MetalTalk's Roger Fauske had a chat with Queensrÿche vocalist Todd La Torre about the band's new offering, out on these shores on June 24th. As well as that, they talked about touring, the Underworld and English weather amongst other things.
Here's a full transcript of the interview and you can also listen to it in the player at the bottom of this page.
RF.... Good evening Todd.
TLT... Good evening Roger and how are you?
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RF.... Everythings good and the suns out, which is very strange for this country.
TLT... Yea right it rains there all the time.
RF.... It does mostly yes it very famous for it. But of course your joining us because on June 24th the brand spanking new Queensrÿche album is out.
TLT... Yes we are very excited about it.
RF.... Yes I did review the album for MetalTalk and I have to say it bought a smile to my face.
TLT... Thats great, we are really happy about all the positive feedback we have received from all the people who have had the chance to listen to the album, and have been able to review it and overwhelmingly the response has been very positive. Its a really exciting time for everybody in the band, and we are really enthusiastic about the record being released and the people finally being able to hear the songs and everything, so its a good thing.
RF..... It is very much like the old Queensrÿche sound, I have to say.
TLT.... Well you know thats a really great compliment. I think that there are elements that are definitely reminiscent of some of the works from the first five, possibly even six, albums that the band did, and there is a lot of things in there that sound like the classic sound, with the harmony guitars and Eddie's bass tone and Scott's great drumming. But also, so we have been told, it has a bit of a new flavour to it. We didn't want to write a record that sounded really dated but you also want to maintain those writing elements that are the Queensrÿche sounds and I think that much of that was accomplished on this record. And look, its the very first record that we have done with me in the band and we are already starting to write new songs for the next album so there is a whole bunch of other things that weren't really ready to make it on this first album that will definitely be going on the next one, so its all positive.
RF... Yes it is, you mentioned the old ones and there is definitely some of the Rage for Order type sound on there and obviously Mindcrime and going back, thats why it bought a smile to my face, because I am unfortunately old enough to have been around when Mindcrime came out!
TLT .... Well I think that there is a little bit of that. One of the things that has been really great to hear is that out of all the interviews that we have done, each interviewer that has heard the album has said "oh my favourite song on the record was this song or that song" and the next interviewer says they are very fond of a different song. Sometimes you will have a album with one or two good songs on the album so if everyone were to say their favourite song was the same song that would really worry me - the fact that everyone has their own idea of what is their favourite is a really good indication that there is something on the album for everybody.
RF ... That is very true, because I must admit, you know what its like. Most albums you listen to for the first time there are always one or two tracks that you are not sure of maybe for the first couple of listens but I do have to say with this one there is not a lot of growing on you needed, they just seem to grab you by the nuts straight away.
TLT... Well that's the plan. you know some of my favourite songs or albums from many bands took several listens for those songs to really grow on you and for you to really kind of have an open ear and you will find new elements within the songs that maybe you didn't catch the first time or two around. Some people have said that this album has really grown on them a lot, so its all really great feedback and like I say its a really great starting point. We knew that this was a very important album for the band and for me personally, for those guys personally and professionally for the name Queensrÿche, so there was a lot riding on the first album and so far I have no regrets. There were no outside writers on this record so it was just the five of us throwing all of our ideas in to the pot and this is the first serving of the new line up of Queensrÿche.
RF.... Yes and its a very impressive restaurant, its a good serving thats for sure. I was going to mention there is a lot of talk of revolution on this album.
TLT... You know that's kind of of interesting because Parker wrote the lyrics to the song "Where dreams go to die" and happened to say the word revolution. I wrote the song "Don't look back" with Michael before "Dreams go to die" was ever even written and Parker had never even heard it and I used the word revolution which is kind of funny. And then on top of that Eddie didn't even know the words to "Don't look back" and he wrote the words to "Fallout" which has the word revolution.
RF... I should be careful. You will have the FBI on your case.
TLT... Yea right ha ha ha, so you know each song is its own animal and you know I think that word might even be in that song "Redemption", I can't recall. But you know I would guess that the overall vibe of the record would be turmoil and then coming out on the other side in a good way and moving forward and moving on. The album was written without a theme in mind but if I had to come up with a feeling or a theme of the record I would have to say that the record has to do with, you know, rising up and moving forward.
