Jimmy Kay from Canada's The Metal Voice spoke to Queensryche's frontman Todd LaTorre about the new albums The Verdict's musical direction, lyrical themes, artwork, Scott Rockenfield's place in the band and guesting on Michael Sweet's new solo album
When asked what the musical direction is like on the new album The Verdict
“I like the flow of this album more than the last one and don't get me wrong I love the last one but this one is a heavier, it's pretty dark and you know it's got more up-tempo. I think it's a really good balance of some faster paced and mid-tempo songs plus there's some slow stuff. I think there is a really good balance on this one I think we did a better job in that aspect. The song Portrait to me sounds like it could have been off of Empire or Promised Land and then yeah you know you got you've got a couple of other tunes that maybe could have been off like Rage for Order or Mindcrime.”
When asked who wrote the songs on the new album
"We all did, as an example Eddie Eddie Jackson wrote the song Light Years and Propaganda Fashion all the music all the lyrics all the melodies. Parker wrote Dark Reverie all the music all the lyrics and then we all added our own inflections. Then a song like Portrait, that was something that Eddie and I wrote. I even did the guitar solo and the outro slide solo. What happened was I wrote a solo just to shape the song nothing more but just to be like okay this is where the solo is and he thought it was great and we just a re-amped the direct signal from that. Everybody in the band just crossed into everybody else's world and that was the beauty of this record. I don't have to be the guy that writes every lyric and every melody and I'm not. There's three songs on the album that I had nothing to do with. Everyone chipped in and we were able to do this as a real band team effort and that was really satisfying and maybe that's why this sounds a little different from the last albums.”
When asked about the lyrical themes off this album
"Propaganda Fashion, It’s pretty self-evident in the title, that one is just about all of the propaganda and the power and the control that corporations and certain people have over the media airwaves and substantial thing. The record overall theme, the dominant common thread in a lot of these songs not all of them, is it deals with social and justices and uncomfortable topics. We're not talking about any person or any conservative or liberal leanings. So the theme of this record overall is just very geopolitical socio-political in the Queensryche fashion. There's a couple of songs though that are more personal like grieving and loss."
When asked why the album was called The Verdict
"On the artwork you see this rock coming up out of the water, the waters really ferocious and the sky is in turmoil and then you have this cloaked figure. He is kind of like the medium between let's say the universe and this scale of Justice. The scale is a little bit uneven. So I guess the easiest way I can answer this is that the Tri Ryche is being energized by the earth and what this figure would represent morality and the subjectiveness of morality and so what kind of verdict would be rendered on humanity's behavior? Toward each other? Toward the planet? And so you don't really get the answer. The strange cloaked figure is getting ready to witness the verdict. When we were talking with management I was explaining this new concept for the artwork before it got developed and I said this guy is ready to witness the verdict and management goes that’s the title of the album show be. And I go what do you mean? He said THE VERDICT and I was like oh shit I never thought of that that's good one. It works you know, it's simple its powerful, like The Warning, Empire."
When asked about Scott Rockenfiled not participating on the new album
"I'm gonna have to give you a back story. Scott had a baby February of 2017 everyone's happy for him and he wanted to take paternity leave and we totally supported that. Then after about six months we're kind of saying hey how's it going hope everything's well, when do you think that you might be coming back? We never really got a definitive answer. So at some point management told us that he wanted to take the rest of the year off and then it was like okay well what about January of 2018? And I was told from management that you know there was no confirmation on that yet. So Casey has been filling in with us the whole time which was only supposed to be a very temporary thing. Honestly dude I don't know anything beyond that I mean I don't talk to Scott I haven't talked to him in over a year and a half so I don't know what he's doing I don't know what he's up to I don't know if she wants to come back as he never wants to do it again. I have no idea and he hasn't made any of that known to my knowledge to any of us and so when people ask is he is he coming back at the end event have no idea. We just we don't know anything and we can't give an answer so let me get back to more of your point so that's kind of where it is right now. It's also important that you know people know that I when I joined this band and we were writing songs for the even the first record some of the guys would send me some songs and I would call Scott and say hey you know they sent me some tunes to put drums on is this ok? I don't want to step on your toes and or anything he said no no no it's totally fine whatever keeps the process moving forward I was like okay cool. So I would I ended up doing a lot of drumming on demos just to keep the songwriting going and shape the songs and I did that on Condition Human. So fast forward to this record and Scott is basically off the grid family mode and he wasn't involved in the writing process at all. So of course I did all the drums on all these songs and when it came time to record we were hopeful that he would at least do the record like okay you weren't part of the writing but here's here's the songs and you know the door has always been open. But we weren't getting confirmation about anything and so it reached a certain point where it was a few weeks before we had to enter the studio that was booked and flights were booked and there was still no confirmation. So finally you know in a nutshell he basically gave the band his blessing to record without him."
When asked about him guesting on Michael Sweet’s upcoming solo album
"Sweet called me and said hey would you be interested in singing on my record I think I've got a song that would be great if you wanna to do a duet back and forth. I was like fuck yeah dude are you kidding he knows I am a full blown atheist and he's the total opposite but you know what's cool is like I don't try to convince him to see things my way he doesn't try to either. It's funny because people say well I respect your beliefs if you respect mine and I would say well that's not true I don't respect your beliefs but I respect your right to believe what you want so long as it isn't infringing on anyone else and I don't care what anyone believes. I don't push it on anyone if somebody wants to have a conversation I'll engage on it but I really respect other people's right to believe anything and everything as long as it doesn't hurt other people and that's really how I feel. Michael is like one of my heroes growing up yeah and we've become good friends. You know I've got to perform on stage with him with drums and singing and like that was just so cool."
QUEENSRŸCHE album, "The Verdict", due on March 1, 2019 via Century Media Records, the disc was produced, mixed, and mastered by Chris "Zeuss" Harris (ROB ZOMBIE, ICED EARTH, HATEBREED) at Uberbeatz in Lynwood, Washington; Planet-Z in Wilbraham,Massachusetts; and Watershed Studio in Seattle, Washington.
2CD edition tracklisting:
"Blood Of The Levant"
"Man The Machine"
"Inside Out "
"Launder The Conscience"
"I Dream In Infrared" (Acoustic)
"Open Road" (Acoustic)
"Queen Of The Reich" (live) (Live 2012)
"En Force" (live) (Live 2012)
"Prophecy" (live) (Live 2012)
"Eyes Of A Stranger" (Live 2012)
"Man The Machine" lyric video:
Flotsam and Jetsam Interview- The End of Chaos & Live Album NAMM 2019
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