I don’t live in the now, I am always thinking ahead

Queensrÿche

Thank you for taking your time. How are you?

I am doing good. You know well rested. This, this tour’s, has been you know kind of a whirlwind, doing what is it like, eighteen shows in twenty days, twenty three days or something like that. So it’s a… You know it’s one after another right. So it’s like, you got to take care of yourself. Get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, stay healthy.

So did you get a chance to enjoy The Netherlands so far?

Ah, you know it’s, it’s just survival every day for me. You know it’s like get up, make sure I have 3 cups of coffee, get in, take care of the Bizz, loosen the tendons, get ready for the show and if I am lucky I get to go out and walk around to see the city or wherever we are at. Usually a parking lot.

Well at least here, you have a “café”...

Yes.

The “grass” is always greener here…

Right. I you know, kind of like Seattle, I understand, I might have to go and visit that shop.

That’s just downstairs. I heard the show tonight is sold out.

Yes I guess it is. It’s sold out, yeah. It’s, you know this is a great area for Queensrÿche, and hard rock, you know. Power metal. So, It’s great that we can come here and you know, play to a sold out show.

Yeah. How does it make you feel?

Well, you know, it gives us hope that there is, that there is audiences out there, that still want to, you know, see, you know, live music that matters to them and, you know, for us we do a lot of touring, you know, we are doing over a hundred shows this year. It’s great for us. You know we are really thankful that we can come to a place and you know it’s where you get to know its two weeks in advance and it’s sold out. So that’s always a good thing.

You said, it gives you hope?

Yes. I think with any band, you know, you want to, you want to be able to keep touring. That’s a lot of congestion in the market these days. You know, and all the bands are touring right now. So you know for any band, to do sellouts that’s in hard rock, aggressive rock, metal, it’s always a good thing.

So, it makes you feel like excited, or...?

Oh, yeah. Are you kidding? You know because, and you see it in the shows you know. Every show that we are doing. It’s just, you know the kids are just hungry for it. And its, what we are noticing at Queensrÿche shows is that, you know we have varied ages of people now you know. We have, you know we have been around a while. I won’t deny that. And, so we have fans that are just familiar with the last two records. And, we’ve got the fans that have been with us since the 80’s. And then we’ve got, their offspring you know. And then we’ve got, like younger people and middle aged and then we got the, you know the hardcore people that have been there from the beginning. So it’s a good varied audience that we have. And we are fortunate to have that.

And because of that mixed audience, do you feel that albums are received well?

Yes. I think that’s… well you know for young kids in this day and age, and so it’s the curiosity factor. You know, it’s like they hear of you know bands that have musicianship, and want to check them out. And you know, we are one of those bands that gets checked out a lot by the younger kids. So you know, and they have their reasons and we are all for it.

So, that sounds you are sort of rejuvenated, rejuvenating?

Yes. It’s almost reciprocal in a sense, you know it, you know maybe the old Queensrÿche fans, their kids were hearing the music in the womb. *Laugh*. They came, and now they are in their teen years, and now you know they just, they automatically like the music.

And it clicks.

Oh yeah.

So apart from being the lead guitarist in one of the most popular bands on the world, in many generations, if you meet someone in a bar, how would you introduce yourself?

Ehmm… I think, you know, when I’m not doing this, you know, I try and be as normal as possible. You know. I try and, you know, I don’t, I just, if someone asks what I do, I just say I’m a musician. You know, I don’t try and explain myself, or anything. And you know just try, try and keep it neutral. I think, ehm, you know when you are, when you are out here, and you’re kind of in a high profile situation, all the time… When I’m back home, I kind of like to blend in and just, you know, take it easy.

There’s no bus parked outside.

Right. Right. And ehm… you know, so it’s for me, you know when I’m at home, I’m kind of a normal guy. So, you know, like you and I, we can just hang out, just, and we wouldn’t even have to talk about Queensrÿche.

Yeah. But, what would you do talk about?

You know, anything… You know I’ve got friends. I like to golf so I talk about golf a lot.

Yeah. It’s like picture with a bunker. 

Yeah. And you know I relate to, I relate to that. There’s many similarities that I can pool into the techniques of guitar… ehm… as far as regiment practicing and technique.

Yeah. It takes effort.

Yeah it takes effort and mainly you know, as you get older, you know like the tendons in the arms, you get to stretch them out and everything. Golfers have to do that, too.

So you said you’ve been touring, you’ve been touring around Europe for about another week and then you are heading off to other continents.

Hm.

It is. Like a whole tour? Which tolls have the road been taking on you so far?

So far, you know, I am doing pretty good. You know, other than the traditional jetlag coming over here. The long flights and everything, those kind of tire you out, but I’m doing good. No one’s gotten sick. There has, really been no problem. It’s been a very smooth tour. So yeah, when we are done here, we fly back to the US and do some festivals and then we get ready to go to Japan, and we are doing the Loud Park Festival. And then from there we go into Australia and do our tour there and then, then back to the US, and then we are going to do a fall/winter tour with Armored Saint and that leads us to December. I think December sixteenth is our last show of the condition human tour.

Yeah. It’s been almost a year since the album came out.

