Once again I had the chance to speak with singer extraordinaire Geoff Tate, a longtime vocal hero of mine. His latest project and album is SWEET OBLIVION Featuring GEOFF TATE, co-starring amazing guitarist and producer/arranger Simone Mularoni, and it’s out now via Frontiers Music. We talked about that, and what else is going on in the realm of Geoff. Check it:
Amps: SWEET OBLIVION…You’re singing like you’re 25 again. Tell me how this project came to be. And I apologize for starting off like a fangirl!
Geoff: (Laughs) thank you. Well this record does have a great story. It was the brainchild of Serafino from Frontiers Music. He knew Italian guitar player Simone Mularoni. They felt that putting he and I together, we might find some common ground. Which we did. And before you knew it, we had an album realized. What’s really cool about this record is that it was conceived, written and recorded in the virtual world, without any of us being in the same room. It was an amazing experience. It allowed us to follow all our individual schedules. Which for me, I was touring at the time, I recorded this album through 19 different countries. It’s kind of an interesting way of doing it.
Amps: So you say the entire thing was done virtually. How exactly did that work for you? Did Simone send you guitar riffs, and you develop lyrics to overlay?
Geoff: Both. We worked off beats, guitar riffs, it was a nice collage of different components that we polished up. To me, every record is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have an idea, a concept of what you want to create and then you have all these bits and pieces to figure out. Maybe a three-note melody, a particular chord you want to feature, and a drum rhythm that you really love. So, you build on those to come up with something you love, then fit those with other pieces to hopefully make a record.
Amps: That’s the thing with this album. It’s a very classically metal record, and certainly “riff-tastic” thanks to Simone. It also sounds very fresh, very modern. For me, the best part of the album is right there in the middle, with “Resistance from my Fate”, “Transition” and “Disconnect”. Tell me a little bit about those.
Geoff: Those songs definitely conjure up a certain mood, which is why they are placed there. The thing about music is that we all hear it so differently. We experience it differently, as we assign it to emotions and how we feel about a situation we’re in or an action that’s occurred. We even hear it differently based on how its constructed. Put someone in front of an orchestra and all they’ll hear is a wall of sound. Someone else might be able to tell you what instrument is playing, what melody, what key. My point is that it’s all so uniquely detailed. So, I don’t really like to detail about what the song means or what it’s trying to say. I like the listener to assign their own emotions to it.
Amps: When I first got the promo, I was at the laundromat. It was after an eight-hour work day, I’m sitting there, pop in the record to keep from falling asleep. As soon as track one started, I was like, “I’m awake!”
Geoff: See? That’s great. That’s exactly it.
Amps: Away from music for a second. What are you doing to relax and get away from it all? Are you still making wine?
Geoff: Yeah! Every October, we have a winery party out in Germany. It’s fun, because thousands of people descend on this tiny mountain where the wine is made. We have several days of merry making, eating too much and playing music. You never know who’s going to jump onstage, or show up. There’s tons of my friends that show up. We have that every year on October 26th. So it’s actually free for anyone that wants to come. I just finished a 21 date tour with AVANTASIA and I’m going on tour for myself in June on the east coast in the U.S. Then I’ll head out to Europe again with AVANTASIA again next summer. Pretty much my whole year is mapped out, and it’s all touring.
Amps: Something about AVANTASIA, when you guest on those records, I hear an inimitable joy from you when you’re singing that material. It’s always nice to be able to note that when Geoff Tate is on that record, you know you’re going to get one hell of a song.
Geoff: Thank you. I’ve heard some people say that before. I actually do enjoy it. The set list, it’s been a three hour show that we’ve been playing, it’s really cool music.
Some of the songs are four minutes long, but others are 12 minutes long. They are incredibly challenging to sing. Very high registry deliveries. But the band is so on it, so tight, and as a matter of fact,
I think there were only two musically technical mistakes on the entire tour, and one of those was due to a monitor issue. They, the monitors, went down and no one knew where they were.
Amps: You mention some of the song lengths. I’m always attracted to the epic songs on a record, you know, like old IRON MAIDEN type songs. What music are you listening to these days? Is it pop, rock, polka, what?
Geoff: Musically? I don’t know. I don’t listen to other people’s music very much. I guess I’ve just reached an age where I want to focus on other things. I’m not so much interested in what other people are doing. I’m pretty focused on my own stuff.
Amps: Any books, movies, podcasts moving you right now?
Geoff: No. I haven’t read a book in a long time. Movies, I’ve seen so many movies, that they all seem to have lost a lot of traction. It’s a lot of the same plot lines. I’m not interested in murder, mystery, Cop shows, or anything a Beverly Hills wife has to say. I’m not interested in shows about how to get rich, or what you can find in warehouses (laughs). I’m just not into that stuff. I’m not into game shows. So, it really leaves me with nothing left. I think it’s a lot of programming aimed at dumb people, honestly, appealing to the lowest common denominator.
Amps: THANK YOU! Seriously. I’ve just about abandoned anything that isn’t well written these days. You mentioned that your year is just about mapped out as far as touring goes. But will you do any writing? Are you that guy that’s always writing, humming into his iPhone in the frozen food aisle?
Geoff: Always. I’m the guy carrying a studio with him at all times. I’m in the hotel room and backstage, on planes, constantly writing. I have a whole library of stuff that I’m constantly finishing.
Amps: What is something you want the listener to take away from this SWEET OBLIVION album?
Geoff: Gosh, I don’t know. I just hope that they get to experience it, ya know? I don’t have any expectations of people listening to the music, of hearing it or appreciating it. I’m always surprised when someone comes up to me talking about a particular song. I always have to double check. “Are you talking about something I wrote?” “Yeah, it changed my life man!” “Well good! I hope it was in a good way!” “Nah man, I spent 42 years in prison!” You know, no one wants that (laughs).
Amps: I know you’ve been with Frontiers Music for a long time, and they put together a lot of really great bands. Would we have a chance of a SWEET OBLIVION tour ever hitting the States?
Geoff: At the moment, no, but in the future, it’s possible. I am completely mapped out for the next two years. It was honestly a project just to see if it would work. And we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on the record. Maybe after the next one, there will be room to tour. I never say never, nowadays.
Amps: What do you want to say to all of your fans out there in the world?
Geoff: Thanks for listening to the music and coming to the shows. It means so much to see people show up on the dates and be out there singing the songs. Experiencing something (the shows), which I feel is incredibly important, and it’s great to see them out there.
Just like the last time, I truly enjoyed speaking with Geoff Tate. The SWEET OBLIVION album is great, and I would love to see him and Mr. Mularoni bring the show to the U.S. at some point. In the meantime Geoff is touring his ass off as we speak. And make no mistake, I’ll be there when he comes to Philly in February of 2020. For those of you who wish to see him in your city, the dates are HERE.