Producer Jason Slater, who worked with QUEENSRŸCHE‘s on on their last three studio albums, claims that the the band’s members Scott Rockenfield (drums), Michael Wilton (guitar) and Eddie Jackson (bass), had very little to no involvement with the band’s 2006 CD, “Operation: Mindcrime II”, despite the fact that they were credited with having played on the record.
Wilton, Jackson, Rockenfield and guitarist Parker Lundgren announced on June 20 that they were parting ways with singer Geoff Tate and recruiting powerhouse vocalist Todd La Torre of CRIMSON GLORY as his replacement. The new QUEENSRŸCHE lineup has already performed live, having played two shows in their home city of Seattle under the name RISING WEST.
Slater submitted a sworn declaration in support of Tate‘s motion for preliminary injunction to prevent Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield and Parker Lundgren from using the name QUEENSRŸCHE for their new group.
Slater said in his declaration: “I first worked with QUEENSRŸCHE on their ‘Operation: Mindcrime II’ CD.
“When I met the band, everyone seemed enthusiastic about making the CD, but as we began working, none of the band members except for Geoff Tate were interested in contributing, showing up for recording sessions or participating in any fashion. On several occasions, studio time was arranged but none of the band members showed up. This left myself, Geoff Tate, and [then-QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist] Mike Stone to write and record the record the record. Every attempt was made to include the band. They received copies of the songs after they were written and time was set aside for them to come in and record. We scheduled two weeks at a local studio to record Michael Wilton. When he showed up, he hadn’t learned any of the songs, so all the time was spent trying to teach him the songs so he could record them. In the end, he wasn’t capable of performing any of the songs accurately enough to be used on the record. In the end, we had no guitars from Mike that could be used. The guitars on the record were played by Mike Stone, a session guitarist and myself.
“Scott Rockenfield did not participate in the making of the record at all, and a session drummer was brought in to play on the record. I don’t believe [Scott] listened to any of the music until after the record was completed.
“We had Eddie Jackson come to the [San Francisco] Bay Area, where Geoff and I were finishing recording the vocals and mixing the record, with the intent of recording his bass parts. Again, he hadn’t learned the songs and we spent 10 days trying to get professional recordings but couldn’t get much that could be added to the songs, so I played the majority of the bass on the record.
“The members of the band badmouthed the record to the press and important people in the industry until they saw the record getting favorable reviews. At that point, they started taking credit for all the work that was done in their absence.
“The next full-length record I worked on with them was ‘American Soldier’. The band was supposed to submit songs they had written and we were supposed to start recording as songs carne in. It quickly became apparent that they were again going to leave all the work to Geoff as nobody submitted any songs. Geoff and I wrote all but two songs on the record, the other two carne from outside writers. The band did play on this record, but put the minimum amount of effort into it. They did nothing beyond copying the performances Geoff and I recorded on the songwriting demos.
“As the producer of over 20 major label records, countless independent releases and several film scores, my opinion of the process wasn’t that of working with a band, but that of working with a solo artist and some mediocre hired musicians.”
Slater‘s account appears to corroborated, at least in part, by guitarist Mitch Doran (a former member of SNAKE RIVER CONSPIRACY, which also featured Slater), who wrote on the MyLesPaul.com forum, “If you guys read the rest of the [QUEENSRŸCHE] depositions, there are numerous references to the fact that a session guitarist had to be brought in to play on a few QUEENSRŸCHE records post-2005. I am said session guitarist.
“I ended up re-playing 90% of the rhythm guitar on ‘Operation: Mindcrime II’ record, and also wrote and played most of the guitar solos. I was still in my late teens when I played that stuff. At the point that I wrote the solos and played all of the rythms, we didn’t have a lot of time. Geoff Tate kept calling us during the one week we had to mix the record and asking for things to sound ‘heavier.’ The producer would then have me re-play all of the rythms through a Mesa/Marshall dual head setup we had running. I did this for the song ‘Hands’ and ‘I’m American’ probably three times before we settled on a combination of different amp settings/takes.
“Scott Rockenfield isn’t even on ‘Operation: Mindcrime II’. A session drummer/old friend of mine named Matt Lucich from South San Francisco played all of the drums except for one bridge, which me and the producer simultaneously played on two kits spaced across the room from each other. Then there’s the track ‘I’m American’, which is a bad midi-programmed drum take that I did on a laptop and it ended up getting used for some reason (time constraints, or the producer didn’t like the live take).
