By all measures,
Geoff Tate is a very, very busy man.
His tour to
celebrate the 30th anniversary of Operation: Mindcrime has extended into
2019 by popular demand. He just released an album in collaboration with Italian
artist Simone Mularoni entitled Sweet Oblivion—and if that weren’t
enough to tire anyone out, he’s headed back out on the road this month on an
East Coast swing that finds him playing three dates in the tri-state area
spoke with Tate about his rigorous tour schedule, an upcoming solo release he’s
working on, and why Operation: Mindcrime still remains relevant against
the backdrop of today’s socio-political climate.
You’ve been touring quite a
bit recently. How’s that been?
Well, I was in Europe
and then went to Asia, and then Mexico, then South America, and then finally
back to North America.
And now you’re heading back
out to do a summer run in the States. What’s your approach to touring these
days, both mentally and physically, now having done it for decades?
A lot of my
contemporaries think I’m crazy because I tour so much, and that I should be
slowing down, given my age [laughs]. But, you know, I feel good. I feel
strong. I love playing live, and the promoters keep calling me to do shows. So,
I figure ‘Well, I can do it. I feel good, and there’s demand, so I might as
well do it as long as I still can.” Because I guess there will come a time
where I can’t, you know? I look at it very positively. I just got back from a
four-month run, and then I have a week off, and then I have a two-week run, and
then two weeks off before I start festival season in Europe, which is really an
easy schedule because you do two festival dates
and then you have a week or two off, and then you come back and do three
festival dates, and it kind of stretches over the summer.
Does it give you an opportunity
to do a little exploring with your down time?
Yeah, it does,
actually. Which is nice because you have some time to yourself, which is hard
to find these days. So my wife is joining me, and we rented a house in France,
so we’re gonna base ourselves out of there, and we’re going to do all the
different festival dates, and then I’ll start work on a record that I have
pieces and parts that I’m going to work on.
I wanted to ask you about
recording. You did a trilogy of records between 2015 and 2017. What are you
working on now?
Well, since the
trilogy release, I’m just getting ready to release another album that I did
with an Italian artist named Simone Mularoni. The album is called Sweet
Oblivion. It’s a record that we did over this last winter. So that’s coming
And what’s the vibe of that
Oh, gosh…. I
don’t know…. I can never describe music. Music is something you gotta
experience on your own, because we all hear it differently, you know? What one
person hears another person doesn’t. It’s all very personal, really. But, I
would say it’s a nice collaboration between two people who come from wildly
different backgrounds, coming together without any other communication other
than the music. We’ve actually never met.
Oh, ok… so did you guys do
this record digitally through email exchanges?
Exactly. We did
it in the virtual world. Which was actually really refreshing because you work
on the music itself, you don’t work on your relationship. You don’t have all of
those things that go into building a relationship or are distracting from the
work. You’re just communicating about the work, and it’s so exciting now because
you can work like that virtually anywhere in the world. Like, I worked on the
road, traveling through 14 different countries working on that record, and he
was in Italy, in a studio there.
Is it a conceptual piece?
No, it’s random
music that we wrote and put together. We’d start with a guitar line or a
melody, and pass it back and forth, and just built it as we went.
That’s really cool. And then
you have another record you’re working on?
Well, over the
last year, I’ve been constantly writing songs. So, what I’m going to do when I
go to France is put it all together. I’ve got six tracks where the majority of
the track is finished… like, ‘this one needs an ending,’ or ‘that one needs
an intro,’ things like that… just the details. But I’ve got most of it
already, I would say, close to mixed.
Will this be a traditional
solo album? What are you thinking in terms of a release?
You know, I don’t
know if I’m even going to release it as a record. I might just release it as individual
tracks. I just haven’t come to that conclusion yet, because it isn’t all
finished. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I hear it all together, and I’ll think
‘Oh, well this sounds like it needs to all go together on a record.’ Or, it
will be, ‘Well, these fit really nicely together as a record, but these don’t.
These would be better as individual [tracks].’ So, I just don’t really know how
I’m going to release it yet, but I’ll get to that point where I’ll make a
decision. It’s music that I’ve written and performed by myself, and then some
of it is collaborations I’ve done with different musicians.
Do you think it will
ultimately be a 2019 release?
I think so. If I
do it individually, I’m going to release a song this summer, and then maybe one
in the winter. If I do it as a record, I’ll do it in 2020.
Is there anything thematic
that you noticed in the material that may have been either planned or
Oh, it’s all
unplanned [laughs]. It’s all just stream of conscious kind of material
that just starts happening, and you just try to get out of the way and let it
Cool. So, this next round of
shows that you’re doing this summer is being billed as a “greatest hits” tour,
so does that mean fans can expect to hear songs like “Silent Lucidity” and “Jet
City Woman” mixed in with some of your more recent material?
different shows I’m doing. I’m trying to ease into what would be just my
regular show of my music—I’ll call it my “greatest hits’ tour even though I don’t
really care for that title, but that’s what people call it. And then I have the
Operation: Mindcrime 30th anniversary shows that I still am doing. I’ve
been to close to 25 countries with that show. It was supposed to end in
December, but now it’s stretching into two weeks of shows on the East Coast,
and then I’ll finally be finished with that. And then in August, I have two weeks
of dates primarily in the U.K., and that will be a mix from all the different
In talking about Operation:
Mindcrime and its legacy, the record itself had some pretty forward-thinking,
socio-political themes in addition to the main narrative. I was just wondering:
do you see any parallels between those themes, and what’s going on—certainly in
American politics—but as someone who travels a lot, throughout the world today?
Yeah. I think
one of the things that has been a factor in the album being so successful and
effective for so many years is that the themes of it are age-old themes of how
people deal with love, betrayal, and how power affects people. The story of the
haves and the have-nots, and the struggle for equality—these are really age-old
themes. So, I think that speaks to every generation somewhat.
interesting for me because just recently I was in Montreal where I wrote the
album. A big group of us were going out to dinner on our day off, and we were
sitting across the street from what was this little dive bar back then called
the Saint Sulpice on Saint Denis Street where I spent most of my time writing
the record. And I was influenced by a separatist movement that was going on at
the time, where the French were trying to separate from union of Canada and
become their own country, and there was lots of unrest, violence, car-bombings,
kidnappings, and extortion going on. And I just happened to be sitting at the
bar with all these people who were neck-deep in the whole movement and they
became my inspiration for the album.
That’s really interesting. I
didn’t know that about the writing of the album. Well, I know you’re a big wine
enthusiast, so I have to ask: red or white?
Well, I like
white for breakfast, and red for every other meal.
That works for me!
That’s my motto
in life, ‘White wine to start the day.’
Geoff, it’s been great
chatting with you today, thanks so much for your time.
Thank you, Dan.
Be sure to catch Geoff
Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime at the Starland Ballroom on June 26, The Space at
Westbury in Westbury, NY on June 28, and at the Tail Winds Music Fest on June