Geoff Tate Speaks Out About Being Fired From Queensrÿche
"We're in a lawsuit right now and it's probably gonna get ugly"
You can’t go a week these days without hearing more details surrounding the highly acrimonious split between Queensrÿche and singer Geoff Tate, and the latest salvo has been thrown by the recently fired frontman. In a revealing interview with Rolling Stone, which was published yesterday, Tate touched on the circumstances surrounding his firing, the much talked about incident in Brazil, and a potentially very ugly legal dispute:
How about musically? Were you guys seeing eye-to-eye on the sound of the band at this point?
Well, this is kind of a weird situation too. In the press release they said there were "creative differences." But to have creative differences, you have to have two entities or more offering up creative ideas. And that just wasn't the case. Queensrÿche has always been my idea, starting from the first record. Queensrÿche is about albums. It's about concepts and themes, and those concepts were mine. [Laughs] I started out with The Warning, bringing those ideas in for Rage for Order, Operation: Mindcrime . . . all the albums. I write 81% of the music and the lyrics. Of the 144 songs that Queensrÿche has released, I've written 116 of those.
I am the creative energy in the band, especially since Chris [DeGarmo, guitarist] left. When he was in the band it was more of a shared thing between him and I. But once he left, the burden was on me. I don't consider it necessarily a burden. That's what I do. I'm a creative person. I write everyday and I'm constantly coming up with creative ideas. I present them to the other guys and they go, "Yeah, sure, that sounds good to us."
I've read lots of accounts about what happened in Brazil in April. The story on the Internet goes that you overheard them plotting to fire you and then you pushed Michael to the floor and pointed a knife at Scott. What actually happened?
Well, you know how the Internet goes . . . The way it went was, we had a gig in Sao Paolo, and before the show we had a meeting in the dressing room. I asked them straight up about the rumors I'd heard about them replacing me. I was definitely concerned about this. What kind of plan was that? Was it serious? What was going on? They said that they weren't planning on replacing me, but they had just fired our manager, our office assistant and one of our guitar techs, who all happened to be my family members.
I asked them, "Why is this happening?" They really couldn't give me a straight answer, or any kind of answer that made any kind of business sense. It seemed like a personal vendetta against me. Anyway, the meeting was short and we went to do the show. I'm getting ready by my station, ready to go on stage, and Scott [Rockenfield] looks at me and he smirks and says, "We just fired your whole family, and you're next." I just lost it. I tried to punch him. I don't think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side. On my way, I managed to shove [Michael] Wilton, and really, that was it. I cooled down and we did the show, and everything went fine.
Do you know why they decided to push you out of the band?
Well, I think it's economically driven, mostly. I'm a 25 percent holder in our companies. I think it's just business in their minds. Cut me out and then split 25 percent and hire some young guy that's gonna work for a weekly wage so they make more money. It's just ridiculous.
How did they actually tell you that you were fired?
By a legal letter from their attorney to mine.
In your estimation, do they have the legal right to fire you and carry on as Queensrÿche?
No. They don't.
What's gonna happen now?
Well, we're in a lawsuit right now and it's probably gonna get ugly. I filed a claim a couple of days ago. So it's all going to the legal system now to sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff.
Geoff Tate has also announced a new multi-album deal with InsideOut Music, with a new solo album slated for release this fall.