Todd La Torre,
The TVD Interview

When Todd La Torre took over the reigns as vocalist for Queensrÿche back in 2012, many felt that he’d have a hard time filling Geoff Tate’s shoes. Admittedly, I was one of those early doubters and could not imagine anyone else hitting those incredibly high notes across some of progressive metal’s most cherished masterpieces.

That all changed when I witnessed one of Queensrÿche’s earliest shows with La Torre at the helm. From his opening salvo to the final curtain call, Todd’s vocal prowess was on full display throughout among classics such as like “Roads to Madness,” “The Whisper,” and “Take Hold of the Flame.” It was as if I was transported back to the early ’80s all over again with La Torre crushing every song he wrapped his vocals around.

Fast forward to 2021, and La Torre has not only filled Tate’s shoes, but expanded on the Queensrÿche legacy tenfold. Sure, he can slay the classics. However, Todd’s also been instrumental in bringing back the band’s classic sound seemingly lost sometime after Promised Land. With three releases under La Torre’s belt as Queensrÿche’s lead singer, the band is back (and in a really big way). And while many in the music industry took an unscripted break due to Covid-19, Todd La Torre used the downtime to release his first solo album, Rejoice In The Suffering.

How did you get your start in music?

Here’s the nutshell version. I started playing guitar at 10, got my first set of drums at 13, and have played in multiple bands throughout my life. I joined Crimson Glory in 2010 and was with them for three years. In 2012, I ended up joining Queensrÿche and have been their vocalist ever since. Bottom line, I’ve always played music and primarily have been a drummer my whole life.

Who were your greatest inspirations as a young musician?

I grew up listening to a ton of rhythm and blues because of my mom. She was into legends such as Al Jarreau, Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross, and of course Michael Jackson. She was also into a lot of progressive jazz like David Sanborn, Keiko Matsui, Spyro Gyra—stuff like that. My dad, on the other hand, was into Earl Klugh, Elton John, Steely Dan, Billy Joel, that kind of stuff. All very inspiring artists to say the least.

As I got older growing up in the age of radio, I really got into the great singer / songwriters of the ’70s such as Fleetwood Mac, Jim Croce, and Jackson Browne. I then transitioned into ’80s rock and to this day I’m still a huge fan of bands like Tesla, Dokken, and Ratt. In my formidable teen years, I began listening to heavier stuff like Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche, Testament, Overkill, Halloween, and Slayer which helped mold me into the musician I am today.

So how did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I honestly never really believed that I was going to have a career in music. In high school I always wanted to be a drummer and constantly dreamed of making it big as an musician. In my late twenties, I figured that ship sailed and became an upholsterer by trade. I had my own business and ran it successfully for 22 years while having a really great reputation in the Tampa Bay area. During that time I still liked to play music and was gigging in local bands. I was having fun as a drummer doing cover songs at beach bars and it gave me something to do outside of work. It wasn’t until I joined Crimson Glory back in 2010 where I actually began singing in a band—which is not something I ever really aspired to do—and the rest is history.

Give our readers some perspective on how you ultimately got the gig with Queensrÿche after Geoff Tate’s departure from the band.

It’s a very long story, but here is the short version. I met Michael Wilton at NAMM as a fluke thing at a dinner party. We got to chatting, and I shared with him that I played drums for the band Crimson Glory. Mike had some side music that he wanted me to drum on and asked if I could sing like Chris Cornell because he had some stuff that he wanted that kind of sound on. We exchanged information and he ultimately sent me some songs.

I just started writing to one of those, sent it back, and Mike really liked what he heard. Next thing I knew, he was pitching me to the other guys too to do some Queensrÿche stuff on the side, outside of Queensrÿche. That was for a group known as Rising West. This was immediately followed by a period of turmoil within Queensrÿche where ultimately Geoff was fired, and I became the new guy in Queensrÿche shortly after that.

You released your first solo album Rejoice In The Suffering on February 5th. Tell us a little about the album and its conception.

Releasing a solo album has always been something I’ve wanted to do. I already had demos and a few solo ideas before I even joined Queensrÿche. Once in the band, it immediately became a full-time thing and from that point forward could never find adequate time to dig into my own stuff.

When the pandemic hit and I knew that we weren’t going to be touring, it seemed like the perfect time for me to brings these dreams to life. I got with my lifelong friend Craig Blackwell—who’s an awesome guitarist and songwriter—and focused my efforts on releasing a solo album. We wrote all the songs last May, minus the title track, and aside from a few riffs, it was all brand-new material. None of the initial demo ideas I had made it into the final album. We recorded the album over a four months period and it was truly an awesome experience from start to finish.

What’s your favorite track off the album?