RF... I think especially with "Don't look back", that kind of sums it up.
TLT... yes I wrote the lyrics to that song. A lot of those lyrics were written from a poem that I wrote many many years ago and that was the first song that Michael and I wrote together. Once the lyrics took shape, at the very end of the song I came up with a kind of chant. In the demo it used to build up even more - it's slightly different from the finished version but I say "magnetize, you can conceptualize" and thoughts become things and so that thought process was based on the law of attraction from the book called "The secret" which I really think is wonderful. And so when I finished writing the lyrics for that song I tried to say OK, how can I make all these words make sense. There has to be some kind of a resolve or conclusion and that was really kind of how I did that, so if you really listen in to the words on that song its really about moving on. I was in a really weird place personally in my life so that's where you get the chorus "I am lost but not afraid, marching on beyond the sun, you got to free your mind, are you the master or the slave". So its really about a person taking charge of their own life and not making up excuses for why life is such a pain in the ass sometimes. We're in charge of our destination - if we don't have anything its because its our fault and if we have an abundance of things, its also because of our own doing - so I believe that we are responsible for where we are and that's really what that song is about. Its about scenarios of despair but people are finding the beauty in very simple things in life.
RF..... Yes that makes sense and it all fits with the "Open road" as well, it kind of goes straight in to that one.
TLT... Yes right on...
RF.... Every ones is going to love, it thats obviously going to be the main thing, because as I said I was around with "Rage for order" and "Mindcrime", and that is just great for us old Queensrÿche fans.
TLT .... Yes thats great I am very glad to hear that you are enthusiastic about it.
RF.... Touring wise what are your plans for Europe and the rest of the world as well.
TLT.... Well right now we are with a new booking agency and they are doing a lot of great things. If I am not mistaken those were the people that got Queensrÿche on the Judas Priest back when they were doing shows with them so we are really excited about working with this new company. And I have just talked to Scott on the phone as well last night and I get the skeleton framework for September I think we are going to try to do a good four weeks in the US and then in October we do have dates booked in Europe but I believe that we are going to try to fill the month of October throughout Europe and some things may get rearranged. You know there's a lot of work that goes into planning any type of a tour because of the logistics and by the time all your gear is where it needs to be and you are going from country to country it has to make sense.
So certainly for this year we still have some shows in the US. We just played Germany at Rock Hard festival about a month or so ago and then we played Mexico city which was great. Actually from now until the end of September we have shows all across the US and October like I say we will be in Europe and then we will also be focusing on next year which will be a very busy schedule for us. We would love to play a lot of the big festivals throughout Europe which we were just unable to make the deadline for this year, because of some other commitments. But this year is looking really great and next year will be even busier for us and we look forward to playing our own shows and also being a part of the bigger billings with the big festival line up. There are always new things that are being negotiated on a daily basis with different promoters all over the world. South America, the US, Canada, Europe and hopefully we can go to Japan sometime - that would be great.
RF..... If you really want me to feel that I have died and gone to heaven just come over here and do a tour with Y&T and then I would be happy.
TLT .... HA HA HA You know when I was in Crimson Glory we played Camden the Underworld it was a really cool place, and has a really cool vibe of the city. There its a really small stage, super tiny, you can barely move on it but what a great energy and the people there are always so enthusiastic about the music, so its always good fun.
RF.... Yes the Underworld is like an old fashioned Rock Club. Briefly I want to move along to you personally. Before Queensrÿche everyone will know you from Crimson Glory but you are a very interesting musician, I think you have played just about everything but you did do a lot of drumming before going to the vocal side.
TLT.... yes when I was 10 years old my mother bought me a guitar, a classical guitar and made me have lessons. At 13 my Dad bought me my first drum set and the rhythm in drumming was always a driving force for me musically so I remained a drummer - that was my passion. I have always been first a drummer, second a guitar player, mainly rhythm, singing was something I just really enjoy but I was never an aspiring singer for a band. My dream was to always be a famous rock drummer but I always loved singing and when I played drums I would sing backing vocals and stuff like that. I recorded my own songs with me playing drums and guitar and bass and singing all the parts so I was kind of a one man band for my own personal music - I never really considered singing in front of people until 2009 when I was considering starting an Iron Maiden Tribute band so my friend Matt La Port who played guitar talked about it and he had a song and I did something with him and he was really impressed and, the next thing you know, he is introducing me to Jon Oliva from Savatage and then the Crimson Glory guys so that's really kind of how it all started.
