German Empire Interview with Scott Rockenfield

Langen, Germany - October 30th, 2013

After PPM Fest in Belgium and a kickass festival show at Rockhard in Gelsenkirchen (Germany) earlier this year, I have already seen the current tour in Bucarest, Bergheim and Ludwigsburg. Langen marks my sixth Rychen experience with Todd on vocals, and as we all know, alot has happened since they've last performed @ Stadthalle Langen in 2007. An always friendly Scott met me in the backstage dining area of the venue Neue Stadthalle. Unfortunately the background noise of the audio recording is so loud that it ended up as a classic written article.

Welcome to Germany Scott! How are you, how is the tour going?
It's been going great! We have been here out here for 2,5 weeks and the fans have really been eagerly expecting us to come over. We've postponed everything from the April, tentative shows that we had planned. It turned out to be a great thing because we could get the record out and the fans could have time to absorb it. That has made the shows even better for us. We were able to play some of the new material, combined that with the old material and the fact that we haven't been over here in Europe playing that stuff for many years. I think that has been the great part of the transition that we made last year, deciding to move on and get back to the roots of what Queensryche was all about. And I think our fans over here are loving that.

It seems like people are actually celebrating the oldschool Queensryche sound. From what I've heard, all the German Empire people that got to see you for the first time with Todd on vocals have been really impressed. They are also enthusiastic that you play songs from the EP, Warning, Rage for Order...
Right, they are having fun and we are having fun. We haven't played alot of that stuff for a long time, so it has kept us fresh. And ever since Todd joined the band about a year and a half ago, it started out being fresh to us. So I think that just translates straight into the fans as well.


  The album was released last June and you've received many positive reviews. From the shows that I've seen so far, you're playing three new songs: Fallout, A World Without, Where dreams go to die. Do you have a favorite song?
Do I? It's kind of hard, we get asked that question quite a bit. The typical answer is "Well, I like everything" - which I do. But to be honest I am actually a huge fan of "A World Without". It's alot of fun for me, it's new, it's fresh and it was a great song when we've recorded it. I had alot of fun writing that song with Todd. So there's alot if different kind of aspects.

You are currently promoting the new video called "Ad Lucem" [To the light]. The trailer tells us it's a medley of the songs "Spore, Midnight Lullaby, A World Without". What is the story about?
In a nutshell, it was a perfect combination. Spore is about a person which is characterized in the video, that goes through some personal decisions in life that he has to make and some turmoil. The interesting part about that segueing into "Midnight Lullaby and "A World Without" was we've realized we could tie it all together, because "A World Without"" moves through the same process where this person then has to deal with some other unfortunate things in his life and has to try to turn that around to be positive. And that's just like the general synopsis of the whole story.

Originally we were just gonna do a song video. Once the video company and the record label started talking about what to do for a video, we really started to sit down and look at it. The label was really interested in making sure that we did something different and did it correctly. And that turned into "maybe we need to make it more songs on the record" and "let's make a mini movie" and "how can we make that a story". Then it evolved from that.

What is the video about? I have seen you in a doctor's costume, Eddie's wearing scrubs...
The video basically follows the story that's been scripted from the beginning of "Spore" to the end of "A World Without". You must have seen the "Behind the Scenes" - it only came out yesterday...



...I'm fast ;-)
That whole process was alot of fun. We've got to be involved in the video. It's not a performance video like people would expect, we are not playing our instruments. We had talked about those type of things but we decided it was not the best thing for this. So we've kept it as a mini movie, I think it is very unique and different. The actors and the production crew that was involved were amazing. We had a great time, it was a very creative long day in Los Angeles. It was fun, we got to be different people.

Who came up with the storyline?
The fortunate thing is it actually started just with our music. So when we got together with the label, talking about making a video and then it becoming the three songs, we then started talking about how do we it all tie together, what's it about. We have the lyrics and we can obviously look at that - but how do we define it more into a screenplay. Then it became part of the production crew and the director that we worked with. Todd was a big part of that, and Eddie cause he wrote the lyrics. Those guys were really good in helping the director and the video company define the screenplay for the whole thing. You can't just take the lyrics and make it a screenplay, you have to sit down and define the thing. So we've had alot of back and forth and it became what it was. It was mostly brainstorming by everybody. It was a fun process.


