During his 30 years as singer and primary songwriter in Queensryche, Geoff Tate never concerned himself with getting his name recognized. In fact, the names of all of the band members were largely unknown to many music fans.
That wasn’t a problem for Tate, who wanted to promote Queensryche as a band — until he had a stormy parting of ways with the group in 2012.
“When the breakup happened and we went our separate ways, people didn’t know my name as much as they knew the word Queensryche,” he said. “Of course, I had spent all of those years promoting that name.”
This situation explains why Tate, since the split, has not yet recorded any albums under his own name. His first three post-Queensryche albums, the thematically connected “The Key” (2015), “Resurrection” (2016) and “The New Reality” (2017), were released under the band name Operation: Mindcrime.
As Queensryche fans know, “Operation: Mindcrime” is the name of that band’s signature release, a 1988 concept album. “Operation: Mindcrime” introduced Queensryche to a significant audience of heavy metal/hard rock/progressive rock fans and set the stage for the 1990 album “Empire,” which became a triple-platinum hit behind its crossover single, the ballad “Silent Lucidity.”
“I kind of had to start with something that people recognized in order to market myself and to sell tickets to my shows,” Tate explained. “They knew the words Operation: Mindcrime, and that’s what we used as a way of kind of segueing into me being a complete solo artist now. They had to learn who I was, which sounds so weird, but it’s very true.”
Tate has since gone on to release two more albums, this time under the name Sweet Oblivion featuring Geoff Tate. Those albums, a self-titled 2019 release and 2021’s “Relentless,” will be joined by a third Sweet Oblivion album next year, assuming current plans hold.
The inability for Tate to bill himself in tandem with the Queensryche name is the result of a settlement with his former bandmates over his dismissal from the band. The band was granted exclusive use of the Queensryche name, while Tate gained sole rights to perform the “Operation: Mindcrime” album in its entirety at “unique performances,” as well as “Operation: Mindcrime II,” the 2006 sequel to the original album.
“What we settled on in the court case was they bought the (Queensryche) name from me,” Tate said, not showing even a trace of bitterness over the circumstances of his firing from Queensryche.
“It’s probably a good thing, because none of them, I don’t think, could have survived if they had to go by their own names rather than the one Queensryche. It worked out for both parties really well.”
As Tate’s recording output since 2012 suggests, he’s remained very active as a solo artist. In addition to releasing the Operation: Mindcrime and Sweet Oblivion albums, he’s maintained a packed touring schedule.
Unlike many solo artists who move on from famous bands, though, most of Tate’s touring up to now has not been centered on promoting his post-Queensryche music. Instead, he’s done a series of tours coinciding with the anniversaries of the Queensryche albums “Rage for Order” (1986), “Operation: Mindcrime” and “Empire.”
“I think it was the timing. When you have a 30-year anniversary staring you in the face, it’s hard not to do it,” Tate said with a chuckle. “I’d like to sort of ease back on playing the ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ album in its entirety, but I get so many requests from so many promoters in different places all over the world that want to bring the show there. Again, it’s sort of tough to say no and do something else.”
The only thing that has slowed Tate down over the past decade was open heart surgery last year that involved installing a valve in his heart.
“It was a year ago in June when I had the operation. It was kind of a surprise to me, because I didn’t really have any symptoms, obvious symptoms,” said Tate, 64.
“I just went in for a checkup and they found that I had a pretty serious issue that I needed to get corrected. I just thought I was feeling normal for a guy my age. Since the surgery, and getting the valve replaced, I feel 15 years younger. I feel incredible. I have so much more energy and so much more wind power. I just feel great.”
Tate has spent much of 2023 on tour, and is finishing the year with a six-week tour in the States, followed by a run through the United Kingdom and Europe playing the “Operation: Mindcrime” album in its entirety. He’ll return to the States in early 2024 for a co-headlining tour with Adrian Vandenberg.
The U.S. dates, which are being billed as the Big Rock Show Hits tour, Tate said, will encompass his entire career with Queensryche and solo.
“It’s got a set list of songs that comprise all of the different records I’ve released over the years,” he said. “These are the singles, the radio singles, the video singles, from the albums. I’m also adding some deep cuts for the hardcore fans, songs I haven’t played before.”
Geoff Tate’s Big Rock Show
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 3
WHERE: Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street
COST: $30 to $36