Watch the video for "Burn," which Billboard is exclusively premiering below.
Tate says the second album in the trilogy is currently being mixed, while the third is "mostly written" and on track to be finished by the October deadline. Their releases will be staggered with nine months to a year between them, but Tate wanted to record all three in the same time frame to make sure there was a flow and continuity to the story.
"It's actually taken me a lot longer to do than I thought it would, but you can't rush things," Tate says. "I've been working diligently since last November on this project. I've only taken 14 days off in the whole time from last November to now. It's just a ton of work. But I'm real happy with the outcome so far. it's been a real satisfying project -- very enjoyable, actually."
It would have been easier, of course, to just make a traditional album. But Tate -- who in the settlement also won sole rights to perform Queensryche's two Operation: Mindcrime albums in their entireties -- has "been wanting to do a big conceptual project for awhile" and came up with the story, about an "international incident" that involves virtual currencies and global political intrigue, during a hiking vacation in Spain with his wife. Tate outlined and broke it up into three parts, which he's recording with Jason Slater at London Bridge Studio in Seattle and with a corps of musicians that included guitarist Scott Moughton from his own band as well as Disturbed's John Moyer, Megadeth/Metal Allegiance bassist David Ellefson, former Queensryche guitarist Kelly Gray and others -- though Tate says that Operation: Mindcrime will be remain a project rather than a band with a standing lineup.
But Tate will be taking Operation: Mindcrime on the road, with plans to begin during late November in Europe and bring the troupe back to North America during early 2016. "We're not going to play the second and third records live until they're released," Tate explains, "so we'll be touring The Key as the central point of the show and then sandwiching it between music from my past. I've got a lot of music that I've written over the years -- 147 songs -- and I'd like to explore that and play it live for people. We won't be wanting for things to put in the show, I can promise you that."