The Evergreen State Fair in Monroe is in full swing, but not before hitting a major bump in its musical lineup. Legendary rockers Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo had to cancel their show for Monday, August 31st, leaving fair organizers in a bind as they searched for a marquee name to fill that slot.
Up stepped hometown metal icons Queensryche. The band has been touring nonstop for months, spending most of the summer criss-crossing Europe, then playing shows in Idaho and Las Vegas. They’ll hit the road again in a few days, this time hitting cities across the U.S. with the Scorpions. The band should be taking a well-deserved short break. Instead, the guys (lead singer Todd La Torre, guitarists Michael Wilton & Parker Lundgren, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield) jumped at the chance to headline the Fair’s Grandstand concert Monday night.
When I caught up with guitarist and founding member Michael Wilton Sunday afternoon, he was on a tour bus heading from Vegas to Seattle. By all accounts, he should sound wiped out, but Michael was excited to share more about the band’s upcoming album, Condition Human, and what fuels their passion for their music.
Su Ring: Tell me about the scope and feel of the new album, Condition Human. (out on October 2)
Michael Wilton: It’s something the band has been working on for the last couple of years. We’re very proud of this. Our music has really evolved with each album, and this one has evolved from the last album in 2013. We put our hard work into this. It really captures the roots of the band and it really captures the essence of Queensryche, and our musicianship and creativity in 2015 as a current band as well. If people haven’t heard Queensryche in a long time, if they listen to a couple of songs, I think they’re going to notice a familiarity of all the instruments being played and reminiscent of the Queensryche sound.
SR: You’ve been recording and playing for decades. How do you remain inspired to continue producing quality music?
MW: We all have a drive, ambition and love for music and what we do. We believe in Queensryche and that keeps the fire going. We have been doing this for years and years. The fans and the people out there support the band immensely, so with touring all over the world , there’s big support for the band, especially these days.
SR: What is it about the genre that keeps bands from the 80’s, like Queensryche, going strong decades later, and also keeps fans coming back?
MW: We’ve been doing this for decades and it’s a matter of keeping the quality and the musicianship building and staying in constant contact. We’re driven by social media; the internet, everything, and we’re really focused on Queensryche. The doors are open for us to keep playing and producing records and we are just on it – it’s our way of living.
SR: You just returned from touring Europe. Is there a favorite place for you to play over there – a city that always excites you?
MW: In Europe and the UK in the summertime, they have large festivals – all the bands go over to play. That’s something that we love doing – there are so many festivals and they’re well organized. Most of them (festivals) are sold out, too. It’s kind of a haven for bands to go play. There are other places in the world to play, like South America , Australia, Japan, and now India is opening up, and more places in the far east, so wherever there’s a demand, the bands are going to go there.
SR: How about here in the States?
MW: The states is our hometown, we love it. Whether it’s the west coast, east coast or the midwest, we eventually get to every city. Everybody is different but they have a common love of music and for Queensryche.
SR: Which bands are you enjoying – who’s on your playlist?
MW: I’ve been so consumed with Queensryche for the past few years, I have to say I’m not really up to date all of the new bands. Primarily, I still buy CDs – I don’t download. I keep CDs in my car and listen to music in the car. The music that I’m listening to right now are the latest album by Rush and Soundgarden; the latest Mastodon, the latest Tool album. That music is pretty much where my head’s at when I need to clear my mind and relax. I’m still a guy that buys CDs.
SR: Queensryche has been cutting edge when it comes to providing opportunities for fans to be involved. You’ve hosted cruises, blood drives and other events. Now, you’re offering fans the opportunity to invest in Queensryche.
MW: You’re talking about PledgeMusic,which is a place where bands can go and create projects and have their fans invest in unique packages – to spur the band’s creativity, whether it’s a video or starting a tour- whatever it is. We jumped on the chance to take advantage of that, but also build a little equity, taking advantage of the laws of the United States for small business. We decided to offer a small percentage of our corporation, for some people to invest, have fun and ride along with the band.
SR: Give us a preview of what we can expect from Queensryche Monday night at the Evergreen State Fair
MW: The band’s on fire right now – we’re sure to give you a quality, high energy show. Come out and see a high energy show. To old and new fans of Queensryche, we really appreciate the support.
Queensryche at The Evergreen State Fair
Monday, August 31
Doors open: 6:00 pm
CLICK HERE for ticket information.