Queensryche: Interview with Scott Rockenfield

In this profession, I have come across a few individuals that I totally enjoy talking with Dee Snider and Jon Thor are two of those people. There is one other, Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche/Slave to the System. I think this is the fourth time I have had the privilege of picking his brain and each time I get something new. This time around we talked about the recent Queesryche release, American Soldier, and the supporting tour.

Could you tell us a little about this new album, American Soldier. Who brought the idea to the table of using the stories of our fighting men and women?

A couple of years ago, WE (QR) were in the process of deciding what do to for our next project, and as we were tossing around musical ideas, and then Geoff (our singer) introduced us to the idea of maybe exploring the lives of an American Soldier. His father is a VET from previous wars and had some great stories/lifestyles to tell him, and so we began the journey of interviewing hundreds of soldiers to get their stories as well… We then started to compose music to fit the certain areas of the record.

You once told me that, as a band, you would write based on how you as a group felt and that accounted for the different sounds found from album to album. Was the process of writing this album different than in the past? How so?

American Soldier was somewhat typical of what we have done when we have approached making a particular record…usually we just sit and toss around ideas and then start to try and formulate a story or theme to tie everything together…

As I listen to the album (playing it right now) I’m reminded a little of of Empire/Mindcrime. Do you think you have come full circle back to that sound?

Yes we did want to try and visit some of our past recordings/sounds/elements, etc, to tie our history into what we wanted to achieve with this record, and we are very happy with what we accomplished!

How have the fans responded to American Soldier?

The response has been amazing from our fans and military personal across the world…!

American Soldier is written around stories told by our fighting men and women. Did you have to get any clearance to talk to our fighting forces? Were the soldiers open and accepting of this idea or did it take time to find people who would talk about their experience?

Yes we did have to get some clearance for the voices/signing that actually appears on the record, but it was easy for us because they were all very excited to be a part of it…

Geoff has a great voice, one of the best in rock ‘n’ roll but there is another surprise on the album, another lead vocal, Emily Tate, I believe she is 11. She has a great voice. How did she become involved in the recording? I also noticed that a few of the guest musicians, Kelly Gray and Damon Johnson, are from your side project, Slave to the System. How was it working with them on this project and what is the status of S.T.T.S?

Yes Emily was chosen to sing a song called “Home Again” that has to do with the idea of what happens to a family when their spouse has to depart for a tour of duty. Very heartwrenching, haha…! Yes we also always keep ourselves open to working with talented musicians who have a great chemistry with us…Kelly and Damon are fine examples of that… STTS is currently working on our next release hopefully to be available sometime 2010. Keep posted…!

Ok, let’s move on to the tour. No opening acts. Almost two and a half hours of Queensryche. The band sounds great and from what I have seen the crowd loves it.

While this is the American Soldier tour, the show itself revolves around only three albums, three sets. This is somewhat different than a “normal” show. You do sets for: Rage for Order, Empire and American Soldier. Why did the band pick these three albums? Is there a connection?

We really wanted to present some of our past material, mid material and current material, and so rage and Empire have always had great response and our fans have been eagerly asking for more of their content, Just seemed like a good idea…haha…!

How is Emily Tate handling her rock star status? How are the fans reacting to her performance?

Emily is doing a fine job, but has also learned how hard the road can be and how lonely you get to be home… After all she is only 11 and this is her first tour doing this…

Are you surprised by the response that the Empire set gets? I noticed that you played all but three songs off of Empire. The one glaring omission was “Silent Lucidity”. Was this a time consideration cut or is there something else behind the songs absence?

Empire has always been a great response record, and as for Lucidity, we swap songs out every night to keep things fresh for us and the repeat crowds is all…

Over all, how is the band feeling about this tour? What’s next for Queensryche?

The tour is going excellent worldwide…!!! We continue to tour through the end of 2009 and then we are looking at early 2010 for all sorts of new things to come… I am also heading in to compose a few new Film scores for some feature length movies being produced this fall and through early 2010… Busy busy… haha… Thanx everyone…! —Scott Rockenfield