Evolution Calling

Q ueensrÿche have spent their career defining a uniquely heavy progressive sound. Whether delivering Mindcrime, Empires or taking fans to the Promised Land, they’ve always upped their game. With recent issues behind them, they’ve moved forward, working on their third record with vocalist Todd La Torre. A new album is coming late 2018 or early […]

Queensrÿche bring history to BMI Speedway


Queensrÿche’s Michael Wilton. Photo: Christopher Carroll.

By Mike Ritchie

Queensrÿche have spent their career defining a uniquely heavy progressive sound. Whether delivering Mindcrime, Empires or taking fans to the Promised Land, they’ve always upped their game. With recent issues behind them, they’ve moved forward, working on their third record with vocalist Todd La Torre.

A new album is coming late 2018 or early 2019. “It’s probably 95 percent done,” guitarist Michael Wilton confirms. They’ll tour on it for around two-and-a-half years. “The fans really appreciate it. The traveling’s a bit of a hardship these days but they really love it.”

Fans’ tastes have changed. “A few years ago the fans wanted to hear all the old stuff,” Wilton recalls. “We did the Return to History tour. Now, we’re getting a lot of response to hear the new stuff. The fans are so gracious and care so much. We listen to their positive affirmations.”

Fans are still discovering La Torre on vocals. “They’re coming out of the woodwork,” Wilton says. “They love the energy of the band, the performance and set list. We’re keeping the name alive, promoting it and having fun as a band again.”

On first meeting, La Torre thought Wilton was a member of Testament. “He had to do a double take,” Wilton laughs. “He said ‘I’m sorry, I know who you are.’ At the NAMM convention, you meet hundreds of people. They know you, but you don’t know them.” There was something honest about La Torre and Wilton kept in touch as the relationship grew. When everything exploded, he was there.

La Torre fit the bill. “We were moving so fast with decisions and business. As for auditions, everybody was like hey, let’s try this guy out. Everyone’s jaw dropped when he sang ‘Queen of the Reich,’ ‘Eyes of a Stranger,’ and ‘Take Hold of the Flame.’ It was like being in a band again.”

They’re writing, recording and playing off and on. “We’re doing a fragmented tour with fly-in and weekend dates,” Wilton says. “You have to be ready at any time. We do our best to put on a great show. It’s great to look in the audience and see smiles, taking them back to high school or college. It hits a point inside them, you can see it. That’s really gratifying.”

They’re playing with The Iron Maidens, the leading all-female Iron Maiden tribute act. They cover all of Maiden’s career, in a lively hard rocking stage show complete with theatrical scenes, so be sure to get there early.

Wilton continues, “We’ve gotten these Monsters of Rock Cruises, where people take their vacations. [Iron Maidens] have been on there a few times. We’ve managed to talk and become friends. It’s great, that a band we know can perform with us.”

They’re always trying to up their performance and keep it interesting. “There’s a lot of congestion in the market these days,” Wilton admits. “Touring isn’t as easy as it used to be. It’s always great to tour in the summer. It’s a lot of fun.”

They’re multi-tasking with recording and shows. “We appreciate the opportunity to do these select shows. We’re really excited about this new record. The band’s really gelling. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

“I hear a bit of everything, it’s my DNA and ingrained in me,” Wilton says. “In parts, it’s heavier and faster. The songs are really unique, that’s all I can really say right now. We love what we do. I’m always pushing myself as a guitar player and songwriter.”

It’s the fans that matter. “They still wanna hear us in their town or country. There’s been a lot of rebuilding obviously.”

The video for Condition Human’s “Eye 9” was done with total creative freedom. “We were on the road and didn’t have time for a video,” Wilton explains. “We gave the producer carte blanche. It’s not quite what we thought but it was good and people liked it.”

Wilton says the days of huge-budget videos are gone, but technology’s in everyone’s hand. “It’s positive and negative. You have the tools to keep current and keep fans up to date. Back in the day, you had to do interviews and wait until it got published.”

It’s a new age. More people are listening to music but making and performing it is a challenge. Wilton’s happy fans, young and old, are discovering the new material.

With today’s technology, set lists are often influenced by YouTube and songs casual fans want to hear. “We play five or six staples,” Wilton confirms. There was a night they didn’t play “Silent Lucidity.” Fans asked why not, because they came to hear it. “You need a balance and try and perform every night the best you can.”

There’s a younger crowd in the audience. “It’s great to see young kids, appreciative of guys that can really play their instruments,” Wilton says. “I say this all the time—you have to support live music and bands or else they’ll stop doing it.”

Queensrÿche will play BMI Indoor Speedway, 791 E. Main St, Versailles Ohio, Saturday, June 23. Doors open at 5:00 p.m., with show at 6:00 p.m. Latter and The Iron Maidens will also perform. For tickets and more information, visit www.bmikarts.com or www.queensrycheofficial.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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