A Conversation with Michael Wilton

Michael Wilton
By: Joseph Suto




After a lengthy lawsuit it appears that the fight over Queensrÿche has finally settled as the band and former singer Geoff Tate have reached an agreement where bassist Eddie Jackson, drummer Scott Rockenfield and guitarist Michael Wilton have successfully agreed to purchase Geoff Tate’s portion of the Queensrÿche name. After a two year period passes, he can only refer to himself as Geoff Tate with no mention of Queensrÿche at all. Geoff Tate will be able to finish any confirmed dates billed for his Queensrÿche lineup scheduled to terminate on August 31st, 2014. As of September 1st, there will be only one Queensrÿche entity and that will consist of Eddie Jackson, Todd LaTorre, Parker Lundgren, Scott Rockenfield and Michael Wilton. This lineup will continue to perform selections from their entire musical catalog including songs from Operation: Mindcrime. The band will be able to use all TriRyche logos and previous album artwork for any purposes as needed by the corporation.  We were able to talk with a very relieved Michael Wilton following the news.


Rock Show Critique: Now that a settlement has been reached regarding the band and Geoff Tate does it feel like the world has been lifted off your shoulders?

Michael Wilton: The situation is getting better everyday. Once one has been in the trenches for the time that we have in any kind of a court battle it can be trying. It’s all about just moving forward. We’re one step closer to where we want to be. It’s a bit relieving and yes we can sleep at night.

RSC: What does it mean going forward now for the band?

MW: Well full wholeheartedly we want to rebuild the name Queenrÿche. We want to bring it back to the stature it was in the eighties and nineties. We want to reach out to the fans who have been wanting to hear the classics for eons of years. Now we are doing that and we are able to bring that to the world basically and there are so many fans that love the first five, six albums. It’s great to play those songs for them because it means so much to them and it also means so much to us. We’re really happy to be out there and touring and bringing back the classics that fans want to hear.

RSC: For years many fans have been clamoring to hear such classics as “Queen Of The Reich”, “Child Of Fire” among many others, how did it feel to play them live again after not being able to for so long?

MW: Some of the songs that we’re playing in the set like some of the ones from The Warning, we haven’t played since 1984 or 85. For us it’s like reaching back and listening how to you recorded those songs and how you played them and everything. It’s really mind blowing but it’s also so fun for us because those songs were just built to play live. Chris DeGarmo and I put a lot of time and effort into the guitar parts. How they intertwined and how they slowed, how one could with a duel guitar set up could make the parts sound interesting. The limitations are endless and we are really just excited about the future.

RSC: Will you perform songs from Promised Land and beyond at any point?

MW: Yeah I mean there’s no limit to what songs we want to play. I think what we choose, the fan favorites and classics they wanted to hear and you know with Todd in the band for just a short time and being thrust into this, he has to grow and get comfortable with the songs. As I said before he was proliferate with the first five, six albums and he never really listened to Promised Land. But he’s listening to it now and he loves it. You know we’re working on a few songs to put into the set from Promised Land. A lot of fans really suggested that they’d love to hear a couple songs from that album. It’s not like we’re not gonna play them, it’s just that we haven’t got it to the point where we wanna put it into the live show yet.

RSC: At what point do you feel the band started to go off course or make a wrong turn perhaps?

MW: Well the band was just firing on all cylinders up through Empire and part of Promised Land. I think everybody was questioning the longevity of what they wanted to be and what they wanted to do and if they were happy and if they weren’t. It’s a long road of ups and downs really, the battles. Maybe as you get older your style of music changes a little bit. Other people wanted to stay true to what they started in the beginning. You grow as musicians and people and sometimes it grows the other way. So it’s kind of hard to pick exactly when it happened. It was at a point when we worked so hard to build up the integrity of Queensrÿche we just got to the point where we started to get a little burned out. When Chris (DeGarmo) left it was kind of picking up the pieces and let’s see what we can do.

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RSC: I look at the writing credits over the bands career and it seemed that after Empire you kinda disappeared from the picture despite having been one of the main writers up to that point. What happened?

MW: I’ve constantly been writing. There’s no depletion in my department of songs nor has there ever been. Tons of demos and certain things didn’t get worked on for whatever reason, songs didn’t make it to certain albums. You know it’s always been about what’s best for the album. I feel that I tend to bring a bit more of an edge, a metallic, progressive element to the band and sometimes an album wasn’t leaning in that direction. It is what it is. I write the way I write. I’m kind of a proven asset of the earlier albums and I’m bringing that back right now. I’m feeling good about it and I’m working with a dynamic bunch of guys that are really excited about rebuilding Queensrÿche.

RSC: Do you have a favorite QR album?

MW: I really don’t have a favorite. I go through periods daily where I don’t listen to Queensryche because I play it all the time. From a fan perspective I tend to go back to the earlier albums just because there is an innocent about them, a youth about them and I like going down that road.

RSC: Have you thought about playing any albums in their entirety live.

MW: Oh yeah we can do any album we want live. I personally don’t believe in re-recording your albums. I think they were done at a special time and there’s a magic there that just can’t be repeated.

RSC: We were the ones who interviewed Geoff and were surprised by how he answered on why you guys weren’t playing Queen Of The Reich anymore. He had said it was juvenile and how he didn’t want to sing it anymore. Was that part of the problem on choosing the sets etc…?

MW: Well certain people grow out of songs I guess. Being in a band it’s always kind of a battle to get certain songs into a set. That song “Queen Of The Reich (QOTR for short)” was really our first song. That was the song Chris DeGarmo wrote and brought to the band and we wanted to make it heavy as hell. We wanted to make it a bad ass song. We were really young back then. We working at day jobs listening to the local FM rock radio station and we heard “QOTR” play on there. We never thought that song would ever be on radio. We heard “QOTR” on the radio and I think we lost our mind. That song took off for us all over the world. Magazines and everything it’s such a special song and it’s so great that were able to bring some of those songs back that catapulted the band. I think it’s still a strong song today and we’re playing it in our live show and I think it has just as much power and passion as it did back in the early eighties.

RSC: Do you guys decide as a band what songs to play for the most part?

MW: Right. Obviously we have all our fan favorites. We listen to the fans, we know what the fans want. We think our fans are intelligent, smart. Out of necessity of what Todd knows, we just have to get some rehearsal time. There’s songs from Promised Land that we’re working on. It’s just a matter of getting them into the set at the right time and place. When we’re tight and able to play those songs we will. Who’s to say we may venture into Q2K and Tribe. We may venture past Promised Land. Right now its really about playing the classics and bringing them back to the fans because that’s what they really want to hear.

Special thanks to Jon Pebsworth from Century Media for setting up the interview!

About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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