Hey, the other side of the story!

So after the two interviews Geoff Tate did with Rolling Stone & Billboard, a lot of us fans began to question if we would ever hear the other guys’ side of the story…

…and so we finally do.

It was largely just what I suspected, at least if the declarations of Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield, and Michael Wilton are true. Tate is unanimously painted by the three as a tyrannical, violent, and underhanded control freak with some serious anger management issues.

Among other things, the guys allege that Tate unilaterally entered into a deal to have Operation: Mindcrime made into a movie and that a check was sent to the band’s attorney and was being held in escrow until the entire band could come to an agreement about it — but those funds being held in escrow were going entirely to Geoff Tate. According to Michael Wilton’s and Scott Rockenfield’s declarations, they found out about the deal via an email from (if I am reading them right) the studio that secured the rights from Tate.

Beyond that, they allege that after Chris DeGarmo left Queensryche after Hear In the Now Frontier, Tate by and large took control of the band’s creative direction. Tate allegedly told the other band members as early as 1993-94, as Promised Land was being recorded, that he didn’t want to sing heavy metal anymore — and in later years he threw shit fits when the subject came up of singing the band’s older songs, such as “Queen of the Reich.”

For his part, Geoff Tate maintains that he tried to get the other guys to contribute to the albums, though they say he flatly turned down their contributions more or less ever since Chris DeGarmo left. He apparently has his old friends Kelly Gray and Jason Slater backing him up. In Gray’s case I find that to be a bit odd, considering this bit from Eddie Jackson:

During the course of recording, Kelly Gray would continue criticizing Geoff Tate’s song selections and decisions and simply said, “This isn‘t the direction the band should be going.“ Kelly Gray had also commented on how he had been underpaid and mistreated by Geoff and Susan Tate….

Kelly Gray had also taken notice of the band’s decline in records sales and direction and commented several times that “Susan Tate as band manager has run out of gas, and you should considered seeking new band management.”

I asked at the Breakdown Room why this was and was told by a couple of folks that they think Gray’s going to bat for the Tates because they’re the only ones will will work with him anymore. I’d believe it, if this bit from Scott Rockenfield is any indication:

Kelly Gray’s biggest claim to fame is producing the band Candlebox’s first CD. After that, Kelly Gray worked on some other much smaller projects and as such, does not have a very credible list of credits to his name.

At any rate, these declarations aren’t the first time band members have come out and said they were marginalized; recall, if you will, Michael Wilton’s interview in Guitar World in which he said the other guys had ideas for Dedicated to Chaos but that Tate rejected them. At any rate, reading the declarations vis-a-vis the creative process and the guys’ participation in it, it seems to me to boil down to this…

GT: “I tried to get them to participate, but they wouldn’t.”

MW,SR, & EJ: “Yeah, because he turned down our ideas, undermined us at every turn and basically cut us out of the process entirely in favor of his friends. Not only that, but he threatened to quit the band if we didn’t go along with the direction he wanted to go. Said direction, by the way, has led to a precipitous decline in the band’s commercial viability.”

If everything in the declarations is true, none of the other band members even played on Operation: Mindcrime II or American Soldier. And the sales figures — 150,000 copies of Mindcrime II, 60,000 copies of American Soldier and 20,000 copies of Dedicated to Chaos — speak for themselves. (To put this in perspective, Metallica’s latest album, Death Magnetic, sold about 450,000 copies — in its first week in the stores.)

Tate also maintains that a new lead singer will diminish the fees Queensryche will be able to command. Considering how Tate can’t even sing the songs that fans want to hear anymore, and how he doesn’t want to sing those songs, I fail to see how that is the case. Further casting doubt on Tate’s claims is the declaration from Paul Geary, a senior manager at Front Line Entertainment, a division of artist management company Live Nation Entertainment. In his declaration, Geary wrote that a representative of Live Nation went to the Rising West shows and was so impressed that he recommended they be signed immediately — and they were. Geary also states that several performances have already been secured for the Todd La Torre-fronted Queensryche at the same performance guarantees they would have gotten with Geoff Tate.

I’d probably be remiss in not mentioning Parker Lundgren, who incidentally is Tate’s former son-in-law. By and large he stands with the guys and fully supports their returning to their roots. Good on him, I say. I bet you Geoff regrets bringing him into the band now. (No doubt he’s experiencing more than a bit of schadenfreude now, especially if what I heard is true about his now-ex-wife banging his best friend.)

There’s more — a lot more. Forum administrator Samsara at The Breakdown Room spent $75 of his own money to procure the declarations from all parties involved if you’d like to check them out for yourself. I recommend you do; it’s all quite enlightening, especially if you’re wondering just why Chris DeGarmo left.

(What do I think? I think Geoff Tate doesn’t have a leg to stand on, especially after he assaulted the other band members and threatened to do them bodily harm if they got near him. “Hostile work environment,” anyone?)

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