Friday, December 7, 2012

An open letter to Queensryche

Yesterday I got an email from Ticketmaster with the listings of the concerts coming to town. As always, I began scrolling through the list to see if there is anything interesting. I did find something interesting, but there is no way in hell I will be attending.

There were a handful of listings for shows by Queensryche and then right beneath them a handful of listings of shows by Queensryche starring Geoff Tate. I must admit that I read about this rivalry a while back and found it hilarious, so confusion was not part of this. I did, however, begin to look around the web a bit to confirm that this is really happening.

Going back a bit, I must admit that I have seen Queensryche twice. Both times were incidental. The first was a Day on the Green show at the outdoor Oakland coliseum supporting Metallica.1 The two bands before them were Faith No More and Soundgarden and how Queensryche even fit on this bill is still a mystery to me. At the time they were riding the wave of Silent Lucidity, which many in the media were comparing to the work of Pink Floyd. Let me be as plain as I can about this.

I watched Pink Floyd (during the mediocre at best Learning to Fly period of the band) from roughly the same spot I watched Queensryche at Day on the Green, in the exact same outdoor arena. I actually think it was the Division Bell tour. Anything that this gutted version of Floyd did on those two albums looks like a masterpiece next to Silent Lucidity. I will even go as far as to say that those (so called) Pink Floyd records were garbage.

The second time I saw Queensryche was supporting Judas Priest at the Bone Bash concert at Shoreline Ampitheater in Mountain View, CA some years back. I was very disappointed that the drummer's cymbals weren't hanging from chains. The only song I recognized was Empire. I may be wrong, but it seems like I heard at the time that Mr. Tate was not "into" doing the crowd pleasers which everyone wants to hear. I could see this being true and we will be back to Mr. Tate momentarily.

I can honestly say that both times I saw them, I really tried to like Queensryche. The truth is that I couldn't wait for them to finish the set. I remember as a kid seeing the live in Japan video for Queen of the Reich on Night Flight and being fascinated at the Japanese headbangers dressed in leather and studs from head to toe that the camera would often cut too. Besides seeing the "Maiden Japan" record cover in Rainbow Records, I believe this was my first introduction to the fact that heavy music is beloved all over the world.

In the following few years we would often look past the blatant suckiness of a band when signs of technical prowess were displayed. High speed guitar solos from the androgynous axe slingers of bands like Extreme and Mr. Big would often be able to grab our attention through the murky waters of anthems about getting laid. To be fair, Queensryche was held in a higher esteem than those aforementioned groups. 

They were thought of as a musicians band that also appealed to the hair rock crowd. Along with Dream Theater, they were said to be cut from the same cloth as Rush (something I couldn't disagree with more). This being said, Queensryche and Dream Theater 2 are bands that I should like, and I have revisited the music of both wondering if age and maturity would somehow allow me to understand what this music is about. The ugly truth is that I don't last 30 seconds with the music of either band.

I will admit that I do like the song Gonna Get Close to You off of 1986's Rage for Order. I like it because it sounds like something that Bowie could have done, and its inappropriateness rivals only that of Winger's ode to statutory rape, 17. 3 From what I can tell this song is literally about stalking a girl and having an uncontrollable urge to harass her. I don't think that you could get away with this song this day in age where restraining orders are thrown out like cheap cigars at dudes who just can't let go. 

Now that I got all that out of my system, I can offer you guys a solution. 

Here are three simple steps to getting back your dignity, rebuilding your fan base, and returning the bitch slap to Geoff Tate.4

1. Lose the singer.

I don't mean the new singer, I mean lose vocals all together. It took quite a while to find the Tate-less Queensryche site and when I did I saw that you got a new singer and are still going to try and make this thing work. The new guy looks like he was sent down from central casting as the "heavy metal replacement singer".

At least the chains are a nice touch
Show the musicians crowd what you guys are capable of as musicians. Write a record that is odd, challenging and laced with virtuosity. Every time you are thinking of doing a straight 4/4 tune that caters to a high pitched melody, don't look the other way, turn the other way and run like your fucking life depends on it. 

The three of you will have those of us who could never get over the Geoff Tate hump (let's be real, he is the main reason why we could never like you) saying, "Your never gonna believe this but those dudes who used to be in Queensryche just made a record that I can't stop listening too". Stop playing casinos and start playing small clubs. As of right now, reading about the Brazil Melee and this unprecedented business of two versions of a band touring simultaneously has to be the most entertained I have ever been by you guys. 

