Archive for June, 2012

More thoughts on the Queensryche upheaval

June 29, 2012

(Fair warning: Most of this post comprises my thoughts from the fan forum at the Breakdown Room…)

That Guy, in comments here:

Here is hoping they come out with a killer album with the new guy.

If the new album is anything less than the best the band has done since at least Empire, I am going to be very surprised. There are those who say they’re going to be nothing without Geoff Tate, but those folks seem to be forgetting Michael Wilton; he had a hand in writing quite a few of my favorite QR tunes from the old days, including “Deliverance,” “I Dream in Infrared,” “Spreading the Disease,” and “Empire.”

I would think most metalheads would at least give the Todd La Torre-fronted Queensryche a chance as opposed to dismissing them out of hand as a number of QR fans seem to be doing, at least if Facebook is any indication. The only thing I can think of that would be driving the negative attitudes toward the other band members is the band members’ declining lack of input and enthusiasm, but then again, how much of that has to do with the Tates taking control of the whole thing? At any rate, I don’t see many if any references to any of that. It all seems to be best summarized thusly:

“Geoff Tate rules! Todd La Torre drools! And Scott, Whip and Eddie are stupid poopyheads!”

Which is really weird, if you ask me, because I’m sure no small percentage of those folks are fans of the songs that Geoff can’t sing anymore. You’d think they’d be happy that Queensryche had finally gotten a singer who could at least sing those songs.

As far as all the Tate family members getting fired — well, GT put the rest of the band in a no-win situation with that, because in addition to musically making Queensryche into the Geoff Tate Project, he more or less turned the band into his family business. To wit: Susan Tate is the band’s manager, and she also runs the merchandising side of the business with the help of friends and family. All the Cabaret dancers were Tate friends and family members as well. Parker Lundgren was Geoff Tate’s son-in-law at one point, and if what I read was right, the guitar tech that they got rid of was Miranda Tate’s significant other and is now in Geoff Tate’s solo band.

It was arguably a pretty shrewd move when you look at it from the perspective of keeping the Tates’ gravy train rolling, because there was probably no way they could have fired Geoff and kept his family members around because of the bad feelings that would have come with that. So as for Tate saying, “boo-hoo, them heartless bastards fahred mah fambly,” well, he really didn’t leave ’em much of a choice. I gotta say, it was a damn gutsy move on the band members’ part, now that I think about it.

Latest word is that Tate has filed a lawsuit and Whip, Eddie and Scott — along with their wives(!) — have been served. I am guessing this has to do with them continuing on as Queensryche, since Chris DeGarmo’s name isn’t anywhere on the court papers. I’d like to think that if Tate wins his lawsuit he’ll retire the Queensryche name, but given all the bullshit he peddled in the Rolling Stone interview, I am very, very pessimistic about that. He’s going to hire four scabs and go on the road as Queensryche while the real thing tours under Rising West or another name. Bank on it.

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I have just one question at this point.

June 28, 2012

Did Eric Church ever really listen to country music when he was growing up, or was he all about the Springsteen, AC/DC and (allegedly) Metallica?

Seriously, it seems that in every single interview of him that I have read or seen snippets from, Church is always talking about ’80s rock acts. Nowhere have I seen him talk about all the great records from people like Alan Jackson in the ’90s or the neo-traditionalist movement of the ’80s. (And even stalwarts like Waylon, Willie and George Jones were still cranking out great music then.) It’s always about classic rock and trying to justify its influence on modern mainstream country.

And Metallica. Don’t get me started. Yeah, I know I’ve turned into some sort of heavy-metal evangelist, but it seems like every single act out there looking for some sort of street cred mentions Metallica. And no one ever digs to find out just how deep that supposed affinity for heavy metal goes, i.e., “So you’re a fan of ’80s Metallica. What’d you think of their contemporaries, you know, bands like Megadeth, Anthrax and Iron Maiden?” And “hardest band in the history of heavy metal”? Dead giveaway right there, the only Metallica album Church has in his collection is this one. And he’s never heard of any of the other bands. Bet on it.

(Speaking of Iron Maiden, as much as I don’t go for her kind of music, I do have to give Lady Gaga props for being a fan.)

But back to Mr. Church. Another thing I thought was funny in this particular interview was how he talked about how he never shied away from saying what he thought. Granted, that is admirable in and of itself — but, to cite a better example, George Strait always made it pretty clear where he stood musically and he’s arguably the most reticent man on the face of the earth. He let his music do the talking. And the same could very well be said for Alan Jackson, even if he might grant more interviews than Strait.

As for the answer to my question, I am left to believe that Eric Church never was really a big country fan. I am left to believe that he just saw country as the fastest way to stardom, saw where it was going and his frustrated-’80s-rocker-born-20-years-too-late ass ran with it.

