SQUAWK IN THE SHADOWS: GEOFF TATE EXPLAINS QUEENSRYCHE RIFT
One way to accelerate a band’s public dispute is to hand its vanquished ex-singer a Rolling Stone-sized megaphone. That’s just what RS did for ex-Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate, who took the recent interview as a chance to cast aspersions of several kinds on his former bandmates: They’re bad businessmen, they hardly wrote anything in 30 years, they’re against Tate’s nepotistic power pyramid, and they’ve created a hassle for Queensryche’s hard-working business partners. Also they have stinky breath.
So how did Queensryche’s troubles begin? Tate tells RS:
I wasn’t expecting anything like this at all … It mainly started with a disagreement about economics, about moving our merchandising to a third party.
He probably means “a disagreement about business” not economics. Unless Tate squared off with drummer Scott Rockenfield about Keynesian theory.
We had control over our own merchandising company for years … and we ran it ourselves. It’s a very successful entity, and the other three guys wanted to … hand it over to somebody else and pay them more money to operate it, which seemed liked a ridiculous business idea to me. It forced us into trying to talk sense into them, our manager and myself and our business manager, to get them to see this was not a good deal.
Sounds reasonable, right? A money dispute, a clear cut difference of opinion, no funny angles. Right? Oh wait hang on:
They said that they weren’t planning on replacing me, but they had just fired our manager, our office assistant and one of our guitar techs, who all happened to be my family members.
Ah there we go: family members. Of course a million young rockers dream about getting famous in a band run by their singer’s in-laws.
I asked them, ‘Why is this happening?’ They really couldn’t give me a straight answer, or any kind of answer that made any business sense. It seemed like a personal vendetta against me.
Personal vendetta? Wait, what about the business stuff he just listed? And the disruption of Queensryche’s power balance by his cronyism? And if we’re going to pump up the drama here, forget “personal vendetta” — let’s call it a “bloody coup” of the Tate regime. But did little man Tate really pull a knife on his bandmates?
Anyway … we went to do the show. I’m getting ready by my station, ready to go on stage, and Scott looks at me, smirks, and says, ‘We just fired your whole family, and you’re next.’ I just lost it. I tried to punch him. I don’t think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side. On my way, I managed to shove Wilton, and that was it. I cooled down and we did the show, and everything went fine.
Okay no knife. Got it. Sigh.
Suffice it to say the interview goes on with Tate deftly hammering his talking points: Queensryche guys are bad at business, this is all a horrible business decision, Tate is forced to pursue the matter in court, it’s all his genius creation, bassist Eddie Jackson is illiterate, and so on ad absurdum.
BUTTTT at no point does Tate acknowledge that Queensryche’s music figures in to his ouster. That makes sense — no one should say, “I’ve been sucking lately so they replaced me with a young stud.” But on the other hand: c’monnnn. Come right the fuck on. This doesn’t take a brain scientist to figure out: If you suck, you get fired.
But Tate either can’t conceive of (or wisely pretends not to notice) the fact that these days fans are underwhelmed if not outright contemptuous of ‘Ryche 2K: He defends his jeering of the Rocklahoma crowd as a singer’s duties; he dismisses any suggestion that success has eluded his iffy musical direction and cabaret tours; he doesn’t even brush up against the topic of his much-diminished performances on the mic. Expect those to be covered by Queensryche’s reply to Tate.