Artists in this article
Albums in this article
Songs in this article
It's been a long, strange summer for rock that's heralded plenty of shocks. The news bulletins for 2012 include the overseas incarceration of Lamb of God's Randy Blythe; the deaths of such talents as Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord and engineer George Marino; Van Halen's tour cancellation; and Against Me! singer Tom Gabel's gender reassignment.
Add the departure of vocalist Geoff Tate from Queensryche to that list. After weeks of rumors, drummer Scott Rockenfield, guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson announced June 20 Tate had left the band due to creative differences. He was replaced by Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre. Two days later, Tate and his wife, former Queensryche manager Susan Tate, filed a lawsuit in Washington state's King County Superior Court claiming the three wrongfully fired the singer and will damage Queensryche's name by continuing without him. The group defeated an injunction on July 13 that would have prevented it from conducting business until the suit is settled. It's scheduled for trial Nov. 18, 2013.
Before AGPS Management senior manager Glen Parrish informed Billboard on July 16 that Superior Court Judge Carol A. Schapira had denied the injunction request (and that AGPS/Front Line Management Group was representing the band), the Internet had buzzed with Tate's account of his firing, which he gave to Rolling Stone and Billboard. The chatter became a roar when declarations by the three defendants, among other court documents, were posted online. Whereas Tate accused his former bandmates of laziness and business ineptitude, the trio charged him with creative obstruction, questionable business dealings and violent behavior. The latter accusation is chiefly attributed to an April 14 pre-show incident in Brazil, when Tate allegedly attacked his bandmates and repeatedly spit on them after learning they fired his wife, step-daughter and son-in-law (all of whom were employed by the band). Fan-shot video of the show also appeared online showing Tate spitting in Rockenfield's direction and directly at him during the performance.
The group filed a countersuit on July 12 refuting the Tates' complaint. Interviewed via conference call from Washington, Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson spoke freely about their side of the story, but their focus is on moving forward. Parrish and his partner, Paul Geary, were partially chosen as management, according to Wilton, due to their interest "in rebuilding the brand." Sullivan Bigg's Bigg Time Entertainment-which reps acts like Vince Neil, Great White and Stryper -- now handles booking.
Queensryche is joining the March 16-20, 2013, Monsters of Rock II cruise, and will perform one-off dates like Lincoln City, Ore.'s Chinook Winds Casino Oct. 19-20 and Hollywood's House of Blues on Nov. 24. The band also plans the Return to History tour in 2013 that it hopes to take worldwide. La Torre made his band debut during a pair of June shows (when the group played under the name Rising West), and, gratified by fan response to the set list, the outing will follow the vein of primarily focusing on the act's earliest material from its debut EP and first full-length, The Warning. "We have to literally sit down and learn [some of that] stuff because we haven't actually played it as long as the fans haven't heard it," Rockenfield says.
But Tate also seems to be planning to perform under the Queensryche name. He's listed on the website for booking agency Monterey International as "Queensryche Starring Geoff Tate: The Original Voice," but a band lineup isn't listed. Dates are posted at Pollstar.com for him to play such dates as Alice Cooper's tour in November. Queensryche's lawyer, in a court response filed July 12, attests this is part of Tate's "continued [interference] with defendants' forward progress" to tour with the band's name. This charge also includes refusing to release control of the band's social media properties, an issue Rockenfield says is being circumvented by the launch of a new Facebook page (Facebook.com/QueensrycheOfficial) and website (QueensrycheOfficial.com).
When asked by Billboard, Tate declined to comment at this time.
In the following Q&A, Rockenfield, Jackson and Wilton discuss working on demos for their next album, different aspects of the lawsuit and their response to a recent comment Tate made during the taping of "That Metal Show."
What progress are you making with the demos you're doing?
Rockenfield: It's going well. We've been writing for the last couple months. It's all so fresh to us, even just our relationship with Todd being in the band. It's kind of a whirlwind. I think our heads every day are kind of spinning with everything that we're dealing with. Some of it's good and some of it's bad that you gotta deal with, and you know all the stuff that we're going through.
Wilton: Each one of us has hard drives full of material that was never used for whatever reasons . . . We all wanna write these songs together. We all want to be in the room, use the best ability of everybody and make these songs a band signature, [where] we play it before we burn it on a computer. You gotta play it together. We wanna bring that essence back like we used to do in Scott's basement that we used to call the Dungeon [where the band rehearsed in its early days]. That's where the magic happens.
Jackson: It also prepares yourself even more so for right before you start recording these songs.
Rockenfield: What we're going to try to do is get back to our face-to-face interactive roots and write songs and pull from our history, and look what we are excited about and do that. The cool thing is, Todd, joining and doing this with us now, is helping us do that, because he's excited about that direction and likes do that as well. The plan is, soon enough down the road, we'll be able to give some news about what's happening, get in the studio in the next coming months. We don't have any timeline for that yet, but that's the plan [to] be able to go out and support some of that next year.
Are Todd and [guitarist] Parker [Lundgren] helping you with songwriting?
Jackson: Absolutely. Everyone's contributing. Just sharing ideas and, like Scotty was saying, we don't really have an exact studio date or time, but hoping to get in the studio here within the next month or so.
Wilton: That's fun for me to actually work with Parker so he's not actually just being told what to do. The guy has a lot of creative elements that are untapped, and obviously in playing some of [former guitarist] Chris [DeGarmo's] parts he's really learned and he's really upping his game. It's exciting for him and me to kind of bring these elements that he's never done before and really hone in, like Scott said, on the past of guitar double solos and experimenting with sounds.
You are well-aware of what fans are saying about what's going on. There are fans who say, "You guys have to really bring it. You have to come back hardcore with a really intense album that's going back to your roots." What's it like writing an album where you're got a huge amount of expectations out there?
Rockenfield: [laughs] Well, pressure is always good. Speaking for myself, I think we're just gonna do what we want to do and what we believe in and are enthusiastic about and collectively between the five of us, brain storm and discuss everything and work it out together. I think the only pressure that we see is just gonna be placed upon ourselves to be happy with what we do. And that might be the standard answer we give every time, but this is definitely more unique because, like you're saying, people are watching. They're gonna be expecting something, and there is a certain amount of that that we can't avoid because it's hard to not know that it's there, but I think that's actually adding fuel for the fire for us . . . we're just taking the time, the focus and do it, and I think really challenge ourselves to do stuff and kind of revisit the roots of what originally made the band get to a certain level. I don't think we've done that for a while.
What is it like doing this without Geoff's involvement?
Rockenfield: We just do it in a different way. We're working with different people. One, being with Todd. We're working and writing songs with him and he brings a whole creative and musical talent to the band that we didn't have before. I'm not [it's] saying good, bad or indifferent, but he's interesting. He's a drummer for 25 years and actually really good at it, so it's interesting for me, because he sits in when we're rehearsing and every time I go take a pee, he jumps on my drum kit and starts playing stuff I can't figure out. And he sings while he's doing it . . . and Parker, this is the most we've been involved with Parker as well and that's turning out to be a really great thing. His enthusiasm and his dedication and his willingness to learn and become part of what Queensryche is, is really working out great.
I read your declarations about how some albums have been recorded the past few times. But how were albums recorded before? Would you guys submit demos to Geoff and he just took over?
Wilton: In a nutshell. It wasn't the most creative atmosphere, but things were not done, so to say, as like being in a room and throwing ideas against everybody. It was like, "OK guys. Throw me your ideas and I'll figure out what I wanna sing to."
When would you say that started?
Rockenfield: It's been quite a few years, that whole mode of just networking and working at home. We're not gonna argue that we didn't all do that stuff as well. But I think what we had really started to lack is the original interaction that got us to jell together and to have a chemistry that we could all feed off of. And like Michael's saying, we got tons of material that was done for a specific purpose, and was even worked on, by everybody, if you get what I'm saying, at a certain point, and then shelved and moved on in a different direction. Those were the type of things that started to become very noncreative for us and very not feeling like you're involved.
Wilton: It's about the chemistry of the band and how it interacts together, and bringing the strength of every personality in the band to the fold and upping everything as far as performance level. I think that's kind of on the first seven albums, that was kind of the protocol. We were always pushing ourselves, but it was always contained within the band, and it just seemed to work so well.
