Queensryche Gives Us The Verdict
By Dave Schwartz
Queensryche’s latest record, “The Verdict,”
has just dropped and you know what that means, TOUR! I’ve only
heard a few of the new songs but I have to say, they sound great.
This band keeps doing the impossible – changing the minds of the few
that see Queensryche as just a legacy band. The last three
albums keep getting stronger and the band keeps attracting new
I spoke to Mike Wilton just a couple days ago.
Check out the interview!
DB: Thanks for calling in Mike. I’m
excited to hear about your new record, “The Verdict.” That’s
subject number one today. Tell me a little bit about.
MW: This has been 3 ˝ years since our
previous album, “Condition Human” and Queensryche has been touring
nonstop. With Century Media and Sony Red it’s time to put
together a new album. So we had a lot of demos and parts and
things from traveling on the road and putting ideas together.
We got into pre-production. We used the same producer as we
used with “Condition Human.” We used Zeuss. (Chris
"Zeuss" Harris – Overkill, Sanctuary, Iced Earth, Rob Zombie)
The mighty ZEUSS! (Laughs) We put together all of the demos
and everybody just got together and collaborated. We put
together just a great album. It was a song-by-song scenario of
building the songs that everybody liked. A lot of thought went
into this and the album has a great flow. It was something
that was a lot of work and to us, it’s well regarded. We feel
this is a natural evolution in Queensryche – in this rendition of
Queensryche – and so far the reaction has been very positive.
We’re very excited for this and I’ve got to tell you, doing albums
these days, everything is scattered. All of your ideas, you
life, it’s just scattered and it’s a matter of organizing
everything, getting it together and creating. If you can
imagine building a clay mold; it’s just a bunch of clay and there’s
clay all over the place. It’s like that, grabbing some clay to
DB: Slapping a little more on, taking
MW: Exactly. So thank goodness we
have an organized producer to know when to say, OK, enough is
DB: Well you mentioned that you’ve been
writing while on the road the past couple of years. As you
know better than I, some bands can do that and some can’t.
Talk a little bit about your process and capturing moments where you
MW: It’s a scenario where I think, a lot
of our inspiration was infused by just being on the road all the
time. I think, well it’s a different animal out here than it
was in the '90s or even the '80s for me. The airplay is
different now and there’s not so many rock stations. There’s
few terrestrial stations and you really don’t get the love that you
used to get. If you’re going to write songs you are going to
tour all the time. You might as well write songs that have a
lot of energy and are fun to play live. You see the fans and
how they react. You feel their energy and I think they know
that it’s a mutual admiration and something that goes into the
writing process so, yeah, the writing style for this album was very
infused with playing these songs live.
DB: I read a comment that was made in a
different interview that this album came together more organically.
The writing was more of a fully consolidated band situation as
opposed to writing singularly and bringing ideas in.
MW: Yeah. That’s exactly the process of
writing, “The Verdict.” It was kind of the way we used to do
things in the early '80s. A bunch of guys get together, have
some beers and write some music. This was kind of like that
but now we’ve got technology. Everything is more organized as
far as where the ideas are kept. They’re not on little
cassettes anymore. Now they’re on a hard drive. And the
thing is that this album was built by everyone in the band. On
every song everybody had to give their OK. If something was
lacking we worked on it together or we discarded it. So in
that sense it was a lot of creative spontaneity. There are
lots of creative sparks of energy in this album because, like you
said, the ideas and the demos were not 100 percent finished.
DB: One of the cornerstones of the older
Queensryche albums was that you wanted to listen them with
headphones on. I want to say the word famous. You were
famous for having pristine recordings with so much sonic depth on
your albums. It really made you want to pull out a set of
headphones and listen deeper to what was going on. Everything
was so clean and well produced and put together and I’m hearing that
again on this record. The few songs that I’ve heard from the
record sound great.
MW: Yeah, I think it keeping with the
Queensryche tradition. When we create our music there’s a lot
of depth to it. A lot of thought goes into the songwriting.
And so if you’re a headphone person you’re going to hear a lot.
Every time you listen to the record you’re going to hear something
different. That being said, yeah, that’s just something that
we’ve always done. We’ve always tried to put a lot of thought
into the songwriting process and we think our fans really enjoy
DB: You have a couple of songs out now,
prior to the official release – “Dark Reverie” and “Man the
Machine.” Talk for a moment about selecting those songs and
how they represent the album.
MW: “Man the Machine” is an energetic
song that we felt would be great to put out there on the different
media channels. It shows that we’re back and that we’re back
with some attitude. We hit that worldwide and the response has
been really great. Everybody really loves it. It has the
traditional Queensryche double solos, semi progressive drums and
it’s just an awesome song that’s going to be great to play live.
And we also release “Dark Reverie” which was written by our other
guitar player, Parker Lundgren. It’s a very special song for
him personally. He wrote the lyrics and the music and
everything for that song. That song has a special place and
we’re very proud of it. Musically it’s another classic
Queensryche song. It has the dynamics, the double guitar
solos, there’s tons of melody everywhere, and there’s orchestration.
So there you go, we pulled everything out for that one.
