now with us having to tell our story. In the big picture, Brazil was the final escalation to a lot of things that had been leading up to that. The whole lawsuit and the legalities that are going on right now, it’s a broad scope. But there are things that led up to Brazil that made Geoff react the way that he did. In a nutshell, we’re looking to run a better business and in doing that, and trying to get into discussions about doing that, it was the unfortunate response. We submitted all of our documents and declarations of those particular events, along with all the declarations by all the witnesses so, in all honesty, the best answer for most of that is it has all been already submitted to the court. (Click here for the link to the band’s reply to the initial order)

We’re just looking to tell the truth, put the facts on the table, and at some point the court will decide what the best result of all that is. Geoff seems to have his side of the story and we have a pretty strong side to everything that happened. I think that’s just the best way to leave that.

So is there only so much you can discuss because of ongoing litigation?

(Scott) Well, stating our side could become lengthy. That’s why it was all basically submitted to the court – there were lengthy responses that we had. Listen, there was a violent incident in Brazil. We held a meeting about some things we wanted to discuss and his response after that was to attack us onstage before the show started. Unfortunately he didn’t like the decisions we wanted to make.

The situation is on the band’s Wikipedia page.

(Scott) I haven’t seen that.

“Tate threw several punches and physically assaulted and spit on Rockenfield and Wilton in an act of retaliation stemming from a pre-show argument on the firing of Susan Tate. … Court testimony eventually revealed that the band fired Tate’s family due to misuse of the band’s corporate accounts to pay expenses for an Irish band Susan Tate was managing called the Voodoos who did not have legal work visas to be in the United States and were also opening up for Queensrÿche during the 2011 U.S. tour.”

(Scott) Yeah, so all of those things – it’s really a broad stroke. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the actual case. That could be an hour answer in itself if you want all those details. Once again, it’s just becoming a legal court thing at this point.

We’d been looking to address the business concerns we had as a band both musically and business-wise, and in Brazil we tried to do that. That was the final escalation – how Geoff handled his response.

Things have gone legal and we’ve decided to move on as a band without him and that’s where we’re at right now.

Geoff’s agency has told us how he can present himself onstage. Would you, first, agree that it has been settled as to how he can present himself?

(Scott) No, I haven’t heard any of that.

We were asked to list him as “Queensrÿche starring Geoff Tate – The Original Voice.”

(Scott) To be honest, we haven’t followed or gotten a lot of that information. What we’re doing – we’re going on with Queensrÿche. There was an injunction that Geoff tried to place in front of the courts a few weeks back. He was trying to stop us from using the name Queensrÿche and continuing to do business as such. We won that court case. It was denied that we had to stop using the name. So, in that, we are now moving on as the official Queensrÿche. It’s Michael, Eddie, me, Parker Lundgren who plays guitar with us and our new singer, Todd La Torre.

We just did our first show as the new Queensrÿche two weekends ago, here in the States, and we have more shows being booked throughout the world. Next year we’re going out and doing a big tour that’s going to be the “Return to History Tour” for Queensrÿche, which is going to be focusing on our great, old classic material. We’re moving on.

What Geoff chooses to do will be in Geoff’s hands. Our main focus is to do what we are doing and take it from there. But I personally haven’t paid a lot of attention to what’s going on over there; it’s not really important to me right now.

I don’t want to belabor the point but is it OK for him to use Queensrÿche?

(Michael) I just want to give you a clearer definition on that. In our situation, as a business, we are 75 percent of the business so, thus, we believe and, as Scott iterated, the injunction was denied. We are allowed to use the name. Now, as far as what you have heard from his agency, I don’t know exactly what he has been advised to do. The principal fact of the matter is we are the majority of the business and we have the right to use the name, and that’s what we are doing.

Anything you want to stress to our readers about the future of the band?

(Scott) Absolutely. The great thing is moving forward, under the new lineup, is really steamrollering and has a lot of excitement about it. We’ve got big plans. We’re working on new material – that’s coming down the pike here soon enough. Obviously we keep people updated on our website. Our fans are really supportive and are excited for our new avenue. There are a bunch of shows that are already booked starting in October and carry us to the end of the year. And, in 2013, our big thing is we’re going to do the Queensrÿche Return to History where we play a majority of our classic material that our fans have wanted to hear for a long time for a multitude of reasons. But now we’re able to do it.

(Michael) And I might add that we have built our whole business. We’ve signed with a great new management team. The team of Paul Geary and Glen Parrish and the whole AGPS Management lineup has been kind enough to take the band on. We have a new press agent, a new booking agent (Bigg Time Entertainment), a whole new social media business that we have set up where a lot of our fans are getting a lot of their information. We are rebuilding the brand and the fans have been pouring out from a somewhat dormant state and are just giving us full support. There are certain aspects that we feel have been lacking and we’ve been trying to reunite with the fans.

First and foremost, let’s make it fun again. And I think that will show in our performances and any recordings that we do.

And, with AGPS, you have the power of the Front Line system.

(Scott) Absolutely. And to reiterate what Michael said, the excitement from them and their enthusiasm for what we’re doing has been really great. So far the ride has been so much fun we can’t wait to do it more, to be honest.