When Chris was in the band, he not only was the manager for a period of time but he seemed to be the unofficial mediator. Would you all bring ideas to him and he sorted out how they pieced together?
Rockenfield: Chris was great at a lot of different aspects. He was a great, integral part of our chemistry, along with all of us, from back then. We all did different things and Chris took on the role of being a great spokesman and the contact for the band, and musically he was real good at being able to take ideas and streamline and when we're all in the same room together, he was good at helping everybody to feed off each other and do things . . . That was a big part of how we got Queensryche going: the chemistry between all of us back then. The interesting thing now is what we have going now with the quote unquote new official Queensryche is we're kind of finding some of that again. Todd is interesting and has multiple musical talents to be able to offer suggestions. Like for example, the other day we had this song we were working on, he came up with some drum part that was just totally different from what I would have thought about. He sent it to us, and I was like, "That's really cool," and then I started working on it and doin' things. That's the kind of stuff Chris was able to offer in the early days with us.
Once Chris left, did Geoff start naturally assuming more of a leadership role?
Rockenfield: I think it depends upon the era you're taking about. We all kind of stepped in and did everything. We all had to take on different roles and do things. And everybody in the band has always done different things that are just as important. It's like a football team. Not one person can take the ball and run to the end zone. They need to have the team. The team is the moniker and the brand, and everybody else inside are the gears that make it work. We've always kind of been gears in everything that we've done.
Geoff, being the frontman of the band, would obviously get a lot of interview requests to do all that stuff, but there's also a lot of times in our past when Geoff refused to do that stuff, and we would do it instead, or we would also do it or we would join in and do it. So down the road, as things started to change and Susan started to get involved, things started to kind of change, and for what it's worth that's why things have now started to change back for us, and that's why we're going through what we're going through now.
Considering the things you guys said in your declarations of the problems that were in the band during the past 15 years, why did the three of you put up with this for so long?
Wilton: At different points and different times, there were people who weren't satisfied with the way things were running but it wasn't kind of a majority, ever, at one single time. We have to provide for our families, and there's lots of situations where someone really didn't like the way something was going or a decision was being made and maybe didn't have the full majority...
You gotta realize, this is a fast-paced business and decisions are made ultra fast and sometimes you may regret some of those decisions, but you know what? You're a team and you can't let anybody down. You gotta go with it no matter how much you really understood a situation.
Rockenfield: It's probably not too far off of like a divorce, the old irreconcilable differences concept when people get divorces. And some of those divorces, even close friends and family don't know about the inside stuff that's just kind of dragged on for a while, and the couple have put up with it... You kind of get to the point where we were looking at, bottom line, better business, watching our money and our accounting and things that were going on, asking ourselves collectively if we were happy with the music and our direction or what we wanted to do, and as you seen've in all the declarations, it's been going for a while. But it's just at some point, we all started to get on a certain page together and it just needed to happen now.
Susan contends in her documents that when she officially became the manager in 2005, she did so reluctantly, and Scott, she claims you assured her you would get her in to be the manager. You three say that if you didn't accept her as manager, Geoff was going to quit.
Rockenfield: Well, I'm just going to clarify I never assured anybody they would come in, and it was presented to us by Geoff to have her come in... In doing so, the reluctancy was on our side to have that happen. And, yeah, we did it, being the business we were at the time. And as time has grown on, we've just decided to move on. It's one of those things where after a certain amount of time, you need to revisit the worth of the business, what is it doing, is it doing it correctly and that's really where we got to, even in the last six months, where we were doing that. The problem is, once we started doing that, the discussions didn't go the best.
You guys were reluctant but you accepted her being your manager. Why?
Rockenfield: You know, it's been a while, to be honest. As Michael says, it all depends on the era and what we're all going through. At that time, it was just movement. I don't know if I have an answer for you on that.
How about Michael or Eddie? What do you remember about Geoff approaching you with the idea of her taking over?
Wilton: Well, all things considered, it wasn't like, "Hey, let's do it." We were kind of at a crossroads, I guess. There was some hesitation among some of us, but again, we all wanted to be team players, we wanted everyone to be happy, so it kind of happened. But it was a situation that I remember that not everybody was too keen on.