DB: I agree. Both songs
certainly have the Queensryche signature on them. I think a
fan from today or 30 years ago would recognize it as a Queensryche
song. You’re making an important statement. I recognize
that you’ve got a brand to uphold and I think you’re doing well with
MW: It’s interesting. The people
who have been into the band for so long really relate to it. I
mean we’ve still got a few of the guys that are like the DNA of the
band so in a sense, it’s still going to sound like the old
Queensryche because the old guys are still in the band.
DB: And that’s the mud that holds
everything together. You mentioned Zeuss earlier and working
with him as a producer. Talk a little about what he brings to
your record as producer. Share with us what Zeuss does to help
you be Queensryche.
MW: Well, he’s that final opinion of
where the songs should be. The problem with artists is that we
get so married to the demos. We get so used to hearing the
songs a certain way that we believe that is only way the songs can
be. He is the person with the more objective view of the idea.
It’s great because he kind of stirs the pot. He gets the
creativity up to the next level. What’s great about Zeuss is
that he knows Queensryche. He’s familiar with all the old
albums and the heritage of the band. So he knows all of the
secret weapons that make these songs Queensryche and knows all the
guys, easy to get along with and can record where ever you want to
record. And he’s got a great ear. He’s a talented guy.
DB: So a band with your history, there is
– and I’ll use the word very loosely – a “danger” with your great
back catalog of music, to become a legacy band. I can tell
that, that’s not at all where you want to be. I’m trying to
ask about stirring the newer songs into the set list and how the
music from the last couple two or three albums are filling up your
MW: We’ve rebuilt Queensryche back up
with years of touring. Seven years ago when we were playing
live people wanted to hear all of the older stuff. They wanted
to hear the legacy stuff but as people have become more comfortable
with the band they wanted to hear La Torre (vocalist Todd La Torre)
sing the hits. So we would play the older stuff and maybe mix
in a new song. Now we’re finally at that point where the
people want to hear the new stuff. So now the set is an
infusion of the new music along with the legacy stuff. It’s
quite an ordeal but we are in that situation where want to hear the
new and I think these songs from “The Verdict” are going to make a
real strong impact live.
DB: That’s a really cool statement.
It’s exciting to hear the excitement in your voice about going out
and playing the new songs. And of course, then there’s the
response from the audience of today which is a mixture of your long
term fans along with those who are just discovering you.
MW: Exactly. It’s just mind blowing
from my perspective on the stage to see the variance of fans in the
crowd. I mean, we’ve got people who have been there since
1982. Now you’ve got their offspring and kids who are curious
and all the newer fans for just the last couple of albums. And
it’s funny – they all have their favorite songs were Queensryche
music made an impact in their lives. And of course, that’s
what keeps them coming back. But I think a good variety, a
good mixture of songs is what is needed for Queensryche live.
DB: So the good news is not only the
release of “The Verdict” but also the tour. You’re heading out
with the first leg of your world tour starting right about the this
interview will be posted, March 1st. And in August
you’ll be in Europe doing many of the larger festivals.
MW: As we’re speaking I’m in Florida
doing rehearsals for the tour. We start, actually the end of
February, we added one more date. And we’re going out
with a band we really like, Fates Warning. It’s a
Queensryche/Fates Warning package that will be touring and it’s
going to be a really exciting show to see. So yeah, our whole
year is already been booked and I know that they’re already booking
shows for next year. After this tour we’re working on going to
South America. And then Europe in the summer and in the fall
we’re doing another rock cruise, we’re doing the Megadeth cruise.
And then off of that we’re doing another tour in the fall and the
winter is already being planned. These days when you record
and release a record you can tour on it for a long time. It’s
more of a world project so there are lots of opportunities to hit
places you’ve never been. We’re definitely more of a world
band now. We’re touring everywhere recording new music.
We could sit back and be a legacy band and play casinos all our life
but we’re not about that.
I want to thank Mike Wilton for sharing a
moment with DaBelly. Queensryche is sounding better than ever
and heading out on tour. Check out the new record, “The
Verdict” and go see them live when they’re in your town.
||"Blood Of The Levant "
Michael Wilton – guitar (1980–present)
Scott Rockenfield – drums (1980–present; on hiatus since 2017)
Eddie Jackson – bass, backing vocals (1980–present)
Lundgren – guitar, backing vocals (2009–present)
Torre – lead vocals (2012–present), drums (2018 in studio)
Queensr˙che 2019 Tour Dates with
03/02 – Orlando, FL @ The Plaza Live
03/03 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
03/05 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
03/07 – Baltimore, MA @ Sound Stage*
03/08 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun^
03/09 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza*
03/10 – Worcester, MA @ Palladium*
03/12 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
03/13 – Detroit, MI @ Diesel
03/14 – Chicago, IL @ Concord
03/15 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
03/16 – Medina, MN @ Medina Entertainment Center
03/17 – Davenport, IA @ Rhythm City Casino Resort^
03/20 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
03/21 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
03/22 – San Antonio, TX @ Aztec
03/23 – Albuquerque, NM @ El Rey
03/26 – Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
03/27 – San Diego @ Observatory
03/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda
03/29 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
03/30 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
04/02 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
04/03 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune