Geoff Tate is one of the most polarizing figures in heavy metal today. Many people love the man who has one of the most iconic voices of all time, and there are just as many who don’t. Regardless of that, when the opportunity to have a chat with him presented itself I immediately said “Yes!”. I really found him to be very personable and down to earth, and an engaging speaker. We discussed the new album Resurrection from OPERATION: MINDCRIME (September 23, Frontiers Music), his wine business, and a whole lot more. Have a look:
Geoff: You have a really interesting name for your website, Damian. Amps and Green Screens?
Amps: Yeah, we cover music, which is the amps, and we used to do a lot of TV stuff and the occasional movie, hence the green screens. Mrs. Amps came up with the name and it stuck. But back to you! How’s it going?
Geoff: Real good. I just got back last night from Sturgis Bike Rally. It was hot! Really great weather and I got to see some old friends, so it was a good time.
Amps: Just so you know, I’m 43 and I spent much of the late 80’s/early 90’s trying to sing like you and it wound up sounding like cats being drowned. It was NOT pretty!
Geoff: (laughs) well, thanks.
Amps: Resurrection is Part II of a trilogy. How long did you have this idea kicking around before you took action?
Geoff: I wanted to do a long form multiple album story for quite a long time, and I liked the idea of a trilogy. It gives you three acts in the story arc. So the idea had been in the back of my mind for a few years and over a long hike when my wife and I were in Spain I wrote the story for it. And when I returned to Seattle I was inspired and started setting the whole thing to music. So here we are with Part II now.
Amps: Part II isn’t even out yet, but I have to ask if you already have ideas for Part III. Are they sitting in a vault somewhere?
Geoff: Actually, it’s done. I recorded all three albums at the same time, so the third one is just waiting to be released. We just have to mix and master it, so I’m waiting for some time to go by before I jump into that.
Amps: What are the touring plans behind this release?
Geoff: Well, first we’re shooting a video for “Taking On the World” and then I go over to Germany for the album release party at a winery there. Then I’ll be up in Ireland visiting some friends and then we start the European tour in December. We’ll be out all month and possibly into January. Then the U.S. tour starts sometime next year, perhaps in the spring.
Amps: My parents are off the boat from Belfast, Northern Ireland so I spent half my childhood there. Beautiful country, isn’t it?
Geoff: It really is. I love it over there.
Amps: Are there any tracks on Resurrection that stand out more than others for you?
Geoff: Well, I’m pretty happy with this second album. It really came together well. I’m really in love with every song on the record. And remembering back to when it was written and recorded, some of the songs have changed a lot, and others haven’t changed much. There’s a song called “A Smear Campaign” and one called “Which Side You’re On” that I’m very pleased with.
“A Smear Campaign” is probably a favorite because there are multiple kind of moods within the song. It switches between different moods and that’s always real challenging to try to incorporate into one piece.
Amps: While I have you here I have to say that your song “Seduction of Decay” on the latest AVANTASIA album Ghostlights was one of the best on a record full of great tunes.
Geoff: Oh, thank you. That was a fun project that just came together. I wasn’t expecting any of that and then Boom! There it was, you know?
Amps: Tobias Sammet had some great things to say about you, that you’re one of his heroes and someone he looks up to.
Geoff: I’m very honored that he invited me to sing on his song. It really was a treat and I enjoyed it.
Amps: How’s the wine business doing?
Geoff: My wine is called Insania, and we’re actually having the album release at the Rinklin Winery in Germany in September. Insania is an organic white wine made from the Pinot Gris or Grauer Burgunder grape.
Amps: You’ve been at this a long time, so what do you do to take care of the voice these days?
Geoff: Gosh, I just try to stay healthy, you know? I keep working out and keep my body strong. They’re the only things I do: work out, stay healthy, sing a lot (laughs)! And don’t get sick!
Amps: Are you still the lifting demon you once were, or no?
Geoff: I work out pretty heavily and consistently. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately because the older I get the harder it is to keep flexible. You get older you get real stiff and lose a lot of mobility. I’m almost 60 now, so things really change (laughs)!
Amps: I always laugh because back in the old days you’d see all these metal guys who were skinny, hairless beanpoles and you looked like you could snap all of them like twigs.
Geoff: (Laughing) that’s all deceptive, I’m really a small person. I’m a medium in everything; hats, pants, shirts, shoes, everything.
Amps: What are you feeling with Resurrection about to come out?
Geoff: I’m looking forward to going on the road and touring. I really enjoy that, you know? I’ll be playing a couple of the new songs, which will be fun.
Amps: Looking ahead, when Part III comes out, do you see yourself performing all of the parts in one grand theatrical show?
Geoff: Oh, I’d really love to do that. When you write a record as an artist, composer, and musician you’re really excited about the music on it, and you WANT to perform it. Something like this, I’d love to play all three albums back-to-back. Maybe I will at some point. maybe a small, limited engagement, perform the whole thing and film it. I don’t know, but I’d really like to something like that, definitely.
Amps: Over the course of your career is there any one song, city, venue, or performance that stands out to you. And if so, why?
Geoff: Well, Damian, it’s like there’s a million moments. I think the real important thing about life is to try to experience everything you can and enjoy every moment possible. Because they’re all very special, and unfortunately we only have a limited amount on this earth.
So often we take things for granted and fill our time up with really useless stuff. And really, it’s so precious that experiencing everything you can is a great way to go. But yeah, there’s just millions and millions of moments, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate. I’ve traveled and toured in 62 countries around the world, I’ve met hundreds of thousands of really interesting people, heard a million stories, and traveled a LOT of miles. I’ve fathered five children and I have six grandchildren, a wonderful life, a beautiful marriage, and I feel really, really blessed. I feel really fortunate to have done these things. Like David Lee Roth said: “All the bills are paid, I got it made in the shade” (laughs).
Amps: What would you like to say to all the Geoff Tate fans worldwide?
Geoff: I just want to say thank you for listening. I think anytime anybody listens to your music and appreciates it I feel humbled and honored by that. There is so much out there, so many artists, and so many musicians putting out music, so for somebody to take the time and be interested in what I do, it’s very flattering, and I truly appreciate that.
I really enjoyed talking with Geoff Tate. He was super-nice and if I wasn’t at work I felt like we could have chatted for hours. Once again, Resurrection comes out September 23, and you can find out more about Geoff Tate’s Insania wine HERE.