The band admit the crunch came at their controversial show in Brazil during which Tate assaulted several of his colleagues.
They say it was actually more than one incident – and he’s never apologised to them.
Speaking for the first time since a series of court papers revealed the depth of the prog metal outfit’s disagreements, guitarist Michael Wilton tells Billboard: “In any other business, when someone does such a vicious act like that, they’d be fired on the spot. We got to that point.
“We had a couple more shows and we were going to see what was happening. He kind of sealed his fate in that act. The last two shows we did with this guy we were told to stay in our areas – we were told, ‘Don’t get near him or he may explode.’”
He says the feeling amongst the rest of the band was: “‘Guys, look, we can’t have a good show any more. We can’t work with this guy any more. He’s not going to apologise, he has no remorse – he thinks he’s right for some strange reason.’ He kind of just handed it to us. We had to make the decision.”
Drummer Scott Rockenfield says he “had to be towelled off before the show because I was dripping with Geoff Tate’s saliva.”
He adds: “All the meetings we’ve ever scheduled have always been done by the book, and there were a few prior to Brazil that Geoff chose not to attend. He knew about them and they were all done legally. He chose not to attend.
“In Brazil, it got to the point where he found out what we had talked about – and that’s what happened. That was his response. He asked for a meeting; it lasted about 20 minutes, and it was not the best meeting in the world, to be honest.”
The band had decided to dismiss Susan Tate as their manager, and Wilton admits: “I think it was going to be a deciding factor if he sides with the band, or he sides with his wife as the manager. Obviously he’s proved to us where his loyalty is.”
Rockenfield realises the new Queensryche, with singer Todd La Torre, have everything to prove to a disenfranchised fanbase. He explains: “It’s kind of like a divorce – they don’t know what side to take. We’re just going to go out and do it, and they can come out and experience what we’re going to do.”
They remain tight-lipped about the prospect of reuniting with founding guitarist Chris DeGarmo, who they suggest left the band in 1997 after falling out with Tate.
Wilton states: “Anything is possible. I can’t speak on behalf of Chris. He’s a very good friend of mine, and I respect his privacy.”
Meanwhile, it seems Tate could follow through on his suggestion that he believes he’s entitled to tour under the band’s name. While he’s using the title “The Voice of Queensryche” on his website, he’s also listed as “Queensryche Starring Geoff Tate” on the website of his booking agency.
-Classic Rock Magazine