Rockenfield: Just because you agree on something as a collective unit doesn't mean at some point it shouldn't be readdressed. That's just kind of, to me, solid business practice, that people in business should always be addressing, what's benefiting the company the best. In all honesty, it doesn't come down to anything personal.
The Tates submitted declarations from people who spent time around the band and they claim they never saw any tension. While my contact has been more limited, I know in the times I've interviewed you, or seen you or seen Geoff, I've never seen any either. Is that a case of, this was not an overnight thing, or because the band has always tried to keep stuff private?
Rockenfield: I think that's probably the best way to put it, is private. It's kind of like again if I bring up the analogy of a divorce and some couple's been together for 20 years, and they're gonna get a divorce and most people, even their closest friends and family, didn't even see it coming, it's because they kept it private. There's a certain façade that you do have to go through to get to that point. We live a high-profile lifestyle. Even when we're around each other, usually, a lot of times, it's around other people that could know what's going on. A lot of times, a lot of stuff is kept private.
Your paperwork said you have a lot of material that you want to use, but when it would get submitted Geoff would decide if he would sing on it. I would imagine that would become frustrating if you keep submitting material and he says, "I'm gonna do this, and that's it." Did anybody not sit him down and say, "This is not working"?
Wilton: There were moments with every recording, since I'd say [2003 album] "Tribe" that things, for whatever reason, songs weren't looked at, songs were lost, it wasn't the direction or the theme of the recording. We've got songs in Pro Tools that are time-stamped, 2003, 2002, 2000, what I consider really potentially good songs. It's not cut and dried that [Geoff said] "I'm just not gonna sing your song" out of spite. It was, a lot of it, for whatever reason, it didn't make it to the cutting block. It wasn't a band decision.
Jackson: We're constantly contributing to the pool of ideas. There were some songs that a couple of us thought, "Hey, that would be a cool song to work on," but unfortunately it was never used.
With the "Operation: Mindcrime II" and "American Soldier" albums, Geoff says you guys, basically, weren't interested in working on them. You say you essentially got locked out of those sessions by the Tates and producer Jason Slater.
Rockenfield: Those records, we were all involved in. At the end of the day, things started to get basically done "Either my way or the highway." You've seen [in our declarations] with other people that came in, guys producing the record weren't the best-qualified for it and had their own issues they were dealing with in life and that's the type of people we were trying to deal with, staying on schedules, being available to do things, writing material. It started becoming a separated entity where things were happening over there and things were happening over here, and they weren't going on the same page anymore. And that was a good example of that record and then into the ones that followed that.
Wilton: On "Mindcrime II," it was just really no organization at all. There was no communication, the recording schedule and putting the songs together, they were done at odd times and at somebody's house. And it was being controlled by a certain faction, and it was, "Show up or not. We can do this without you." That's kind of how it makes you feel. As far as "American Soldier" [goes, it was], "Hey we've got these songs. I really like 'em. We got a good idea here." But you know what? They're not our songs. They're someone else's.
I spent painstaking hours trying to figure out MP3s and probably spent four to six months in Ed Bass' garage recording with Kelly Gray all the guitar parts, or 98% of the guitar parts on that album, and it wasn't easy. I was doing the job of two guitar players.
Jackson: I also remember times Michael and I would drive over to Scotty's house and work on ideas as well. It's not like we were just sitting on our asses doing nothing.
Rockenfield: To say that we have never worked or done any of the work is ludicrous. It's ridiculous. Queensryche is a brand and a team. It never has been about one guy. It's always been about the team. And the team has always worked to get to a certain goal. That started to get diluted through the years by certain comfort zones that have come up. We're all part of it, absolutely. We've all been a part of it for a long time, but it started to go where things were getting done and creatively it was going in a direction that the rest of us, our involvement was not being accepted and the desires for what we wanted to do were not being accepted, and it's been spiraling for a while.
A point you raised in your declarations is that Geoff signed a deal to make your 1988 album Operation: Mindcrime into a movie without the rest of the band knowing about it, and Neil Sussman, the lawyer who represents Queensryche's business entities, authorized the deal because he believed that Geoff was the sole copyright owner to the story. Can you say anything regarding the role he had in letting that deal be made?