“He’s gone country, ohhh, back to his roots…”

I would say this is progress…

June 27, 2012

…as O. Ricardo Pimentel isn’t outright advocating for an assault weapons ban, but then there is this:

…failure to stop the guns at any source — even if that’s a legal gun dealer — amounts to government connivance by default.

Really? So apparently our government respecting our right to keep and bear arms is conniving to  kill innocent Mexicans? Wow, now that I think about it, in a way that’s even worse. And we haven’t even gotten to how Pimentel glosses over what was arguably the entire intent of Fast and Furious, considering that keeping track of the guns as they crossed into Mexico was not part of the plan.

And sure, it’d be nice if we could stop those guns from going across the border. But I don’t understand why we should violate Americans’ rights to do it. O. Ricardo Pimentel apparently does see this as a viable solution.

Which, of course, evokes the question — whose side is he on?

Geoff Tate speaks!

June 26, 2012

…or, Okay, so here’s one side of the story

…and what a side it is. I thought Tate was an egomaniacal dick before, but this…is…epic. Some choice snippets:

“Queensryche is about albums. It’s about concepts and themes, and those concepts were mine.”

“I am the creative energy in the band…”

“All the lyrics and the directions of the albums and the concepts, that is all from me.”

“These are my ideas, my concepts, my life, that I’m writing about. What are they gonna do – hand it to some kid to sing?”

As the good folks at fan community The Breakdown Room are saying, does Tate really think any of the band’s fans are going to believe that line of shit? To read that interview you’d think Chris DeGarmo never existed. And you know it’s all posturing. It has to be. Tate says his new solo record is going to be “very metal, very hard rock,” but in more than one previous interview he has said he was never a metalhead and that metal fans were in effect a bunch of boneheads.

Speaking of that, I remember how in that same interview Tate said something to the effect that “fans don’t define metal, the bands do,” and then there was all that nonsense about “chunkchunkchunk riffs” or whatnot.This is what I’d say if I got the chance:

“Well, like it or not, Tater, Queensryche defined itself as a metal band, boneheaded riffs and all. The genre was already defined by God only knows how many bands before Queensryche, and it’s obvious you were all too happy to follow along in that groove. Face it, metalheads were who you marketed yourselves to. Who the hell did you think you were gonna be playing in front of when you opened for Metallica, Guns’n’Roses and Def Leppard? And then to come along all these years later when your band is just a shell of what it was and claim Queensryche was never a metal band? What a cop-out. Your tastes changing is fine, but to cast aspersions on the fan base just because they didn’t follow you when you decided to go after an audience that at best was indifferent (and at worst outright hostile) to metal is just asinine in the extreme. Face it, buddy. Fans have expectations, and Queensryche hasn’t met them in years.”

And as for the rest of the band not offering any creative input — how in the hell does he square that with, among other things, Michael Wilton saying the band members offered input for Dedicated to Chaos but that those ideas were basically rejected? It’s not as if that’s the first time such has happened in the band’s history; as I recall, the other band members had writing credits on 4 of the 15 songs on Operation: Mindcrime II, and only 2 of 12 songs on American Soldier were co-written by band members other than Geoff Tate. Who’s to say it hasn’t been that way since Chris DeGarmo left? Who’s to say the band members’ input hasn’t been rejected because of Tate wanting to take the band in a different direction after Chris DeGarmo left?

As for this:

And also with the live shows, trying to make them interesting and unique and different, rather than just five guys up there playing songs, I tried to create a theatrical environment for the presentation. And I think people like that. They want to keep seeing that. Without me, that won’t happen. I can guarantee that. It won’t happen.

He’s talking, of course, about the Queensryche Cabaret. From most accounts I have read, the fans saw that as quite a disgusting spectacle, not least of all because it flew in the face of everything the band was about. And I can certainly understand that, too. A lot of people bitched about the hair/glam metal movement because of its objectification of women, and even though they got grouped in with that crowd by a lot of people, if you listen to their music you know that Queensryche was above every bit of that. Then along came Tate’s cabaret idea, which apparently featured, among other things, band members’ scantily-clad wives (Susan Tate and — I think — Misty Rockenfield) and that sort of thing. And I’m sorry, but I’ve seen footage of the Building Empires tour, and they were packing houses internationally with just a straight-ahead, no-bullshit metal show. And if the footage from the Rising West shows is any indication, the fans are going to react to a theatrics-free presentation just fine.

This, though, this was perhaps the worst of it:

These are my ideas, my concepts, my life, that I’m writing about. What are they gonna do – hand it to some kid to sing?

