With the Geoff Tate “knife incident” having fans wondering what the hell is going on with the band, I thought I would bring us back to happier times. Back to 2001. Back to times before the knife incident and break up rumours. Times before Tribe. 11 years ago, I had the chance to speak to bassist Eddie Jackson for Global Bass Magazine. He gave me over an hour of his time.
I previously published an article based on that interview called Queensryche: Evolution of a Band.
Today I’m bringing you Part I of the complete unedited transcript. It’s long, but enjoy, there is so much great insight here! Eddie was a fantastic interview, and I hope all is well with him and the band.
This is so massive that I have to break it up into sections. So, here is Part I!
EDDIE JACKSON INTERVIEW, OCT 30 2001 (Unedited)
Q – Live Evolution is your first really definitive live album. Before you had Operation:LIVEcrime which was basically just one album’s worth of material. So this is a big deal, how much input did you personally have on the set list and the mix of the album?
E – The set list was pretty just a group effort there. Individually we all came up with certain songs that we thought we would like to perform that night. But you know, at the end of the day it was putting something that was gonna be something different from what we usually do, and that [something different] is go back several albums and perform some of these songs from The Warning, from Rage For Order, because a lot of the time these past few tours we’ve been focusing on from Operation:Mindcrime forward. With the exception of maybe “The Lady Wore Black” or “Take Hold Of The Flame” from the earlier albums. But this time around we just wanted to give them something…you know, you figure it’s a live album, a live DVD, let’s give ‘em something refreshing like some of the older stuff.
But with the mix…?
Q – Well you always hear horror stories about bass players in the mix. The legendary John Entwistle story of him turning up the bass sound on Live At Leeds, all these stories. Is that a struggle for you?
E – Not necessarily. The thing is, are you talking the mix in the front of the house, or on stage?
Q – On the actually released album.
E – Basically no different than the way we’ve been mixing our albums. You certainly want at least to be somewhat audible so you can at hear some of those lows, kinda compliment the rest of the mix. I’m not really a flashy type of a bass player, I kinda like ride with the groove, you know. And play along with the groove there, but as long as it’s somewhat audible enough, to where you can hear it. Granted, there’s gonna be some times where when you perform a song a little bit more up-tempo, you’re gonna lose some of that. That’s to be expected, that’s just the nature of the song and the instrument. As long you can hear everything, it’s really tough to isolate everything and make it sound studio-like, especially when it’s a live recording. Kelly [Gray, guitar]’s the one who actually mixed the live CD, and we thought he did a really good job with it.
Q – I agree. Obviously the first thing you notice when you buy the album is that you’ve got it organized into “suites” and it’s basically almost laid out chronologically. So that kind of presents interesting problems, you don’t have the traditional “Silent Lucidity” during the encore. So what made you guys decide to lay it out almost chronologically that night?
E – Well, again that’s where the Live Evolution title came from. We just figured, OK, we’re going to put together a set list and then we came up with the idea, hey, why don’t we put this together in suites? And kind of, starting from the beginning to the present. The first suite was the songs from the first couple of albums, the second suite from the next following set of albums, and so on. It was just an idea that we put together, and we thought it would be kinda fun to do. It definitely makes sense when you look and it and then when you hear it. Actually, it kinda came up, I can’t remember who brought up the idea, but spontaneously it just came about. We wanted, like I said before, Live Evolution, from the beginning to now. That was a given there, because we obviously had start with the songs from the past, from the first few albums and so on, but with the suites it just kinda made it more interesting.
Q – Where there any songs in the early stages that were eliminated, that you were sorry didn’t get on to the album?
E – There were a couple of songs that didn’t make the album. Let’s see, one of them was “Enforcer”, [sic, “En Force”] and “No Sanctuary”. And I can’t remember the other songs, there was just a handful, not many. The thing is, it’s really tough to sit down and try to perform everything that we have on paper. Because first of, we’re limited for time, and second of all, we’re limited on disc. There’s only so much time you can record, there’s only information that those things can record. I’m losing my train of thought here.
Q – (laughs) That’s OK, we can come back to it if you want.
E – Let’s actually go ahead and finish this. I was just thinking about something else about the show. Oh, about the songs. Yeah, it’s a long set, it was just trying to put together a good variety of songs that will not only please ourselves but also the fans. And again, if we were to play all the songs that we had written down on paper, heck, we’d be up there like 3 or 4 hours! So we had to kind of shave a few of the songs. I think selectively speaking we kinda chose songs that pretty much covered at least something from each album. That’s basically pretty much it.
Q – Were there any tunes that you knew, “I’m never playing this tune again, I never want to play this tune again!”
E – Well, not really. The funny thing was as we were writing these songs down on paper to choose from, and as we were learning these, it took me just a couple of days to remember these songs from The Warning! We hadn’t played some of these songs in 15 years, 16 years! And we’re just listening to them thinking, “God, what key is this in?” “Oh my God, that’s right I remember this part!” And then you start reminiscing about the times when you recorded ‘em. So it was more fun than we actually anticipated because you’re just sittin’ there listening to these songs, remembering the time when you recorded it, and the place where we recorded it, so it kinda brought back a lot of memories. It was a lot of fun! But again, I guess the fun part was relearning a lot of these songs.
