There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the forthcoming Queensrÿche album, particularly in light of some comments that drummer Scott Rockenfield made to A.D.D. in August 2010 about being inspired by the likes of Lady Gaga. A.D.D. took a first listen to the album last night, and it’s certainly not a dancey pop record nor an out and out metal record. Chaos is a melodic hard rock outing with some pop influences counterbalanced with aggressive metal cuts like “Retail Therapy” and “The Lie”. The trippy closing cut “Big Noize” definitely has Pink Floyd shadings to it. Interestingly enough, one of the songs that Rockenfield composed music for, “At The Edge,” is among the heaviest tracks on the album and is most like old school Queensrÿche. The album has some catchy parts on it and some moments that are less immediately accessible, but since we’ve only given the album one full listen, we’ll reserve judgment until we delve deeper into it. Either way, we predict a strong debate will erupt among hardcore fans about this latest release.
At the end of May, an animated Rockenfield checked in with A.D.D. to discuss what fans can expect from the forthcoming studio album Dedicated To Chaos (due out June 28th) and the group’s upcoming 30th anniversary tour, which begins with some U.K. dates opening for Judas Priest before coming to the States in late July.
What can you tell us about Dedicated To Chaos. Is the title a play on Rage For Order?
I personally think that it does play [on that]. In a nutshell, I’ll give you the story of what and why it is. We started working on this thing a year ago, and Geoff [Tate] had this concept for chaos. Our career has been 30 years [long], and it’s basically been chaos. We’ve done a lot of different things, we’ve had ups and downs, etc. etc., so he threw out that idea and asked us to chew on some music that might reflect this broad picture. We started throwing some stuff around, and I think in doing that we started to define it as a Rage/Empire thing for us. We didn’t go, “Let’s do a real thick concept record,” like we did with American Soldier or some of our other albums. We focused on songs and the [current] delivery method being single song downloads. We decided to do a strong record of tunes, kind of like what Empire would then become, and mixed it in with being modern in the Rage For Order concept. Once again, this is my definition of how I proceeded to write material for the record. I wanted to combine those two eras for us because I’m really into them, the Rage but now. I compose and do all sorts of industrial stuff in these movies and other things, so I wanted to add that to what we did. For me, it defines those two eras for us, but in kind of a modern way. Geoff just took all the music that we kept feeding to him, and what he was interested in he would sing on. We wrote write a shitload of stuff and gave it to him, and what inspired him was what we started defining as the songs for the record. We ended up with a record with 16 tracks [12 made the cut], and we’re going to promote this as the Dedicated To Chaos tour. But it’s also our 30th anniversary this year, so that’s also our big plug. It’s also why I’m excited that we married some of our past with the present.
For you, which songs walk that line between past and present really well on this album?
They all kind of do. There are definitely a couple that I really enjoy because of how they were done and where they came from. One of them is called “At The Edge,” and it’s a real dark, heavy rock track. I composed the music and gave it to Geoff, and it ended up becoming a really strong piece on the record. It didn’t really change much, and it’s got a lot of great elements from the Rage era. I never really can find stuff that stands out because they all kind of stand out. Once again, it’s another body of work, and in all honestly, it gives us an excuse to go out on tour. New record, it’s all fun, we love making music, and then playing is where our nuts and bolts come from, financially and for the satisfaction of our fans. Touring is our thing. This’ll be a great thing for us to leverage to go out with Roadrunner being supportive of us, to play a show for everybody and anybody in the world that we can get to. It’ll just be fun, man. Thirty years now, it just keeps going.
“Listen, if I played drums on a Gaga song, it would fucking shred. I would love to do that, although I don’t think that would ever happen.”
What kind of reaction did you get to the Cabaret tour last year? I heard mixed things from people. Some of them were confused by it.
