Interview: Bart Kamp
Forward & Translation: Scott F.
With today’s vast catalog of music, it is becoming increasingly hard for a band to stand out from the pack and bring forth a new spark of unused creativity. Queensrÿche, from Washington have opened the door to that problem throughout their past and have come up with some very progressive and unequaled music. This time around they have really out done themselves with a conceptual (and thought-provoking) vinyl masterpiece entitled: Operation: Mindcrime!
Written as cleverly as Pink Floyd, Yes and King Diamond have done in the past, “Mindcrime” displays Geoff Tate’s extremely imaginative mind. Tate has generated a complete and well-rounded story that any Metal fan (or literature buff) would enjoy, while the band has written tasteful music that fully compliments everything so well.
The album was recorded here in the states at Kajem Victory Studios (Gladwyne, PA.) but they actually mixed the LP at Wisseloord Studios over in Hilversum, Holland this year (1987 – ed). Luckily we have a European correspondent in that area, so we were able to get this exclusive interview with main man/vocalist himself Mr. Tate the very day they finished mixing the project!
Join us as Mr. Bart Kamp discusses the essence of Operation: Mindcrime and clarifies future plans for this advancing unit.
Bart Kamp: Can you please explain the album’s title and what exactly you were trying to carry out this time around with the album?
Geoff Tate: “Explain the title? I’ll tell you a bit about the album first. It’s a conceptual album from beginning to end, with a solemn storyline that follows all the way through. The title is to do with the subject matter of the story, which is a sort of espionage/violence relationship that goes on and it’s to do with revolution, anarchy, terrorist movements and things like that, which are happening now.”
At first I thought that some of the lyrics were about AIDES. Is the subject of AIDES mentioned and or discussed in the story perhaps?
GT: “AIDES, really? I don’t think so. It’s mean to be a look at how prostitution is looked down upon, yet it’s an integral part of our society; it’s like a needed industry. It’s basically a look at prostitution and people using each other for different reasons.”
How do you think this music compares to your previous album Rage for Order?
GF: “I think the music came out sounding pretty violent and aggressive—probably due to the frustration we were having through the past year of splitting with our management, being out on our own and being severely in debt. You know, trying to make the right decisions. Since that time we’ve got everything sewn up tight. We’ve got a new management deal + a new record contract with EMI and things are looking great!”
The new material is said to have more of a “street level” feeling to it. What made you change from, say, “high-tech”to “street level” per say?
GF: “I don’t know. This one still has a lot of high-tech embellishments in it, but the roots of the songs are all very guitar-oriented…very street oriented, back to the first EP days. It definitely has a high-tech feel because it was recorded and mixed all digitally, so it has a very hard, clean, hi-fi sound to it; but very aggressive. With us, we sort of go through all these changes—one album will be like this, another album will be in another direction. That’s kinda the way we are. We get bored doing the same thing.”
So every album will be a departure from the previous one then?
GT: “Yeah, I think so.”
Do you think Rage for Order was ahead of its time or too early perhaps, say by 2-3 years?
GT: “Too early? You mean that the fans weren’t ready for it?”
Yes, and also in terms of sales, which I think wasn’t as good as expected maybe?
GT: “Well, you always think an albums going to do really well. But we didn’t lose any sales—we actually gained sales on it, but they weren’t phenomenal sales.”
You mentioned you had new management, how did you get in contact with Q-Prime?
GT: “We first came into contact with them back in 93′, when we released our self-titled EP. They called us and said that they were interested in managing us but we had just signed a management deal and we thought we should stick to our contract. When the contract expired, Burnstein & Mensch contacted us again and said they were still interested. We started talking with them and seeing each others viewpoints and ideas and decided that they were the best team to sign with.
Meanwhile, we had lots of offers from all the major management companies around the world, like Smallwood (the people who handle Loverboy), the people who handle Sting—all the major rock people, you know, and it was a difficult decision for us to field all their offers and figure which one was best for us. In the end, we chose Q-Prime because they seemed to be on the same wavelength as us as far as ideas go and what they wanted to do with the band and what they wanted to achieve.”
Will the album concept carry over to the stage in your live performances and will you try to do the entire album?
GT: “Yeah, but because we’ve now got four albums out, we’ll have to do a cross-section of the album so we hit the major areas of the storyline and put them together cohesively. Right now though, it’s still kinda early to say what we’re gonna do for the tour because we’ve concentrated on getting the album out.”
It was rumored that you were going to headline the Aardschok Festival (1987), but turned it down because you thought you weren’t big enough.
GT: “The rumor that we were asked is true, but we turned it down because we didn’t have any management at the time and it wouldn’t have been a good business move to take on something of that stature because it’s very expensive.”
Were you aware of how successful you were when you last appeared here in Arnhem (the central Netherlands -ed) supporting Bon Jovi? After your set, a lot of people left!
