Geoff Tate - Lead Vocals
Michael Wilton - Guitars
Eddie Jackson - Bass
Scott Rockenfield - Drums
A multitude of classic bands are content to rest on their collective laurels. Royalties roll in, merchandise moves along and nothing fresh is expected from them creatively, anyway. They tour haphazardly and sometimes shamelessly on the nostalgic fumes of faded glories. Hit albums are continuously reformatted and regurgitated. They've made it.
Queensrÿche stand proudly and defiantly against that career model. Thirty years after their formation, the progressive rock institution ignites anew with Dedicated to Chaos, a brave, adventurous, diverse and often experimental album that will challenge their fiercely intelligent audience and rock n' roll critics alike in profound and exceedingly rewarding ways. There is nothing safe, saccharine or sanitized about Queensrÿche's twelfth studio album. No rules. No boundaries. It's the latest in a string of impressive feats from the legendary Seattle band.
"It’s kind of a worthless endeavor to be focused on what other people think," points out thoughtful and articulate Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate, long recognized as possessing one of the most powerful voices in rock. "There’s so many different ways to interpret music and art in general. It’s not meant to be static. It’s meant to be moving and growing."
Queensrÿche could easily sit back and count their achievements. They went triple-platinum with the mind numbingly awesome Empire. They cracked the Top Ten with the enduring power ballad "Silent Lucidity." Operation: Mindcrime redefined the concept album. They've toured the world with Bon Jovi, Metallica, and Def Leppard. They have sold over 20 million albums.
Dedicated to Chaos is the sound of Queensrÿche marching forward artistically, philosophically and sonically. Their commitment to their craft is unwavering. Their ability to challenge themselves and create new soundscapes is unparalleled in hard rock. In an era when bands will sacrifice audio quality to crank out records, Dedicated to Chaos is a true "headphones record."
"We made a conscious effort with this record to design the music so that it was interesting to listen to through headphones. Everything is happening in layers that people can pick up on over repeated listens. You hear something new each time you listen to it," Tate explains. The album has a staggering amount of audio depth. There are effects, spoken word interludes and moving washes across the stereo spectrum. "It's a record that has a lot of that going on inside of it."
It's certainly an incredibly modern sounding album lyrically, too. "Hot Spot Junkie" name checks the Internet (and even YouTube). Other songs see the excesses of hard living, dangerous relationships and even reckless driving examined, skewered and occasionally lampooned. "Around the World," "Higher," "At the Edge" and "Got it Bad" rank among the group's best work. Queensrÿche took on Black Sabbath, Queen, U2, The Police and Pink Floyd on Take Cover a few years ago; that array of inspiration crops up alongside exotic flourishes, rhythmic diversion and equal parts restraint and unrelenting power from Tate through Dedicated to Chaos.
"It’s not a concept record in a sense that it tells a story. We wanted to take a step away from that on this record and really concentrate on writing just a strong collection of songs," Tate emphasizes. "You’ll find a lot of different kinds of music on this record. You can definitely see our influences on this record, perhaps more than on other records."
"It's definitely a stretch for us in a lot of ways," he adds. "Not so much in composition, but in the way it's played. It's really stretching out and trying to do different things with our instruments."
It isn't the first time the band has stepped out creatively, of course. Promised Land debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 in 1994 but had some people scratching their heads at the use of cellos, sitars and drummer Scott Rockenfield's "9:28 a.m.", which opened the album. "Quite a few critics said, 'Where's the guitars?'" Tate remembers. "We're a guitar based band! We just approached the guitar in a different way, playing it more melodically rather than rhythmically."
Queensrÿche talked about what they wanted to accomplish when they formed back in 1981. One of the commonalities was their desire to push themselves at all times. "You start out with a set of parameters that are comfortable for you, something you can do well, but if you just stay doing that for a few albums, you get really, really predictable and very complacent," Tate warns.
In that spirit, Dedicated to Chaos sees a larger amount of writing contributions and arrangements from Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson.
"Things like that are what keep us interested in what we do," Tate says. "We need to create new stuff every couple of years. If you make whatever it is that you're feeling happen in some way, other people will connect to it. In my experience if they don’t connect with it immediately, in time they eventually do connect with it. You need to be true to your heart and true to your mission in life. As a musician, you need to always progress and change and push yourself."
Queensrÿche has survived label shakeups, the rise and fall of grunge, illegal downloading and shrinking radio formats. They've managed to keep four out of five members of the original lineup since 1981, with ex-guitarist Chris DeGarmo contributing as recently as 2003's Tribe.
"I've taken it one day at a time. That's how I approach life," Tate says of Queensrÿche's remarkable longevity. "I don't have too many expectations; that way I'm constantly surprised. It's been a great career. I feel very fortunate to still be doing this and enjoying this."