I really don’t have one that I like more than another. However, if pressed, I dig the bonus track called “One by One.” Unless you’re a fan of melodic, dark, death metal or black metal, some may not like it, but a lot of people have shared that it’s their favorite track on the record. At the end of the day, all of the songs are unique in their own way. They don’t sound like each other, there are no two songs on the record that sound alike.

Do you see the solo band hitting the road and playing some shows to support Rejoice In The Suffering or is that not in the cards at the present time?

At the present time, the priority is Queensrÿche getting back on the road and playing shows as things begin to open up. Any down time would probably be dedicated to recording our new album. Eventually, I’m sure there will be some pockets of time where the band doesn’t have anything scheduled and if it wouldn’t interfere with Queensrÿche, I’d love to do some shows in support of the album.

Anywhere in particular you can see yourself performing this album?

I’d like to go to Europe and play a select handful of the larger festivals. I feel like fans would embrace me on the bigger stages more quickly versus the smaller intimate venues. Plus, it’s so much easier to get in front of 30,000 people in Europe than here in the States.

Any bands you might like to partner up with if given the chance on a small club tour?

Absolutely. I could see opening for bands like Testament and Overkill because we’re all friends and I’m a huge fan of their music.

You mentioned previously that you’re doing some writing with Queensrÿche at the present time. Anything you might be able share regarding your follow up to The Verdict?

It’s a little premature for me to give a timeline. However, I can say we’re currently writing, and we want to ensure our next record is stellar. Ideally, it’d be great to record later this year and have something out sometime next year when it makes more sense to tour and promote the album properly. But again, until the songs are shaped up exactly as we want them—and we are a very methodical band when it comes to writing and recording—there’s no need to join the rat race and be in the stampede of a million bands putting out records just for the sake of doing so.

What do you think about the resurgence of vinyl around the world?

I think vinyl is really cool, but I also think you’re dealing with a demographic that is really into it. And to me, it’s obvious to me that rock and roll and vinyl go hand in hand. Fans really enjoy opening the vinyl, reading the liner notes, and visualizing the lyrics and artwork. It’s a physical product they can touch, feel, and hear versus a compressed shitty, squashed MP3. Bottom line, I think it’s super cool that vinyl’s as popular as it is. I’m not a vinyl collector, but I do think It’s awesome.

Do you think vinyl sounds uniquely different than newer digital formats?

I can tell you that Zeuss, who did the mixing and mastering on Rejoice In The Suffering, mastered both the album and the vinyl release separately and they both have unique and different sounds. I don’t know if it’s like a headroom thing or a warmer sound, that’s not my world. But they fact that it’s separately mastered for vinyl speaks volumes. It’s definitely a different sound than digital and I love it!

Who is your all-time favorite vocalist?

Ronnie James Dio

Who is your all-time favorite drummer?

That’s a hard question to answer because you’ve got legends like Dave Weckl out there, plus there are so many genres to consider. I honestly can’t even think of one off the top of my head.

Is there an artist or a song that somebody might find on one of your workout playlists that would surprise your biggest fans?

Probably a ton of that stuff. In fact, I just got another brand-new copy of Fiona Apple’s first record. It has one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Sullen Girl.”

Do you have a favorite city you like to play in, local or international?

Indeed—Athens, Greece. That’s my favorite place. My wife’s from there and that’s kind of my home away from home.

Outside of music, what other hobbies do you have?

Outside of music, I’m constantly fixing broken shit—that seems to be the story of my life lately. I just remodeled my kitchen and I’ve always liked working with my hands—tile projects, home remodeling, you name it. I like it when you actually do something where you can see the difference.

Which Queensrÿche LP do you prefer—Rage for Order or The Warning?

The Warning

Do you have a favorite Queensrÿche song you like to perform live?

“NM 156”—I love that song!

Any final words to our Vinyl District readers?

Well, I’m 5’6, I like long walks on the beach, ha-ha! I think it’s awesome that people are still digging vinyl. That’s a big deal to people like me. A lot of work is put into the overall vinyl experience—artwork, liner notes, lyrics, etc.—and I appreciate that experience of what it means to open up a record, put it on the turntable and play it loud!

I also can’t wait for live shows to return. There’s just something about going out there and giving it your all, performing with passion and not just phoning it in. I don’t have to do this. I do it because I love it. And to all of your readers and our fans, thanks for checking out my stuff and supporting Queensrÿche as well as every other band out there. They’re just trying to do the same thing that we’re doing during an unbelievably crazy period of time.

Rejoice In The Suffering, the new solo release from Todd La Torre is in stores now—on vinyl.

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PHOTOS: MATTHEW BELTER

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