Star Scene: Todd La Torre of Queensr每che

Todd La Torre鈥檚 scene is a lot calmer than his onstage presence. The lead singer of Queensryche states that he is a very private person at home. 鈥淚 don鈥檛 drink. I鈥檓 not a party kind of a guy. My thing is pretty low key. I鈥檝e got a handful of really great friends; I don鈥檛 particularly favour large groups of people. And I live a very simple life. I鈥檓 not surrounded by a lot of materialism. I try to find beauty in simplicity and I guess I consider myself a pretty deep thinker. I鈥檓 enthralled by philosophy and science and things like that. So I guess that鈥檚 my scene. A lot of my friends are kind of hippie, surf or skater guys and then I鈥檝e got other friends that are lawyers and doctors and that kind of professional people. But I guess my scene is just people that are honest and real and not fake and that鈥檚 kind of my scene. I鈥檓 a jeans and converse kind of guy. I don鈥檛 really care what other people think.鈥

A fortunate attitude for La Torre as the transition from fan to star was often a rocky one. The band was well established before La Torre joined in 2012. In fact, Queensr每che has, to date, sold over 30 million albums around the world over the course of their 30-plus-year career. Many were skeptical but the band has gone on to release two acclaimed 鈥渃omeback鈥 albums with La Torre, and perform hundreds of shows featuring crowd pleasing setlists of fan favourite anthems and old school classics – many of which have not been performed live since the 1980s. When La Torre joined, he was聽鈥減sychologically excited鈥. However he continues: 鈥淏ut that comes with some baggage because you鈥檙e the one that they love to hate. So that there鈥檚 people that loved what I was bringing to the band and then there were other people that were extremely critical and said very mean things you know because I鈥檓 not the original guy and so it took a little while before your skin gets tougher and to the point where I don鈥檛 really read stuff online about the band. I don鈥檛 do interviews that often and so once I鈥檝e done the interview, I鈥檓 satisfied with that. I don鈥檛 go back and watch stuff of myself. I don鈥檛 read comments about anything even if they鈥檙e good, I just don鈥檛 read them because you鈥檙e always going to find that negative stuff and you know that there鈥檚 no point in self-mutilating. I mean the transition at first really fun. It was a dream come true and I embraced it fully and I did everything I could to rise to the occasion and do the best job that I could with the band so it鈥檚 predominantly been a more than positive experience. There have been, like I said, there have been troublesome aspects of joining the band and being judged so harshly. But as long as I feel comfortable and the band feels good and there is that positive feedback, that鈥檚 more than I could ever ask for because I know that you are not going to please everybody.”

I would say overwhelmingly the majority of people have finally accepted me and the band and the two records that I鈥檝e done with the band and are appreciating that the songs are being performed very well live.鈥

What shouldn鈥檛 be discarded is the fact that La Torre was firstly, and foremost, a fan. He has done the background work. He has a unique style that compliments, and enhances, the Queensr每che tradition. His influences growing up varied, from listening to his mum鈥檚 progressive jazz records, as well as RnB and Motown artists like George Benson and Michael Jackson, to listening to his dad鈥檚 Elton John, Billy Joel and Cat Stevens records, to his own style where 鈥渙ne of my favourite bands of all time is the band Heart and Fleetwood Mac. Those are two of my – my all time favourites, and then it wasn鈥檛 until my early teens when I got more into to rock music and hard rock.鈥 Then, La Torre continues: 鈥淥f course I was introduced to Iron Maiden and Queensr每che and Testament and so those became my favourite bands and were most influential to me and my early teens.鈥

鈥淭he first time that I heard Queensr每che my sister was dating a friend, well, we鈥檝e become friends now, he was few years older than me and he was also a drummer; I really looked up to him and I think my sister purchased the 鈥淥peration:Mindcrime鈥 cassette tape and he was listening to it and learning it and he said, 鈥極h you should check these鈥hese guys out!鈥 He knew that I really liked Iron Maiden so I listened to 鈥極peration:Mindcrime鈥. This was back when you had a tape player and auto search and it was somewhere in the middle of the tape and I went to rewind to the other song and it ended up going to the very beginning of the tape. Then there was a long intro and I didn鈥檛 realise it was this huge concept album at the time and I was just wanting to get right into the song. At that age I don鈥檛 think I was mature enough musically to really embrace what I was about to listen to. But nevertheless I did listen to the album 鈥淥peration Mindcrime鈥 first; and I think 鈥淓yes of a Stranger鈥 was one of the first songs that I heard that was so captivating to me and then of course I ended up going to my local record store and the only album that was available for Queensr每che was 鈥淭he Warning.鈥 So I bought the CD of 鈥淲arning鈥 and then I just listened to that religiously and never never took it out of my CD player and鈥.so yeah. 鈥淥peration:Mindcrime鈥 was the first cassette of Queensr每che that I ever listened to and that was kind of the beginning for me.鈥

Now, on the other side, La Torre has scored two stellar albums to his name, but not without pressure and hardwork. La Torre states: 鈥淥bviously the first one was like okay this has to go over well; if this album is not really received well, this is going to be catastrophic. However, because it was received well, there was more pressure on the second one cause like 鈥極kay, they did one record that was really good; but can they do it again? And will it be as equally as good or better?鈥 And so I almost think, to be honest, I think that this record is even more important.鈥 La Torre continues, 鈥淲e鈥檝e done two that were received really well, but 鈥榗an they really keep this up?鈥 鈥極kay they did a few records but who knows what this next one is going to sound like?鈥 I think that every band probably feels like that鈥.鈥