Of course they aren’t any of that, but dismissing 38-year-old Todd La Torre as “some kid” shows an appalling lack of respect for the man’s abilities. Even if Queensryche’s early brilliance was all Tate’s doing, the fact is that those songs haven’t been given their proper treatment since Tate’s let his voice go to shit. One wonders what Tate would have said had the interviewer referred to Parker Lundgren in such a disdainful manner. (No doubt that would have taken the interview in an exciting direction, as Lundgren is Tate’s former son-in-law…)

As bad as I hate to say it, it seems that Mike Portnoy’s comments on Geoff Tate were pretty much right on the money:

“Geoff was, and is, the two-faced BS [bullshit] artist to everybody he comes in contact with…either professionally (or ‘un’ for that matter) as well as to his poor fans that still believe his bullshit after all these years.”

I am not surprised that Brian Philips does not get it…

June 25, 2012

…but he’s still full of shit.

On stars from other genres showing up on the CMT awards show:

I don’t think it’s a valid criticism because I don’t think anybody lives in a world where they’re not affected by forces beyond country music. Who are these people who keep the lists of people who qualify as country? Any deviation and they’re going to post an angry message about it? There’s no other sector of the entertainment business where you see that kind of rigidity.

That’s a really nice straw man there. It’s not that anyone thinks we live in a world in which country fans aren’t affected by other genres. It’s that the people talking negatively about this are sick and tired of the country music establishment being ashamed of the genre to the point that they don’t even think the genre’s own stars can carry it. Journey singing with Rascal Flatts and Alan Jackson reduced to being a gorramed award presenter? No wonder mainstream country music is in such sorry shape.

And “no other sector of the entertainment business where you see that kind of rigidity”? Who’s the one not paying attention to other genres now? Once again, going back to some oft-cited examples, there’s all the people who raised hell when Metallica went mainstream with the self-titled Black Album, when Queensryche went in a more mainstream direction with Empire, and when Megadeth did the same with Cryptic Writings and Risk.

But, again — I don’t know about the Megadeth records, but the commercial breakthroughs of the other two bands did retain at least some semblance of their respective genres — which is more than be said of anything Rascal Flatts has recorded. And we’re not even taking into account their appearing on stage with an arena rock act whose commercial peak was 25 years ago.

Good grief, and they wonder why we hold them in such low regard.

(h/t Country California)

This isn’t an argument at all.

June 24, 2012

Sigh. Leonard Pitts is at it again, although this time it’s not about the racial grievance-mongering.

I don’t understand why he and his kind try to paint journalism as some kind of dark art that only the chosen few can fully understand. The fact that a piece of writing appears on a bunch of folded sheets of newsprint on the doorstep every morning (or its online or TV equivalent) doesn’t by default make it any better than any other supposedly well-researched piece of writing. Sure, the big media outlets have more resources, but as anyone who’s paying attention knows, those resources aren’t always put to full use. How else would you explain the fact that Operation Fast and Furious was uncovered by, again, a couple of no-name bloggers?

And this, of course, goes to the whole credibility issue, which is why I find it so laughable that Pitts would imply that bloggers don’t have the credibility to replace journalists, painting Old Media journalists as some sort of expert:

And every day, thousands of their colleagues attend the council meetings, pore over the budgets, decipher the court rulings that help the rest of us understand our cities, nation and world.

It’s as if he’s never heard of the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect. Going back to a couple of focuses of this blog, the people who write for Hearst Newspapers don’t seem to know anything about guns or gun laws and the people who write for Rolling Stone don’t know anything about music — so why should anyone believe anything they write about any other topic? And that’s not even taking into account how journalists won’t even take the time to get elementary things like road names right!

As Kevin Baker said, if Leonard Pitts wonders why journalism is swirling the toilet, maybe he ought to take a look in the mirror.

Nick Anderson’s at it again…

June 23, 2012

here, in which he implies that the Republicans’ inquiry into Gunwalker is making a mountain out of a molehill.

One gets the idea that he doesn’t really care about the fact that no one really knows how many American guns are smuggled into Mexico. Previously discussed statistics and the methods by which those stats were obtained long ago called that into question. Yet he and his ilk still beat the “90 percent of cartel guns come from America” drum. As I’ve said before, I guess you cling to what you have, even after it’s proven to be a filthy lie.

But what about the very real possibility that it was a scheme engineered by the administration to gin up statistics for more gun control? Call it a partisan witch hunt if you want, but the fact remains that the whole thing wasn’t even uncovered by Congress, or even the media — but by two no-name bloggers operating out of their houses out of Ohio and Alabama. And anyone who reads David and Mike on a regular basis knows they take shots at the Republicans just as they do the Democrats. And what about the president’s invocation of executive privilege to withhold documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee? Does Nick Anderson honestly think there’s not anything incriminating in those documents? What about all the folks in the ATF who said flat-out that they were ordered to let guns go into Mexico in order to get the stats the administration wanted?

Nick Anderson apparently would say, “So what?”

Well. That was fast.

June 20, 2012

Queensryche lead singer Geoff Tate, from June 15, via Blabbermouth.net on the 18th:

This past Friday, June 15, Jolene of the Seattle station KISW 99.9 FM conducted an interview with QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.

