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Queensryche recording farewell sequel album

January 19, 2005 - By ALAN SCULLEY

For the Call

When Queensryche revealed plans to re-cord a sequel to "Operation: Mind-crime," the 1988 concept album that has become the group's signature work, some fans viewed the move as little more than the band's attempt to regain its glory days as an arena headliner.

Queensryche singer Geoff Tate was quick to deny those intentions, noting that mass success isn't even a realistic possibility anymore.

"It's not going to live up to the sales of 'Mindcrime I,'" Tate said. "We don't have a business structure set up to deliver the album in a massive way the way EMI Rec-ords did back in 1988 when we were on MTV."

But it was another statement by Tate that shot the biggest holes in theories that "Mindcrime II" is an attempt to re-ignite Queensryche's career. Tate strongly suggested "Mindcrime II" will be the last Queensryche studio album. Clearly a band plotting a return to glory would be thinking beyond just one more CD.

"I think it's just getting to a certain age in your life where I've been doing this the majority of my adult life," he said, explaining he expects "Mindcrime II" to be the band's last studio release.

"I think it's just time to do something different, a different challenge in life, something that's fulfilling in a different way. This being in a band and traveling and what we've been doing has been an incredible experience. I have grown so much over the years by my experience. But I think it's just time to try some new things,'' Tate added.

As recently as last April, a sequel to "Mindcrime" wasn't something Tate wanted to try either. In an interview posted on Queensryche's Web site, he flatly dismiss-ed the notion. A few factors, though, soon changed Tate's thinking.

"I think it's the times that we're in right now," Tate explained. "They're so parallel to the way things were in America back in the mid-'80s, a lot of similarities with the government and the decisions that are being made right now, the economy being what it is, a massive deficit, lots and lots of people out of work. It's a very similar environment.

"I think it would be a crime," the singer said, chuckling briefly at his unintended pun, "really not to explore that."

Tate, who remains Queensryche's lyricist, also was spurred toward the idea of a sequel when he began toying with the idea of writing a movie screenplay based on the first "Mindcrime" album and realized a number of unresolved questions provided a basis for a sequel.

The original story was set in a dark fu-ture society and centered around a street-kid named Nikki, who falls under the spell of the manipulative Dr. X, who turns Nikki into his loyal assassin, eliminating anyone who poses a threat to Dr. X.

Tate, not surprisingly, didn't want to divulge many details about the story line to "Mindcrime II," although he did drop a few hints, including one key detail: The sequel picks up years after the original story, after Nikki has spent a decade and a half in jail.

Tate, who noted that several songs are already recorded for "Mindcrime II," said the sequel won't mirror the original work musically.

"It is so many years later, and so much more information has crossed under the bridge," Tate said. "I'm a different person. I think differently, and musically what's

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challenging to me is so much more involved than it was in 1987 when we made 'Mindcrime.' By comparison to the new record,

'Mindcrime' will seem very simple in its musical presentation. The majority of 'Mindcrime' is pretty much a metal record, kind of simplistic chord arrangements and straight-ahead rhythmic patterns. It doesn't swing. It kind of is very militaristic sounding. That's kind of a typical metal presentation,. Whereas with this record, we're shooting for something much more grandiose, much more involved, more in line to something you might see on Broadway, sort of a mature musical presentation."

Queensryche — Tate, guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield — currently is priming fans for "Mindcrime II" on the second leg of an American tour. The show finds the group playing two complete sets, the first of which features songs from throughout a career that began in 1981 in Bellevue, Wash. and reached a peak in 1990 with the quadruple platinum CD, "Empire," which featured the hit "Silent Lucidity."

The second set is "Operation: Mindcrime" played in its entirety and with some additional twists. The band is joined by singer Pamela Moore as well as keyboardist Michael Delassandra, who is a composer for the Vatican in Rome. Several actors are also utilized in telling the original

"Mindcrime" story.

"We've changed and modified several of the songs' arrangements and added some new sections and some new parts," Tate said.

"We wanted to make it interesting for the audience who had seen it perhaps before, and also, to help flesh out the story line a little better, make it a little easier for people to understand certain things that are happening with the story," he said.

Queensryche plays Jan. 20 at Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Ave., Sauget. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show cost $25.

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