Geoff contended in his paperwork you were selling personal merchandise, and you hadn't asked whether it was OK to put it in the booth.
Jackson: Geoff was selling his own solo CD at our merch booth stand as well. And so was Michael.
Rockenfield: These are those unprovoked type of attacks that, "If it's not my way, then it's the highway." At least, that's the way it seems. Brazil was the same thing. "I don't like what you're talking about at this band meeting" must have been the result of why, two hours later, we're onstage [and] I must have had 50 wads of spit on my body. I had to be toweled off before the show, front and back, by my drum tech because I was dripping with Geoff Tate's saliva.
Scott, this is the question that pops up in my mind: Like this incident a few years ago when you say Geoff basically came in and punched you and spit on you, why would you put up with that?
Rockenfield: I'm not one of those guys that's going to sit there and get into a man fight at the age of 50. I'm not sure if other people are. But I'm not. I just wrote it off. I talked to the guys after that incident. Geoff usually has his own dressing room, so he busted into ours, did that whole thing and then left, and I sat and talked to the guys, we went on and we played the show. I mean to me, the show just goes on, I gotta get through [it]. I had to focus. It was an hour before we went onstage or something like that. It's not easy to do that after a confrontation like that.
Jackson: [The Brazil incident] happened three or four months ago, and not one apology. Not one apology.
Rockenfield: I've never gotten an apology for the one in '07, either. I just moved on. I just attributed it [to], that's just the way that person is. I'm gonna get over it and move on. I know who I am and what I did, and I know I was living the truth. I was doing what everybody else was doing. Somebody just didn't like that.
Jackson: To not even apologize for the actions, it's kind of disrespectful.
When you got to the point a few weeks later when you realized you were going to fire him, what were you feeling at the time? After all, this was someone you had worked with for 30 years.
Wilton: We had a couple more shows left and we were gonna see what was happening, and obviously, to the majority of us, he kind of had sealed his fate in that act. And as far as the talks with the new management, we didn't feel this was conducive to a good show. The last two shows we did with this guy, we were told to stay in our areas. We were told, "Don't get near him, or he may explode." These were not a good representation [of the band], and to keep doing that, is not healthy and it's not a good business decision. In any other business, when someone does such a vicious act like that they'd be fired on the spot. We got to that point, where [we said], "Guys . . .
Jackson: Not gonna change.
Wilton: . . . look, we can't have a good show anymore. We can't work with this guy anymore." He's not gonna apologize, he has no remorse, he thinks he's right, for some strange reason. He kind of just handed it to us. We had to make the decision.
Rockenfield: This stuff has been brewing for a while and it just got to a certain point where it's just time, especially after the recent events, it was time to move on. We want to do business one way and we're the majority, and we look at it, in this case, like a democracy. The majority wants to do it this way, and that's the way we're gonna do it. And if one person doesn't like that and starts to react the way they do, it's kind of sealing their own grave with the decision we had to make.
Jackson: Michael, Scotty and I have always tried to run a business that's in the best interest of the band as a whole, not just one individual.
Wilton: We could see things were kind of going in that pattern, and it just did not make any sense for us to keep going the way we were. We have numerous, numerous reasons. Queensryche's playing secondary markets and crappy bars, and you're remembered by your last gigs if you do. It's kind of a devaluation that was happening.
In the court documents I read how the band's shareholder agreement was originally set up: When Chris was a member, the five of you each had 20% of the shares in the band's businesses. When he left, that rose to 25% among the remaining four. When you voted Geoff out, his lawyer said that wasn't acceptable, because you three own 75% of the shares, and the original agreement states that an 80% shareholder vote is required for such action. I thought, "If this isn't a Spinal Tap moment, I don't know what is."
Jackson: We're trying to understand that logic as well.
But it does raise a bigger point. This is precisely what your lawyers are arguing in court: You're saying that what you did is valid, his lawyer is saying what you did is not valid.
