An Interview With Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate: A Viper Alley Concert Preview (Friday, 5/4/12 in Lincolnshire)

An Interview With Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate: A Viper Alley Concert Preview (Friday, 5/4/12 in Lincolnshire)
Photo by Jim Corso

Headed to town for a pair of area shows this weekend, I spoke recently with Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate about touring, wine and his current acoustic tour... 

One of the more successful progressive metal bands of the late eighties and early nineties, Queensrÿche peaked artistically with one of the all-time great concept albums in 1988's Operation:  Mindcrime and commercially in 1990 selling three million copies of Empire in the U.S. alone (behind the massive success of the single "Silent Lucidity").

The rare rock band that has never been afraid to try new things, Queensrÿche have consistently challenged their audience covering various genres across their twelve studio albums.

I asked Queensrÿche frontman Geoff Tate what it's like to perform those songs in the acoustic setting, a drastic departure from the full on rock motif of the typical Queensrÿche show.

"Well, you know, acoustically is really where most songs come from originally.  The acoustic end is really where most songs start so what you’re hearing is the origins of the song, how it was originally composed and I think that’s really pretty cool and it’s very intimate.  The great thing about playing acoustically is you’re naked up there.  You’re not standing in front of a giant drum kit being impaled with huge amounts of volume.  It’s very listenable and that’s very cool... Queensrÿche is kind of taking a bit of a year off... we’re going to regroup for 2013 and tour again." says Tate.

Tate released his self-titled, debut solo album in 2002, an effort that covered ample musical ground across a theme of uplifting lyrics.  "Right now, I’m finishing up my next solo album which I hope to have out in the fall... I’m tentatively calling it Geoff Tate II." he chuckled.

With so much material to draw upon, I asked Geoff what fans can expect this weekend. "Well, it’s acoustic material.  It’s material off my last solo album plus some Queensrÿche songs... It’s pretty intimate, kind of a bit of a “Storytellers” show where I kind of talk a lot about the songs and how they were recorded, how they were written and kind of the back story of what makes the song what it is."

Having come up in the Seattle area with Queensrÿche shortly before the grunge floodgates opened, Tate had an interesting vantage point to watch the commercial focus shift from hard rock and metal to grunge, a shift that no doubt embittered some of his peers.

"Oh, it was exciting to watch especially since we knew most of those young bands that were coming up behind us.  Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, those three bands toured with us quite a bit during the early nineties so we got to know those guys quite a bit.  So it was exciting seeing their rise to popularity.  It was fun watching that."

Tate also has an interesting take on the ever changing role of technology in today's music world.  As the halcyon days of the major label system have given way to the veritable "Wild West" that is the internet, it's become harder and harder for bands to make a profit releasing their recorded works.  But Tate is clearly the type of artist fond of progress who is able to actually embrace certain technological advances that the internet offers.

"Well, that’s a good question.  It is a transition period.  The last few years have been incredibly different.  So it’s an exciting time because everything is in transition.  And also because there are no rules anymore.  So, really, you can kind of do whatever it is you imagine.  And that’s what everyone’s doing right now:  trying new things to see what works and what doesn’t.  I suppose that a lot of people that started out when we did can get kind of bitter about how things have taken a turn but I look at it more as an exciting time of opportunity."

But it's not just music that keeps Tate busy.  In addition to work on new solo and Queensrÿche albums, Tate has also tried his hand at spirits.  While various rockers have entered that field to varying degrees of success, Tate has managed to hold his own.  "Oh, it’s been exciting!  I started about seven years ago making my own wine.  It’s called Insania and we make a red and a white.  It’s been fantastic.  We just raised our fourth vintage in April.  In fact, today, I just got a letter from Wine Enthusiast and they rated my red with 92 points so I’m very excited and very proud of that."

And while I look forward to perhaps trying a glass of Insania this weekend, Tate looks forward to returning to the Chicagoland area for two shows. "Every time we play the Chicago area it’s great.  The audiences are fantastic.  They love music and the arts in general, I think, and they really seem to appreciate when we come so we’re pretty good about coming back every year."

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Geoff Tate (Acoustic)

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Live at Viper Alley

275 Parkway Drive

Lincolnshire, IL 60069

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Concert starts at 9PM

Doors open at 7PM

Restaurant opens at 5PM

Andrew Blake opens

$27.50-40.00

21+

Premium booth seating is also available.  Click HERE for all details or to purchase tickets.

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