“After the first guitar recording session, they hired me to engineer for the rest of the record as well.
“They broke the silence (pun intended) about my involvement in their declarations. I spent five long years not talking about this stuff to ANYONE.
“That record, for all intents and purposes, SHOULD carry the following credits:
* Drums: Matt Lucich
* Guitars: Mitch Doran (yours truly), Ashif Hakik, Mike Stone, Michael Wilton
* Bass: Ed Jackson, Jason Slater
* Vocals: Geoff Tate (Miranda Tate, Pamela Moore)
* Orchestration/Keys: Ashif Hakik
* Mixed: Chris Wolfe
“So as you can see, it’s a QUEENSRŸCHE-related record, but not exactly a classic or traditonal QUEENSRŸCHE lineup.
“I always had a lot of respect and admiration for that band, from back when ‘Mindcrime’ and ‘Empire’ were two great records that I enjoyed.
“When I was asked to play guitar on their record, by Geoff Tate and their then-producer, I had no idea what the rest of their situation was. Ed Jackson showed up and played his ass off. Mike Wilton was never at the studio when I was, and now that I read the deposition that he wrote, he says he was kept away from the studio. I had no idea about any of that, and it was explained to me that Wilton was just not showing up to play. It never made sense to me at all. Neither did Scott not being there. I always thought of Scott as a master drummer. Why then was I programming drums for this record? I was told a lot of stories as to why, but when you are a hungry kid and getting offered good engineer/session guitar work on a tight deadline, you drink the coffee and do the work. Years later I met Scott and worked on some songs with him and Geoff, Scott was always very nice, and indeed the master drummer that I had originally pictured.
“It’s really sad that it had to come to this, and I feel like if these guys could have wrote all of those depositions, as heartfelt messages to one another in private, things would be a lot different. Also, Geoff was always a calm and peaceful guy. He’d drive us around the Bay Area to the mastering facilities, he’d offer to bring stuff in, he sent us gifts after the record was done mixing, he sat the engineers down and gave us a talk thanking us for being professionals and apologizing for any toes he could have stepped on during the creative process (which he didn’t)
“I will say that there were a few screaming arguments in the lobby between Geoff‘s manager and the producer, and more than once the producer came in and told me to stop working (while recording ed playing his bass parts) and not to let the hard drive with the Pro Tools files out of my sight.
“I have always had a large black spot in my heart over having played on this record, having it debut at #15 on Billboard, and then not being able to tell anyone about it. I have a lot to say about each song on it. I also completely understand why a QUEENSRŸCHE fan would put it on and say, ‘WTF?’”
In his sworn declaration, Wilton stated about the writing and recording process for “Operation: Mindcrime II”, “Susan Tate [Geoff's wife and QUEENSRŸCHE's then-manager] brought to the table the idea to record ‘Operation: Mindcrime II’. The band was hesitant and did not want to lessen the original. But Susan Tate and Geoff Tate hired a budget producer and took control without really any other input. The manipulation of upfront monies was the Tates‘ main tool to get what they wanted. Scott Rockenfield, Eddie Jackson and I were squeezed out of having any input in the musical direction or business decisions, thus the project suffered. The rest was an organizational nightmare. The producer was never around when needed; he was constantly asleep on the job or playing games on his media player. He would send emails to the wrong email addresses. During the initial writing phase, I would show up to bring my input to the creative process only to find that the producer, the new guitar player (who were both staying with the Tates at the time), along with Geoff Tate had been up late the night before or up early that morning and had written the songs without me. I was then told my ideas were not needed as the songs were now done. I could, however, ‘bring my own style’ in during the recording after learning to play what they wrote for me. In frustration, I gave up on the writing process knowing that I would at least get to make changes in the studio to bring back the QUEENSRŸCHE sound into these songs that we were known for. The final straw was when they refused to let me to be a part of the final recordings and mixes. I was shut out and they had the nerve to replace some of my parts on my songs. They denied me flying to San Francisco to be a part of my band, telling me that everything was ready to go and I was not needed. Had the communication been better, and had I been aware that parts needed to be recorded or rewritten, I would have been there. It was not until years later that I even became aware of the issues during the final recording and mixing of ‘Operation: Mindcrime II’. It was all under the control of Geoff and Susan Tate. Call it delusions of grandeur, but they were convinced that this was going to sell three times more than the original, and to date (six years later) this album has sold fewer than 150,000 copies. The original album sold over 500,000 copies within a year.”