Rockenfield: Yeah, that's definitely some of the court stuff going on. I don't know if we can offer anything more than that, other than we kind of had to chuckle at it as well. That's the funny thing that happens in these lawsuits and paperwork and all that. Any little thing to bicker about that you can find, who knows. All I know is we've been doing business as Queensryche as the four shareholders since Chris left in '97. The math seems pretty simple to us about the whole thing, but it doesn't mean anybody can't argue about anything in life . . .
The judge kind of said it when the junction was denied a couple weeks back where they were trying to stop us from going out as Queensryche or using the name Queensryche until the lawsuit had been decided by the courts, and it was decided we can absolutely continue as Queensryche because that's the majority of the brand as we get to keep the brand rolling. Queensryche has always been a brand. It's not one person, it's the brand and the brand is us three, as the majority owners, going out, doing what we do best, which is making music and performing for the fans and enjoying life again.
Jackson: The three of us were also aware of the impact it might have on the fans when all this was going down . . . How are they gonna be affected? But sometimes decisions have to be made on a business level. I know it's tough for us to even think about the fans trying to understand, but we're still very fortunate and blessed to have a group of fans such as ours that follow us.
Clearly, as expressed by all the commentary online, there are a lot of fans that support you, but there are also fans who feel there is no way you can go on without Geoff.
Rockenfield: We can't go out and try to convince the fans. The only way we can do that or to show them what is available for them as Queensryche, we're just gonna go out and do it and they can come out and experience what we're gonna do. Our fans have been family. There's a lot of people in our camp for 30 years that have been with us for a long time and we're quite close to a lot of them, and it is affecting them, once again, kind of like a divorce, where they don't know what to do. They don't know what side to take. It hasn't been the easiest thing. But there's a lot of them that have been understanding of it and they get it, and they're gonna make a decision about what they wanna do or how they wanna judge their opinion based upon their own personal thing, and that's totally cool.
Did you hear about the comment that Eddie Trunk released from the interview he did with Geoff?
Rockenfield: Refresh us.
During a segment Geoff taped for "That Metal Show," he said he'd like to sit in a room with you guys and have you tell him face to face what the situation is and explain your actions.
Wilton: I think we did that in Brazil.
Jackson: We tried that already.
Rockenfield: We've tried that a few times, and every time it doesn't seem to go the way we want it to, and the unfortunate thing is that's where we've ended up now. I tell you what we did in Brazil: We sat and had a very business-like sit-down meeting in our dressing room eating fruit and sandwiches.
Wilton: They filed the lawsuit against us.
Rockenfield: Then after that we've gotten continuously spit on, violently attacked and have been verbally [told] that those attacks were gonna continue [soon after the show]. For us to want to sit in the same room together and talk about stuff we've already gone over seems a little redundant at this point.
There are fans who hope Chris will work with the three of you again in some capacity. Is that possible? What is his opinion on the lawsuit?
Wilton: Anything is possible. That said, I cannot speak on behalf of Chris. He is a very good friend of mine, and I respect his privacy on these matters.
One of your declarations mentioned that Geoff's negative attitude toward Chris was a reason that Chris left. What was Geoff's attitude toward Chris at the time?
Wilton: There were some tensions in the band that were just starting to happen. We had just been on a very long tour and people at certain points of their life, things were changing. It's unfortunate that the personal things sometimes have to get involved in the business and that's essentially kind of in a nutshell what happened. It didn't leave great taste on everyone's mouths, from what I remember.
So I guess none of you are going to tell me any of the other reasons why Chris decided to leave.
Rockenfield: That all comes down to what Michael said earlier. We don't wanna put words in other people's mouths because we don't think that would be fair at this point in time.
If there's a possibility of settling this lawsuit out of court, would you take it?
Rockenfield: We're going do whatever's best for us as the continuing Queensryche corporation that we're doing right now. This is all kind of new territory. None of us has ever been in some big lawsuit like this where we've had to deal with these things, but this just is what it is and we're learning a lot from it, and we're going to do what's best when the time comes.