Michael Wilton of QueensrycheQueensryche Gives Us The Verdict
By Dave Schwartz

Queensryche’s latest record, “The Verdict,” has just dropped and you know what that means, TOUR!  I’ve only heard a few of the new songs but I have to say, they sound great.   This band keeps doing the impossible – changing the minds of the few that see Queensryche as just a legacy band.  The last three albums keep getting stronger and the band keeps attracting new fans. 

I spoke to Mike Wilton just a couple days ago.  Check out the interview!  

DB:  Thanks for calling in Mike.  I’m excited to hear about your new record, “The Verdict.”  That’s subject number one today.  Tell me a little bit about.

MW:  This has been 3 ˝ years since our previous album, “Condition Human” and Queensryche has been touring nonstop.  With Century Media and Sony Red it’s time to put together a new album.  So we had a lot of demos and parts and things from traveling on the road and putting ideas together.  We got into pre-production.  We used the same producer as we used with “Condition Human.”  We used Zeuss.  (Chris "Zeuss" Harris – Overkill, Sanctuary, Iced Earth, Rob Zombie)  The mighty ZEUSS! (Laughs)  We put together all of the demos and everybody just got together and collaborated.  We put together just a great album.  It was a song-by-song scenario of building the songs that everybody liked.  A lot of thought went into this and the album has a great flow.  It was something that was a lot of work and to us, it’s well regarded.  We feel this is a natural evolution in Queensryche – in this rendition of Queensryche – and so far the reaction has been very positive.  We’re very excited for this and I’ve got to tell you, doing albums these days, everything is scattered.  All of your ideas, you life, it’s just scattered and it’s a matter of organizing everything, getting it together and creating.  If you can imagine building a clay mold; it’s just a bunch of clay and there’s clay all over the place.  It’s like that, grabbing some clay to make something. 

DB:  Slapping a little more on, taking some off… 

MW:  Exactly.  So thank goodness we have an organized producer to know when to say, OK, enough is enough. 

DB:  Well you mentioned that you’ve been writing while on the road the past couple of years.  As you know better than I, some bands can do that and some can’t.  Talk a little bit about your process and capturing moments where you can write.

MW:  It’s a scenario where I think, a lot of our inspiration was infused by just being on the road all the time.  I think, well it’s a different animal out here than it was in the '90s or even the '80s for me.  The airplay is different now and there’s not so many rock stations.  There’s few terrestrial stations and you really don’t get the love that you used to get.  If you’re going to write songs you are going to tour all the time.  You might as well write songs that have a lot of energy and are fun to play live.  You see the fans and how they react.  You feel their energy and I think they know that it’s a mutual admiration and something that goes into the writing process so, yeah, the writing style for this album was very infused with playing these songs live. 

DB:  I read a comment that was made in a different interview that this album came together more organically.  The writing was more of a fully consolidated band situation as opposed to writing singularly and bringing ideas in.

MW: Yeah.  That’s exactly the process of writing, “The Verdict.”  It was kind of the way we used to do things in the early '80s.  A bunch of guys get together, have some beers and write some music.  This was kind of like that but now we’ve got technology.  Everything is more organized as far as where the ideas are kept.  They’re not on little cassettes anymore.  Now they’re on a hard drive.  And the thing is that this album was built by everyone in the band.  On every song everybody had to give their OK.  If something was lacking we worked on it together or we discarded it.  So in that sense it was a lot of creative spontaneity.  There are lots of creative sparks of energy in this album because, like you said, the ideas and the demos were not 100 percent finished.

DB:  One of the cornerstones of the older Queensryche albums was that you wanted to listen them with headphones on.  I want to say the word famous.  You were famous for having pristine recordings with so much sonic depth on your albums.  It really made you want to pull out a set of headphones and listen deeper to what was going on.  Everything was so clean and well produced and put together and I’m hearing that again on this record.  The few songs that I’ve heard from the record sound great.

MW:  Yeah, I think it keeping with the Queensryche tradition.  When we create our music there’s a lot of depth to it.  A lot of thought goes into the songwriting.  And so if you’re a headphone person you’re going to hear a lot.  Every time you listen to the record you’re going to hear something different.  That being said, yeah, that’s just something that we’ve always done.  We’ve always tried to put a lot of thought into the songwriting process and we think our fans really enjoy that. 

DB:  You have a couple of songs out now, prior to the official release – “Dark Reverie” and “Man the Machine.”  Talk for a moment about selecting those songs and how they represent the album.

MW:  “Man the Machine” is an energetic song that we felt would be great to put out there on the different media channels.  It shows that we’re back and that we’re back with some attitude.  We hit that worldwide and the response has been really great.  Everybody really loves it.  It has the traditional Queensryche double solos, semi progressive drums and it’s just an awesome song that’s going to be great to play live.  And we also release “Dark Reverie” which was written by our other guitar player, Parker Lundgren.  It’s a very special song for him personally.  He wrote the lyrics and the music and everything for that song.  That song has a special place and we’re very proud of it.  Musically it’s another classic Queensryche song.  It has the dynamics, the double guitar solos, there’s tons of melody everywhere, and there’s orchestration.  So there you go, we pulled everything out for that one. 

Michael Wilton of QueensrycheDB:  I agree.   Both songs certainly have the Queensryche signature on them.  I think a fan from today or 30 years ago would recognize it as a Queensryche song.  You’re making an important statement.  I recognize that you’ve got a brand to uphold and I think you’re doing well with it.

