Queensryche’s first self-titled album was also its 14th major release, but it represented a fresh start. The 2013 LP was the band’s first with lead singer Todd La Torre, and it hit the shelves after a legal battle with former frontman Geoff Tate, who was releasing his own material using the Queensryche moniker.
The album served as an announcement that the band was starting over from scratch, hitting refresh on a career that had been going since the dawn of the hair metal movement.
“It’s a rebirth of Queensryche,” guitarist Michael Wilton said of the band’s new lineup. “It’s like a shot in the arm.”
Formed in Bellevue, Washington, in 1982, the group, which hits Northern Quest this weekend, is still chugging along with three of its founding members: Along with Wilton is bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield. The band’s newest album is titled “Condition Human,” and it’s the second LP to feature the new formation.
(The legal battle with Tate has been resolved, and Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield maintained control of the Queensryche name.)
“It’s kind of an evolution from the last record, a natural progression in the Queensryche discography,” Wilton said. “The band members’ personalities are gelling and coming together, and we’re more comfortable playing with each other. This lineup is pretty tight.”
The band has gone through lineup changes before, which Wilton says always presents a challenge. But with La Torre and guitarist Parker Lundgren recently coming on board, he says the group is as nimble as ever.
“It’s all about chemistry,” Wilton said. “Obviously the name Queensryche is bigger than one individual, so the machine that powers the name has to have the right chemical balance, basically. … It’s really proven to be a great recipe. We’re a little older now so we’re pretty seasoned, but we all have our different influences, and it’s really exciting to see how songs build and develop.”
As for La Torre, Wilton describes him as “a powerhouse vocalist.”
“He seamlessly stepped into that position,” Wilton continued. “There was no ego, no ‘look at me and what I can do.’ He really brought what he can do to this band as an asset, and it was kind of magical how it all happened. We couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.”
“Condition Human” was written over the course of two years and most of it was done on the road, which makes it closer in spirit to the albums Queensryche was releasing 20 years ago.
“We wanted to capture the magic in the recordings back in the early ’80s and put it in a 2015 setting,” Wilton said. “That’s the vision we had. … We were writing and recording as a band, and back in the day that’s how we did that. But we’re seasoned musicians now.”
And while you’ll hear plenty of the new material in their Sunday night set, you’ll also get an earful of their ’80s and ’90s hits, including “Silent Lucidity,” “Jet City Woman” and “Real World.”
“You’ll definitely see a Queensryche with a new energy,” Wilton said. “It’s a robust, powerhouse show. We bring the songs that the fans want to hear, what they’ve been screaming about for so long. It’s honest hard rock.”
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