Rockenfield: I'm not sure that we're probably ready to comment totally on his role of what happened with that. I can say that the whole Mindcrime movie deal was definitely some of the gravy on top of everything we've been going through and trying to figure out recently. To find out that that was all done, at the end of the day, without any of our knowledge, again, in our eyes, it was not a very good Queensryche business move by somebody. I suppose the rest at that point is going to be left up to the courts.
Wilton: This is an intellectual property issue and this is something that could really grow and expand, if you know what I mean, so I don't think we can really divulge too much.
Another thing you noted in the declarations is you discovered this band the Voodoos that Susan is also managing, you say their expenses and profits were being run through Queensryche's books and possibly there were other expenses being charged to Queensryche's books that shouldn't have been. Can you say anything about that?
Wilton: I can say I was shocked. I was surprised. I had no idea that this band was coming on tour with us. That obviously led to investigation into the checking account and seeing all these expenses being used through us. So we had to question that and we had to question our accountant, "Is this right?" I think that whether it's illegal or legal, no one bothered to tell us. I see that, I throw a red flag up in the air, and I definitely question that kind of a business call. I think anybody would in a business [where] all of a sudden someone was running their expenses through from another country because they're here as a visitor and not [on] a working visa.
Scott, the Tates contend in their complaint that you have a personal vendetta against them.
Rockenfield: I have no clue what the vendetta thing would be. It's all about visiting our company and doing what's right and looking at things that have been spiraling for a while. Just cause we're all of a sudden asking questions should be acceptable, because we own an equal part of the company. The Voodoos were one of those things. We had to start questioning, was this good or bad, and why didn't we really know about it, and the way it was presented, looking at the books, it was not as good deal and it was not something collectively we thought we should have been involved with... People are gonna have their own opinions and I suppose if that's theirs, that's fine.
I ask because your wife, Misty, she filed a declaration, and she said she was fired after working for the band for some time.
Rockenfield: Yeah, that's basically [it] in a nutshell. In terms of recently, in the last six months, when we started having meetings about the stuff that we wanted to discuss and do things, my wife had been working for the band for a couple years. She was an administrative assistant in our office that we had and she helped Susan with tasks that needed to be done... At one point, basically, it was kind of cut and dried. We brought up some scenarios, and my wife was blamed for those faults. And at that point she was let go. She was ready to move on anyway, because it wasn't working for her either. She wasn't very happy. That's all part of how some of this has spiraled even more aggressively in the last six months. I don't mean aggressively in a violent way, I mean aggressively as just fast.
When you removed Susan; Geoff's step-daughter, Miranda, who was working for the merchandising company; and a guitar tech who is Miranda's husband, Geoff realized what had happened and you had this meeting before the show in Brazil. How did you think Geoff was going to react when he found out?
Wilton: I think it was gonna be a deciding factor if he sides with the band or he sides with his wife as the manager. Obviously he's proved to us where his loyalty was.
Rockenfield: All the meetings we've ever scheduled have always been done by the book, and there were a few prior to Brazil that were scheduled on the books that Geoff chose not to attend. He knew about 'em and they were all done legally, and we have all the documents to support that. It was discussed in the [paperwork] submission that we were going to have these meetings, these are the issues we were going to discuss. He chose not to attend. In Brazil, it got to the point where he found out what he we had talked about and that's what happened. That was his response. He asked for a meeting in Brazil. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes and it was not the best meeting in the world, to be honest . . . One thing that I want to put on the table, because I've already submitted my declarations, I never said, "I fired your family and I'm gonna fire you next," and you can go on record as me saying that. That absolutely never was said and we have all of our witnesses that can support me.
Wilton: We never said [at the meeting in Brazil] that we were removing Miranda's [husband]. I don't know where that came from . . . We were having these meetings because we couldn't get anything done, or done in a situation where we all could go over what would be the best scenario. It was clearly an us against them kind of a thing, and we're trying to [say things like], "Let's look at this merchandising company we have. It's kind of an old model. Couldn't we modernize it? Couldn't we license it to a third party company like most bands do?"
