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12 May 2016

Going Right for Queensrÿche: After an Ugly Breakup and Legal Battles, the Legendary Metal Band Is Flying High Again

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Queensrÿche. Queensrÿche.

Queensrÿche endured a turbulent and ugly two-year period after parting ways with vocalist Geoff Tate in 2012.

However, thanks to legal clarity and the addition of vocalist Todd La Torre, Queensrÿche is back and better than ever. The new-and-improved Queensrÿche will be performing with former Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, June 11.

The drama over the 2012 split was big news in the heavy-metal community. The rift occurred when Tate’s wife was fired as the band’s manager, and his stepdaughter was fired from running the band’s fan club. These moves led to some physical altercations during the 2012 tour; the other Queensrÿche members then fired Tate—and the end result was two different bands performing as Queensrÿche until 2014, when Tate lost rights to the name in a settlement.

The revamped Queensrÿche has released two albums: a self-titled album in 2013, and Condition Human in 2015.

During a recent phone interview, La Torre explained his personal philosophy as a frontman.

“I don’t try to steal the show from anyone else in the band,” La Torre said. “I’m one fifth of the band, and I just try to give an honest performance. There’s nothing contrived or theatrical in what I do. I’m just singing from the heart, and honestly, I think that’s what I would want to expect and see from a band or performer that I like—just honesty in their delivery and performance. That’s better than any kind of technical proficiency or anything scripted or contrived.”

La Torre explained how he ended up in Rising West, the side project featuring members of Queensrÿche, which then became Queensrÿche. At the time, he was with Crimson Glory.

“I met (Queensrÿche guitarist) Michael Wilton in Los Angeles during a dinner party, and we talked about doing some side music,” La Torre said. “The former singer (Tate) was promoting his solo record and touring on it. So Queensrÿche was more or less shelved for a long time with only a handful of dates remaining. They wanted to keep doing things, and that dialogue between Michael and me evolved into working on some other material. He sent me some music, and I ran with it. He showed it to the other guys, and I did some of the old Queensrÿche stuff, and we did the side project Rising West. We did two shows under that name. Unbeknownst to me, they were having a lot of issues with the former singer, and when I found out that he was fired, it naturally made that transition happen.”

La Torre said he feels comfortable in Queensrÿche, because he knows he’s capable vocally.

“Obviously, there is some pressure when you think, ‘This is a band with one of the most iconic singers of the genre, and he’s always been held in such high regard for his vocal abilities,’” La Torre said. “I think that because … I wasn’t hearing the high notes being hit for well over a decade, and because of the ugliness that permeated through the Internet, it made me easier to go in. I knew I could hit the higher notes; I knew that I could do it in standard tuning; and I knew that the guys were in a happier place. With them being happier, it took pressure off of me. I don’t profess to be the greatest out there, but I’m doing the best I can.”

La Torre shared his views on the two Queensrÿche albums he’s participated in thus far.

“I would say that in some ways, the first one was more difficult. We were in more of a time crunch to get the album done,” he said. “Condition Human was easier because we had more time; I had one album under my belt, and I had well over 100 shows with the band live. The people knew how I sounded like. It allowed me to be more of myself on this record. I had more time to get into the material.

“In other ways, Condition Human was more difficult, because the first record was received well; could it equal or outperform the first one? There were some vocal stylings and things that I think were also more challenging.”

La Torre shared his favorite songs to sing from the expansive Queensrÿche catalog.

“Right now, I’d say it’s ‘Killing Words’ or ‘Screaming in Digital,’” he said. “I also love opening the show with ‘Guardian,’ which is on the new record.”

La Torre explained how he keeps his voice in shape.

“I do exercises at home and work on different techniques and areas where I need strengthening,” he said. “As far as outside of that, I don’t warm up much before a show—maybe five minutes, more or less, to get things loose. I try to be quiet, rest and drink the right liquids. I don’t drink alcohol; I’m not a partier; and I try to get enough sleep. I eat what I want; I drink a lot of coffee, Coca-Cola, but I also pound a lot of water on the road. Some guys have these rigorous regiments before going on and will spend hours; I don’t mess with any of that. I just go out and sing, and I’d say, ‘It’ll be what it’ll be.’”

The future for La Torre with Queensrÿche includes a documentary—and keeping on doing what they do.

“I’d love to do a live DVD at some point,” he said. “… We have hundreds of hours of footage from Rising West all through the lawsuit and us retaining the name and the whole transition. It’d make for a really cool documentary. I’d also love to keep writing really good music we’re proud of and do as many albums with the band as I can.”

Queensrÿche and Vince Neil will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 11, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $69. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

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