GT: “That’s what people have told us, but at the time, we didn’t know.”
Getting back to the album, how did you come up with the storyline and characters? Is any of the material a reflection of yourself and your own life or is it merely your imagination at work?
GT: “It really has nothing to do with me personally. It should be thought of as an audible film with three main characters and these characters each have their own backgrounds and identities; their own lives. In writing it, I made an outline of each character and when I am singing on the album, it is actually one of the characters speaking.”
The lyrics on The Warning LP are pretty mystical and slightly vague, but they’ve been more straight forward ever since it seems. Could you please elaborate on that and is it because some people do not understand your lyrics and were having trouble interpreting them maybe?
GT: “I think that’s part of it. Sometimes, if you’re too vague people don’t catch on to what you’re saying, so on this album I tried to be a little more concrete in my statements. Very down-to-earth, very street-level and also to fit the story and the characters involved. Nikki, (the main character) isn’t the kind of guy who spouts off philosophical ideas on life…he’s a street kid, so he should speak that way and the lyrics reflect that.”
The album was produced by Peter Collins (Jill Music Limited), why did you change producers on this album?
GT: “When we were ready to start on the album, we were planning on using Neil Kernon again, but he was still involved with the Dokken thing at the time, so we had to look for someone else. Our management suggested Peter Collins because of his reputation —he is considered a top producer.
So he flew out and we talked about the ideas we had for the album and he seemed to be really into it. He organizes very well, he doesn’t mess around with any gizmos and we finished the album today and under budget!”
Where was the album recorded?
GT: “The drums, bass and rhythm guitars were recorded in this huge warehouse used for studio storage in Pennsylvania. Everything else was recorded in Montreal. Of course the mixing was done here in Holland.”
The album is very long -around an hour. Are you worried at all how it will sound on vinyl when pressed?
GT: “Oh, it’ll sound good on vinyl, but it’ll sound great on CD and cassette. Not many people buy albums now, they usually buy CD’s or cassette.”
Before we wrap this up, I’d like to ask you a little about the future plans of Queensrÿche. I hear you were asked to headline the Aardschok Festival again, will you do it this time around and are you planning an American tour?
GF: “It is still up in the air whether or not we will do the festival. We haven’t decided on that yet and unfortunately I am not sure where the tour will start or when we will hit America.”
Thank you for your time and good luck in the future!
GT: “Thank you.”
Check out Operation: Mindcrime because it truly is a masterpiece of work. This album is one of the years best releases and I sincerely urge you to buy a copy no matter what the format! Geoff Tate and the boys are headed to new heights. This could be the album that makes America take more notice of a band that Europe has already fallen in love with!
Geoff Tate – Vocals
Michael Wilton – Guitars
Chris DeGarmo – Guitars/vocals
Eddie Jackson – Bass/vocals
Scott Rockenfield – Drums
*Special Guests: Pamela Moore (vocals on “Suite Sister Mary”)
Produced by Peter Collins
Engineered by James “Jimbo” Barton and Paul Northfield
Mixed by James “Jimbo” Barton
- “I Remember Now” – 1:17
- “Anarchy-X” – 1:27
- “Revolution Calling” – 4:42
- “Operation: Mindcrime” – 4:43
- “Speak” – 3:42
- “Spreading the Disease” – 4:07
- “The Mission” – 5:46
- “Suite Sister Mary” – 10:41
- “The Needle Lies” – 3:08
- “Electric Requiem” – 1:22
- “Breaking the Silence” – 4:34
- “I Don’t Believe in Love” – 4:23
- “Waiting for 22” – 1:05
- “My Empty Room” (Tate, Wilton) – 1:28
- “Eye’s of A Stranger” – 6:39
“Operation: Mindcrime is widely regarded as one of, if not the most original and groundbreaking conceptual album ever released. Conceived by lead singer Geoff Tate while he was living in Montreal, the album is a tale of revolution, brainwashing, and conspiracy. The songs are all very progressive and Power Metal in vibe, with cold, biting guitar tones.The band showcases its zeal for Heavy Metal with cuts such as “Revolution Calling” and “Speak,” while the epic, more progressive fan will find songs such as “Suite Sister Mary”, “The Mission,” and “Eyes of a Stranger” quite appealing.” ~Brian Heaton/Anybody Listening
*The album was remastered and re-released in 2003 with two bonus tracks: live versions of “The Mission” and “My Empty Room” from separate shows in the 1990s.
LINKS OF INTEREST
*Misc. Queensryche promo ads & or pics from Anybody Listening (see above link).
**Portions of this Queensryche interview ended up being used in LOUD! zine’ after the demise of Demolish.
*To transport you directly back to 1987 we will continue to keep the language in the posts “present-tense” even though this is 2010. If you are getting into all these unpublished interviews that we’ve been posting, then you may like to subscribe to our posts via email now. Never miss another post!