Q&A: Queensryche's Geoff Tate

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Best known for their 1988 concept album Operation Mindcrime, hard-rockers Queensryche opt for something complete different on their new studio album, American Soldier. As its title implies, the CD is all about war, told from a soldier’s point of view. Singer Geoff Tate put on a journalist’s cap for the album and interviewed soldiers who had fought in battles ranging from Vietnam to the Iraq War and used their stories for the album’s lyrics. While the whole thing comes off as an ad for the National Guard, Tate says he was surprised to discover that so many soldiers were actually anti-war, although he maintains American Soldier is neither pro- nor anti-war. Tate discussed the album and the umlaut-lovin' group’s May 6 show at House of Blues. —Jeff Niesel

Your father was the initial inspiration for American Soldier, right?
Yes. I grew up in a military family. I was actually born on a base in Germany. So growing up, I was always talking to my dad about his war experiences. He would never tell me much about it. It wasn’t until I was visiting him in Oklahoma a couple of years ago in 2006 when we were touring the Mindcrime shows and had a day off that he started telling me about Korea out of nowhere. I grabbed the video camera and recorded the conversation. That was the initial thing that sparked my interest. It got me thinking of not only his story but that of other soldiers.

What made you want to talk to soldiers from so many different eras?
I was trying to get an overall feel for what that life is like and what the experiences were like. At first, I didn’t know what I was looking for but the more I talked to people, the more it became clear to me what areas to focus on.

This is obviously a much different writing strategy. What was that like?
Yeah, it was a difficult. To get people to open up and talk about things is tough. You get a lot of one-word answers. You have to patient and keep digging and ask the same question in a different way. That part of it was really challenging. I walked away from the whole experience with a deeper respect for journalists and their job. Normally, when you write a record, you’re writing from your experiences. This is the first time I’ve written about somebody else’s life. We were acting as biographers. Using their words and sentence structures was very different.

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