Geoff Tate, February 13, 2005

 

Written & Photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Geoff Tate, the almost unbelievably soft-spoken, orchestral singer for Queensryche took some time out to talk to musicohio about future of Mindcrime. What started as a project that would either make or break the band in the 1980s has become the staple of what the fan base wants to know about. The concept album came out in 1988 and fans to this day try to figure out the storyline, plot and life of the characters in the story. Almost 20 years later, the continued success of Mindcrime has led the singer taking a new path, as he is working on the screenplay for Operation: Mindcrime, and taken the band down the old road again, as they are recording and looking to release the sequel to Mindcrime later this year. Here is what the wordsmith had to say about the project.

How did the band decide to continue the story of Operation: Mindcrime?
Well, a couple of things really. I had begun working on a screenplay for Mindcrime and in doing so, taking notes, reorganizing everything and looking at it in a lot more detail, I kind of realized that there were a lot of holes in the story or just vague areas that haven’t really been explored, which is fine for an audio record but for a screenplay it needs a lot more detail so I began taking notes and making side notes here and there and the notes turned into a paragraph and the paragraph turned into lyrics and the next thing I know I had an outline for the continuation of the story. I brought it to the guys and said I’m kinda of interested in exploring this again what do you think? Everybody was kind of into it which is always a good sign when everyone jumps on and before you know it we vibing together and here we are now.

When you first wrote Mindcrime, did you think there would be a second part?
Well really, when we wrote the record Mindcrime, it was kinda of a done deal in my mind at that point. But we had left the storyline open in the end, so it left us with going in and opening it up the story again. But I really haven’t thought about it for a lot of years. We get a lot of fan requests and people asking questions about the story like what happened to this character? Why does this happen? So hopefully this story, the continuation, will answer a lot of questions.

 

Going back to the screenplay that you are writing, was this the first time you were approached about the project or have there been other movie offers in the works?
Yeah, over the years we were approached by several different companies, individuals also, to make Mindcrime into a movie. The latest approach suggested was to do a screenplay for this and asked me what I thought about writing it myself. So, I was like, “I’ve never done anything like that before,” but I would like to give it a shot.

And how is the screenplay coming along?
It’s going good. It’s a slow kind of process working with Hollywood types and that whole industry is quite different from the music industry. They go through these different kind of steps and levels so we’re at the meeting level now, we have a meeting in Chicago next week or this week actually. We’ll see if it goes any further.

 

It’s amazing that really, the story is just as prevelant now as it was when you wrote it.
It’s kind of a classic story of growing up, sort of becoming a man, and rose colored glasses coming off from childhood looking around and realizing that it’s not a black and white world, it’s very gray and the rules are all up for interpretation. The powerful people in the world follow their own rule book, they just do what they want. It’s quite an eye opener for a kid. So I think it’s a classic story that can be told. Ironically, I think it fits nicely in our present time cause it has a similarity to sort of America in the 80's, it was a very conservative era politically and there were a lot of changes afoot of people trying to , well basically the conservative agenda you know taking away people’s rights, making things squeaky clean and the plea of mercy and record rating and a bunch of issues that were random at that time that kind of reared their head again and its just ironic to me of the history that repeats itself in a lot of ways but anyway getting back to the story it fits nicely to today’s America. It’s a story about a young terrorist.

 

Almost sounds like you could run for public office, but at the same time, you have been able to talk about issues but not be a political figure.
No, I’m not a political person. Politics is to me a series of compromises satisfying your constituents that got you into the position your in. I’m more interested in social development and social history and how we move as a country, what changes we embrace and what ones we don’t and how we take charge of our destiny to me is much more interesting. Talking heads on the TV talking their side of a particular issue when really if you break it down; it really just benefits a small group. So to me it’s kind of like a worthless endeavor, slow baby steps, so I don’t really consider myself a political person.

Has there been a rejuvenation in the band as you get your arms around Mindcrime 2?
It’s at different levels for different people. I can only speak for myself. I don’t like speaking for the other guys because they are their own people but for me, I love making music. I’m a musician. I’ve done this all my life and I love working on projects, brainstorming and other things. When you get an idea to go with something working with a band is sometimes a difficult thing because your trying to get everyone on your page and to get everyone excited about what your vision is. Sometimes you can get everyone on the page and sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you can get half the people and sometimes a quarter of the people. You just never really know. Everyone is moving in their own lives, their own sphere of interests and difficulties, their own personal issues or family issues and we’re all different ages to so we’re all experiencing things at different times. It’s really difficult to get everybody 100% clued into what your doing. And then, of course, you got varying degrees of intelligence and scope; how people accept information, where they take it and how much they can take and so on. Getting a project for a band that everybody is going to be fueled and excited in the same way I think, is nearly an impossibility. When we first did the Mindcrime record, it took me probably six months to talk everyone into the idea. Nobody was really interested in doing it. I just pushed and pushed and became a real pain in everybody’s ass and pretty soon, six months had gone by, and there was some interest from Chris (DeGarma). He got involved a little bit more and then once he got involved more he was able to get Michael (Wilton) involved. And you know, those guys were really slow in accepting the idea. But it was like, “Lets see what we can do with it.” And thus they take more of a backseat role in the creation of it, which is fine, because every band can’t have all alpha personalities or all leaders, there’s got to be followers, too. So, where we are right now? We are 40-year-old men who have played a lot of music in our lives. We have toured around the world. We play like 26 different countries every year. We love playing music and love doing what we do. We’re very used to it and we try to get everybody on the same page and excited about what’s going on to the best of our abilities. And so far, I’d say, there’s general excitement in the band about making this record. There’s been a lot of work already done on it. We’re about halfway done recording and planning to have it all finished up by spring and into the record companies hands by that time. Hopefully, it will be released in the fall.