Addie Rox of Tampa Bay’s Mayhem Magazine recently conducted an interview with new QUEENSRŸCHE singer Todd La Torre. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Mayhem Magazine: A lot of your influence comes from Geoff Tate. What kind of influence do you think your particular sound will have? How will it be the same or differ from original QUEENSRŸCHE material?
Todd: A lot of the little crying inflections, or when you enter a phrase… Michael Sweet [STRYPER] does it a lot too. You know, he [Tate] has a cleaner voice than I have. Even from my early teens, I’ve had a little bit of a raspier voice, but I can mimic… I don’t like to say the word “mimic,” but I need to in order to properly do the songs the way they need to be done. So, I mean, I struggle a little bit with staying clean, because I’m used to doing a lot of the higher, more metal, edgier-type music. His is not so aggressive, and in the music I sing with CRIMSON GLORY, it’s heavier and vocals are dirtier and grittier. So as far as how would my sound, or the new stuff sound, I think it will sound edgier, and I have a tendency of wanting to do the [Rob] Halford style metal screaming where I think that they’re [fellow QUEENSRŸCHE members] wanting to tone that down; maybe they think it’s a little dated. But there are times that I want to show the power and the metal side of it. QUEENSRŸCHE is metal, but I think I’ll lend a different texture.
Mayhem Magazine: How do you feel about “replacing” one of your idols, Geoff Tate. Is it bittersweet?
Todd: Well… the term that you are using is very delicate. To say the word “replacing,” some would arguably say he is irreplaceable. I am, in fact, filling those shoes, that role, so it’s probably a fair term, although a lot of people, for political correctness, try to not use this. To be politically correct, or for professional courtesy, I feel people are afraid to use that word because it will garnish criticism, but the fact of the matter is, that is what it is. To be compared, to even be in the same breath as somebody who is probably the biggest influence, vocally, within the genre is surreal, but I feel like I’ve already been down this road with CRIMSON GLORY because Midnight was a very highly revered singer and I’ve been kind of held to the fire on that. I’m not worried about the naysayers who are, like, “Fuck this guy! QUEENSRŸCHE will never be QUEENSRŸCHE without Geoff Tate.” I respect that, I understand that. I’m a fan, too, so I won’t criticize someone for that opinion, but at the same time, and I don’t know this from the members, but it’s fairly evident that Tate is moving in a different direction. The [recent QUEENSRŸCHE] music appears, from an outsider looking in, that it is not what the fans are really wanting, in my opinion. And so, maybe the fans expect the band to not do something, but it’s like, if I sound too much like him, I’m being labeled as a clone, but if I sound nothing like him, then they say, “This guy sounds nothing like what it should sound like!” So I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. So I just say, I do the best that I can. Yes, my phrasing is very similar to him; it’s going to be. If I was a guitar player that just grew up on Yngwie [Malmsteen] and Paul Gilbert or Michael Angelo, it’s going to be reflected in that playing. If you play like Steve Vai, they are going to be on your sleeve.
Mayhem Magazine: Have you had any formal vocal training?
Todd: I’ve never had any formal training or taken a single lesson — not one. It was actually right before my debut show with CRIMSON GLORY in Marietta, Georgia that I was able to find a very well-respected vocal coach in the area and I really wanted more of an evaluation. I was told from him, “Do you know how many people that come to me and sing like you do? Hardly any, very few. Whatever you have done to teach yourself, don’t stop.” I try to find my own way to sing any QUEENSRŸCHE song and not strain my throat, but make it sound effortless. There’s always room for improvement.
Mayhem Magazine: Do you feel like you are having to win over the QUEENSRŸCHE fans?
Todd: The difference for me is, I don’t have the history, because it’s not my voice on those records. It’s not my voice they fell in love with. It’s hard; it really makes it harder. Luckily, the CRIMSON fans accepted me the way that they did and I think it’s because I’ve proven that I am a better singer live than Midnight was. I don’t like saying it, but it’s true — even the band says it. I don’t have his range; I can’t sing so super high. I can hit some high stuff, but it’s not what makes a great singer; it’s pretty overrated. It’s cool. Not a lot of people can do it great, but it’s still a bit overrated. Emotion is where it’s at. Not that I should care too much what people think to the point that it consumes me, but if I make the band happy and proud, I can’t ask for anything more. I’m human; these are my vocal cords. People expect too much. Even out of Geoff Tate, they expect too much. “Oh he doesn’t have the range.” Dude, the guy’s voice, in my opinion, is still fucking awesome. The problem is when you build your sound around a range that he’s known for, and then you don’t deliver like the record. I mean, come on — it’s a record. Those lines are done a million times and they take the best takes and they put it together. The record is forever, right? Well, live, very few sound like the record and let’s face it, QUEENSRŸCHE is some of the hardest material in the world to sing.
Mayhem Magazine: How different is the singing from your CRIMSON GLORY songs?
Todd: Well, the CRIMSON GLORY songs, Midnight had a scratchier voice. You don’t hear any scratch on any Geoff Tate‘s stuff. You’re going to hear it, to some degree, with my voice. Even on the live stuff, that’s just how I sing. I think the range on CRIMSON is much higher — I know it is — but trying to be able to sing clean is challenging, but I can do it fairly well. Lots of factors are involved, too, like climate, travel, fatigue, rest, minimizing talking, etc. Our voice is our instrument.
You can read the entire interview from Mayhem Magazine.