Second Coming: Queensrÿche Guitarist Michael Wilton Talks Touring, New Music
Ever since the acrimonious departure of singer Geoff Tate in 2012, Queensrÿche has found itself carved into two separately distinctive camps. It’s a situation that’s led to confusion among fans over which is the “real” Queensrÿche.
Last year, founding Queensrÿche members Michael Wilton (guitars), Eddie Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums) along with guitarist Parker Lundgren and vocalist Todd La Torre made their case for the name by releasing a hugely successful self-titled album. A disc that stayed true to the classic Queensrÿche sound while simultaneously proclaiming the rebirth of the band.
While a decision has been reached as to which of the two Queensrÿches is allowed to carry on with the name, no official announcement has been made. Until then, Wilton and company will continue to make their case before the fans, including another tour stop at Penns Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA on Friday, April 25th.
I spoke to Wilton as he was en route to a Queensrÿche show in New York and got an update on the band, new music and what inspired him to make music his career.
What do you like most about playing at Penns Peak?
It looks a little ominous from the outside but once you get in there, they move back the tables and they rock! It’s such a cool place to play and we can’t wait to get back there.
It’s been almost two years now since Todd joined the band. How has his addition changed the dynamic of Queensrÿche?
The internal dynamic has certainly changed in terms of musicianship. Not only does Todd sing and write lyrics, but he also plays drums and guitar. It’s more of a cohesive team. The chemistry between the bonds is now limitless in terms of what we can do creatively and we’re really excited about that.
Do you have an update on when we can expect a resolution on the dual versions of the band?
That’s coming up. What I can say is that both sides have reached an amicable settlement and it’s now just a matter of time. There will be an official press release but for now, you’ll have to wait.
Has the band been working on new music?
Yes, we’ve already begun the process for the next album. We have probably six songs demoed so far. We’re taking it in a direction suited to what we do as Queensrÿche but maybe a little more progressive and heavier. The thing is, you never know what you really have until it’s complete. It’s like carving a piece of clay and seeing how it turns out. You peel off the layers until you get to something really cool.
What’s your writing process like?
It usually starts with an initial idea. From my standpoint, it’s a riff that gets stuck in my head. Once I get the basic arrangement down I’ll start hearing a melody for it. That’s when I’ll explain it to Todd along with a subject of what I’m feeling. Then he’ll run with it and we’ll send it to every guy in the band. We all do the same thing. Eddie Jackson (bass) writes a lot of melodies and lyrics as well. There’s no shortage of dynamic input.
Growing up, were you one of those guitarists who would lock themselves in their room for hours on end practicing?
Yep, I was that guy! [laughs]. There was a time where I would do an hour of scales, then an hour of picking patterns and then another hour where I would listen to classical music and try to transpose it to guitar. It was an hour of this and an hour of that. It was very regimented and at times maniacal! [laughs]. But I come from a family that really appreciated music and had a great library for me to spend my formative years listening to and having all of these great players engrained in me. Those became the building blocks. Then it was just a matter of bringing in the “Bruce Lee” discipline.
When did you decide music was going to be your calling?
When I was in high school I was a pretty good baseball player, and it eventually got to the point to where it was either going to be that or music. But as I was getting ready to go to college to play baseball, I found the whole thing to be really political. So I started rebelling against it. Then I went to a Van-Halen/Black Sabbath concert and that was it. I knew exactly what I wanted to do!
What advice would you give to kids who want to chase their dreams?
I like to tell kids who are living at home without any real big responsibilities yet to get good at something. Find something you’re good at and like to do and then hone in on it. Don’t wait to do it until later on in life. No matter what it is, now is the perfect time.
What excites you about the future of the Queensrÿche?
For me, it’s being able to write together as a band. It’s liberating and makes me want to express myself fully. Writing with such a dynamic group of individuals that cohabitate well together is amazing. I’m really enjoying the process and taking it for a ride.
Queensrÿche and Red Dragon Cartel will perform
at Penns Peak on Friday, April 25th.
For more on Queensrÿche check out their official website by Clicking Here!