A.J. Motts and R.J. Stone of Sweet Death Entertainment conducted an interview with guitarist Michael Wilton of Seattle progressive metallers QUEENSRŸCHE prior to the band's January 25 concert at House Of Blues in Dallas, Texas. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On vocalist Todd La Torre playing drums on the band's latest studio album, 2019's "The Verdict":
Michael: "That was something that was spawned on us at the last minute. We were posed with the question of, 'Well, we got the producer all lined up. We got the record company behind it. Do we get another drummer, a session drummer? Or, Todd used to play drums. 'Hey, Todd, can you give it a shot?' We set up a kit for him and he did the first song. Zeuss [Chris Harris], our producer, went thumbs-up: 'This is a no-brainer.' Otherwise, we would have to delay the album. Who knows what would have happened? Todd kind of saved the album. [Laughs]"
On the band's working relationship with Harris:
Michael: "He's done a couple of albums with us now. He knows us, understands us and knows how to push us to get the right parts and get the creative juices flowing and to look at things differently. He's really an important part of us now."
On QUEENSRŸCHE's development since La Torre joined in 2012:
Michael: "The whole band is clicking. As we grow together, the chemistry grows and the creative process, there's more confidence and there's just a maturing of everybody that's naturally happening. We're really at a good point in our career and I think everybody's at their A-game. This is a good time for us. We're on a great path. We've been with Todd now seven years. We're touring all over the world. We're hitting places that we haven't played in 10, 15 years. We're charting in countries we haven't charted in before. Things are looking good for us."
On whether there was an adjustment period for current touring drummer Casey Grillo (ex-KAMELOT):
Michael: "No. [Laughs] He kind of had to dive right into it. Casey Grillo is from KAMELOT, and he wasn't doing anything, so we called him up because Scott [Rockenfield], our old drummer, had family things and had to go down a different path."
On the current status of Rockenfield:
Michael: "We don't know. It's like he wants his privacy, and we respect that. But now Casey's been with us live for over two years. The fans have embraced him and he's a great player live. We'll continue to use him."
On the songwriting process with La Torre:
Michael: "I think there's definitely a maturing that's happening. This year, there's less touring, so we have pockets of time to start writing new riffs and songs and demos and everything, to get ready for something, hopefully, next year to get recorded, so that there's not four years between each album, because I am getting older. We're trying to push everybody to start getting creative. Last year, we did basically a hundred shows and we were gone from home forever. This time, we're letting the band get a break here and there, a couple of months here, and maybe a month off here."
QUEENSRŸCHE's current tour will end on February 27 with a show in Orlando, Florida. After playing a couple of dates in May, the group will support the SCORPIONS on the German hard rock legends' Las Vegas residency in July.
"The Verdict" was released in March 2019 via Century Media Records. The disc was produced, mixed, and mastered by Harris at Uberbeatz in Lynwood, Washington; Planet-Z in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; and Watershed Studio in Seattle, Washington.
The current QUEENSRŸCHE lineup features two original members, bassist Eddie Jackson and Wilton, along with La Torre and guitarist Parker Lundgren.
"The Verdict" marks QUEENSRŸCHE's third full-length release with La Torre, following the departure of original singer Geoff Tate in 2012.