What progress are you making with the demos you're doing?
Rockenfield: It's going well. We've been writing for the last couple months. It's all so fresh to us, even just our relationship with Todd being in the band. It's kind of a whirlwind. I think our heads every day are kind of spinning with everything that we're dealing with. Some of it's good and some of it's bad that you gotta deal with, and you know all the stuff that we're going through.
Wilton: Each one of us has hard drives full of material that was never used for whatever reasons . . . We all wanna write these songs together. We all want to be in the room, use the best ability of everybody and make these songs a band signature, [where] we play it before we burn it on a computer. You gotta play it together. We wanna bring that essence back like we used to do in Scott's basement that we used to call the Dungeon [where the band rehearsed in its early days]. That's where the magic happens.
Jackson: It also prepares yourself even more so for right before you start recording these songs.
Rockenfield: What we're going to try to do is get back to our face-to-face interactive roots and write songs and pull from our history, and look what we are excited about and do that. The cool thing is, Todd, joining and doing this with us now, is helping us do that, because he's excited about that direction and likes do that as well. The plan is, soon enough down the road, we'll be able to give some news about what's happening, get in the studio in the next coming months. We don't have any timeline for that yet, but that's the plan [to] be able to go out and support some of that next year.
Are Todd and [guitarist] Parker [Lundgren] helping you with songwriting?
Jackson: Absolutely. Everyone's contributing. Just sharing ideas and, like Scotty was saying, we don't really have an exact studio date or time, but hoping to get in the studio here within the next month or so.
Wilton: That's fun for me to actually work with Parker so he's not actually just being told what to do. The guy has a lot of creative elements that are untapped, and obviously in playing some of [former guitarist] Chris [DeGarmo's] parts he's really learned and he's really upping his game. It's exciting for him and me to kind of bring these elements that he's never done before and really hone in, like Scott said, on the past of guitar double solos and experimenting with sounds.
You are well-aware of what fans are saying about what's going on. There are fans who say, "You guys have to really bring it. You have to come back hardcore with a really intense album that's going back to your roots." What's it like writing an album where you're got a huge amount of expectations out there?
Rockenfield: [laughs] Well, pressure is always good. Speaking for myself, I think we're just gonna do what we want to do and what we believe in and are enthusiastic about and collectively between the five of us, brain storm and discuss everything and work it out together. I think the only pressure that we see is just gonna be placed upon ourselves to be happy with what we do. And that might be the standard answer we give every time, but this is definitely more unique because, like you're saying, people are watching. They're gonna be expecting something, and there is a certain amount of that that we can't avoid because it's hard to not know that it's there, but I think that's actually adding fuel for the fire for us . . . we're just taking the time, the focus and do it, and I think really challenge ourselves to do stuff and kind of revisit the roots of what originally made the band get to a certain level. I don't think we've done that for a while.
What is it like doing this without Geoff's involvement?
Rockenfield: We just do it in a different way. We're working with different people. One, being with Todd. We're working and writing songs with him and he brings a whole creative and musical talent to the band that we didn't have before. I'm not [it's] saying good, bad or indifferent, but he's interesting. He's a drummer for 25 years and actually really good at it, so it's interesting for me, because he sits in when we're rehearsing and every time I go take a pee, he jumps on my drum kit and starts playing stuff I can't figure out. And he sings while he's doing it . . . and Parker, this is the most we've been involved with Parker as well and that's turning out to be a really great thing. His enthusiasm and his dedication and his willingness to learn and become part of what Queensryche is, is really working out great.
I read your declarations about how some albums have been recorded the past few times. But how were albums recorded before? Would you guys submit demos to Geoff and he just took over?
Wilton: In a nutshell. It wasn't the most creative atmosphere, but things were not done, so to say, as like being in a room and throwing ideas against everybody. It was like, "OK guys. Throw me your ideas and I'll figure out what I wanna sing to."
When would you say that started?
Rockenfield: It's been quite a few years, that whole mode of just networking and working at home. We're not gonna argue that we didn't all do that stuff as well. But I think what we had really started to lack is the original interaction that got us to jell together and to have a chemistry that we could all feed off of. And like Michael's saying, we got tons of material that was done for a specific purpose, and was even worked on, by everybody, if you get what I'm saying, at a certain point, and then shelved and moved on in a different direction. Those were the type of things that started to become very noncreative for us and very not feeling like you're involved.
Wilton: It's about the chemistry of the band and how it interacts together, and bringing the strength of every personality in the band to the fold and upping everything as far as performance level. I think that's kind of on the first seven albums, that was kind of the protocol. We were always pushing ourselves, but it was always contained within the band, and it just seemed to work so well.
When Chris was in the band, he not only was the manager for a period of time but he seemed to be the unofficial mediator. Would you all bring ideas to him and he sorted out how they pieced together?
Rockenfield: Chris was great at a lot of different aspects. He was a great, integral part of our chemistry, along with all of us, from back then. We all did different things and Chris took on the role of being a great spokesman and the contact for the band, and musically he was real good at being able to take ideas and streamline and when we're all in the same room together, he was good at helping everybody to feed off each other and do things . . . That was a big part of how we got Queensryche going: the chemistry between all of us back then. The interesting thing now is what we have going now with the quote unquote new official Queensryche is we're kind of finding some of that again. Todd is interesting and has multiple musical talents to be able to offer suggestions. Like for example, the other day we had this song we were working on, he came up with some drum part that was just totally different from what I would have thought about. He sent it to us, and I was like, "That's really cool," and then I started working on it and doin' things. That's the kind of stuff Chris was able to offer in the early days with us.
Once Chris left, did Geoff start naturally assuming more of a leadership role?
Rockenfield: I think it depends upon the era you're taking about. We all kind of stepped in and did everything. We all had to take on different roles and do things. And everybody in the band has always done different things that are just as important. It's like a football team. Not one person can take the ball and run to the end zone. They need to have the team. The team is the moniker and the brand, and everybody else inside are the gears that make it work. We've always kind of been gears in everything that we've done.
Geoff, being the frontman of the band, would obviously get a lot of interview requests to do all that stuff, but there's also a lot of times in our past when Geoff refused to do that stuff, and we would do it instead, or we would also do it or we would join in and do it. So down the road, as things started to change and Susan started to get involved, things started to kind of change, and for what it's worth that's why things have now started to change back for us, and that's why we're going through what we're going through now.