Interview by Avinash Mittur
The new, rejuvenated Queensrÿche lineup performed at the House of Blues in Hollywood last Saturday November 24th, and a couple of hours before they hit the stage for this much-anticipated performance, our man Avinash Mittur managed to catch up with four members of the band, Eddie Jackson (bass), Michael Wilton (guitar), Scott Rockenfield (drums) and Parker Lundgren (guitar) for an interview. Read the chat below, and check out the official Queensrÿche website, facebook and twitter pages for more info on tour dates and other things.
First thing, how are you all doing tonight?
Michael: No comment! [laughs]
Scott: We are ready to shred actually.
Eddie: We just flew in yesterday, so we’ve kind of relaxed a bit and getting ready to throw down some rock music tonight.
Michael: We’re feeling good! We’re really excited to bring this show to Hollywood.
The band released a teaser for the new record a little over a week ago. Are there any plans to release a follow-up to the teaser with more new material being featured?
Scott: Well we were pretty bold in putting that out in the first place but listen, the plan is that came out because we’re going into the studio and we start recording next week. The record is completely written, and we’re going to head in and start tracking. Our plan is to have it out sometime at the end of the first quarter of next year, hopefully spring. That’s the whole gist of why we put that teaser out. Are there going to be any more teasers? I don’t know, you never know!
You’re working with Jimbo Barton again on the new album. It’s been eighteen years since the Queensryche last album he worked on, Promised Land. What’s it like working with him after so many years?
Scott: Good research, that’s awesome! You know, it is eighteen years isn’t it? 1994 was when we did that record, so yeah it’s been eighteen years! Listen, it’s a great thing- we’re really excited about it, he’s really excited about it. We’ve wanted to work with him for a while, but for whatever reason we just hadn’t gone there yet. This is a great time for us to do that though. We all discussed who we wanted to do the record with and he was one of the first names that came up. It was easy for us to pick up the phone and call him. It was like our relationship picked up right where it left off, so it’s gonna be a lot of fun. He’s a very creative guy that did some great records with us in the past. I think that’s one of the most important things when it comes to why we want to work with him.
The last time you worked with Jim was on Promised Land but you’ve been playing material released prior to that album in the recent sets. Are we going to see material from Promised Land start to appear in future sets?
Scott: I think our goal tonight is to kind of visit a lot of the stuff from our first five records basically. So far, that’s what we’ve been focusing on. I think as time goes on, we’re going to expand on that. It’s fun for us to play the stuff we haven’t played for a long time, and I think it’s fun for the fans to see the stuff we haven’t played for a long time. While that equation is working on both sides, for the fans and for us, I think we’re just gonna keep doing it. That’s gonna mean more and more of our material and also some new stuff as soon as we get it done.
You’ve been changing the set a little, I know you played some other songs at the Halfway Jam show last summer. Are there any classic songs that you guys wanted to incorporate into the set, but couldn’t for some reason or another?
Scott: I think we’d play for three hours if we could and really give it all! There are a few different things that we’ll do tonight that weren’t done at that particular show and I think as time goes on, we’re gonna start adding more and more things that we wanna have fun with you know? Once again, I think a lot of the old stuff will continue to come back.
Michael: We’re doing a 90 minute set list, and these songs all work really good together. Sure, we’ll learn more songs, and put some new songs into the set, but 90 minutes is kind of a perfect set-length. We really hammer in the old songs- one thing about playing the old songs is that when Queensryche was established, we were a touring band. We were a guitar-oriented band. We toured non-stop and to win the audiences over, we wrote music that created this synergy between us and the audience. For whatever reason, we haven’t seen that in a while. That’s part of what’s so fun about playing these old songs from The Warning and the EP.
The Warning was actually reissued on vinyl pretty recently. Do you think Rage for Order or Operation: Mindcrime might receive a similar treatment?
Scott: Oh really? I didn’t know that The Warning was reissued, right on! You know, there is kind of a resurgence huh?
Eddie: Well, they were all originally released on vinyl back in the day. Whether we re-release them on vinyl remains to be seen.
Scott: There’s so many things that happen with EMI and the other companies we were with in the past, sometimes we know about it, sometimes we don’t in all honesty. I think there’s always a market for people wanting stuff like that, especially because of nostalgia. I think it’s really cool that vinyl is coming back, hopefully it’ll come back more and more!
You know, Operation: Mindcrime is turning twenty-five next year.
Scott: That’s what we hear! We’re not getting any younger I guess, right? [laughs] Time flies when you have fun.
Are there any plans to celebrate the anniversary live or in the studio?
Scott: You know there are always opportunities to do that with everything we have. I think the main focus is on what we’re doing right now with the setlist we put together, getting the new record finished in the next three months and after that, who knows?
About the new album- are we going to see a return to the progressive metal sound Queensryche had in the ‘80s? And what kind of modern elements, if any, are we going to see in the new material?
Scott: What we’re trying to do, and what has been really interesting since Todd has jumped into the band, we’re trying to revisit the old Queensryche catalog- stuff off of the EP and The Warning. That’s always been a part of what we are, so yeah definitely! I think in my opinion, we’re really revisiting that vibe of why that music was special back then for us. There will be a modern flair to it though, just because we’re in the modern age. The fun thing about Jimbo being a part of it is that he can help tie together the two sides. He does come from our past and some of the great records and some of the great sounds that we’re known for, but he’s also living in the modern age and doing some interesting things as well. I think it’s going to be a really great Queensryche record. People are going to go “wow, that’s Queensryche! That sounds just like what we’ve known them to be, and what we would expect them to now be.” That’s what I think peple will get out of it.
Parker, I think you’ve been tracking some guitars lately?
Parker: Yeah, we’re all kind of working on stuff every day. The songs are just about done, we’ve got just about enough material for the record and right now it’s more like shooting ideas around. Scott will write a song, and it’ll be made up of samples for the most part. He’ll send it to Todd, he’ll say “wow, that sounds great, I’m gonna sing on it right away” and then Michael, Ed and I will get it and track guitar ideas and send stuff back and forth. There’s been a lot of that, but they’re still just demos. I’m excited to see what the songs turn out like once we head into the studio and we have all this nice gear and sounds and a great console and everything. Yeah, we’re just plugging away every day.
You’ve been primarily playing rhythm guitar and helping Michael with harmonies live, but are we going to be hearing any soloing from you on the new record?
Parker: Yeah! There are already a couple of double solos that Michael and I have written and it’s kind of cool to bring that back a bit more. We’ve been doing some cool harmonized dual solos. We’re trying to avoid just shredding gibberish, we’re really thinking out the solos and making them melodic. That’s something that the band’s done a lot in the past.
Scott: One thing about this record, is that it’s completely written and performed by us five in Queensryche, which for whatever it’s worth, was not the case as of the last few records that we made. We’re really excited, that was one of the things that we really needed to work on and change and that we weren’t really happy with. The whole record is us doing our thing, and you’re going to get the energy that comes out of that. It’s been a lot of fun because we’ve been tossing some great ideas around. The results will be when it’s finally done and you can listen to it, but we’re really excited about it and I think everyone else is gonna have a good time once they hear it.