It’s not easy to have success as a band when you are forced to replace your lead singer. Getting the fans to come around to accept someone new as the face of the group — particularly when the former lead singer was so popular — can be nearly impossible. Don’t believe us? Just ask Gary Cherone about how his time in Van Halen went.
That is what makes the double headlining bill of and Skid Row so impressive. Both bands were huge names in the 80s and 90s metal scene, and each featured a highly recognizable singer who left under less-than-amicable circumstances (believe it or not, Skid Row is actually on their fifth lead singer, making them the Elizabeth Taylor of hard rock). Skid Row lost Sebastian Bach in 1996, while Queensryche split from Geoff Tate in 2012. Somehow, both acts have managed to continue to press on with new singers, and they will both appear live 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at Harrah’s Resort.
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Founding Queensryche guitarist Michael Wilton was kind enough to talk to us about the tour, the fans and the current state of rock.
A.C. Weekly: You are touring with Skid Row, another band who has replaced their lead singer. Was that concept planned, or no?
Michael Wilton: No, actually we thought it was just a good combination. It’s a good hard rock/metal collaboration. It’s a very good show.
ACW: How have the fans responded to his replacement, Todd La Torre?
MW: Everybody has taken Todd La Torre into the fold and we are doing great with him. All of the hardcore Queensryche fans are saying that he is the new voice of Queensryche, so we are very, very happy, because we have been working for the last five years to build this.
ACW: You guys had a period of huge success with the album “Empire” back in 1991. How are things now compared to that period?
MW: Well, yeah, obviously the whole industry has changed and fragmented. And obviously, hard rock is not at the forefront (of the music industry) anymore, so that is the big difference. Back then it was more simple and straightforward.
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ACW: Do you think there is a lot of crossover between Queensryche fans and Skid Row fans?
MW: It’s a great pairing and a great hard rock experience. You get a lot of people who are there just for the experience to get some hard rock on their plate. You also have the hardcore fans who are there for each band. Everybody tolerates the music because they love it.
ACW: Is there any song that you particularly enjoy playing live?
MW: I’ve been doing this for over 34 years, so there are so many songs. I’m just thankful to be able to play any song. The one song that I love to play that still gets a huge reaction is “Queen of The Reich” which was our first single ever (and the inspiration for the band name).
ACW: Any plans for a new record?
MW: Yes! We’ve been writing diligently and putting together song ideas and we will are hoping to begin recording sometime in January and have the album out as soon as we can get it out.
ACW: Do you think there will ever be a reunion with (original Queensryche vocalist) Geoff Tate?
MW: Not at this point. We’ve rebuilt our career with Todd and it’s going amazingly and we wouldn’t want to change that.