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Geoff Tate

During this time of worldwide troubles and turmoil, Singer/Songwriter Geoff Tate is providing the perfect diversion with his Operation: Mindcrime band (namesake from the third studio album of his former band Queensryche, released in 1988), to reflect back on better times, relax and enjoy. South Florida will be able to experience his Empire 30th Anniversary tour on March 18th at the Parker Playhouse in Ft. Lauderdale. Just prior, they will play in Pensacola, March 13 at the Vinyl Music Hall and in Clearwater on March 17th at the Bilheimer Capital Theatre. Following the Parker Playhouse, the tour will continue in Florida in Bonita Springs on March 19th at the Sanjan Theater at SWFL Performing Arts Center and in Miramar Beach on March 20th at The Village Door Music Hall.

Catching up with this legendary, extraordinarily talented musician right before taking the road with this tour, he revealed what this show is all about, how he came to be a musician and a couple of additional ventures that his fans will be happy to know.

SFL Music: Tell me about the tour, the Empire 30th Anniversary? What can fans look forward to?

Geoff Tate: Well, play all the music, from the album really. That’s a first for me. There’s several songs on the album I’ve never ever played live. So, that will be a real treat, I think. At least from my perspective. That’s always something incredibly special. I think it’s a wonderful time period to kind of go back to and revisit. Right after that, the world really changed quite a bit after 90’,91’, and it’s a nice visit back to the way things used to be, (he laughed). The music’s real fun to play. It still sounds real fresh when I play it now, which is surprising to me and yeah, I’m real excited about it. Raring to go. Looking forward to however long the tour lasts. I’m not quite sure, but I did the thirty-year anniversary tour for the Operation: Mindcrime and stretched it to 28 countries in 36 months. So, (he chuckled). this might be the same thing.

SFL Music: Looks like you’re starting in Australia then going through the States, then to Europe, Germany and Belgium and so on. What do you look forward to when you tour like that, going to different countries and different states? Anything in particular?

Tate: Well you know Lori, I almost constantly travel. I’m a travel junky, and I was counting it up the other day, right around Christmas time, and I have spent two weeks in my own bed last year, (he laughed).

SFL Music: Wow. That’s awesome!

Tate: Yeah it is. It’s fun. I like it more now than I did when I was younger. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to it. It doesn’t seem daunting to me now as it once did, or maybe it’s you know, since I’m so familiar with most of the places I go. I’m pretty comfortable setting down at any city around the world and being able to find my way around, and I know where I can go to a nice restaurant. I know where the fun is. I know kind of the layout of the city. So, it’s comfortable you know. It’s not frightening, which I think a lot of times people get sort of overwhelmed with traveling. They think it’s frightening because there’s so many unknown questions like, where everything is. How are they going get this? How they’re going to get there. You know, the language issues. I’m pretty comfortable with it now, but I do look forward to going to some new places that I haven’t been before, and I always look forward to having a conversation with my booking agent to see if they’ve booked a new place that I haven’t been before because that’s always a big plus. I keep track of it all, (he laughed).

SFL Music: That must be lot to keep track of. Have you been to Pensacola before? I know you’ve been to Clearwater and Ft. Lauderdale.

Tate: I’ve been to every major city in Florida, multiple times. Every major city in the United States multiple times, (he laughed). Oh, you know what? The only state that I have not played in yet is Hawaii. Never had the chance to play there. So, it’s on my bucket list.

SFL Music: Is it going to be on this tour or is that a goal for this tour?

Tate: It hasn’t been announced yet. So, that gives me hope.

SFL Music: There you go. You have the same musicians on tour, Guitarist Scott Moughton, Guitarist/Vocalist Kieran Robertson, Bassist Jack Ross, Drummer Josh Watts and Keyboardist Bruno Sa still in the band?

Tate: Yes, yes. More or less, yeah.

SFL Music: You are the main songwriter, but how does it work with other musicians that you play with when you write songs?

Tate: Yeah, it really just depends. There’s no set way of doing it. Sometimes a lyric will come to you. A word, a phrase that sparks a piece of music and before you know it, you have a song. Other times, it’s a guitar riff, or a piano riff or you know, some sort of rhythm that you hear and you start creating on that, and it all builds from there. Sometimes it’s just a conversation you’re having with somebody that can spur you into action, and in this group of people, we haven’t really written anything as a band over the time period we’ve been playing. It’s more about, we’ve been playing live, but that’s been one of my goals. It’s a really accomplished live band. Really great players who actually really enjoy playing shows and they enjoy touring. So, it’s nice to have people out with ya and surrounding you who like to do a live show.

SFL Music: Yeah that is something that the fans can see. Congratulations on being inducted to the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame for 2020. How do you find out about that?

Tate: I think my wife told me.

SFL Music: Oh cool.

Tate: Yeah. She usually tells me everything I should know.

SFL Music: That’s good. That’s part of our job, right?

Tate: Right.

SFL Music: So, was there a phone call or email? How did she learn this news?

Tate: Oh yeah, it’s an email. Email usually, then a phone call to nail down the details and all that.

SFL Music: Well, definitely well deserved.

Tate: Looking forward to that. That’s going to be an interesting ride. Yeah, I go from Finland to Los Angeles and then I do the presentation for it, and then I get on a plane the next day and head to Norway.

SFL Music: Wow. That is a lot of traveling.

Tate: That is.

SFL Music: What inspires you when you write your music?