Mmhmm. Yeah.

How has it been received? And how has…

It’s for us, you know its success. With every release you hope that the latest release outsells the previous one. And we’ve done that. And, the record company is happy. They are pleased. And we’ve done a few videos. And I think we are going to do one more of video. Maybe two more videos for this album, so…

Any hints to which songs?

Ehmm… you know. Its, its maybe the third or fourth song on the album. I can’t remember.

*Laugh*

Because you mix it up, a little time.

Right. And this album, you know it’s been well received. For us, you know we charted in different countries that Queensrÿche is not charted in like fifteen/twenty years. So, you know, we are very pleased with that. And we know that, you know things are moving in the right direction for Queensrÿche.

So you have played at the biggest stages with the largest bands. And released over dozens of records. Reached more than most musicians can ever dream about. What are your dreams? What do you dream about?

Well… for me, I am the person that is always thinking about the next day, or the next project, or what I’m going to do next. I’m always… I am that kind of a guy. I don’t live in the now. I am always thinking ahead. And for me, its, you know everything is a work in progress. So, I’m always, just looking for opportunity and, you know, to refine myself, maybe.

Even more?

Yeah. You know, I think as you get older you refine yourself, you refine your technique, your playing, your, you know, way of handling yourself. I just try to, you know stay in control.

Not any stage that you haven’t played yet? That you want to…?

Well... those… those are inevitable. That’s… I know that those are going to happen. You know so, I know the touring is going to take me… You know I’ve already played big stages. I’ve you know, I’ve played the Grammies, I’ve won a MTV viewer choice award, you know. I’ve got like ten golden/platinum records, you know.

But what’s still on your bucket list?

You know to go someplace where Queensrÿche hasn’t played, would be like, maybe New Zealand, China, I don’t know. You know… it’s just… we’ll see what happens.

But what’s your biggest fear, then?

I don’t live in fear. I… ehmm… you know, I just hope that the music industry continues and stays strong. Even if it goes underground. Specially the hard rock metal contingency of fans. I think it’s not in the mainstream right now, but it’s there.

Yeah.

So, I don’t think it will ever go away. I think there’s, you know there’s so many passionate listeners that follow these different you know, the genres music. You know the power metal, progressive metal, hard rock, power rock, you know whatever you call it. So, you know that’s something that’s always, it’s always going to be there, you know, whether you like it or not.

So you’ve been around for almost three decades. Aren’t you afraid you are going to run out of ideas?

No. no. I mean it’s, for me, I’m a very right-brain person. So, I’m very visual and every day I can come up with ideas. You know it’s just matter of sorting them out and seeing which ones are good, which ones are… you know.

And what inspires you then? Where do these come from?

Well… you know, a lot of it is just not knowing that it’s happening. You know it’s like getting out of the way of something that’s happening. Sometimes, it’s being an adverse situation… like you’re pissed off or something. And, you know, you are not really thinking about what you’re playing. But all of a sudden you start playing something really cool. You know. Or, you know, you are just kind of, in a zone, right? For me, like as a musician, you know musician gets, has to get into that next level. You know. And when you are on that plane, you see everything, you hear everything, and then it’s just a matter of grabbing it and relating, relating it to, you know, what makes sense to you, maybe. And for me, it’s like, as I get older, if I don’t record it quickly, it’s gone. *Laughing*

Lost forever.

Yeah. Collective consciousness. Someone else grabs it. So…

In a sense, music is sort of and extension of yourself.

I think it is. You know. I am just an artistic person, you know I am not an accountant. I’m artistic, so. And that’s what I do. Made a living out of it and I’m going to keep doing it.

So how do you whip up ideas for new riffs?

Like I said, it’s just, its being in, you know the right, the right frame of mind. I guess. You know it’s…

So, do you constantly write or?

Yes. There’s constantly ideas, there’s constant inspiration from whatever I do, and I, you know there’s key things that you go, ‘Ah’ you know that sparks your mind, that it might be special to you, you put it down, and it’s like you know constantly changing your area. Like I’m in a different country now and I’m in a different room, and it’s a different condition. You know. So, I know I’m going to probably come up with a different type of an idea here, and I’m going to try and document it. It may be good, it maybe a throw away.

How do you do that? Do you capture it, like on tape or…?

Yeah. We all have our laptops with our digital audio workstations and we have our ways of recording them. So all these bits are on hard drives and it’s, there is like a big jigsaw puzzle. You putting  in them all together.

Yeah, you put it all together.

Yeah.

So, the first time I actually heard of Queensrÿche was back in ‘93 with the real world.

Oh yeah. Yeah.

That was co-written by Michael Kamen…

Yes.

…and even 3 year earlier, you recorded Silent Lucidity…

MMhm.

With him as well.

… a brilliant man, brilliant man… so creative. You know, I can’t say enough about the guy. And we are very fortunate to work with him because when we did the album The Warning, the producer was James Guthrie and he had just worked on The Wall. And he had just worked with Michael Kamen. So, and he turned Michal Kamen onto us. We were fortunate to have him work on a couple of our records.

What could potentially be an interesting topic for a next concept album?