Rockenfield: ... Our model of what we've been doing, after going through the books for months, up until that point, it was not monetarily looking as good as we thought it could. So we brought suggestions to the table. Unfortunately, on that side, the people that we were hiring were on that side, and that's what happened. But what do you do? You get stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I don't stand my ground as a businessman then I'm not doing what's right for the business. But if I stand my ground, I'm gonna get a storm of a response. We stood our ground and we dealt with the storm and that's where we're at now.
Eddie: We were only trying to figure out what was in the best interest of the band. Minimizing expenses while also maximizing your dollar.
Rockenfield: I don't want our fans to read that wrong: We are a business. I'm not in this for my health. We enjoy the music and we love it. But we have to make a living at it and we have to do that smartly, and that's all we've been trying to do. Besides that part of it, we're also trying to do it for the fans. The merchandise situation that we were addressing was not being run efficiently. Fans were waiting weeks at a time to get the merchandise they were ordering, or this and that, and it was not being done officially, and after talking to some other people about what our options should be, it just became apparent that we should address that. But that's really when a lot of this started to go sour, by doing that.
You're in Brazil, you have this meeting, and then you're getting ready to perform, and this incident occurs. What was going through your minds when this was happening?
Jackson: Well, before, we were just ready to perform. We're all getting ready to perform onstage.
Wilton: We had some good talks with the promoter. Just the whole organization of getting down to South America. It was a big deal. It was something that we took seriously and we know we don't get down to Brazil that much, and there was a lot of fans there. We wanted to give a great performance! We had our meeting, we get onstage, and I was shocked. I could not believe it. This guy I've been working with for 30-plus years spits in my face, in my eyes, and then calls me superlatives, and then comes and pushes me and then punches me in the side of the face! It was abhorrent behavior. It was vicious. I'm in shock, because, there's obviously a curtain drawn on the stage, [but] all this is happening and we're to perform in like five minutes! And he's knocking things over, he's spitting on our amps, he's knocking Scott's drums over, he's spitting on Scott, he's calling everybody names. The people on the side of the stage, we had Fates Warning, we had the promoters . . .
Rockenfield: . . . promoter, the press . . .
Wilton: . . . security didn't know what to do at first.
Jackson: I felt more embarrassed than I did hurt, because the promoter was there. We don't get that opportunity to go down to South American that often and when we do, we really take advantage of it. The promoter was there, his assistant, the local crew was there, the opening act. To me, [by the] end of the night, it was just like this whirlwind of events that happened.
Wilton: You have to realize this wasn't a band that's going up and pushing each other. This was a full, vicious, assault attack. This was abhorrent. It was so uncalled for, and to do it to jeopardize a major show to get us to retaliate or to cancel the show . . . We had to just be as professional as we could, clean our stuff up, put the drums back up and do the show . . . He was taking his water bottle, throwing it on my pedal board. He's throwing the mic stand back. It was bad.
Rockenfield: It was one of the most shocking things I've ever seen, to be honest, and shockingly frightening. Even our crew, it's taken them a while to kind of understand it and get over it. They're happy now -- and by the way, we basically have the majority of our crew that's still working with us and are excited and going out and doing the new thing -- but it's taking a while to get over it. They just didn't understand it. It just kept going. Even after, back at the hotel, we weren't around Geoff at the time and were told not to be, but he continued to make assaulting threats to other people to us. Even to the point of being at the airport the next day, doing the same thing.
Jackson: You know, that incident just didn't happen once. It happened like two or three times within five minutes, 10 minutes, before we were goin' on.
Rockenfield: That was a good 25 minutes we had to delay the show for that whole thing to happen.
Wilton: When we had this meeting in the dressing room before the show, he's saying that we fired him, we had no intention of firing him. This was pure business. We wanted to be represented a different way, and we did not fire Geoff Tate.
Not at that time.
[unanimously] Not at that time. Not at all!
Rockenfield: To say all those things, like the quote I was saying about, "I fired your family and I'm gonna fire you next," or whatever, that's all lies.
Jackson: That is completely false.
Rockenfield: . . . Unfortunately some of these meetings have come up in the past before and we've had discussions through the years, all the way back, there's examples in the paperwork, back in 2000, certain meetings didn't go the way they were supposed to and these things have happened before. I've been the brunt of a couple of them. After a while, how many more can you take?
