Queensryche vs Geoff Tate – Both Going Lawsuit Mad
Tags: geoff Tate > Geoff Tate Lawsuit > Geoff Tate Quits Queensryche > Queensryche > Queensryche Lawsuit
After years of breaking records as a band, former Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate has spoken out to Billboard Magazine regarding his feelings about his former bandmates. This Q&A takes place only weeks after Geoff Tate filed a lawsuit against his former Queensryche bandmates in Washington state’s King County Superior Court. The foundation for his lawsuit? Wrongful expulsion resulting in brand devaluation.
Queensryche is now:
- Scott Rockenfield
- Michael Wilton
- Eddie Jackson
Billboard: From what you knew, were there any tensions between you and the three other principal members before they tried to expel you from the group?
Geoff Tate: No. Nothing. Just usual band relationships. Typical.
You said that what seemed to start the whole thing was that the other three members wanted to take the band merchandising to a third party and you were against it. What was their reason for wanting to give it to a third party?
I think they’re not very good business people. And continuously in our career, they had tried to make bad business decisions and this is just another in a long line of ridiculous, bad business decisions that I had to put my foot down and say, “No. This is ridiculous. Can’t do this. This is going to end up costing us more. And what’s smart about that?”
Can you think of a specific example of where you’ve seen this happen before?
Yeah, I can think of many examples [but] I really don’t think it’s my place in this kind of setting to air that kind of stuff. There’s a legal claim. You can look it up and have all the nasty details if you want to do that. It’s out there. It’s public realm now.
You did make it very clear from your side of things that the press release they put out saying that you left because of creative differences was not accurate.
It has been said in previous interviews that Chris had taken more of the [conceptual] direction of the “Empire”and the “Here in the Now Frontier” albums. Is that correct?
Yeah, “? Frontier”was really Chris’ [idea]. He had a lot of input in that. Actually, that was the only album title that I didn’t come up with.
But as far as “Empire,”are you saying that that was more your direction?
I think that Chris and I worked really closely . . . and we were really in sync. Honestly, it’s so hurtful to me that this kind of thing is happening. I’ve worked all my life in creating a positive image for Queensryche, the music and public appearances, the lyrics, and all the press that I do . . . For this whole thing to come unraveling like this and become very public … is so distasteful for me. I can barely stand it.
You raised the point that you personally wrote the vast majority of the Queensryche catalog . . .
I would say, in vague terms, of the 144 songs that Queensryche has published and written, I’ve been a co-writer on 114, which is something like 81% of all of the music.
The way it’s stated in Rolling Stone is that you wrote them — as in, you completely wrote them.
Oh yeah. Well, that’s one of those little inaccuracies that get passed along through interpretation [laughs]. But the accurate numbers and all that, it’s obviously in the legal claim.
After Chris left the band in ’97, you said the other guys didn’t contribute much — they just came in, they played shows and they got the money. Yet Michael and Scott do solo projects and are clearly writing and creating in that forum. Did you ever go to them and ask them to bring more to the plate inside the band?
Yes, absolutely. Every album cycle, I’d say, “Please contribute. Please contribute. Let’s try to make another album.”
When would you say that that started?
It started day one of being in a band years and years ago. It’s always been a constant conversation.
To try to get the two of them contribute more?
Even though the two of them have a fair amount of songwriting credits?
Did anyone come to you during your tenure with the band and say, “We want to do something different”or “We don’t like the direction things are going,”either creatively or in a business sense?
No. No. This is strictly out of the blue, and it’s just shocking. To have creative differences, you have to have multiple parties creating and we don’t have that. It’s me driving the ship, me organizing everything, me deciding what the songs are, what the album is, artwork ? you name it. My fingers are on it and have been since we started the band.
At a Brazil show in April of this year, you found out that three Queensryche staffers were being let go – including the band’s manager, who is also your wife. How long after that incident was it before you got the letter saying that you were being let go?
I couldn’t give the exact date, to be honest. I can’t give you the exact date. It was somewhere within a week, two weeks, something like that.
So, you never told them at that point that you were leaving?
No. Why would I?
Considering what had just gone down, it wouldn’t have been out line if you just said, “I quit.”
Well, for me it would. I mean, it’s my life’s work. I can’t really walk away from it [chuckles]. It’s me, you know.
Did they say to you at that time, “We’re removing these people because we don’t like how the business is run”?
You know, it was all very vague and very under the table without ? anybody’s input other than the three of them. They hatched this plan and implemented it and carried it out.
Was there a majority rule when it came to making a decision like this related to the band’s business?
No. That’s all covered in our corporate documents. It’s very laid-out.
In June, Queensryche was supposed to open for the Scorpions, but the other band members didn’t show up so you had to bring in your personal backup band to do the gig.
Yes. They weren’t playing, that’s what I was told by their attorney.
How soon before the show did you find out?
How rattled were you by that?
Well, first and foremost, I was thinking of the fans that had paid to see us play and I was very disappointed that they were going to miss it. And then it’s a trickle-down effect. The promoters are upset. The Scorpions are upset. Everyone involved was counting on the band to show up to fill their contractual obligations. They’re upset because now everybody is thrown into a tizzy trying to figure out, “Well, what we can do about this?”It was horrible. I’m just glad I got to play, and people in the audience were very supportive and gave us a standing ovation. It went really well, even though my [solo band] was incredibly tired [laughs] because they had to drive 12 hours to get there through the night because we had the show in San Francisco the night before. But everybody played quite well and the gig went off pretty well, and the Scorpions’ crew was very helpful to us.
It’s very different to expect to see a band play, but the band don’t show up [and] the singer does an acoustic set — that’s pretty different for a lot of people and I was a little concerned that people would be very upset about that. But I think they honestly really enjoyed the set and definitely showed their appreciation. It was all good in the end. Just one of those situations where you do your best in and try to make everybody as happy as you possibly can, given the circumstances.
When you performed at Rocklahoma over Memorial Day weekend, you made a comment that the crowd sucked – and it went viral. Was that at all fueled by what was going on with the band at the time?
The fact that some people made such a huge deal out of it? Yes. I think definitely, that had a lot to do with it. It’s standard showmanship. You rile the crowd up, motivate them, challenge them. That’s my job. I’ve been doing it for 30 years and I think I have a pretty good handle on how to handle the audience.
I understand what you’re saying, but at the time that you made that comment, was there any frustration because of what was going on with you and the band that led you to make that comment?
No, that was strictly aimed at the lackadaisical nature of the audience, who just needed to be kicked in the ass.
Is all the talking between you and the other guys in the band just happening through lawyers at this point?
I understand why you don’t think they should be going on and performing without you. But considering that the three of them are original members of Queensryche, don’t they also have a leg to stand on?
I think that if they want to continue going out and playing music, they should do it standing on their own two feet, with music they write and ? albums they create. I think that would be the honorable thing to do rather than trying to make a living off what I’ve done, what I created. Especially if there’s a situation where it has to be decided about the name and the legalities. I would think they would have the decorum and the respect for [what was] built over the years to take care of that stuff before they launch into a public arena and claim themselves to be something that they’re not.
Don’t you think they feel as well that they’ve helped create what Queensryche is?
I don’t know what they feel. I’d hate to be one to try to interpret that.
I guess the last question is, What do you intend to do for the time being?
Well, I’m releasing my second solo album in a couple of months, and that’s pretty much my focus in the moment — trying to stay in the creative mode for that, finish what I need to do on it. I have another month or so of work on it before it’s finished. So, I’m moving ahead. I’m very excited about it.