When asked if he had a message for QUEENSRŸCHE fans who are “perplexed over the status of the band right now,” Geoff said, “Just hang in there. Everything’s moving along and everything’s looking good. And I’m very happy to be playing my hometown tonight; I’m very excited about it.”

Today:

Rock band Queensryche is continuing forward without vocalist Geoff Tate, who will be replaced by Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre, Billboard has exclusively learned.

“Over the past few months, there have been growing creative differences within Queensryche. We want our fans to know that we hoped to find a common resolution, but in the end parting ways with Geoff was the best way for everyone to move forward in a positive direction,” drummer Scott Rockenfield said in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck with all of his future endeavors. We can’t wait to bring Queensryche to our fans with Todd behind the microphone.”

(More from Blabbermouth.net)

Gotta say, it’s been a long time coming, though with Rising West I did not expect it to come like this. Speculation among the fans was that Rising West would do their thing and Geoff Tate would do his as perhaps Geoff Tate of Queensryche. My two cents on the band continuing without Geoff Tate are as follows.

I don’t mind seeing this development at all. The way I see it, it isn’t that much different than Van Halen with Sammy Hagar or Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio. I can understand the POV of those who think “no DeGarmo or Tate = no Queensryche”, but there are a couple of things that make me not fully agree with that.

No DeGarmo = no Queensryche. If you think that “no DeGarmo = no Queensryche,” well, I could probably get behind that. He and Tate arguably balanced each other pretty well, and after he left was when a lot of fans, including myself, think Queensryche went off the rails.

No Tate = no Queensryche. I do not agree with this at all. If what I’ve heard is true, that Geoff and Susan have pretty much taken over the QR operation to the point that it’s basically a GT solo thing, then getting rid of GT in favor of Todd La Torre is going to be the best thing that ever happened to Queensryche.

And that’s not even taking into account Geoff’s (as of late) dismissive attitude towards metal and its fans — you know, the people who put food in his kids’ mouth and a roof over their heads for the last 30 years. To me, that has to be the most disgusting aspect of this whole thing, that and how he tries to play the whole thing off — as if it was “obvious,” in the man’s own words, that he wasn’t into metal even back in the days of the EP and The Warning.

But yeah, bring on Queensryche with Todd La Torre! I was thinking as I watched the Hard Rock performances that if I couldn’t have seen them with Geoff Tate, seeing them with TLT would definitely be the next best thing. Can’t wait to see what’s next for them.

Wow.

June 20, 2012

Just…wow.

On the dad in Shiner who bead his kid’s molester to death:

You may say it’s “worth it” because the other person got what you thought was “coming,” but you are forever marred by having sunk to the criminal level. You are what you profess to despise.

I can imagine that if this dad beat this man, he thought he was doing it for the right reasons. I hope that the police and prosecutors treat this whole case with that in mind. But there is no way to walk away from this one feeling anything but conflicted, is there?

Ahem. Yes. YES THERE IS. The dad caught the guy sticking his penis in his 4-year-old and put a stop to it. HE DID THE RIGHT THING. Period. Full stop. End of story. Presumably the hand-wringing writer here thinks the man should have called the police and stood idly by. “Hey, nine-eleven, I’m watching my kid get molestered. Get down here, time’s a-wastin’.” I don’t understand how anyone could think that dad was anything other than a hero, let alone a goddamned criminal.

And the Lavaca County DA and sheriff agree, thank God. Furthermore, if you read that story you’ll see the dad was pretty distraught that the guy was gonna die. Makes the folks looking down their nose at him look even more despicable, doesn’t it?

Sure, people can say they don’t think they’d have actually killed their kid’s rapist, but then again they don’t really know because they weren’t there. And yes, this is Texas, I know, but I’d like to think the dad would have been considered a hero even in some anti-freedom shithole like Massachusetts or New Jersey. Really, people, some things are that cut-and-dried in some situations.

Why would anyone care what those people thought?

June 17, 2012

1990s also-ran Collin Raye, on modern country music:

I think a lot of people are going back to thinking country music is ‘dumb,’ the way they did prior to those days when Garth and everyone was doing well.

Yeah, so? Why would anyone give such an uninformed, narrow-minded, bigoted opinion any credence whatsoever? I feel pretty comfortable saying that those who thought country music before 1991 was “dumb,” quite simply, have more than a few missing brain cells themselves. I could list a ton of titles here — “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold),” “Detroit City,” “Mama Tried,” “Still In Saigon,” “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand” — but such would really be belaboring the point to anyone whose opinion on the genre deserves to be taken seriously.

And frankly, it’s not as if Collin Raye was really all that country himself, so why should anyone care what he thinks either? For all anyone knows, he’s just pissed that his own gravy train got derailed.

(h/t Country California)