MW:  It’s interesting.  The people who have been into the band for so long really relate to it.  I mean we’ve still got a few of the guys that are like the DNA of the band so in a sense, it’s still going to sound like the old Queensryche because the old guys are still in the band.  (Laughs) 

DB:  And that’s the mud that holds everything together.  You mentioned Zeuss earlier and working with him as a producer.  Talk a little about what he brings to your record as producer.  Share with us what Zeuss does to help you be Queensryche.

MW:  Well, he’s that final opinion of where the songs should be.  The problem with artists is that we get so married to the demos.  We get so used to hearing the songs a certain way that we believe that is only way the songs can be.  He is the person with the more objective view of the idea.  It’s great because he kind of stirs the pot.  He gets the creativity up to the next level.  What’s great about Zeuss is that he knows Queensryche.  He’s familiar with all the old albums and the heritage of the band.  So he knows all of the secret weapons that make these songs Queensryche and knows all the guys, easy to get along with and can record where ever you want to record.  And he’s got a great ear.  He’s a talented guy. 

DB:  So a band with your history, there is – and I’ll use the word very loosely – a “danger” with your great back catalog of music, to become a legacy band.  I can tell that, that’s not at all where you want to be.  I’m trying to ask about stirring the newer songs into the set list and how the music from the last couple two or three albums are filling up your set.

MW:  We’ve rebuilt Queensryche back up with years of touring.  Seven years ago when we were playing live people wanted to hear all of the older stuff.  They wanted to hear the legacy stuff but as people have become more comfortable with the band they wanted to hear La Torre (vocalist Todd La Torre) sing the hits.  So we would play the older stuff and maybe mix in a new song.  Now we’re finally at that point where the people want to hear the new stuff.  So now the set is an infusion of the new music along with the legacy stuff.  It’s quite an ordeal but we are in that situation where want to hear the new and I think these songs from “The Verdict” are going to make a real strong impact live. 

DB:  That’s a really cool statement.  It’s exciting to hear the excitement in your voice about going out and playing the new songs.  And of course, then there’s the response from the audience of today which is a mixture of your long term fans along with those who are just discovering you.

MW:  Exactly.  It’s just mind blowing from my perspective on the stage to see the variance of fans in the crowd.  I mean, we’ve got people who have been there since 1982.  Now you’ve got their offspring and kids who are curious and all the newer fans for just the last couple of albums.  And it’s funny – they all have their favorite songs were Queensryche music made an impact in their lives.  And of course, that’s what keeps them coming back.  But I think a good variety, a good mixture of songs is what is needed for Queensryche live. 

DB:  So the good news is not only the release of “The Verdict” but also the tour.  You’re heading out with the first leg of your world tour starting right about the this interview will be posted, March 1st.  And in August you’ll be in Europe doing many of the larger festivals.

MW:  As we’re speaking I’m in Florida doing rehearsals for the tour.  We start, actually the end of February, we added one more date.   And we’re going out with a band we really like, Fates Warning.  It’s a Queensryche/Fates Warning package that will be touring and it’s going to be a really exciting show to see.  So yeah, our whole year is already been booked and I know that they’re already booking shows for next year.  After this tour we’re working on going to South America.  And then Europe in the summer and in the fall we’re doing another rock cruise, we’re doing the Megadeth cruise.  And then off of that we’re doing another tour in the fall and the winter is already being planned.  These days when you record and release a record you can tour on it for a long time.  It’s more of a world project so there are lots of opportunities to hit places you’ve never been.  We’re definitely more of a world band now.  We’re touring everywhere recording new music.  We could sit back and be a legacy band and play casinos all our life but we’re not about that.

I want to thank Mike Wilton for sharing a moment with DaBelly.  Queensryche is sounding better than ever and heading out on tour.  Check out the new record, “The Verdict” and go see them live when they’re in your town. 

No. Title Length
1. "Blood Of The Levant " 3:27
2. "Man The Machine" 3:51
3. "Light-Years" 4:09
4. "Inside Out" 4:31
5. "Propaganda Fashion" 3:36
6. "Dark Reverie" 4:23
7. "Bent" 5:59
8. "Inner Unrest" 3:50
9. "Launder The Conscience" 5:16
10. "Portrait" 5:16


Michael Wilton – guitar (1980–present)
Scott Rockenfield – drums (1980–present; on hiatus since 2017)
Eddie Jackson – bass, backing vocals (1980–present)
Parker Lundgren – guitar, backing vocals (2009–present)
Todd La Torre – lead vocals (2012–present), drums (2018 in studio)

Queensr˙che 2019 Tour Dates with Fates Warning:
03/02 – Orlando, FL @ The Plaza Live
03/03 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
03/05 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
03/07 – Baltimore, MA @ Sound Stage*
03/08 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun^
03/09 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza*
03/10 – Worcester, MA @ Palladium*
03/12 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
03/13 – Detroit, MI @ Diesel
03/14 – Chicago, IL @ Concord
03/15 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
03/16 – Medina, MN @ Medina Entertainment Center
03/17 – Davenport, IA @ Rhythm City Casino Resort^
03/20 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
03/21 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
03/22 – San Antonio, TX @ Aztec
03/23 – Albuquerque, NM @ El Rey
03/26 – Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
03/27 – San Diego @ Observatory
03/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda
03/29 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
03/30 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
04/02 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
04/03 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune

Queensryche - The Verdict European Tour 2019

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