Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE singer Todd La Torre and guitarist Michael Wilton. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal-Rules.com: As you say, you are still in the reconstruction of the band, but which is more important: try to make a good record, played on the radio, or try to do as much touring as possible?
Wilton: It's both, really. We've gotten some advice from management and they basically said, "Don't try and write for radio. Just write a killer album. Just whatever comes out, make it kick-ass. Make it a bad-ass QUEENSRŸCHE record and don't worry about radio."
La Torre: There is already an established fan base, a million-plus. So, if we write music that feels genuine to us, keeping in mind those elements that the real fans are eager to hear, to us, that's a winning combination. If we can get something that's a little more commercial picked up on radio, that's a bonus. But as you know, all of the bands rely on touring, selling their merchandise. So, the strategy, going back to what Michael was saying earlier with why are we touring extensively this year compared to how we will in the next two years, is a lot of that strategy is playing in relation to when the new album will come out, playing different markets at the right time, better time slots. It's a business also, so we have to be very mindful of, do we play this market? Do we play this show? But maybe if we wait six months, we can play a better place, a better time slot, [get] bigger exposure. What makes more sense? So, we are not desperate to just go play any show.
Wilton: I think it's also that kind of a recipe for disaster for a lot of bands, because when you are relying just on touring, you are hitting the same markets every time. And it's called "burnout." You just overplay and you don't move anywhere. Your value lessens because you are seen too much.
Metal-Rules.com: Many older bands have become a nostalgia act as they just play the same songs year after year with the same show.
Wilton: We don't want to become known as a nostalgia act. Obviously, we are making new music, we are doing new CDs whereas those types of bands are just playing their hits from the past. And so, for us it's one show at a time. We have a lot of work to rebuild all around the world, to get the excitement factor, the energy back and just the quality of musicianship up to the level that we feel really excited about.
Metal-Rules.com: You have already been demoing the new stuff for the next album and some vocals have already been done. So, at this stage would you describe to us the material compared to the previous one?
La Torre: Obviously the material does change, sometimes quite significantly from the demo to what you hear on the album. So, it might be a little premature for us to tell you what it sounds like. I can tell you that a couple of the songs that we've worked have progressive elements, almost "Operation: Mindcrime" era or a little later. But they don't sound dated. The most important thing that we focus on first is melody. I mean, for Michael too, but for all of us, melody is the most important aspect, and there are a lot of bands that are great instrumentalists but not great songwriters. And to me, personally, a great song has you singing that melody. No matter if it's heavy or light, a good melody always wins. So, that's our main focus, especially when Michael writes something, "Hey, this is great." It can have a heaviness to it, by the time I get it, I'll say, "Hey! Check this melody out." It might soften it up a bit. So, how can I make it a little more aggressive? How do I sing it? How do I phrase it? What are the lyrics that are being told? So, it's a marriage between the two.
Wilton: But I think there is a balance. True, we write for the song, but it's also bringing back the element of musicianship. Making the songs interesting to listen to, for people, for musicians as well. Not in the sense like DREAM THEATER I think, but it's more… The old albums that we used to do, Chris [DeGarmo, former guitarist] and I used to intertwine guitar parts that almost were songs in themselves. And trying to bring that back, make the parts, everything interesting. That when you go back and you listen to it, you hear something different every time you hear it. I think that's kind of where a lot of the fans want us to go on a lot… It's like we always strive for that. It's like, you don't want to write something and listen to it once and then put it aside, just work on the next one. Hopefully you want to listen to it a few times and pick out everything in it.
Read the entire interview at Metal-Rules.com.