That leads me to my next question. In your declaration, and Eddie also verified it, you said in 2007 there was an incident where Geoff slammed down your laptop, punched you and spit on you. That's correct?
Rockenfield: Yes. An unprovoked attack in the dressing room because something I was selling at the merch booth was selling better than some of the other guys or something, or selling better than what Geoff had.
Geoff contended in his paperwork you were selling personal merchandise, and you hadn't asked whether it was OK to put it in the booth.
Jackson: Geoff was selling his own solo CD at our merch booth stand as well. And so was Michael.
Rockenfield: These are those unprovoked type of attacks that, "If it's not my way, then it's the highway." At least, that's the way it seems. Brazil was the same thing. "I don't like what you're talking about at this band meeting" must have been the result of why, two hours later, we're onstage [and] I must have had 50 wads of spit on my body. I had to be toweled off before the show, front and back, by my drum tech because I was dripping with Geoff Tate's saliva.
Scott, this is the question that pops up in my mind: Like this incident a few years ago when you say Geoff basically came in and punched you and spit on you, why would you put up with that?
Rockenfield: I'm not one of those guys that's going to sit there and get into a man fight at the age of 50. I'm not sure if other people are. But I'm not. I just wrote it off. I talked to the guys after that incident. Geoff usually has his own dressing room, so he busted into ours, did that whole thing and then left, and I sat and talked to the guys, we went on and we played the show. I mean to me, the show just goes on, I gotta get through [it]. I had to focus. It was an hour before we went onstage or something like that. It's not easy to do that after a confrontation like that.
Jackson: [The Brazil incident] happened three or four months ago, and not one apology. Not one apology.
Rockenfield: I've never gotten an apology for the one in '07, either. I just moved on. I just attributed it [to], that's just the way that person is. I'm gonna get over it and move on. I know who I am and what I did, and I know I was living the truth. I was doing what everybody else was doing. Somebody just didn't like that.
Jackson: To not even apologize for the actions, it's kind of disrespectful.
When you got to the point a few weeks later when you realized you were going to fire him, what were you feeling at the time? After all, this was someone you had worked with for 30 years.
Wilton: We had a couple more shows left and we were gonna see what was happening, and obviously, to the majority of us, he kind of had sealed his fate in that act. And as far as the talks with the new management, we didn't feel this was conducive to a good show. The last two shows we did with this guy, we were told to stay in our areas. We were told, "Don't get near him, or he may explode." These were not a good representation [of the band], and to keep doing that, is not healthy and it's not a good business decision. In any other business, when someone does such a vicious act like that they'd be fired on the spot. We got to that point, where [we said], "Guys . . .
Jackson: Not gonna change.
Wilton: . . . look, we can't have a good show anymore. We can't work with this guy anymore." He's not gonna apologize, he has no remorse, he thinks he's right, for some strange reason. He kind of just handed it to us. We had to make the decision.
Rockenfield: This stuff has been brewing for a while and it just got to a certain point where it's just time, especially after the recent events, it was time to move on. We want to do business one way and we're the majority, and we look at it, in this case, like a democracy. The majority wants to do it this way, and that's the way we're gonna do it. And if one person doesn't like that and starts to react the way they do, it's kind of sealing their own grave with the decision we had to make.
Jackson: Michael, Scotty and I have always tried to run a business that's in the best interest of the band as a whole, not just one individual.
Wilton: We could see things were kind of going in that pattern, and it just did not make any sense for us to keep going the way we were. We have numerous, numerous reasons. Queensryche's playing secondary markets and crappy bars, and you're remembered by your last gigs if you do. It's kind of a devaluation that was happening.
In the court documents I read how the band's shareholder agreement was originally set up: When Chris was a member, the five of you each had 20% of the shares in the band's businesses. When he left, that rose to 25% among the remaining four. When you voted Geoff out, his lawyer said that wasn't acceptable, because you three own 75% of the shares, and the original agreement states that an 80% shareholder vote is required for such action. I thought, "If this isn't a Spinal Tap moment, I don't know what is."
Jackson: We're trying to understand that logic as well.
