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“Each day was just fucking mayhem”: Queensrÿche producer, guest guitarist, drummer speak on controversial album ‘Frequency Unknown’

A producer, guest guitarist and guest drummer who worked on Queensrÿche’s controversial 2013 album ‘Frequency Unknown’ have all spoken candidly of their experience, with contributing guitarist Craig Locicero (Forbidden) saying “each day was just fucking mayhem”.

Locicero initiated the discussion when he posted a tell-all video recently about his version of events that unfolded in 2013.

He took to Facebook live on April 9 local time to give his opinion on the highs and lows of the recording process.

Jason Slater, who produced four Queensrÿche albums, replied by saying it was a “nightmare” and that they “went through some bullshit”.

“We killed that brother and I’m so thankful to have had your contributions to this bullshit,” he said.

“… as much as a nightmare as it was friendships were forged and to me that’s more valuable than anything……fuck money, fuck fame, but don’t fuck your friends, and this is the ultimate example of it……all the non assholes are still in touch and we went through some bullshit that helped define friendships.”

Contributing drummer Evan Bautista also weighed in.

“That was stressful but it was honor to play drums with all you cats,” he said.

“Man if we all had even a month or two more time it would had only gotten better.”

Among other things, Frequency Unknown divided fans and critics because of the ongoing legal battle surrounding use of the band’s name after singer Geoff Tate and the other members split.

Eventually the other members would gain the right to use the Queensrÿche name and Tate would go on to perform as Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime.

In Locicero’s video, he starts by saying he has a story of the experience that is “pretty fucking funny”.

“I have a story, a point of view about this entire experience, which is actually pretty fucking funny.

“And it really didn’t bother me all that much later on. But I gotta say, in the moments leading into working on that Queensrÿche record for Geoff Tate, and during the actual experience, it was highly stressful.

“… I played all the guitars minus a couple of clean tracks, and guests solo work because Geoff Tate wanted all these other guests – guitar players to play on the record.

“So what ended up happening was my good buddy Jason Slater, who’s a producer that worked on a lot of Queensrÿche records previous to that and had basically saved the band’s bacon a number of times, had approached me.

“I feel it was late 2012 and he said, ‘Hey, I really want you to help me work on this new Queensrÿche record’. I’m like, ‘Queensrÿche? What are you talking about Queensrÿche?’

“Queensrÿche – but it’s really Geoff Tate and he wants a heavier record’.

“I said, ‘Heavier record… Geoff Tate… Queensrÿche? This thing this does not compute. This does not compute with me. 

“So anyway, I decided to take on the challenge.

“… Once I agreed to do it, it was more of a timeline and this constraint than you could possibly imagine.

“It was: ‘We have to have this done in X amount of days because the label wants to release in X amount of time because the other Queensrÿche is battling for the name’.

“And I said, ‘What the fuck did I get into’?

“And this was Cleopatra records. So essentially, I show up at the studio with my amp and some guitars.

“The process was: ‘We don’t really have any time to write anything, so here’s the songs we’re going to use’.

“Jason had pre-written a bunch of music and there was some other songs.

“… It was a bunch of songs that were written previous to me ever showing up in the room.

“So my job was to listen to the songs in the moment, wrap my head around it, kind of learn it, and then rewrite it in the moment. No time to take anything home, no time to work on any real changes. 

“But I was essentially put there to learn, rewrite, rewrite, and I rewrote all the riffs. Very few of them were what they were when we started and … quite a few of them I tried to give them some sort of Queensrÿche feel.

“Some of the songs just weren’t even in the Queensrÿche realm at all.

“… So that was one day and then the next day, I think it was the next day or the day after that, Geoff Tate shows up.

“And I actually get there in the morning and he’s there and he was really friendly; really friendly.

“Easy to get along with on that standpoint, very complimentary, really tripped out… I don’t think you’ve ever worked with a guitar player that had a right hand like me.

“And I was just always like: ‘Hey, Geoff, you know this really doesn’t sound like Queensrÿche? This isn’t gonna really be a Queensrÿche record. Were you thinking about calling it a Geoff Tate solo record?’

“And this would be my contact with him… every morning would pretty much start like that with a cup of coffee in my hand … ‘Hey, Geoff, this isn’t really going to be a Queensrÿche record. What are you going to call it, the Geoff Tate solo?’

