Queensryche – Across The Ocean


Queensryche! It has been a while between tours for this progressive metal band know as Queensryche from Washington. Get on board fans because Queensryche is at its best playing awesome shows all over the world topped off with their relatively new album Condition Human making for plenty of good times. Michael Wilton from the band spoke to Across The Ocean in detail about the latest goings on for the band including some background to the resurgence and rebuilding the band name.


How is the tour going so far?

It has been amazing, we have been out since January promoting Condition Human and we’re getting ready to take off on the next tangent of the tour starting at the M3 Festival and then a run with the Scorpions then on our own. Everything is booked for the rest of the year.

It’s great that Queensryche are returning to Australia, it seems long overdue?

Oh yeah! Every show is a rebuild, we are rebuilding the name and getting out there instead of playing tiny clubs all the time, playing big festivals and travelling the world bringing Queens right back with a big vigor and energy that is really grabbing people and gaining tons of new young fans as well.

Rebuilding? Is the band at a good place now given the external issues have been resolved?

Even though we have been around for thirty years and there’s some new blood and new energy in the Queensryche name right now it is very exciting. Everyone is very much involved and everybody is back on the page trying to be as innovative as we can to keep the name going and we’ve put out two records with this line up, which we’re rebuilding.

Did you honestly think at this stage in your career the band would be doing a Pledge Music campaign?

That wouldn’t happen in the eighties or nineties, this is something new that has happened and obviously the whole construction of these things is based on artists doing projects, music or whatever is and not getting big companies to invest rather the artist doing it themselves. What better way to fund something when you get your fans doing it rather than some fancy banker in a suit. For us it was something new and something we hadn’t done before. In actuality it was quite a lot of work and since then we have closed it. It was a big resounding success, so that was obviously a great thing and we learned a lot from it, what to do, what not to do and what we would do if we did it again next time.

Were you surprised by the response?

Yeah, it was one thing jumping in to something like this is a big question mark. It is like do our fans even know what this is. Obviously we have been around a while and our fans are from the past where this platform did not exist. I think it is something that may get a little burned out like everything does. To pull one of these things off it was great, it helped us rebuild our touring production and that being said was a success for us.

Do you think you would do it again?

Um, the possibility is there, we built a good relationship with the people who owned it but I think when there is no more budget for videos or if you want to do a movie it is a good option to have. It just depends on where you want to go and what you want to do.

Have you been happy with the reviews for Condition Human? The reviews are glowing everywhere from the music industry and most importantly the fans…

First, we’re just evolving with each album and Condition Human just shot out and is critically acclaimed. It broke a lot of doors down for us which is great, charting in countries which we hadn’t since the mid-nineties, countries that have forgotten about the band and reopened the doors. From that aspect we love it. The album is doing really good, all the reviews coming in are very positive. You can’t complain about that in this day and age. Like I said its one show at a time and one record at a time. You can’t just rest on your legacy, you have to keep pushing the boundaries and keep being as innovative as you can but not losing track of where you came from.

Second, the record industry is a big enigma! That’s a loaded question! What’s left of it, what it is obviously is human nature. As time goes on systems are going to evolve and change and technology has a big hand in that. What can you say? I’ll play my albums, cool but I won’t shop it at big supermarket chains, and I’ll go to the little guys and support them. It is all about adapting and trying to stay relevant because who knows, I’ve been in situations where the record company has been sold, in fact this one has been sold and you don’t know.

There is a lot of uncertainty and where is it all going. Streaming, where is the art in that? Where’s the tangible device that is in your hand that you’re listening to and looking at the album cover and what is inside. To me that gets ingrained in to the soul and that’s my entertainment not just streaming background noise. You’ve got to flip it, you’re on one side of the fence then the other. Wow! You’re getting promotion and people are hearing it, that’s great, but streaming I get one fifth of a penny. Forget it! Three hundred thousand plays and I can go buy myself a Starbucks Coffee.

It sounds frustrating with no end in sight or providing certainty for artists?