But it does raise a bigger point. This is precisely what your lawyers are arguing in court: You're saying that what you did is valid, his lawyer is saying what you did is not valid.
Rockenfield: Yeah, that's definitely some of the court stuff going on. I don't know if we can offer anything more than that, other than we kind of had to chuckle at it as well. That's the funny thing that happens in these lawsuits and paperwork and all that. Any little thing to bicker about that you can find, who knows. All I know is we've been doing business as Queensryche as the four shareholders since Chris left in '97. The math seems pretty simple to us about the whole thing, but it doesn't mean anybody can't argue about anything in life . . .
The judge kind of said it when the junction was denied a couple weeks back where they were trying to stop us from going out as Queensryche or using the name Queensryche until the lawsuit had been decided by the courts, and it was decided we can absolutely continue as Queensryche because that's the majority of the brand as we get to keep the brand rolling. Queensryche has always been a brand. It's not one person, it's the brand and the brand is us three, as the majority owners, going out, doing what we do best, which is making music and performing for the fans and enjoying life again.
Jackson: The three of us were also aware of the impact it might have on the fans when all this was going down . . . How are they gonna be affected? But sometimes decisions have to be made on a business level. I know it's tough for us to even think about the fans trying to understand, but we're still very fortunate and blessed to have a group of fans such as ours that follow us.
Clearly, as expressed by all the commentary online, there are a lot of fans that support you, but there are also fans who feel there is no way you can go on without Geoff.
Rockenfield: We can't go out and try to convince the fans. The only way we can do that or to show them what is available for them as Queensryche, we're just gonna go out and do it and they can come out and experience what we're gonna do. Our fans have been family. There's a lot of people in our camp for 30 years that have been with us for a long time and we're quite close to a lot of them, and it is affecting them, once again, kind of like a divorce, where they don't know what to do. They don't know what side to take. It hasn't been the easiest thing. But there's a lot of them that have been understanding of it and they get it, and they're gonna make a decision about what they wanna do or how they wanna judge their opinion based upon their own personal thing, and that's totally cool.
Did you hear about the comment that Eddie Trunk released from the interview he did with Geoff?
Rockenfield: Refresh us.
During a segment Geoff taped for "That Metal Show," he said he'd like to sit in a room with you guys and have you tell him face to face what the situation is and explain your actions.
Wilton: I think we did that in Brazil.
Jackson: We tried that already.
Rockenfield: We've tried that a few times, and every time it doesn't seem to go the way we want it to, and the unfortunate thing is that's where we've ended up now. I tell you what we did in Brazil: We sat and had a very business-like sit-down meeting in our dressing room eating fruit and sandwiches.
Wilton: They filed the lawsuit against us.
Rockenfield: Then after that we've gotten continuously spit on, violently attacked and have been verbally [told] that those attacks were gonna continue [soon after the show]. For us to want to sit in the same room together and talk about stuff we've already gone over seems a little redundant at this point.
There are fans who hope Chris will work with the three of you again in some capacity. Is that possible? What is his opinion on the lawsuit?
Wilton: Anything is possible. That said, I cannot speak on behalf of Chris. He is a very good friend of mine, and I respect his privacy on these matters.
One of your declarations mentioned that Geoff's negative attitude toward Chris was a reason that Chris left. What was Geoff's attitude toward Chris at the time?
Wilton: There were some tensions in the band that were just starting to happen. We had just been on a very long tour and people at certain points of their life, things were changing. It's unfortunate that the personal things sometimes have to get involved in the business and that's essentially kind of in a nutshell what happened. It didn't leave great taste on everyone's mouths, from what I remember.
So I guess none of you are going to tell me any of the other reasons why Chris decided to leave.
Rockenfield: That all comes down to what Michael said earlier. We don't wanna put words in other people's mouths because we don't think that would be fair at this point in time.
If there's a possibility of settling this lawsuit out of court, would you take it?
Rockenfield: We're going do whatever's best for us as the continuing Queensryche corporation that we're doing right now. This is all kind of new territory. None of us has ever been in some big lawsuit like this where we've had to deal with these things, but this just is what it is and we're learning a lot from it, and we're going to do what's best when the time comes.