The gravity of the anticipated reception of the second La Torre fronted album, Condition Human, was unwarranted. La Torre states: 鈥淚t was received as good or even better than the last. You鈥檙e always pushing the envelope but I think both of them will will almost equally as important from the aspect that you鈥檙e that you鈥檙e asking about for different reasons though.鈥

Queensr每che鈥檚 sound in food form: 鈥淚t would be a buffet because I can鈥檛 give you one food. It鈥檚 going to be a buffet because there鈥檚 sweetness, there鈥檚 spice, there鈥檚 things that are maybe disturbing, there鈥檚 things that make you feel good. You know a buffet has a huge variety of things for everyone鈥檚 pallet. And I think that鈥檚 Queensr每che. I think that the music is diverse enough that it really appeals to a very broad demographic and it鈥檚 not so linear. We鈥檙e not a slice of pizza. We鈥檝e got too many pathways to narrow down to one. So I鈥檓 going to go with the whole buffet.”

聽La Torre enjoys the recording process and the band is demo-ing the next album at the moment. With the writing and demo-ing, it is often a long process, yet a collaborative and rewarding one. La Torre explains: 鈥淓verybody has their own recording studios at home, and so they also have their recordings of ideas from on the road. So those are track ideas and a lot of it is coming up with guitar ideas and then emailing me the MP3s and then I import into pro tools, which is the recording platform that we all use. Then I will start humming ideas and kind of getting a feel of how I鈥檓 interpreting the feel of the song. And then I鈥檒l play around with that and then I鈥檒l send it back and say 鈥楬ey what do you think of these ideas?鈥 And then it kind of builds from there; but most of the song writing, a lot of it anyway, in the initial phase, a lot of it is done through email and the Internet. But we鈥檙e touring all the time together so when we鈥檙e in a dressing room, hotel room or in the back of the bus or something, we鈥檒l pull out the computers and we鈥檒l start listening to the ideas and coming up with things collectively in person and then we鈥檒l kind of make some mental notes and then when we go back home, we鈥檒l work on those ideas that we talked about. It kind of works like that until you鈥檝e got a nice skeleton of a demo song. And then you get to ah what鈥檚 called 鈥榩re-production鈥 and then that鈥檚 where all of the songs are listened to and the weakest ones fall away and the strongest stay or there might be some really strong parts of the songs that in its entirety didn鈥檛 make it. And so we鈥檒l pull from those song ideas to maybe enhance the better existing group of songs and so there鈥檚 this kind of this second wave of song writing that happens in the pre-production phase. Usually there鈥檚 not that massive of an overhaul to each song, which sometimes delays some of the recording process or maybe the drums stay the same. But lyrically and vocally something really needs to change and so you have that that kind other phase of the song writing later in the late stages before recording.鈥

As for touring, La Torre states: 鈥淚t鈥檚 really tiring. On the one hand I love it because I get to work my passion, and perform music for people. On the other hand, I don鈥檛 like it because it鈥檚 very hard to have a personal life and you鈥檙e never home. I think this year, I鈥檝e been gone I believe 200 days out of the year, and I鈥檓 married and so when you鈥檙e home there鈥檚 still work to be done – you鈥檙e song writing or recording or whatever. But it鈥檚 really kind of a lonely 鈥 it鈥檚 a lonely part of your life because you鈥檙e not home, you don鈥檛 see your family, you don鈥檛 see your friends. You have friends on the road that come out to shows; but it has amazing positive aspects. But it also has some very sacrificing serious consequences because you give up a lot to be gone.鈥

From this Australian tour, fans can expect all their favourites performed with energy and immersion. La Torre states: 鈥淥ur set list is covering seven or eight albums for the live set depending on the length of our show. We are really excited to play there. I think there is going to be a wonderful enthusiasm from the people that come out because it鈥檚 been a long time since Queensr每che has played in Australia and our set list is awesome and we鈥檙e playing the hits; we鈥檙e playing some more rare kind of obscure songs; we鈥檙e playing some new material from my involvement in the band, and it鈥檚 going to be a great, high energy and emotional performance from the band. I really think that it鈥檚 one thing to watch YouTube videos 鈥 it鈥檚 a totally different thing to be there in the moment and experience the music and these guys have been doing this for 35 years, the original core members of the band, the fans really I鈥檓 sure, just can鈥檛 wait to see them in a nice intimate up close and personal setting and so we鈥檙e very thankful. We hope that we can sell these places out and have a really nice attendance and give them everything that they want, and we want the promoters to be happy and we would love to be asked to come back to Australia and perform again in the very near future. We don鈥檛 want to wait so long before Queensr每che can come back.鈥

Catch American progressive metal legends Queensr每che as they return to Australia for their first tour in nearly a decade thanks to Tombowler + Metropolis Touring + David Roy Williams.

Queensr每che Australian Tour Dates:

Tuesday 11th October 鈥 BRISBANE, The Triffid

Thursday 13th October 鈥 ADELAIDE, Fowlers Live

Friday 14th October 鈥 MELBOURNE, Prince Bandroom

Saturday 15th October 鈥 SYDNEY, Manning Bar

For more information, visit:聽

About Mary Boukouvalas 889 Articles
Mary is a music photographer and reviewer.

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