We love what we do and we’re very passionate and with this rendition of the band we listen to the fans. You can’t just please your inner creative juices without that in to consideration. It’s kind of being in touch rather than being sequestered in your little den writing music that no one can hear until the one day you give it to the world and the world has moved on from where you thought they were. Then you sudden go, oh wow am I still relevant?

How do you think the Queensryche name has changed particularly when you talk about the resurgence and rebuilding the band?

The change is that it is coming from whistling in the grave yard today. We’re making contacts all over the world, touring again, bringing in new fans, selling CD’s, making a living, which is going positive in the right direction. I don’t think you can complain about that. When you’re doing something that you love to do and you have an opportunity and you have the ambition… you just do it! We’re fortunate that we have been around for a while and have our feet well planted in to the ground and have the support of the fans. Again, it is treading through the years in building fans and maintaining fans. Like I said the last four years doing this we’ve seen a real change in our audience. We’re getting all types of people we didn’t see for a couple of decades.

The fans that we lost some way down the path, like after Promised Land or Here In The Now Frontier. They are curious now and going wow, you guys are on fire. That is all good, for us we get hit that every day. Every show we get ‘I stopped listening to you after Mind Crime’ or ‘I couldn’t listen to you after you did Empire’ or ‘did you guys ever put out any more albums’? Well yeah, we did, we’re just proud you came out to see us. Obviously I can see by your hair colour changing that you’re a long time fan. Seeing the receding hairlines but you know what it’s all good and there’s so many tangible ways that are fragmented as far as ways of marketing and promoting the band. Back in the eighties you did some interviews and got in some real print magazines and everyone knew that.

There was only like twenty TV channels and now it is so fragmented you need people to be searching what is going on the internet. So, it is a challenge for bands but we have the opportunity and the fans are coming out to see Queensryche right now and are really enjoying themselves. You have to whether through this and technology is at a standstill right now and kind of hovering going to the big next trend. Who knows where we will be on this next evolution of technology. It is going to happen, it is inevitable. It is just a chaotic way of life that you can’t control or explain. The record companies are going to morph in to something, who knows?

What do you put it down to in keeping the band together for so long?

The element of Queensryche is you have to relate, there has to be a bond and a chemistry. Once everyone in the band realizes the source of power that is going to get things done then there is this push and pull that happens. It’s a push and pull that creates and causes you to get out your creative box and push yourself to be as innovative as much as you can, everyone is doing that. Now, it’s just not on one person, it’s on everybody creating that. Therein lies the underlying secret, it is have five guys that can hang together and write music together. It is like five brothers, not everyone thinks the same way all the time, there is lots of input, everyone has different influences but you know what?

Everyone is respected and everything is, sometimes it can be like a jig saw puzzle and putting things together, trying to organize songs and getting things finished. There’ obviously an art but first and foremost you need the base and the foundation. I think you need a concrete solid foundation and obviously everyone has to get along, we get along as friends, we not super doper close friends, we’re friends as well as musicians and business people. I think there is a little bit of luck with all the idiosyncrasies of everyone’s personalities can work together. That’s something that can be challenging, it’s a lot of give and take and getting things done… that’s what we do!

Is it tough working out the set list night to night and is the Australian tour going to focus mostly on Condition Human?

We know what the most popular songs are, we know the songs everyone wants to hear and it’s a matter of fitting them in to ninety minutes or whatever we have to play. Sometimes we play festivals and we’re not top of the bill so we’ll play fifty minutes, it’s oh my gosh that’s like eight Queensryche songs. It is very challenging trying to put something together that flows, the keys of the songs work together and a lot of it is the people wanting to hear the songs they grew up listening to, you have to have that.

Then it is putting in your new songs but it has to be well balanced playing some of the standards because the venues you play want you to play those songs and then it’s whatever is the flavor of the day I guess or the flavor of the tour. We started out and we did a return to history concentrating on The Warning, Rage and Mindcrime. The band toured on that for two and a half years and now this is the Condition Human tour. We’re trying to bring songs from every album and we have a great set list going right now, we get lots of comments with people going wow great songs. It is no easy task because every time you want to add a new song you got to one song out, what’s that song going to be? Whatever it is it will blow your mind!

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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