Well I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing original founder and lead guitarist of Queensryche, Michael Wilton. For one, this stems from me being a huge long time fan of both the early years, as well as their current lineup … I mean bands evolve, members change and attitudes are adjusted, but when the overall dynamics of the band remain the same, their future seems to remain the same as well. Sure they will lose a few fans, but they will also gain many as evident through their last several years of touring! My goal was to have this interview go forward, as opposed to discussing the past which everyone already knows about! This ended up being welcomed and open armed by Michael … and so my interview starts:
Frankie J: So Michael, since the release of your 15th studio album The Verdict, how do you feel that’s been received by the general public and your fans?
Wilton: Well it’s been quite a whirlwind for us, and we are just trying to take advantage of it and we’re going to keep taking the offers and touring on it.
Frankie J: Yeah and I don’t see why not, it’s a pretty dynamic release and personally, I love it and I also love Todd! I think he’s been an amazing addition to the band. One question is about the contributions by the individual band members, the lyrics, writing and arrangements. Can you give me a little info on that as far as who does what?
Wilton: Yeah it’s pretty simple we’re a democratic band, everybody puts in their own input, once that’s done it’s worked on and formulated. A killer song is developed by the bands creativity and you never know what it’s gonna turn out to be. For me, it’s kinda like what we used to do in the early 80’s … I mean it’s fun to be in this band.
Frankie J: And it shows it on stage live. Since the San Jose show at the Rockbar Theater when I first witnessed Todd with Queensryche, I’ve seen you guys perform another 4 concerts and Century Media has blessed me with covering Queensryche on several of those shows, and now this interview in which I’m grateful for your time. You’ve actually shared some of my photos and articles which leads us to knowing each other. So going back to your studio democratic process, there’s not a whole lot of bands that do that and so I’m thinking that is the glue that holds the band together?
Wilton: Yeah well Todd has been in the band for 8 years now (I said wow, has it been that long?) yes time flies and Parker has been with us for 11 years and the fans have embraced it. We continue to putting out albums so we’re not relying on our past. We have a great deal with our record company, they want another record and so we are looking forward to that.
Frankie J: Was that originally a two record deal, then The Verdict as an extension and see what happens after that?
Wilton: We’ve been loyal to the label, and whatever they throw at us we’ll do. Those things are always the tricky side of business and there’s other labels making offers … So it can get a little sticky when that time comes.
Frankie J: Yes of course, and being loyal is definitely a good thing! So going forward however, what do you see in the near future with the band. Where do you see it going?
Wilton: There’s pockets of time when we are not touring, and so there will be time when we spend formulating ideas, putting together arrangements with with lyrics, and hopefully with total agreement we can get something organised and start putting something together by 2021.
Frankie J: Wow, that’s in the very near future. Is there any progress on that already? Perhaps something already on paper in the works?
Wilton: It’s more about me having planted the seed and everyone’s excited about what we can come up with. Having a new album out is always a good thing because it allows us to get out and tour on that, which we love and we don’t want to be stagnant. If you don’t create new material, the offers aren’t there to tour. We also want the promoters and fans happy.
Frankie J: To change the subject, throughout the years and current, the dynamics have changed so much with CD sales being way down for not just Queensryche, but all bands. With ITunes, single song downloads and sharing, it makes it difficult to generate sales like you used to. So touring is really it right? That’s where a lot of sales revenue come in for a solid band such as yourself. I mean you guys tour hard and heavy, and also so much. You guys seem to thrive in that area and I want to applaud that. I think It’s more about fan appreciation these days right?
Wilton: Well yeah, that’s it, people just don’t buy music anymore which is sad. At least bands like us, power metal bands, have to make a living we need to tour. It’s something we enjoy doing, however we gotta be smart with it. We can’t under tour, and we can’t over tour. It’s one thing that all bands are dealing with in one form or another. A lot of these bands that we know only takes three jobs to do what they love because their time is limited. For us it’s just passion and we love what we do, we want to be out there, it make sense to us. The fans love what we do, and so we’ll keep doing it.
Frankie J: Going back to The Verdict, I noticed some slight progressive undertones, um was that intentional and do you want to keep going more into that direction?
Wilton: I think that’s more of a by-product of who we are and what we come up with and the touring we’re doing. With that being said, we really don’t get a lot of airplay anymore. So for us it’s about what’s fun to play live and taking chances. it’s not like we’re writing for a radio hit ya know, it’s not the 90’s anymore. So if you’re gonna tour on your music, might as well play what our fans and demographic wants live. We are in a real good position now, because for years the hardcore fans wanted to hear all the old classics, the stuff that’s deep. And now they hear it all, now they want to hear the old legacy songs mixed with the new Queensryche. That’s a great position to be in and we’re infusing it with the classics in the set list. We get to promote the new album, add classics and obscure stuff, it’s a win / win situation!
Frankie J: I think so, as a band changes within, you kinda have to do that. But I have to tell you, out of the 15 studio record installments, the Empire album is one of my favs and so I’m thrilled to death you continue to add one or two tracks from that on your set list everytime you tour. The last three albums, Queensryche, Condition Human and The Verdict have certainly grown on me and have fast become favs as well! Again it’s so evident when you guys play it live … And to me, it feels like your old stuff catapults you into the new stuff … Like it continues the saga.
Wilton: Absolutely, it does, well we got the DNA and they hear music reminiscent to what Queensryche is and sounds like us and they are getting what they like. A lot of the audience remembers the hits, the older stuff and really don’t follow the band but will go see us for that. Then here’s the new fans that like the deep cuts as well the new stuff and it’s a setlist that appeases both. Ya got a lot of younger new fans that are really taken by the band, the musicianship and the show we’re doing.
Frankie J: You know what’s amazing about that, it’s crazy!! These are the kids that come from your original fans, their parents. I mean they listen to what they grew up with, along with everything that’s new. I’ve seen so many parents with their kids at rock shows and I think they really appreciate the new recordings.
Wilton: We’ve seen that and it’s a little bit of nepotism, but we love seeing the younger generation love our music, that’s a good sign!
Frankie J: One of the biggest reasons why your fans love Queensryche, were the deep, real stories that people can often relate to in their lives. It seem that still runs true carrying that same tradition on The Verdict album, almost like a screenplay.
Wilton: Right … Ya know it’s just been so well received around the the world and we’re happy to tour on that!
Frankie J: OK, well cool man I think that just about wraps it up. All my questions were off the cuff, nothing rehearsed and I’m stoked to see Queensryche perform once again tonight. Thank you so very much for your time, and the impromptu, almost conversation type interview which you so graciously accepted to do!
Oh wait … One more question, are you still doing the coffee? On a separate note of course haha.
Wilton: Yeah, glad you asked. I just started a new blend to come out soon with a roaster out of Seattle called Caffe D’arte and that will be available through links on the website. The new blend is a little different, so please try it out!! Also please check out my Beer as well. Thank you for the interview Frankie! Looking forward to read it when it goes live.
So in closing, Michael Wilton is every bit a cool ass dude as the way he was back in the day! I loved our interview and his candidness approach with my questions. I can’t stress enough how amazing Queensryche is live as well genuine on the human scale.
NOW … Back inside to catch some of the soundcheck, then enjoy the show!! I hope you all enjoyed this interview, and by the looks of it we should all be looking forward to the 16th Studio Album hopefully coming out in 2021 … For more information on Whip’s Pacific Blend Coffee, Whip Ale Beer, and everything else Wilton, you can visit his website right here: Michael Wilton