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Will the Real Queensryche Please Stand Up? Two Bands. One Name. Mass Confusion.

Queensryche with singer Geoff Tate (upper center) - not to be confused with the other Queensryche - is pictured in this 2012 photo. (Peter Ellenby image)

Remember Queensryche? Seattle band formed in 1982. You may have slow danced to them at your prom.

Well, right now referring to Queensryche is a tad bit confusing, because there are two Queensryches. Yes, two. The band got into a big fight last year, split in two, and now they’re both using the name they came up with 30 years ago when they were Bellevue teenagers.

It’s a long story, so we better go back in time for just a minute:

Back in April of last year, three of the band members fired lead singer Geoff Tate’s wife, the band manager, and his stepdaughter, who ran the band’s fan club. Two days later, backstage before performing a show in Brazil, Tate confronted his bandmates about the firings and a huge argument broke out. According to Wikipedia, Tate got violent with the other band members and then spit on drummer Scott Rockenfield throughout the show.

Long story short, Geoff Tate was kicked out of the band. Last June, Tate filed a lawsuit in a Seattle court against his former bandmates, claiming he was illegally fired and…

“I had filed an injunction to try and get everyone to stop using the name because it’s a brand and brands have a value and they can be damaged.”

But when the band went to court in July 2012, the judge decided to make her final decision in November 2013. In the meantime, she said both bands could use the name Queensryche. And they are. Both bands are currently on tour, both have just put out albums, both under the name Queensryche. On Wednesday, Capitol Records released a Queensryche compilation album. That makes three just-released Queensryche albums, each of them a different variation of the band.

There’s Geoff Tate’s Queensryche, his new band made up of members from Blue Öyster Cult, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio, AC/DC and Quiet Riot. Then there’s the band fronted by Todd La Torre, backed by the original guitarists, bassist and drummer.

I thought having two bands would be incredibly confusing, but Geoff says:

“I think most people are pretty smart and they can figure it out.”

He says the music is very different.

“I think one of the situations, creatively, that came to a head and caused the breakup of the band was that you have a camp that was still exploring and still working to redefine themselves with every record. And you had a camp that wanted to stay the same. Sort of rest on their laurels and play the same kind of songs. So it’s philosophical difference, really.”

Geoff says he’s in the first camp. He also says it’s unfortunate the band had to split, but he was only about 23 when they got together, after meeting at a Seattle fish and chips joint on all-you-can-eat night.

“After 30 years I think we finally just reached a breaking point where things went awry and everyone felt that it couldn’t be fixed. Of course, going about it all wrong we had an explosion, it all got cut up in the media and there’s a court case. It’s all very messy.”

Geoff feels confident that the band name will be his, come November.

“It’s a matter of who has put the most time and energy into it. I’m the major songwriter, I’ve written 81 percent of the songs in the Queensryche catalog. It’s my creativity, my vision, my art. And it’s about money. Down and dirty. It’s about who has the money to buy the band.”

Tate says the Queensryche name is worth millions.

The rift has actually been good PR for the Queensryches. Geoff says it’s the first time he’s sold out shows in years. Stay tuned in November when we find out who gets to use the band name permanently.

You can see Queensryche, with Geoff Tate, at The Moore Theater in Seattle on June 29.

The other Queensryche is touring in Europe and their manager told me they are unable to participate in this story.

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