Source: Queensryche Facebook page
Interviewed by Eamon O’Neill
It’s been a turbulent few years in the Queensrÿche camp. With the well-publicised split with original vocalist Geoff Tate and the bitter fallout that followed now behind them, the Seattle band are entering a new chapter in their three-decade career. Supporting the release of acclaimed new album ‘Condition Hüman’ – their second with vocalist Todd La Torre – the five-piece have hit the road in the USA with The Scorpions for a run of sold-out dates in some of the country’s biggest arenas. We caught up with bassist Eddie Jackson in Rosemont, Illinois to discuss the new album, the highs and lows of Queensrÿche history, and the band’s plans for 2016. Walking the thin line: Eamon O’Neill.
MGM: How are you today?
Eddie: I am doing fine, I’m doing well.
MGM: You’re out on tour with The Scorpions. How has that been?
Eddie: It’s been an honour. Queensrÿche has been big fans of the Scorpions from way back. When Queensrÿche started I remember seeing The Scorpions, Iron Maiden and Girlschool in Seattle before we were ever really going, so we’ve been fortunate to be asked to tour with these guys. It’s been a lot of fun.
MGM: The tour is a great package for fans.
Eddie: Absolutely, I mean of you’re a Queensrÿche and Scorpions fan; you’re definitely going to get your money’s worth.
MGM: ‘Condition Hüman’ is released on October 2nd. Are you excited to get it out?
Eddie: Oh absolutely. We started recording the album at the beginning of the year, and we were also touring in and out of town while we were recording it. But we finally completed it, mixed and mastered it. We’re very proud of it and can’t wait for the release.
MGM: 2013’s self-titled release was a definite statement, with the band trying to get back to the sound of your first five albums.
Eddie: Well, Michael [WiL.Ton, guitarist], Scotty [Rockenfield, drummer] and I have been in the band since the inception of Queensrÿche, so I think musically and stylistically it’s part of our DNA. What you hear on that self-titled album is three fifths of the original line-up, so that’s where you’re going to get that sort of ‘staple’ sound – the original Queensrÿche sound. And with the addition of our new singer L.T [Todd La Torre], he really kind of created a spark within the Queensrÿche sound, vocally speaking. It just all came to fruition, and we’re very proud of that album as well.
MGM: You mentioned new singer Todd La Torre. Would you say that the singer’s job in Queensrÿche is probably the toughest to do?
Eddie: It can be. There’s a lot of dynamics in regards to Queensrÿche music, especially in regards to the singer. But you know, we were very fortunate to find L.T, and for him to be able to sing and create that sound that Queensrÿche has had, vocally. It’s nice to know that it still has that Queensrÿche sound, but yet he has his own style as well. There’s elements where he’s going to sound like our old singer, and you sometimes you get journalists saying; “you know, your new singer sounds a lot like Geoff [Tate]. You would think that he would want to come up with his own style”, and I go; well, that’s how he sings! That’s his natural voice, and I think it’s a benefit having that sort of singer because that’s part of the Queensrÿche sound.
MGM: The massive transition of the band in recent years been reflected in the crowd-funding campaign for ‘Condition Hüman’ which you’ve called ‘Building Empires’. Has the new start been daunting at all?
Eddie: Well, first of all, it really wasn’t crowd-funding. PledgeMusic is a way that bands can engage with fans and fans can engage with bands. Crowd-funding is not what we were involved with because we were with the record label – we’re tied in with Century Media Records, and the record company is taking care of the album and any expenses. PledgeMusic for us was ways to reach out to fans, whether buying the CD in advance and getting some extra perks along with it, like a golf day with Queensrÿche or to be in the studio with Queensrÿche. Those are the sort of things that we came up to be able to engage with the fans, as well as them engage with the band.
MGM: It also helped with the marketing too; a lot of people were talking about the $50,000 investment opportunity in Queensrÿche LLC which was one of the PledgeMusic options.
Eddie: With that, along with what I was saying, it’s just ways to continue to do business, but also engaging with the fans as well.
MGM: I wanted to ask you about your memories from the ‘Empire’ period when the band was its most commercially successful. Those must have been crazy days.
Eddie: Yeah, that was a moment that I personally feel was very memorable. It was our first major tour, and in conjunction with performing ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ in its entirety, it just all worked out. That to me is probably out most memorable tour.
MGM: With a number one charting single, did you experience a little bit of ‘Beatlemania’?
Eddie: There were moments when you’d get a little more recognised, but all in all, I think we’d been in the business long enough before that ever happened that we kind of had a feel for what this business was about. So once ‘Empire’ was released and we started to really sell a lot of units, we just kind of went with the flow.
MGM: You must have known when you finished recording ‘Empire’ that it was going to be a big album.
Eddie: Well, the thing is, it’s very unpredictable. We have no control over what happens once you release a new album. But this one just so happened to click, and yeah, there’s a lot of good songs on that album, and the trajectory of our career just sort of went up and up and up.
MGM: A few years later, the band hit some tough times when your label collapsed following he release of ‘Here In The Now Frontier’. Was that a tough time for the band?
Eddie: Well, this is an interesting business. It’s a tough business to be in; there are highs and lows, there’s adversity, and there are satisfying moments where you go; “wow, this is awesome”. But you never expect it, because you’re focused on other things – you’re focused on touring, you’re focused on writing and recording – and when stuff like that happens, it can be a bit frustrating and a bit scary at times, because then you’re wondering; ‘okay, now what’s going on? Where is this band really going from here?’ So, we’ve dealt with a lot of adversity, and I think we’ve persevered and we’re just moving forward doing out thing, and still doing it.
MGM: Guitarist Chris DeGarmo left at the end of that cycle. Was there point where you thought the band might be finished?
Eddie: Personally speaking, I don’t really think I thought that way. I did think about, if we are going to continue with the band, how long was that going to take? But for the most part, we all knew that this is what we enjoy doing – we love doing this, this is our passion, you know? – and it was just a matter of time before we picked up other musicians to work with the band, and we’ve done so throughout the last decade or so.
MGM: Getting back to the new album, and have you big touring plans to support its release?
Eddie: Absolutely. Once we complete the Scorpions tour we have shows from the end of October to towards the end of November. We’re going to take December off, and starting in about the second week of January we’re really going to kick in gear and go and support this new album.
MGM: You played one date in London recently. Will there be a more extensive UK and European tour?
Eddie: We’re hoping so. We were over Europe for part of July and August for about three weeks, and we did a combination of festivals and shows of our own. That was great – we hadn’t played [Germany’s] Wacken [Open Air Festival] before and that was quite the experience.
MGM: You filmed the video for latest single ‘Arrow Of Time’ at Wacken, didn’t you?
Eddie: Yes, that was a blast. It was a fun, fun day. The festivals in Europe, they’ve got them down to a science. It’s a lot different than the festivals we have here in the States. But we love going over there to Europe.
MGM: So going forward, it looks like things are going to be very busy in the Queensrÿche camp.
Eddie: We’re going to continue doing this until the wheels fall off, and any place that they want us to perform, we’re there; from festivals to arenas to clubs. This is our passion and this is what we love to do.