Todd La Torre (vocals) – Friday 16 June 2017
« I wish that the US had festivals like Europe does » – Todd La Torre
How’s your day been so far?
It’s been fast moving. We got here I think around 10:30am, had some set up stuff to do and it’s been a pretty fast paced day because the 2 main stages constant change over. We finished our 40 mins set which was kind of short but I think it was good. The audience was huge. I don’t know how many people out there but from the stage it looked close to 60,000. It was good and everything’s been fun.
Why festivals are not as popular in the States?
The US has some really great festivals but not like the heavy metal style of festivals like in Europe. I think that in Europe in general it’s just a lot more into heavy metal. Black metal was born here for instance. But where I live, in Tampay Bay, Florida, it’s also hailed as the birth place of death metal… In general, the US is more about pop, hip-hop… I wish that the US had festivals like Europe does. It still has great festivals but it’s totally different over there.
I heard that the band was currently writing some new material. Condition Hüman was released two years ago. What’s your assessment of Condition Hüman?
I’m very proud of that record. For me, there’s never a perfect record. I think that you’re creating and within a certain time frame, some really great ideas will come to you and then some ideas that don’t make you feel that they’re amazing. And I think that’s why artists always look forward to the next piece of work because you still have ideas that are constantly entering you mind. But when you’re touring it’s hard to always capture those ideas. Some ideas you’re able to record, other ideas they go away. Before you have a chance to put them down. I think that Condition Hüman was a step into the right direction. I wished it has some more faster songs on it but I think it was a pretty solid album and it seemed to have been relatively well received. I think people in general liked it. There’s always something about a record that you’re going to take apart but, as a complete body of work, everyone in the band was proud of that album and now, we’re just working on more songs.
I also heard that the new songs will have a fester tempo. Is that something the band wanted to do in the first place or it’s more the fans who requested it?
It was all of us in the band. When we finished the 2013 album (Queensrÿche) and Condition Hüman (2015), I wanted heavier material on the next one. So when Condition Hüman came with songs like “Guardian”, “Hellfire”, “Arrow of Time”, you know, it was longer and more dynamic. When we started to arrange the playlist, we realised there were fewer fast songs than we probably hoped for. So on this new record, we’re still writing whatever we feel but for me, there’s a particular mindset that wants to remember that on the last record, maybe one or two more… I don’t want a whole record of… That’s not Queensrÿche. But if we had at least one or two up-tempo songs I think that would have made us all happier. Something you’re writing a song and it’s not a fast song but you’re writing what you feel and you’re not always gonna feel like a fast song…
A month ago, you payed tribute to Chris Cornell (on May 20 in Biloxi) with Temple Of The Dog’s “Say Hello 2 Heaven”. What’s your personal connexion him? Did you personally know him?
I did not know him but I think that Eddie (Jackson – bass) and Michael (Wilton – guitar) had met him before. I know that Michael is friend with Kim Thayil (Soundgarden). Everyone in the band has a huge amount of respect for Chris Cornell and Soundgarden. But since you’re talking about Chris specifically, everyone’s always been impressed with his abilities and talent, as a songwriter and as a singer. So when we did that tribute, it was obviously nothing that we rehearsed. We just tried to learn it 3 hours before that show, which is something that we never do. We like to have everything perfect but because it wasn’t about us so we thought that it would be nice to do something to honour him. So that’s why we did it.
Why that specific song and not another one?
I initially wanted to do “Like A Stone” but Michael really liked “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and thought that the mood of the song was more fitting for the tribute. Of course, there’s a lot of vocal work in that and I didn’t know it so I just gave it my best attempt. We did that as the encore. We just did a whole Queensrÿche set and then I had to try to sing Chris Cornell, which is not easy, anyway… But Michael was the one who initially thought that we do that song so that’s why we did it.
I wanted to know your opinion about VIP Meet & Greet Packages. It’s not something which appears to be very well perceived but Europeans: the idea of having to pay to meet a band doesn’t sound right to many. Is it something necessary evil today for bands?
That’s a really good question and nobody has ever asked me that before… I understand both sides. As a fan, you don’t want to have to pay to meet somebody. On the other hand, if we meet every single person, I would never have a voice… And it also takes a lot of time. I hope that doesn’t come off the wrong way because I really don’t mean to sound like I don’t care or rude or anything because I really do care. However, your whole life growing up with music, you were lucky if you saw the artist off the stage. There seems to be a sense of entitlement that fans may or may not feel like “Hey, I bought the ticket: I should not have to pay to meet you also”. But really, this is our job so they pay for a performance. If I go see a movie, I don’t feel entitled to meet the actors: I’m there to see the movie. If I see another band play, I don’t feel special so that I should meet them without some kind of special… Their time is valuable and they’re tired and they’re on the road so I understand. For the fans, going to a concert is a party for them. And we have fun too. But we’re doing it again on the next day and the next day and the next day… I can really wear you out and you get tired. The business aspect is: “Look, bands are only making money by touring and selling merchandise”. So the meet and greet packages are an extension of that source of income and it allows us to keep doing this. Maybe people say “I paid for the ticket so why should I pay for a shirt?”. Because it’s still time and effort to produce something even though it’s meeting people and we’re very thankful. It’s really just because necessary evil like you said: to try to make up expenses that may fall short from other sources of income.
Interview : Wombat.
Many thanks to Valérie (JMT Consulting), Isabelle & Julien.