Fifteen albums later, Queensryche are still kicking, and are easily the strongest they've ever been. Their fifteenth studio album Condition Human is making its way up the charts, receiving rave reviews each and every day. To top it off, the band finished off a massive headlining stint with the The Scorpions that traversed the entire United States. To say that the band are doing well right now would be an understatement. A key to this success would have to be the fact that, when writing Condition Human, there were five members present. It was a full band again, bringing an energy and life back into the new record that fans will be able to hear.
I spoke recently with Michael Wilton, guitarist and one of the founding members of Queensryche, about the new album, what it was like playing shows with The Scorpions, the theme of Condition Human and much more.
Let’s talk about the new record, Condition Human. This is the fifteenth Queensryche record. When you guys are in the writing process for an album, do you guys have a set system for coming up with tracks, or are there still surprises along the way with each record?
Yeah, it’s always refreshing because it’s based on inspiration. We get ideas, and then build upon them, refine them, transfer them, let them sit, re-listen, and then repeat. That’s how we’ve done it for years. It’s just when inspiration hits you, get out of the way of it and try to document it somehow so you don’t forget it. That’s the whole building process [for us].
Was there anything particularly unique in terms of inspiration that came about during the process of writing Condition Human that you might say set it apart from other Queensryche albums?
Well I think with this album, the band was a band again. It was five guys, all writing and really giving their one hundred percent effort into everything. It was a good bonding period, and everybody was on the same page. Everybody had the same vision. That’s what makes this, again, like the early days, when we were a band in a room. Obviously, we’re not in a room now because of technology; we’re all in our own studios.
What does the title “Condition Human” represent for the overall tone of the record?
It’s kind of our perception on technology and the way humans are working these days and how they fit into such a fast paced world.. The basis of the condition of a human being is now [the phrase] “where’s the empathy?” Have we lost empathy and given it all to fast paced technology? It’s broken down into all of the stories, which are the songs. Those paint a picture of a larger picture. That’s kind of how we view this, in a nutshell.
You worked with Zeuss on this record, who’s worked with artists like Rob Zombie and Hatebreed. What did he bring to the table for you as a producer?
He’s a current producer, so he’s more of a modern-era producer that we liked a checked out. He is a fan of the first six albums, and he really wanted to capture the inspiration in this recording and bring it into 2015. He’s also a musician, so the connection was there. He had the best grasp of all the arrangements of the songs, and had the best visions for them. He was very microscopic and detailed in his explanations, and he connected with us very well.
Now that the run with The Scorpions is finished up, was there any particular moment or highlight that really stuck out to you?
Well, every show was a highlight. It was great hanging with the Scorpion guys; they’re influences of ours. We really just made the most of this and enjoyed it so much. It’s great for Queensryche to get back out there and play arenas and pavilions. Up until the last show, it was just a great team and a great blend of music between Queensryche and The Scorpions. It just worked really well. I imagine, hopefully, that we will work together again with [The Scorpions].
Last two questions: what kind of message, if any, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Well, we’re not trying to tell fans what to do, and we’re not trying to save the world. Again, this is just our perception of the way that the times are going right now. I hope that anyone who listens to [Condition: Human] gives it many listens, because there are many layers that, as you peel away, you discover different aspects of the recording that you didn’t hear before. This deserves numerous listens because we’ve put so much into it. It’s definitely got the depth and the layering in the songs. You can definitely listen for different nuances in the music every time you listen to it. So I would just say give it plenty of listens, and let it absorb into your DNA.
What does music mean to you?
Music, to me, means everything. Obviously I’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and I have strong connection [with it]. It’s just a light pipe to the creative gods (laughs). It’s just been a great learning experience, and it’s humbling at the same time, because you never know how the music that you write is going to be perceived by everybody outside, so you really have to believe in yourself. You really have to hone in on everything. But music is kind of a drug for me. It’s my connection; it gets me cerebral. It gets me in a good, meditative mood, when the world can get so hectic, especially these days with technology and a fast paced life. [Music] is humbling, meditative, and it calms the soul, in addition to energizing it. It keeps becoming every time. It’s as if it goes in a circle, and we’re chasing the tail of it every time, but it’s always great.