“But his answer was always the same to me. His answer was: ‘Cleopatra expects a Queensrÿche record. I need to get this out before the other Queensrÿche get their album out’.

“So I had entered the realm of legal battle. And I didn’t know what I was fucking doing.

“All I was there to do was track some guitars, and then I was obviously caught in the middle of something else.

“But he was friendly. And you know, we did it at a studio. I think it’s Sunnyvale or something like that …

“And it was it was like a cool studio and the vibe was fine between all of us.

“Jason … was going through some serious health issues that the problem … he was getting basically pulled out of hospital to do this record and save Geoff’s bacon. As he’s done many times before, but he was not as as as well off physically at that time.

“He was really, really sick. And I knew it and I felt for him every day and I was like,’Fuck, man… Jason’s in here trying to make this happen’.

“And we didn’t even have a normal working situation with multiple rooms where we could track things.

“So Geoff was across the way across the parking lot writing lyrics for the first couple days. 

“… Each day was a compilation of stress upon me because every time that I learned a new song, I had to write it on the spot.

“And I go, ‘Fuck, I need to write some other parts here that can complement this shit…’

“And so we I’d write, rewrite, I’d come up with a riff that would be something that I would want to play, and not even thinking about Queensrÿche.

“For the most part, I said: ‘You know what, fuck all that … they got the wrong guy to come in here and try to ‘Queensrÿche the fuck out of everything’.

“And you know what, that’s not even what Geoff was wanting. He wanted me to be aggressive. He wanted it to be heavy, which, you know, is a thing unto itself. 

“I was myself and I did that. And I was thinking, ‘Okay, well, you know, what are we going to do about the solos?

“He’d come in with a different idea each day, and mostly it was like, ‘I think I’m just going to get a bunch of guys to guest’. And that’s what we did.

“Oh, by the way, we were recording guitars to drum machine parts that were pre-written.

“The old demos; most of the songs were written by Jason. So I was recording guitars on that, and then they were going to get other musicians to come back around and play, and one of my ideas was to get Paul Bostaph and we reached out to Paul and he did play some stuff.

“And the drums were done by a few different people. And bass was done by a few different people – including Jason played some bass – but all guitars were me, minus guitar solos, except I did some theme stuff…

“Each day was just fucking mayhem.

“Just from the standpoint of us trying to rush to get this thing done and ready for him to sing. Us trying to find the people to play all the different parts that need to be done. Cleopatra saying ‘When is this album going to be done?’

“It was highly stressful on myself and Jason, because, you know, we had a lot on the line …

Locicero then recounts a photo session they did after the record was finished.

“I met Geoff’s wife manager that day. And what was interesting to me was that she wanted nothing to do with talking to me at all.

“I said, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ She’s just like… there was a wall there …

“I met her … and we did the photo session. And, you know, I turned in my work for what I felt was a very incomplete album – a process that’s unfinished.

“Basically I was rewriting songs from demos on the spot and making what I would have made as a demo if it was up to me … But we didn’t have that opportunity.

“We didn’t have… that choice was never offered to us, because the Tates had already agreed upon something previous to actually, you know, thinking it through and making a great record, because I told Geoff a number of times: ‘Wouldn’t you just rather slow slow this whole process down and let us write something special?

“‘I’d be happy to sit down with you and write songs as opposed to what we’re doing right here’.”

“I actually enjoyed being around him. He was fine.

“He was respectful of what I was going through. He was a little nervous because I sometimes get a little heated like, ‘What the fuck man?’ Like, ‘Why am I doing this so fast?’

“So let’s fast forward to the album’s out. They play The Fillmore.

“Of course, most people that were real Queensrÿche fans were very emotional about it.

“You know, they didn’t like it because it didn’t sound like Queensrÿche.

“Geoff’s vocal parts were rushed. A lot of the demos that he made ended up being the tracks that they use just because they ran out of time.

“I know he went in and resang some stuff without Jason and myself involved at all, but for the most part, it was like, you know, it was demos.

“So, Geoff comes in one day while we’re making the record and brings in a picture on his phone. And it’s the album cover Frequency Unknown with the fist and the Queensrÿche ring on the middle finger. And and he said, ‘What do you guys think?’ And in my head, I’m like, ‘Oh, f-you to the haters’.