RF.... Well you're only young, you have time to be a famous drummer after the singing!
TLT .... Ha Ha Ha, I would love to do drums on a record, even Scotty and I talked about possibly introducing a second drum set and going up there and doing some drumming with Scott kind of interjecting something original and different for the band in a live situation, thats not beyond the realms of possibility.
RF.... Talking of Scott, I have to say even the first time I listened to the album, I don't think I have ever heard him sound so good as he does on this this one.
TLT.... You know when he was tracking those drums in the studio and we were all looking through the glass and listening through the monitors especially on "Vindication" and "Spore", we looked at each other and thought fuck yes this is awesome. This is this guy Rockingfield that I loved as a young teen and he was a big influence on me, the way he does his fill is so creative and if you ask him how he does it he just says I don't know, because 90% of those drum tracks were completely ad lib, on the fly. He knew where the breaks were and the overall groove but all of those drum fills were completely spontaneous. It really just shows the magic this guy has. Every take was so great, I can imagine how hard it was for him and Jimbo to decide on which one they wanted to use. He always has a positive attitude and is always laughing and it was a treat for me because Queensrÿche was always one of my favourite bands and I was a huge fan of Scott, so to actually watch him record the drums on an album that I was part of, it was like being a kid at Disneyland.
RF.... A couple of the songs have almost like a military precision feel to them.
TLT .... Yes I wrote some of the drum beats. On "Where dreams go to die", Parker wrote that and we were skyping and I said to him send me the beats per minute, track the guitars and let me (add the drums). I called Scott and said I don't want to walk on anybody's toes but so the song could take some shape I added the drum tracks and he said "Hey dude no problem". When it came time to track the drums, all of that militant marching thing he kept. Obviously he did some things his way during the verses and chorus that make it special. It was an honour and a thrill to be able to collaborate with Scott. Nobody in this band has an ego and we are all open to new ideas and constructive criticism. And Jimbo (James Barton) co-produced the album so he had a lot of great ideas too.
RF.... Jimbo is a link to some of the old Queensryce stuff as well isn't he?
TLT ... Yes he engineered the "Operation Mindcrime" and "Empire" albums and he engineered and co produced "Promised Land" with the band so when we found out we were able to work with him on this it just seemed like a no brainer.
He was the guy who was responsible for all the wonderful sounds and song transisitons on Mindcrime you know all the cool things you hear and lets face it he was able to get Michael to pull out his old amplifiers and his rolling amp and all his different things and recapture the same amplification that was used on Mindcrime and Empire. so he knows how to get that sound. He is a world class engineer so it seemed the prefect opportunity for many different reasons to be part of this and I think he had a lot of fun.
RF... Guess what, it worked. Well Todd it has been a pleasure having a chat with you.
TLT ..... Like wise me too, I have enjoyed this.
RF.... I will be like everybody else and cant wait for you to come back here and of course we will all come and catch a couple of your gigs over here.
TLT.... that would be great and if you are able to make some sort of contact with our people we can arrange to meet up and do a follow up interview on site or something. We really appreciate your support and wanting to have the interview and broadcasting it to all your readers and listeners, we really do appreciate it.
RF ..... What can I say I just have good taste.
TLT.... Well i would really like people to visit our website, www.Queensrÿcheofficial.com, and contact us on FB I really enjoy interacting with our fans and like to comment so the fans know that hey I have read what they have said and would like to say thank you, some people say I am to accessible but fans are important to us and I like to have that interaction with them, and like to respond when they say they like the songs and music.
RF..... Well its your own fault for writing damn good songs, if you wrote songs like cold play no one would bother you.
TLT.... Ha Ha Ha Well thank you so much for you time and I am sure we will cross paths again.