Editor’s note: Queensrÿche and the Scorpions will play Aug. 31 at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys. This story was first posted in October 2015, shortly after Todd La Torre joined the band as lead singer.
When Todd La Torre steps up to the microphone, he also goes under the microscope.
The new Queensrÿche frontman replaced Geoff Tate, who weaved heavy metal tales for more than 30 years as lead singer for the band’s passionate fans, many of whom were upset by the change.
“There was negativity and very hurtful things that people say with complete disregard for the human being at the other end,” La Torre told Tahoe Onstage in advance of an October 2015 appearance at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe.
“I am confident with what we’re doing with the band and, show by show, we are winning people over who were very skeptical of the band with me in it. I’ve met a lot of people after a show who say, ‘I owe you an apology. I was upset with the split and I said some not nice things about you. I had to see it for myself.’ ”
The Seattle group formed in 1982. After Tate left, the remaining members turned toward La Torre, who not only has esoteric knowledge of the band and is an acuminous singer and showman, he has experience stepping into very large rock and roll shoes.
Until 2010, La Torre had spent his career as a heavy metal drummer. He was called up front by the Crimson Glory to replace its lead singer Midnight.
“Midnight was an iconic voice to that band and very revered, so when I came into Crimson Glory, it was kind of the same thing,” La Torre said. “Unfortunately, Midnight passed away before I even joined the band. Nevertheless you are still not the original voice that people identify with the band. So that comes with a price.”
As a result, La Torre avoids reading the comment sections on websites or YouTube videos.
“The only thing I look at is our Queensrÿche Facebook and Twitter and my artist page on Facebook,” he said. “If there’s an album review, sometimes I read them, sometimes I don’t. I found for my own well being and psychology to just stay away from anything with comments.”
La Torre has been preparing for this job most of his life. Since he was an early teen, his favorite bands were Queensrÿche and Iron Maiden.
“As a drummer, Scott (Rockenfield ) was always influential, so I spent many, many, many years dissecting the songs that Queensrÿche did. I was immersed in their music for a very long time”
Queensrÿche’s Michael Wilton (guitar), Eddie Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums) have been with the band since its inception. There have been four others who have filled another guitar position, which has been held by Parker Lundgren since 2009.
In 2012, there was a spat between Tate and the rest of the band. Tate made a solo album and the other Queensrÿche members started what was ostensibly a side project with La Torre. The band was called Rising West, with West being an acronym for Wilton, Eddie, Scott, Todd.
Rising West played two sellout shows, coincidentally at a Hard Rock in Seattle.
“There was an excitement for sure from the people who saw the Rising West shows because we were playing old Queensrÿche songs that hadn’t been played in their entirety in a very long time: ‘Prophecy,’ ‘Child of Fire,’ ‘Roads to Madness,’ and ‘Queen of the Reich.’
“After those two shows we were going to try to book some other shows. It was successful, it was fun. I wasn’t aware of all the dynamics that were going on with those guys with Queensrÿche. Once I found out there was a firing, obviously they thought they were Queensrÿche and I was brought into the band.”
Tate, who reportedly made a settlement over the use of the band name, released a solo album Sept. 18, 2015 “The Key.”
Queensrÿche released its second album with La Torre as the lead singer, “Condition Hüman,” on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, the day of the Lake Tahoe concert. The album on the first day already was listed as No. 2 on the Amazon Best Seller chart for Hard Rock and Metal albums. Queensrÿche has been on tour with the Scorpions, playing mostly in venues much larger than Hard Rock’s Vinyl.
Be it a large or smaller crowd, there doubtless always are longtime Queensrÿche fans who enter with skepticism. La Todd has witnessed it many times.
“A couple songs in, their arms start to become unfolded and they drop down and they start having fun,” he said. “And by the time the show’s over, they say, ‘You know what? You did a helluva job. I feel like I have my band back. I haven’t heard these songs like this in decades. They are very kind and very honest and very appreciative of that. Show by show, one by one, we’re proving ourselves.”
RELATED STORY: Queensryche melts Vinyl with heavy metal at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe. LINK