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I had the extreme pleasure to spend some time chatting with the one and only Michael Wilton of Queensryche ahead of their October 2016 Australian tour announcement. We talked about the tour, we traveled back to the beginning of Queensryche and had a few laughs along the way. Sit back and please enjoy.
Hi Michael, welcome to TheDwarf.com.au. How are you doing?
I’m doing great, I have a day off in Seattle where it is actually sunny.
The big news is that Queensryche is headed down under in October as a part of their Condition Human World Tour.
Yes, thank you very much. 2011 was the last we last came to Australia. This show we are bringing, will blow you away.
This is the first Australian tour to feature Todd La Torre on vocals
Yes it is and everywhere we are going people are really responsive to him. They are going oh my god, this guy is incredible. It is going to be jaw dropping. It is great that Australia is finally going to experience that now.
How many show are planned for the Australian leg of the tour?
I’m not sure at the moment, but it will probably be anywhere between two and four shows. I don’t have the schedule as yet. They are working on that at the moment. Right before that we are in Japan doing the Loud Park festival
Has there been any talk of meet and greet packages being available?
I am sure that will all get organised, we try and offer that. It all depends on the venue, but it is something that usually happens. It’s a great thing, you get to talk to the hardcore fans, the people that really want to come back and talk to us. You get the opportunity to hear their perspective, how things are going and what they perceive. It is really important, it help us to see how and what our fans are saying. It’s great getting all of the positive vibes too.
Congratulations on “Condition Human” it is truly an amazing record. Todd’s vocals are amazing and the whole bands performance is incredible.
Thank you very much. We have evolved so much from the last album, we have tried to be as innovative as we could. It has really paid off for us, we are charting in countries that we haven’t charted in since the mid 90’s. So we are definitely on the right path with Queensryche and the world is wanting to hear the music again. It’s really great, we have the opportunity to fulfil the demand and we are saving our frequent flyer miles and going wherever we can.
I have to say I love the last 2 records “Queensryche” and “Condition Human” the band seems to be reenergised and writing/playing the music that is not outside of the classic early Queensryche sound. If anything it is a hybrid of those first 3 or 4 albums, exciting, intricate and dynamic but still remains fresh. What do you attribute that to?
Todd just brings an element so reminiscent of when he grew up listening to Queensryche as well as other bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, his forte is those albums. Todd definitely brings that to the point. Todd is very melodic, which is great because we have to have that in Queensryche. He has great ideas, his lyric writing is really nice.
Those early albums really hit a chord with our audience and it was a very special time in our career. As we record the last two albums we try to bring back the essence of that time, the essence of those recordings and the magic that happened. That is what is so great about Condition Human, the producer Zeus honed in on that and really saw that in these songs. He said lets go make them really interesting and lets bring back that.
For example the guitar work, let’s make it more like it was when Chris DeGarmo and I were writing the songs in the early days. Fortunately it’s just something that we do naturally, it is in my DNA, all I have to do is dust it off and bring it out, and that is what Zeus did. It is the sum element of the band, it is everyone’s influences pulling and pushing and that is what makes the band great. That is the source of the bands power right there, once you realize that, you have to treat it with respect.
Let’s go back to the earliest version of Queensryche which was called “The Mob”, but due to the name being taken already Queensryche was born. As I understand the name came about after the song “Queen of the Ryche”. Can you recall any of the other names that were being considered at the time?
There really weren’t that many, we were all set to use “The Mob”. It was a case of stop the presses. We need something else. It was within a week or even the next couple of days that Chris came in and said I had this crazy dream about a person. He throws out the name Queensryche and we were all like what? We didn’t really like the name at first, but it was unique, there were only a few bands in the record store starting with “Q” so we went with that. As far as other names, there were really any. We were pretty set in stone with the name “The Mob”.
The evolution of your sound happened fairly quickly through the course of the first 3 releases. The most notable change was with Rage for Order, which stepped away from the NWOBH sound that you had initially. Who guided the band in a more progressive direction, how did that sound come about?
It is something that happens as you grow as musicians and the band evolves. It was everyone pushing each other to get out of the box, to create something more innovative and to make something that transcends where you have been. It was an opportunity to take a chance and believe in the collaboration of ideas.
Those were early days, everyone was in their 20’s, it was just magical, it really was. We were writing the songs and then of course when Neil Kernan came along, he was all about it. He had just done the Dokken album and he was like right let’s really push the envelope on this album. We were doing a lot of experimental things. We were recording things outside, like slamming car doors in parking lots, bizarre sounds and that is where we went. It was good because we had done “The Warning” which did great things for us, but it was time to move on. At that point it was decided that we were going to be a band that evolved with each album, rather than write the same record like an AC/DC, where each album is so similar to the past one. We really wanted to evolve.
