In the latest round of the legal battle between progressive rock band Queensryche and its former singer, Geoff Tate, the group is attempting to keep Tate from using the group’s name until the case is resolved. The move comes more than three months after Tate tried the same maneuver against his former bandmates.
In a motion for partial summary judgment filed Sept. 21 in Washington state’s King County Superior Court, guitarist Michael Wilton, drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson ask that the court declare that Tate “has no right to the Queensryche band name, marks and media assets since he has no grant of authority from the TriRyche Corporation that owns them, unless and until he is able to succeed on his claims to dissolve the Queensryche corporations, and to enter a permanent injunction to the same.”
The TriRyche Corporation is a band-related entity that owns such Queensryche intellectual property as the band’s name and its logo, the triryche symbol. The corporation, as well as Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson, are among the defendants in a lawsuit Tate and his wife, former Queensryche manager Susan Tate, filed June 22. The lawsuit claims the trio illegally fired Tate earlier this year, and its intention to continue without him will harm the band’s brand. The damages that Tate seeks include being awarded sole rights to the band’s name.
“The recent announcement of a second Queensryche lineup, upcoming tour plans and new musical direction has caused some confusion for our fans. This confusion has caused Scott, Michael and I to file a motion against our former vocalist to prevent him from using the name Queensryche,” Jackson told Billboard in an exclusive statement. “Until now, we have never asked the court to intervene on our behalf but it seems like we have no choice now in light of Geoff’s recent actions. We thank the fans who have been supporting us through this whole process and can’t wait to unleash the one true Queensryche to the masses.”
Jackson is referring to Tate announcing “the new Queensryche” in posts on Sept. 1 and 2 on several social media sites, naming bassist Rudy Sarzo, drummer Bobby Blotzer, guitarists Glen Drover and Kelly Gray, and keyboardist Randy Gane as the lineup. The news was preceded by an Aug. 16 Facebook announcement of an anniversary tour with a lineup called “Queensryche Starring Geoff Tate the Original Voice.” Tate posted that with the new band members, “it’s a whole new scene. There are new ideas, different musical backgrounds and a whole new set a parameters.”
When asked for comment, Tate’s representative, Jeff Albright of Albright Entertainment Group, said Tate has no further comment regarding the lawsuit at this time.
Tate’s online posts sparked a fresh round of confusion among fans, due to the fact that throughout the summer, only Tate-related posts have appeared on Queensryche’s original Facebook page and website, and, for a while, on the band’s Twitter account. Meanwhile, Queensryche launched a new Facebook page and website in August, but now has control of its Twitter account.
At the time of filing the suit, Tate also requested a preliminary injunction to stop Queensryche from working under the band name until the matter was settled. (The trial date is Nov. 18, 2013.) Superior Court Judge Carol A. Schapira denied the request on July 13. In her remarks when she gave her decision, she indicated that among the reasons she denied the injunction were because it would be considered “extraordinary relief” for the plaintiffs to stop the band from working, as it would result in cutting off Queensryche’s income.
However, at that time, Tate wasn’t forbidden from using the band’s name, either. Schapira indicated that, at the time of her decision, she couldn’t make that determination because not enough information was available. “I don’t see any reason that Mr. Tate can’t have the benefit, if he gets other members, of whatever name he uses of using the brand. I think [doing that would be] inherently confusing, although I’m sure the market can get these things sorted out,” Schapira said in her remarks when she denied the request.
Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson have continued to perform as Queensryche with guitarist Parker Lundgren and Crimson Glory vocalist Todd La Torre, who was announced as Tate’s replacement in an exclusive statement to Billboard on June 20. At the time, Queensryche attributed its parting with Tate to “growing creative differences.” However, documents the defendants filed in the case (which are public record) also charged that Tate punched Wilton and Rockenfield backstage shortly before an April 14 show in Brazil after Tate learned that Susan and his step-daughter, Miranda (who also worked for the band) had been fired, and that he spit on the band during the concert. The threesome also stated Susan’s firing was due to what they considered to be questionable business practices. Tate later stated during an Aug. 25 appearance on VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show” that he did engage in the physical assault.
Queensryche is planning on a 2013 trek called the Return to History tour and have lined up such 2012 performance dates as the South Texas Rock Fest in San Antonio and House of Blues in West Hollywood. It’s currently recording its first album with La Torre as its singer.
Tate hasn’t revealed where his version of Queensryche would perform next year. He continues playing solo dates and will be doing a Canadian tour in November with Alice Cooper. He is also readying the release of his second solo album, “Kings & Thieves,” on Nov. 6 on the InsideOut Music label.