Q – On the DVD you also say that playing the old songs brought back memories. Is relearning them the pleasure itself?
E – Absolutely. Yeah, because we’re proud of everything that we’ve done you know? And to go back and learn these songs that you haven’t played in 15, 16, 17 years, not only did it bring back memory but…it might sound kinda odd saying this, it’s refreshing even though they’re old songs. It was a refreshing approach if you know what I mean.
Q – It sounds like you rearranged some of the tunes slightly, like I think “Revolution Calling” has a new intro.
E – Yeah, well, we figured we did release LIVEcrime [a boxed set from 1991] as you know, a few years back. So some of those songs we’ve played them [in the past] verbatim to the original recording. We just figured, if we’re gonna play some of these songs, especially the songs that we normally play on tour, let’s kinda spice them up a bit, and we kinda did that with “Lady Wore Black”. We did that with “Revolution Calling”, just to name a couple. It’s nice to rework a couple of the songs so to make it sound a little different and interesting, but still obviously in context. You know, again, that’s another side of the joy of not only working on songs from the past, but also working on songs that are more current, than [to] rehash them.
Q – Now you mentioned Kelly mixing the album. He’s got quite a few production credits under his belt. You’ve got a producer in the band now. Is that a huge relief to you?
E – Yeah I think so! He’s a very talented individual you know? Like you said, he’s done producing work with a few bands, Candlebox, Dokken, Sven Gelis [sic] I think that’s the name of the band [Sven Gali from Toronto] just to name a couple of them you know. What’s the other one, Second Coming. He’s a very talented individual. Not only is he very talented when it comes to playing a producer role, but also as a musician, you know. He’s a good songwriter, a good guitar player. That guy, he wears many hats. It’s kinda a blessing in a way to work with someone like that because you’re killing two birds with one stone. Being a guitar player, a writer, but also coming in and helping us produce as well as mix. The last album, it was pretty much the band that had produced it. But he pretty much took the credit of engineering. I think it’s a major plus, when it comes to writing and then recording.
Q – Do you think you’ll ever go back to, say, Peter Collins or any other outside producer?
E – Perhaps. Doors are always open. You know, we’ll see! This last album, the Q2K release, was pretty much “ours” as a whole. With the exception of some of Kelly’s insight as a producer, the majority of that was pretty much the band’s production and ideas and whatnot. So, you never know. Working with Peter Collins, or Jimbo–James Barton, the doors are always open should we ever cross paths and if the idea ever comes up there’s always that possibility.
Q – One thing about Kelly is that he’s replacing someone who was in the band for a long time. On the live album I was really surprised by how seamless the new guitar parts are. It sounds like they should be there, it sounds like the old Queensryche. Now, making the transition, did you guys feel you had to shape him in any way to play like Chris [DeGarmo] used to?
E – Well, not really because Kelly has a little more of a bluesier background as opposed to Chris’ style. But I think you can tell, Q2K without Chris, stylistically it’s a little different than the songs Chris has worked on. He [Kelly] had some tough shoes to fill, but I don’t think it was that difficult for him to fit in. If you think about it, he’s playing pretty much Chris’ parts so it’s still gonna represent, especially speaking of the older songs, you’re still gonna hear the older style. You know, when he’s playing the songs that Chris had worked on. Yeah, but that’s almost inevitable. There are times when he would change maybe a solo here and a solo there so he’s not playing exactly what Chris wrote. I think he compliments Michael [Wilton, guitar] quite well stylistically and again he’s a very talented guy.
Q – As far as you being a bass player and getting a new guitar player in the band, did you have to make any adjustments? Did he come to you with harmonic ideas or anything like that?
E – I don’t know so much about that sort of an approach, but really, honestly, we just kinda let it happen. We really didn’t sit down and try to educate him into, “This is what Queensryche sounds like. This is what we want you to play like.” We just let him have free reign over it and not really…if you think about it, he’s not coming in to replace Chris. He’s coming in to replace a guitar player. By coming in to replace Chris, that can be a little tough on someone. Of course, you know, people are going to see that and they’re gonna question that. And obviously they’re gonna “A and B” the two guitar players stylistically or just as musicians in general. But that’s inevitable, that’s gonna happen. It happened on its own, we didn’t sit and dictate it, or educated him into sounding like someone that was no longer with us. We just let it happen, he let it happen, and we think he’s done a pretty good job so far.
Q – I just wanted to bring something up here that’s totally irrelevant. But I found a Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas album the other day, and Kelly Gray’s name is listed as a producer.
E – He has produced and mixed many of those.
Q – I just think you need to tease him a little about that (laughs).
E – Kelly, you’ve made it big! Someone just recognized your credits on a Twisted Radio CD! I’ll bring that up to him.