2. Get rid of the leather and the rock hairstyles and wear some human being clothes. 

It seems like aging rockers always feel obligated to dress like they are bad extras from Sons of Anarchy. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret, that doesn't make you look cool. What you know what's cool? You know what look is ageless?


Part of the thing that makes a musicians band a musicians band is that they actually seem like human beings. Robert Fripp dresses like he is at a board meeting at Apple. Alex Lifeson dresses like he could be at my next BBQ. When you get dressed to go onstage and you take a good hard look in the mirror, if you can honestly say that you could go on the street and nobody would think you are trippin……break a leg.  

3. Most importantly, don't let Geoff Tate have Queensryche, let Geoff Tate be Queensryche. 

The truth of the matter is that his version of the band is playing the Fillmore and the other three guys are playing the casino circuit. It shouldn't be a revelation that nobody wants to hear Queensryche without Geoff Tate. He has you beat on having all the domain names, rolling out merch, and is obviously not going to ever let this go. 

Let Geoff Tate go down with the sinking ship that is Queensryche. Just let him have it. He's playing with Rudy Sarzo and Bobby Blotzer for fuck sake!!! 5 Holding on to this and fighting him is the worst thing you could do. Part of this is not addressing any questions about it either. You guys are now a hybrid neo-jazz progressive rock group that incorporates all those ideas and influences that you couldn't quite explore under the Queensryche moniker. There is no use in talking about the past at this point because you guys couldn't be more excited about what you're doing now.

Until he goes to his grave, Tate will be stuck writing songs about nuns getting involved in government conspiracies with dudes who look like they are second in command to Anton Lavey.  

I think that Tate is taking fashion advice from the ghost of Lavey himself these days.

By the way, what singer is "starring" in his band? Tate may be starting an amazing new trend with this. In fact, every time from now on that I am stuck watching a supporting act that has obviously held on for too long I'm going to see the singer as "starring" in the band. I could see conversations like this happening in rural areas of the country.

Hick 1: I took my girl to see Ratt last night
Hick 2: Who was the opening band?
Hick 1: Winger starring Kip Winger

You can go ahead and ignore me. In fact, most people will see how much I wrote about this and think that this is an insane amount of words for a band I don't even like. This, I cannot deny. If you do choose to ignore me, and make a new concept record that nobody understands, I wouldn't say you guys are beating a dead horse, you're more like using the dead horse as a sleeping bag (like Luke Skywalker did with that snow kangaroo). 

Let it go bro……let it go……….


1. At this Day on the Green show, my friends and I were camped out somewhere in the top of the back of the arena. I figured that's where I would stay and watch the show and that would have been the smart thing to do. When Metallica took the stage, somehow my youthful energy made me run down several flights of stairs on to the lawn and into the first mosh pit I could find. About ten seconds in, somebody who was at least twice my size flew through the air towards me and punched me as hard as he could in the balls before he hit the ground. When I managed to get up, big shirtless tattooed dudes on the perimeter of the pit pushed me back in and made me run around at least twice before I managed to escape. I blame this incident on the reason why I don't have kids and I officially retired from moshing that day.

2. A colleague of mine went to a Dream Theater show with somebody who liked the band and raved about it to him. He had never heard their music and thought it sounded like it would be amazing. He said that within one song he realized that he was going to be stuck watching this because of how stoked his friend was on it. He labeled the overall experience as "depressing".

3. Another song that belongs on the inappropriate hit list is Uncle Tom's Cabin by Warrant. This song makes no sense and is polarizing to say the least.

4. By saying "return the bitch slap to Geoff Tate" I absolutely mean that you are currently being bitch slapped by him.

5. Is there an unemployment line for washed up heavy metal dudes? I would love to see it if there is. I could imagine a bunch of chairs filled with dudes like Tommy Aldridge, John Sykes, Frankie Benalli, Vinnie Vincent 6, Robin McCauley, and Taime Down all sitting holding their number tickets waiting to see where they are going to be assigned as Don Dokken is at the window being told that there is an opening with Kix. 

6. Yes I did!!! I made a footnote of a footnote!! When I was at Napster I would get all the legal documents that were happening with the company. I think this is something that maybe happens by law when a company is having it's balls sued off. There was this long list of plaintiffs that was pretty interesting to look over. Many of them were folks that were never famous trying to make a buck and I believe that there were even a few church groups on there. I remember running across the Vinnie Vincent Invasion on the list. 

Queensryche it could be worse………you could be Vinnie Vincent.

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