  What some people might not know is that besides Queensryche, you've had quite a few projects in film and TV. You've worked as a composer, even for commercials. You have been nominated for a Grammy Award in 1998, for the Rockenfield/Speer soundtrack named "Televoid". In 2009 you've composed music for a horror movie named "Albino farm". You're so busy - what's next?
Next! *laughs* I actually have eight films that are being offered to me right now over the next few years. It takes a while to get all these things in motion. Some pretty big things right now, some blockbusters...

Anything specific?
Even when I know what I'm doing, I don't really talk about it much. Two of the films are franchise films, so they'll be along the lines of like "Harry Potter". There's gonna be five for this one given book series, and they've asked me to be the composer on all five of those films. I will retire later cause it will take years to do it all *laughs*. Anyway, they are big, the first one is a 150 million dollar movie with obviously some big A-list actors. You'll know all the actors that are gonna be in it and the producers. Alot of fun!

On the last album, you have credits on almost every song, except for "Don't look back". We witness so much power and creativity – why have you all been hiding all these years?
It's interesting, when you look at the new Queensryche record that we just put out, that's what we've been wanting to do for a long time. That was once again one of our reasons why we had to make a decision to move on back in 2012. Our relationship for the last ten years creatively was not going the way we wanted it to. We've tried. Michael, Eddie and I have been wanting to make a certain type of music that we feel is Queensryche. And we tried and tried and tried and it just wasn't getting allowed, if you understand what I'm saying. And we had to move on. So we move on, and now everything that we want to do is in our hands. And that's where the record came from, that's where I've come from, and we're just gonna keep doing it. It was alot of fun and we are very proud of the record.

You have your own brand "Rockenwraps", custom drum finishes and supplies. What is it about and what is your role within the company?
It's just another part of something that I have been doing for a while. Rockenwraps as been in the public market for 11 years. I own the company, I partner with my brother. We run everything, that's all the employees we have. We sell what we do around the world through distributors that we have. We work with fun people – we've just finished Korn last week. We did all of Korn's drums for the tour that is coming up. Then I have three other music instrument businesses that I've launched in the last three weeks. They will be going live soon, so I don't have more information on that.

  You've released a book called "Operation: Rockenfield, the drumming of Queensryche". And then there is the "Scott Rockenfield Clinic" DVD, which is like an official bootleg, from what I understand? Do you have to be a drummer to enjoy it, or is it fun for any Queensryche fan?
It's actually fun for anybody. That one particular clinic was the only clinic I've ever done. It was fun so I'd figured I put it out. I think most of the people who buy it are actually fans, they are not really drummers. Once again, just things that I do...

Talking about drummers, talking about Todd: What is it like to drum in Queensryche with Todd also being a drummer? When I did an interview with Todd, he told me he sometimes steals your drum kit?
It's been really great. His role of being in the band has turned into more than just being the singer and a vocalist and writing lyrics. He comes in and he offers all sorts of things. He is a great musician, he is a great drummer, he plays other instruments. We found out that while we were making the record and writing the songs, it lend itself to better conversation. He is able to talk musically, offer suggestion. He is also willing to take suggestions from others. That's a relationship we haven't had in a long time. Eddie wrote lyrics and melodies to a few songs on the record, and Todd liked them so much he was like "Great, I'm just gonna sing them, because it's a great song and it works great". That was never allowed before. That's a fun process for us to be able to have that now. Todd being multi-talented only helps.

When it comes down to composing and recording music, what is the process like? Is Todd commenting on your drumming, making suggestions?
Certainly, and we do it vice versa. We give suggestions to him and we all give suggestions to each other. And I think that was part of the creative energy on this record. Once we got into the studio and started tracking the drums, which was the first part of the process. We had Jimbo with us which was a great addition because we haven't worked with him in a long time. His energy what he felt about the music was just at just a high level. We started making sure that we were making the best record, and that required everybody giving all their input. That's the best way to make a record.

...talking about records - what are your plans for 2014? Did you start composing songs for a new album?

We have and we are in that process now. We are always writing songs - in the dressing room just across the hallway all of our gear is set up. Everybody is sitting around writing songs, exchanging ideas. That's kind of how we do it, cause we have to do ten things at once: We have to play a show and we have to do interviews, but you just kind of roll around and you fill in the gaps. So we've got a bunch of material that is in the works right now. I think next year the odds are real good that we'll have something.

Do you have a time frame?
I never (!) have a time frame, are you kidding? *laughs*. As soon as it's ready - and we feel good about it.


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