There was no middle ground or gray area. You probably loved it or you probably hated it, and we saw all of that on the Blabbermouth sites of the world. Needless to say, that was another Queensrÿche experiment that we always do. We weren’t going out to promote a new record, but we didn’t just want to sit and make a record because to be honest, we get bored. We like to keep the movement going, and we like to see our fans. The invention of Cabaret was [that] Geoff loves to act. He really likes getting up and having a purpose on stage rather than just getting up and doing a light show and a rock set. He wanted to do something different. So he pitched that to us, and it became what it was. It was an opportunity for our families to get involved; our wives were onstage with us as part of the troupe, so it gave us excuses and covered the expenses of having them travel with us. That was nice for my wife and I, plus I could stare at her every night not wearing any clothes.
Wasn’t it weird to think that your fans were watching that, too?
That’s where I think some fans liked that or didn’t like that. Generally I’m blessed because I think my wife looks nice, and other people have commented the same, so it didn’t bother me. We do things for us. If people enjoy it and want to come and see it, that’s awesome, but in the end we all do it for us because we’re the ones that have to live with it. We don’t enjoy it when we’re doing it for the wrong reason, I suppose. I don’t think anything we ever do damages us, it’s just different, that’s all.
How will the 30th anniversary tour work in with the approach of the new album?
We’re deep into rehearsals. The tour starts in late July here in the U.S. Our plan is to go out as the 30th anniversary concept, so we’re basically going to play stuff off of every record, then we’re going to add some of the new stuff in because it’s the current thing. We’re going to try to present an event. I can’t explain most of it because we are still designing a lot of stuff, but hopefully it’ll be a multimedia event that can even include some of the audience in somehow. I’m deep in most of the technology, so until I can define it I can’t really tell you what’s going to happen yet.
“I don’t think anything we ever do damages us, it’s just different, that’s all.”
When we spoke last summer, you were tossing out influences like Lady Gaga in a production sense as opposed to a musical sense. Some fans were not sure what to make of those comments. Could you clarify them now?
I remember when we talked about that, and I’ve gotten flak for those comments ever since I made them because unfortunately people didn’t read it correctly or maybe I didn’t explain myself correctly. I listen to a lot of that stuff, and still do, because I have kids that are teenagers, and that’s all they like to listen to. I can’t change the radio in the car when I’m driving because they won’t let me, so I get to know it. In all honestly, I enjoy all of it. I like the Katy Perry stuff and can’t stop getting out of my head, so there must be something to be said for some of that music. I’ve had to get to know and love it, and I think in doing that I’ve analyzed it on a deeper level: “Why is this so popular besides the fact that they’re young and women?” Could that help my career for another 10 years if I could figure out why these kids like this stuff? Can I somehow be a part of that in the Queensrÿche thing, for example, but still keep it Queensrÿche? I definitely don’t want people think that we are making a Queensrÿche/Lady Gaga record, but in terms of production value and the delivery method of how she does certain things, or how somebody current like that does stuff, I think it’s cool. Listen, if I played drums on a Gaga song, it would fucking shred. I would love to do that, although I don’t think that would ever happen.
We made a metal record. It’s definitely a heavy, dark Dedicated To Chaos type of record that is unlike anything out there. You’re just inspired by things in life and use those inspirations in your own way. One of the songs I wrote on the record is called “Around The World” and was completely inspired by Moby, of all people, who I was deep into that week for some reason. I was listening to a bunch of Moby stuff on my iPod. I like him. I think he’s an interesting guy who does his own thing, which I really find intriguing because I’m kind of a loner sometimes in my own world as well. So I analyzed a lot of what he was doing, and I wrote a song that was completely inspired by him. I think it became one of the strongest tunes on the record that people are going to be able to grasp onto. But when you listen to what I did, you’ll think, “This was inspired by Moby?” People will probably be shocked, but it actually was. In a nutshell, Queensrÿche listens to everything. All of us have different tastes, and when we get together and add that to make the songs, all those influences end up inside the songs in some ghostly fashion.