I don’t know if Queensrÿche is going to do another concept album. It’s you know, once you’ve done one that has been so successful. It’s like, you know let’s let it be in. let’s see what else happens. You know I’m more about. Let’s grab chaos and see what comes of it and we’ll make it if it’s conceptual, thematic, if it’s just songs… whatever it is that will be.

So, you just keep on creating new ideas…?

Right. If you preplan anything, you know, sometimes, it doesn’t go so well. So, if you say you are going to do a, you know a prog record or you know pop record, or a conceptual record, it’s you know, you are limiting yourself. It’s more about creative freedom, and you know writing what everybody in the band is, you know cohesively putting together. Creatively.

You work separately and then at some point your ideas come together.

Exactly. You know, and this, well it’s the modern day you know. Everybody has got their laptops and they are grabbing their ideas and then, we’re putting in up on drop box. And… you know, everybody’s pulling them down and importing them and everybody’s putting their own ideas into them, and it’s exciting. Because, everybody is… you’re taking something that may have been just a riff, or a vocal line, or a, you know, a twenty second demo. And it comes out into something amazing.

Starts to grow. And it can go in any direction.

Exactly. That’s what’s cool about being in the band. Seeing, you know taking the strengths of all the people and the band and making something cool.

Yeah, and piling up on new ideas and actually triggering… one riff triggers another one.

Right. When it’s just one person saying, you know, “this is the way it has to be”, you know, then you’re confined. And it’s not a good creative outlet. But when everybody has the availability to input their ideas and everybody interprets them their way. That’s when the magic happens.

Yeah because that’s when that little spark, that the two of you individually can’t think off comes together.

Exactly.

That’s where growth is. You know, time wise. If you could go back in time, what would the one single piece of advice be to your younger eighteen year old self.

Wow. I mean there’s so many… could’ve, would’ve, should’ve things that you’ve done. But ehm… you know it, I think more on, not the creative side but I’ll say more on the business side, I think I would have changed some things a little sooner. Ehm…

And is that also advice you would give other young striving musicians?

I think, you know this day and age for musicians, it’s you know the business side of it, it’s a tough road.

Yeah. It’s completely flipped around.

It’s a real tough road. So, you got to be smart about it.

So, what’s your advice to the younger?

Well, if you got something good, you know, you got something that people like, that people believe in you. You just, yeah… persevere, you know. Keep going at it ‘till you, ‘till you hit something, ‘till you hit gold.

And if you travel forward?

In the future? *Laugh*

In the future. Because you are living in the future. Travel forward. Where are you when you are eighty?

Oh, wow. If I was able to travel into future, I could do so much damage at the stock market, you know.

I have seen that movie too. Jean-Caude Van Damme. *Laugh* Actually was back...

Yeah, so. I mean that’s a scary thing. If anybody had that power. I’d go back and invent the internet. I don’t know. You know. Crazy things. Crazy thoughts.

Crazy thoughts. Well... Rest his sole, David Bowie also had various thoughts on what the internet was. He saw music going in certain direction and… How does it change the world for you as a musician?

I think, I think… The music industry is just evolving.

And how are you going to stay top on that?

You can’t stop it. You can’t stop it, you know. It’s gonna… It’s just gonna to keep changing. It’s always gonna be changing. So, you just got to adapt to it. The best that you can.

So be as adaptive… That’s also one of your things you want to give young musicians.

Oh, the young musicians, they are already, they are already connected. You know. They know what’s going on, so… Ehm… I think it’s everybody that’s falling behind. They’re the ones that need help.

How did your sound develop actually over the years, ‘cause I have heard that it’s actually, with Condition Hüman, you have sort of gone full circle in terms of speed and sound?

Yeah it’s taking, you know the strongest elements of everybody in the band and you know, you got the DNA of the original people, now, united and cohesively writing together. So, it does capture a bit of, you know, the older the essence of the way that we recorded the older albums. And ehmm… it’s, you know, it takes somebody like a producer, you know, to recognize that. And to recognize, you know, subtle strengths that happen in those older albums to try and, “hey, let’s try this now,” you know. The way you used to do this or the way you used to play drums this way, or the way you used to play the guitar this way. There’s all these… ehm… things that our producer awakened and, you know…

And it’s all ideas being that have been part. They are now rejuvenated.

Parked at the hard drive somewhere back there and, you know, reallocated, and, you know, it’s just a way of approaching the music. It’s an attitude.

So, looking forward after Condition Hüman. Where do you think it’ll go?

I don’t know. It’s all in the name of chaos, with this band. You know, it’s “anything can happen.” The music will start happening. There’ll be a direction and then you can…

You sort of capture it.

Right. Then you can kind of say:  “okay its, it’s kind of going in this direction.” But, right now, it’s all out… being, you know, put together and... ehm… put on hard drives. *Laughing*

All collected together.

Yeah.

Well, thank you very much. Any last words for the eager fans watching?

Yeah. If any of the fans are curious about Queensrÿche, ehm... you can go to queensrycheofficial.com, and Queensrÿche Official Facebook. All the media stuff is on there. Ehm… and support live music, because that’s what matters.

Sebastiaan Spijker & Randy Gerritse