Queensryche Has 'Healthy Start' On 'Mindcrime II'

Frontman Geoff Tate admits to Billboard.com he's trying to sidestep pressure to top the original album or simply appease fans.

As reported yesterday, 16 years after the release of "Operation: Mindcrime," Queensryche is writing the next chapter to the 1988 concept album that broke the progressive rock band into the mainstream. Tentatively titled "Operation: Mindcrime II," the set is due next year via Sanctuary.

Frontman Geoff Tate admits to Billboard.com he's trying to sidestep pressure to top the original album or simply appease fans. "I think you always fail miserably in that respect," he says with a laugh, "because you can't please everybody. You can only do what's in your heart, what's in your soul, what's in your head. We never set out when we made the first 'Operation: Mindcrime' album trying to create anything else other than making a cool record that we liked, something we felt confident with."

After more than 23 years in the business, Tate says he is happier not letting others' expectations affect his own goals. "You can have 10 people standing there listening to it, and they're all going to hear it differently," he notes. "Once you've had that happen to you enough, you think, 'Gosh, I wasn't thinking about those people when I made this album in the first place, so why should [I] let that affect me?'"

Because of the cinematic quality of the videos made for the original album, fans have clamored for a "Mindcrime" movie. Queensryche's decision to finally write the sequel arose from Tate working on a screenplay last winter based on the set's libretto. He says his rough draft has attracted attention from people interested in providing "serious money" to back the project, which he feels has a good chance of being optioned.

"The way we do things is [based on] how things feel at the time," he says "It feels right. People wanting a sequel, the band being in the right head space, the political climate in the country being what it is. All those things add up to greenlights for the project in my mind."

Writing began while the group toured this summer. Tate calls its progress "a good, healthy start" and is confident that when Queensryche returns to the road in October, the material used in a filmed preview of "Mindcrime II" that will be screened for audiences will make the finished album. The musical portion of said preview will not comprise a live band performance.

Guitarist Mike Stone, who tours with Queensryche and contributed to its last studio album, 2003's "Tribe" (Sanctuary), is helping write "Mindcrime II." Original guitarist Chris DeGarmo had returned to write and perform on "Tribe," but Tate does not know if he will contribute to the new set. He says that while it felt good to write with DeGarmo, creative differences and tension were apparent. However, he notes that the door "is always open" to the guitarist's input.

Tate offers few details about the sequel itself, except to say it has "returning characters. "Come on," he says with a chuckle. "You want me to tell you the ending?"

On the upcoming trek, Queensryche will play the original "Mindcrime" in its entirety, as it did on its 1990-91 world tour. New video footage is being shot and a string section will accompany the band in select cities. The tour will be filmed for future release on video. Live actors will help tell the story of Nikki, a street junkie turned into an assassin by an anarchist movement.

Tate says the enhanced stage production stems from always wanting to present "Mindcrime" more theatrically. When it was suggested the project would translate well to Broadway, which is becoming more receptive to rock'n'roll-themed productions, Tate laughed again and said, "We're working on that."