How did you come up with the idea of releasing a trilogy, as opposed to recording just three regular, separate albums?
Well, it did actually come out as three separate albums, but I'd wanted to do a large-scale piece for a while. I told my wife Susan about it, she liked the idea, she took it to Frontiers and they liked the idea and so we just started moving in that direction. It was a really amazing project to be part of. Lot of great performances by a lot of wonderful musicians and great writing team working on it with me and we just had a blast.
The main character of the trilogy is called H. What does H stand for?
Well, that's one of those mysteries of the record, that you find out the more you listen to it. There's lots of little, I call them audio breadcrumbs. You know, like if you get lost you should leave breadcrumbs along the way so you can find your way back, it's kinda like that with the audio breadcrumbs. They're little bits and pieces of the story that you pick up along the way and if you hear these words and phrases, they repeat each other so if you write them down they sort of form a sentence. And that sentence kinda leads you to some explanation.
How did you decide on the musical direction? Was it like, "I have to do something that doesn't sound like Queensryche"?
I don't think I really decided. I think it just very organically happened. I never really cared for genres, you know? I grew up in times where it wasn't really genrefied yet and everything was rock music so, I kinda still think that way.
So, how different was the song-writing process for the Operation: Mindcrime project compared to writing for Queensryche?
Really similar, same process. You start with an idea and you work it out. You create a sketch and then if you need somebody else on the song because you wanna take it someplace else, you get somebody else involved with it and you say, "Here's what I got, what can you do with this?" And then you just start making it into something, you know? It's sort of collaborative work. Same process really, just different people.
When the last chapter of the trilogy was out you said you were surprised at this feeling of weight that got lifted off your shoulders. Looks like you were really looking forward to closing this chapter?
Yeah, I was. You know, it was a lot of work making these records and a lot of time spent, a lot of dedication and a lot of being in that realm of thinking. When you're making an album you kinda live it, you live in that framework that you're creating. And after a while you're ready to change that vibe and do something new and so, I was just ready to move on. I got a little bit of attention deficit disorder, ha-ha! I can hang in there for a couple of years, but then I just gotta do something else.
You said in an interview that in Queensryche you weren't friends, just business partners...
Well, when we started out we were very young, we were very excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities, but then after we got to know each other we found out that there wasn't a lot of stuff we have in common. We were very different people. We had some commonality in that we had this band together that was very successful right from the beginning so, it's hard to walk away from that. So, you try to find some common ground that you can work with and you try to find some common ground that you can understand the other person and where they're coming from and you just try to roll-up your sleeves and you try to work together as much as you can, even though it's difficult at times. But you've got this valuable thing that is supporting everybody and it's giving us all a very nice lifestyle and we all have families and children and grandchildren and you just don't easily walk away from that.
Have you recently spoken to any of your former band members?
I saw the guys last summer. I was playing in Barcelona with Avantasia and we were headlining it so we went last on but I went out early 'cause I heard Queensryche was gonna be there and I wanted to see them 'cause I'd never seen them with the new singer. So, I went out early and I watched their set and said hi to the guys. It was interesting watching them, ha-ha! Kinda weird and strange 'cause I'd never seen them play without me, so it was very odd. It was almost like I was scientist looking under a microscope going, "Oohh, hmm, that's really interesting."
I know you took lessons to keep your voice in good shape...
I did that when I first began singing. I took instruction from an incredible teacher, maestro David Kyle. He was a very famous maestro and voice coach based in Seattle. He used to be in New York then retired to Seattle but then kept teaching until he was 94 years old. He could sing right up to the last month of his life. He had a very beautiful voice. And yeah, I took instruction from him and that was really beneficial. I'd try to suggest it to anybody who's going to make a career out of it. It not only helps you keep your voice in shape it also gives you longevity so that you can do show after show after show. It's a very fragile instrument and you need to take care of it to a certain extent, and take care of your body of course, but it's really common for singers to blow their voice out and they can do like maybe two shows on and then two shows off and that's really hard to deal with I think for the band, that kinda stop and go kinda momentum. I like to tour and just blitzkrieg the whole thing, just keep going, I don't like days off.
You co-wrote and played a role in an independent horror movie a while ago. How did it come about?
Yeah, "The Burningmore Deaths". It's available on Amazon. Don't let kids watch it. It's disturbing. All my girls wanted to watch it, I told them, "No, not until you're adult," ha-ha! It's horrible. I mean it's a good movie, it's just not for children, gives you nightmares.
You played very few Operation: Mindcrime project songs on the last couple of tours, I mean one or none at all...
There's no rules anymore. We do what we like to do. There was a model at one point where you had a record and you released the record and you toured that record. It doesn't mean anything anymore. That model is gone. So now everybody does what they wanna do and they play the music they wanna play and they change it up or they don't play it at all.
Do you have any cool memories from the "Operation: Mindcrime" recording session?
It was a very interesting record to make, 'cause we started in Seattle, went to Vancouver, British Columbia, then we went to Philadelphia, United States and recorded there and then some of us went up to Morin-Heights, Quebec, and we ended up in the Netherlands in Wisseloord Studios. So, it was a lot of countries and a lot of different studios. I remember, in Morin-Heights it was great, 'cause we lived at the bottom of the mountain and we'd go skiing in the morning before the sessions and then we'd go to work and work all day and if we were gone off early we would go nightskiing, ha-ha! So that was really fun. Lots of memories. It was a very interesting memorable time.
Now that the trilogy is complete, do you already know which way you want to go, musically?
No, I'm kinda on hold right now. I've dedicated myself to touring for 2018 so I'm just gonna go everywhere I possibly can and I think in time, maybe next year, something new will probably rise to the surface in some way.