Tate: Oh everything. Life is very inspirational. There’s all kinds of interesting things happening as you make your way through life. You have contact with other people and sometimes they can be an inspiration to what you write about.

SFL Music: What made you decide to become a musician? Were you taking music lessons? How did this career path come about?

Tate: Well, I was nine years old. I decided at that point that I wanted to play music. I had been taking music lessons, piano lessons and I spent more time at the piano writing my own music then I did practicing the music that was set out for me to learn, (he chuckled). So, I really took to it, and I’ve been a musician for well, almost all of my life. You know, some way or the other.

SFL Music: What bands or type of music inspired you?

Tate: Well, I think as a young musician you’re kind of a big sponge. You listen to everything, one, to figure out what they’re doing. Two, to expand your musical horizons because there’s all kinds of music out there, not just western music that we hear, but eastern music. Music from different countries with different tonal scales, other rhythm, drum-oriented music. There’s music that only happens on woodwind instruments. There’s so much different kinds of music out there and it’s all interesting to delve into and learn about, and as a young musician I was in that play book, learning about everything and picking up instruments and seeing what instruments I could play and ones I felt the most about, and then learning to play in an ensemble, an orchestra, and playing rock music and what that was all about. I was in a really lucky position in my age to be in kind of the beginning of rock music you know, late 60’s early 70’s was a magic time to get some answers to rock music as we know it. So, my head was just dizzy from all the different music I was listening to at the time. I went from Abba to Zappa in my record collection. I just listened to everything. Tried everything. It was a wonderful journey. Still to this day, I don’t listen to much of other people’s music as much as my own, what I’m working on specifically, but sometimes, I do go back and delve into some of the old ones, to see how it feels.

SFL Music: Did you play in organized musical groups in school?

Tate: Yep. All through school. I was in school orchestra, jazz band, male chorus. What else? I was active in gospel music with my mother’s church. I took private instruction. Took private voice lessons when I was older. I play keyboards, saxophone.

SFL Music: What would you recommend to an up and coming musician?

Tate: Well it depends on what they ask me. I don’t tend to give out unsolicited advice, but if they ask me about music in general, what musical path they should follow, I would say, follow your interests, follow your heart, and that typically is the thing that leads you to where you want to be and where you’re happiest.

SFL Music: What would you advise to have the longevity that you have? What would you credit to be able to sustain the successful career that you have?

Tate: Well, first I think you have to like what you do. A lot of times people get into music because they want to be famous. Right?

SFL Music: Right.

Tate: And that’s sort of a, I don’t know, kind of a shallow sort of an endeavor I would think because fame comes and goes. What really gives you satisfaction I think, is being able to create things, music being one of them. Being able to take your emotions and your thoughts and your ideas, translate them into music. Glorious pastime, very honorable profession I believe. So, the advice I would give them is follow your heart. What do you want to do as an artist? Sort of using that angle rather than the angle of trying to get rich or trying to get famous.

SFL Music: That’s good advice. You do a lot with your fans. I saw on your website fans can go to Germany for Harvest Fest? How does that come about?

Tate: Well, one of my side interests is wine making and I’m involved with a winery in Germany. It belongs to relatives of my wife and they’ve been making wine for generations, and we decided to make a wine together called Insania. We made a red wine and a white wine, and every year in October we have a harvest where we harvest the grapes and we press the wine, crush it, get it ready for bottling, and so we have a harvest festival which is basically a big party where we eat a lot, drink a lot, play music, (he laughed.) So, we have this every year in October, and years ago we decided that we would just invite our fans and people that wanted to go to the festival, and it’s become sort of an annual thing, and we had formed a travel company called Back Stage Pass Travel and we do tours around the area where the winery is. It’s a wonderful place to see. We do like a week of five-day tours in those areas in conjunction with a big party and the winery. So, it’s a real fun, kind of an event, and keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s spilling out into Greece now, so I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but right now it’s growing and kind of a cool thing to be part of. Then because of the success of that, we expanded Back Stage Pass travel where we offer just people to come on tour with us. We did one in Italy over the holiday that was really fun. We had one in Ireland that’s coming up. We did one last year, and we have one In Scotland that’s coming up in May as well. So yeah, it’s going to be fun, hanging out with everybody and tell stories and play music. It’s a good time.

SFL Music: Can your wine Insania be found in stores or how can people purchase it?

Tate: Yeah, you can get it at certain wine shops and you can get it at Whole Foods and you can also by it online too.

SFL Music: This just came about because of your interest in it?

Tate: Well it’s something I just sort of fell into because I was interested in wine making, and sort of leaning in that direction, and like most things, the more you lean, you find yourself involved.

SFL Music: Anything else fans can look forward to besides the tour with the two albums (Empire released in 1990 and Rage for Order released in 1986), a nice lengthy show?

Tate: It’s two albums back to back.

SFL Music: Any new videos

Tate: Well, there’s videos showing up all the time on u-tube and are on the Backstage Pass Travel site and Geoff Tate Facebook site, and also the Operation: Mindcrime Facebook site. There are videos all the time that are out there. So, I’d say, check out those websites for more info.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want fans to know about coming to their town in Florida?

Tate: Yeah. I like going to Florida. I just don’t go there enough. I think this might be the first time in maybe four or five years that I’ve been to Florida.

SFL readers definitely take advantage of this wonderful, time traveling show to rock your world, in or near your hometown, throughout our sunshine state!

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