When it comes to Geoff Tate, forget everything you would expect from a hard rock vocalist. He has a multi-octave vocal range. He is very well-read. He makes wine. He enjoys the house restoration process. And 35 years after he co-founded Queensrÿche — whose hits like “Silent Lucidity,” “I Don’t Believe In Love” and “Jet City Woman” remain classic rock radio staples — Geoff is still touring and recording in peak form.
Geoff Tate makes a return to New York City on Feb. 20 with a headlining appearance at City Winery. As part of The Whole Story “Ryche” Acoustic Tour, Geoff will be fronting a seven-piece acoustic band and playing songs from all 17 of his albums. Downtown spoke with the Washington native about his City Winery appearance, his history with New York, and what else he has coming up. Beyond www.geofftate.com, more on Geoff Tate can be found by following him on Twitter via @GeoffTate.
Where was the first concert you ever played in New York City? What do you remember about it?
Geoff Tate: My first concert in New York City was at the Beacon Theatre in 1983. It was my first tour and everything was new and exciting. The theatre, at that time, was fairly run down and dirty. It smelled of stale beer, vomit, urine, cigarette smoke and sweat. The audience was young, angry and physical, punching the air with their fists in a staccato rhythm while my band baptized them with 115 decibels of metal.
You’ll be performing acoustically at City Winery. Does that change your vocal warm-ups or how you prepare for a gig?
GT: This Acoustic Tour is one of the most enjoyable tours I have ever done. The intimacy of the venue really showcases the players abilities and talent. The audience experiences the true emotion of the song in such detail. Every note and each breath is on display.
There are more people in your acoustic backing band than in your typical backing band, yet most artists perform acoustically in a scaled-down format. Is this your first acoustic tour?
GT: When I was in Queensrÿche, we regularly performed acoustically. In fact, almost every song I’ve written, was first written on acoustic guitar or piano. What I wanted for this tour was to have acoustic instrumentation that could creatively represent the songs. Orchestra instruments play a major role in my recorded music, so I wanted to have violin, cello and acoustic bass for the tour.
GT: I made my first wine when I was 14 and I’ve been into it ever since. When I became a traveling musician and began visiting the great wine making regions of the world, I was inspired and decided to release my own wine, and in 2007 my brand Insania was released. We make a red which is a Pinot Noir and a white, which is a Pinot Grigio.
There is a stand-up comic named Geoff Tate who I often hear on podcasts. Have you ever encountered him?
GT: Yes I have.
You were a part of Hear ‘n Aid. Looking back, was that an enjoyable experience? Or at least as fun as the music video made it look to be?
GT: I was very honored to be part of the Hear ‘n Aid project. It was a very challenging project to lead and Ronnie Dio did a fine job of bringing many great musicians together for a wonderful cause.
When not busy on tour, how do you like to spend your free time?
GT: When I’m not making a record, touring or working on my Insania wine project, my wife and I enjoy house restoration. We recently acquired our second project home. It’s a 110-year old Dutch Colonial Revival. It’s all original, which is rare. We are modernizing it with thought and restraint.
Is there something you wish more people knew about Geoff Tate?
GT: No, not really. It seems my life is an open book.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
Finally, Geoff, any last words for the kids?
GT: Thanks to everyone who has come out to my shows throughout the years and bought my records. I hope to see you at the show at City Winery.ᐧ