Former QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate was interviewed on the latest episode of the "Shockwaves/HardRadio" podcast, hosted by Bob Nalbandian. You can now listen to the entire chat at this location. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the decline of the music industry as consumers value access over ownership and experiences over assets:
Geoff: "If the situation that happens to the record industry happens to the auto industry, the scenario would be that the government would step in and subsidize the industry until it got itself on its feet. But that didn't happen with the record-company situation.
"When people in the '90s started downloading music for free and filesharing, it took the money and the economy out of the record industry. And instead of fighting back, the record industry just shrugged their shoulders and said, 'Sorry. Nothing we can do. Well, maybe somebody will come up with a good idea.' And so we all sat around and waited for somebody with an idea that would save our income. But, honestly, as artists, we lost 85 percent of our income — 85 percent! That's pretty tragic. Now, of course, you have the imbeciles on the one side of the argument who say, 'Oh, well, those spoiled rock stars, they make too much money anyway.' And well, that's true — people that are successful make money. It's the American way. Let's not forget why we're here — it's capitalism at play. People have the right to make money, and you shouldn't persecute them or crucify them because they're successful; that's just asinine. But the whole thing just unraveled, and now it's a laugh.
"The record industry is a real joke, because they can't do anything — they really cannot do anything, 'cause they don't have any money. They don't make any money, so they can't spend any money. We used to be signed to EMI Records, one of the biggest record companies in the world. They had thousands and thousands of employees making money, having pension plans, providing food for their families, and it's all gone — all gone! That part of the industry — gone! And it's like that everywhere. So… c'est la vie! Those were good old days. [Laughs"
On the importance of branding for artists:
"Well, that's a really interesting subject. It's really interesting for me, because it's definitely something that I had never thought about before — until the situation with QUEENSRŸCHE came about, when we were trying to establish who was QUEENSRŸCHE or what the name was worth and all that kind of thing. And it was evident to all of us that the name was everything — the name was the only value that we had.
"I remember when I was trying to go out and do what I do live [as a solo artist], the promoters, who I had worked with for years, were saying, 'I'm having a really hard time selling you, letting people know that you're out playing, because nobody knows your name. They just know QUEENSRŸCHE; they don't know your name, Geoff Tate.' So it was really strange to think about that.
"Like I said earlier, I had spent 30 years signing everything I did 'QUEENSRŸCHE'; I didn't sign it 'Geoff Tate'; I didn't make my name known — even though I did so much of the interview kind of things and I guess I was sort of the face of the band for a long period of time. But people really recognize the name [of the band] rather than [individual] artists [within the group] — unless you're a solo artist and you've always done that. So I'm kind of, in a sense, having to reinvent myself, at my age now, letting people know that I'm me [laughs], and I'm gonna be playing at a theater near you. And it's funny, when I say, 'Okay, I'm gonna be on tour.' And they go, 'Oh, really? Well, what music are you gonna play?' [I go], 'I'm gonna play my music.' 'You're gonna play QUEENSRŸCHE music?' I go, 'Well… yeah!' It's strange. I can't understand how they even see it any different, but they do.
"You're talking about branding and things like that being so important nowadays… We've seen the rise of the tribute band right now, and it's staggering to me that these tribute bands go out and they tour around the country — around the world in some cases — and they're doing multiple nights at venues, and they're doing great, while the original band doesn't. [Laughs] And that just seems bizarre to me — that a tribute band can have more success than the original band. And I was thinking to myself, well, now that Scott Rockenfield isn't playing in QUEENSRŸCHE and I'm not in QUEENSRŸCHE and Chris DeGarmo is not in QUEENSRŸCHE anymore, that just leaves two original players [in the current band]. So I thought, hey, why don't we all get together as a tribute to QUEENSRŸCHE? [Laughs] And maybe we'd sell more tickets. [Laughs]"
In April 2014, Tate and QUEENSRŸCHE announced that a settlement had been reached after a nearly two-year legal battle where the singer sued over the rights to the QUEENSRŸCHE name after being fired in 2012. Original QUEENSRŸCHE members Michael Wilton (guitar), Scott Rockenfield (drums) and Eddie Jackson (bass) responded with a countersuit. The settlement included an agreement that Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson would continue as QUEENSRŸCHE, while Tate would have the sole right to perform the albums "Operation: Mindcrime" and "Operation: Mindcrime II" in their entirety live.
Tate has since been replaced in QUEENSRŸCHE by former CRIMSON GLORY singer Todd La Torre.
Rockenfield hasn't performed with QUEENSRŸCHE for more than a year but has not officially left the band.