“And then Jason’s great because he goes: ‘I don’t know, bro. I think you might be poking a bear there. I don’t know if that’s really a good idea to do that because it could be interpreted as you saying, you know, fuck you to the fans’.

“And Jason tried to talk some sense into him in the moment, but I was already pretty fed up at that point to be honest with you and half of me regrets it, the other half doesn’t, but in my head I said, ‘Fuck it’. I go, ‘I think it’s pretty cool’. Do what you want.

“I mean maybe he would have listened to me if I would have said otherwise, maybe he wouldn’t have, but I didn’t say otherwise.

“I said what I wanted to say in the moment and it ended up being that album cover and it got really fucking panned by the fans.

“They definitely sensed what he was trying to say to them.

” …Fast forwarding… album’s done. The label had taken it and remixed part of it and … as soon as they got the product: ‘Well this sounds rushed’. ‘What the fuck did you think was gonna happen people?’

“Here’s the problem … if you don’t slow down, and you don’t take the time to properly pre-produce any piece of music that you want to last for a long time, it has repercussions that could go on, echo for years.

“Here we are. This was 2013. Basically over seven years ago this happened and there’s going to be little ripples of opinions and not understanding it in time.

“So I’m going on the record to kind of explain this whole thing from my point of view.

“And, you know, I have no ill will towards anybody – maybe but Geoff’s wife who I thought was pretty, you know… maybe she’s the one leading him in the wrong direction. I don’t know.

“But, you know, Geoff is a man. I mean, he could or couldn’t take control of his life. I don’t really know… I don’t live in his shoes. 

“So anyway, fast forward. It’s all done.

“The records out, they play The Fillmore. I get invited to the show, and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, cool man. I’ve got no anger or bad feelings anymore. And like, fuck it, it’s done.

“You know, I’m happy with whatever I did under the time constraints that I did it in, which was, you know, a song or two songs a day learning it on the spot and recording it and getting it out.

“So it just – it just was what it was.

“So anyway, I go to the show, and they play and it was a pretty good crowd at the Fillmore. I was I was actually really happy to see that good crowd …

“… It was cool. And I went and talked to him afterwards and, you know, we’re standing up there and I was happy: ‘Hey man it was good show’.

“My wife was not exactly enamoured by Geoff. She was a little creeped out to be honest with you. That’s a different story.

“He goes: ‘Hey, Greg seems like he’s in a really good mood today. He was really stressed out’.

“I was like, ‘Look dude, you go what I went through and what I had to do to rush to get your fucking record out’.”

He’s like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute. Hey, take it easy. Take it easy’.

“I’m like, ‘Don’t even try me, man’.

“I mean, I wasn’t hostile.  But I was definitely touchy because that was a fucking experience and a half to go through for anybody.

“And I went to the wall for that thing, for that guy.

“Of course I was in a better mood. But it was like Vietnam – post traumatic stress disorder. I just flashback…. ‘What the fuck?’

“So that night was my last actual experience with Geoff. It was fine. I walked away fine. He was fine.

“But as the years went on and opinions piled up, and people say what they say, and think what they think and think they understand, and try to come up with some sort of explanation for everything on their own.

“I’m just here to say that I got sucked into something. And Jason got sucked into something. And anyone that worked on that record got sucked into something that ultimately, nobody would have advised Geoff Tate to do and that’s make a record called Queensrÿche that wasn’t Queensrÿche … to reinvent the sound and put the name Queensrÿche over it.

“Ultimately, I felt like that never should have happened. And that’s not my call. That’s Geoff Tate’s call.

“But I don’t hate the guy. I think the guy is one of the most talented singers and still writes great melodies.

“There’s some really good melodies that he came up with on that album. Had they been pre-produced and recorded properly, I think that it would have been 100 times better.

“I mean, you can go a long way if you have a little time to live with something and get pre production.

“But you know, the lesson being learned: don’t ever run with your shoelaces tied – tied together that is.

“Always make sure that you do your proper pre-production work beforehand.

“And I’ve learned this – I will never go in the studio without doing it. And that’s really the point of this entire message – to say hindsight is 20:20 but I knew it at the time.

“It wasn’t like I was going into it and then coming out of it going, ‘That was fucking amazing working with my one of my singing heroes’.

“It was very strange. It was very forced. It was not advisable…

“But that’s it, you know. No hard feelings.

“But if anyone ever asked me to do something like that again, I will definitely say no. Just say no.” 

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