What do you remember about the first tours in 83 & 84 where you were opening for Twisted Sister, Dio, Quiet Riot and Kiss? They were all huge names at the time, how were you treated as a new up and coming band?
We were kind of the new kids out there at the time, and I do mean kids, I don’t think I was even 21 when we toured with Twisted Sister. That is just crazy. At that age going out on the road, making a living was so mind blowing. It was a whirlwind, when you are that young and new to the industry, it was hard to swallow everything and to absorb everything. There is much more than playing the songs on stage, there is everything that is behind it, how it integrates with the industry. It forces you to grow up really fast. It was the way you do things when you are in the situations you were put in. You are cutting your teeth and you have to play the game or not play at all.
It was more, respect these bands we are opening for like Twisted Sister and Iron Maiden. Don’t throw any temper tantrums or have an attitude, we were very professional about it and it was reciprocated back. We were treated as musicians and not guys that were out to party and be rock stars.
In those early days we toured nonstop, that’s how you did and could do it back then. We were touring with all of those bands, Gasoline prices weren’t that expensive nor were concert tickets either. That’s how we gained our following and respect. The curiosity factor weighed in our side and it was all timing, it was also being in the right place at the right time. MTV had just happened and all of a sudden it all just started happening for us as “Eyes of a Stranger” was on MTV. Everything was constantly building for us, it was jaw dropping. To try and understand oh my god they are playing our video on MTV, I can watch myself on TV, Oh my god we just played with Iron maiden. I had to pinch myself because I was just so young back then. It was like being in a constant Disneyland, it was incredible.
As a fun way to wrap up our chat, i was wondering if we could do a few quick response, short answer questions?
Best thing about being in Queensryche?
The sum total chemistry of the guys and, as well as being musicians, it’s the friendships that I have.
Strangest thing you have read about yourself?
That my net value is millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions even, I have read that online and I just have to laugh at that. I am a musician, I’m not rich.
Favourite place in the world?
When you tour as much as I do, my favourite place is home because I am on the road so much. It’s funny you know because when I get home, what do my family want to do? They want to go somewhere. I’m like No I just want to stay home (laughs)
CD, Vinyl or download?
Vinyl – Vinyl and CD, I am a product of the 80’s. I grew up looking at the album cover, listening to the music intensely on a proper Hi-fi system. Downloads are just not the same. I have got to feel the music, listen to the whole album from the beginning to the end. I do the same thing with CD.
Coolest gift you have ever received from a fan?
I have received numerous gifts, but at our last show we got Starbucks cards from a fan. That was really nice. When you are in as many airports as we are, you certainly hit the right buttons there. Starbucks is where we go while we are waiting. That was a very nice gift.
Todd La Torre
Is a man that has a set of pipes that WILL blow you away. He is a respectful person, he is just incredible. It is a miracle that I found the guy. Todd is just going to keep getting better and better. He is a great find.
Is a kid, and by kid I mean he is on the downward side of thirty. He is just doing it right. He understands Queensryche, he knows how the band works. He brings a younger audience. Parker is a good kid and a very proficient guitar player as well.
Is my high school buddy who I still hang out with. Our families are very close, we go out to dinner a lot, we play golf every once and a while. He stays in contact with me and I stay in contact with him. He loves to hear what is going on with the band.
Eddie Jackson is a lifelong friend. His bass sound is like a Mack truck going down a road, it’s very powerful. He is the guy that will make you laugh as well, he is a very funny guy.
Lifelong friend, he is someone who has believed in pushing the envelope of drums and pushing his musicianship and expanding his awareness of music.
A hopeless cause on a freight train to oblivion.
Thank you for taking time out to chat with me and I would love to chat to you again before the tour. I can’t wait to see this line up out here in Australia. I will be there and am so excited for it. Stay well.
Thank you, great talking to you Andrew, we can do it again, just set it up with our press people and we will see you in October.
Queensryche Australian Tour Dates
Tuesday 11th October – BRISBANE, The Triffid
Thursday 13th October – ADELAIDE, Fowlers Live
Friday 14th October – MELBOURNE, Prince Bandroom
Saturday 15th October – SYDNEY, Manning Bar
Queensryche Ticket Information
Pre-Sale: 28th April 9:00am - 1st May 5:00pm
GA Sale: 2nd May 9:00am
For more information: metropolistouring.com/…
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