Music

Why Chris DeGarmo walked away from it all?

Chris DeGarmo didn’t just leave Queensryche, he left the whole music business back in 1997. Just like another favourite of mine, Vito Bratta, they spent their whole lives making it only to walk away from it all.

Recently, Geoff Tate stated the following on jammagazineonline.com;

“It never was a brotherhood. It was a bunch of kids that got together and achieved success at an early age. We got used to that success and continued doing the things we did to get that success. We found comfort in our way of working. It’s just that simple. We were never close. We never hung out doing stuff and sharing life. It was always just, “Hey, we have another record to make. Anyone have any ideas? Let’s try to make a record. Here we go.”

Between the years of 1981 and 1992, Queensryche had been on a cycle of album and tour. After the Empire tour ended, Chris DeGarmo just unplugged himself from the music industry. He stated the same in a Guitar World interview from January 1995. When you detach yourself like this, it puts a lot of other events into perspectives.

Geoff Tate commented in a Kerrang magazine interview on the break after the Empire tour;

“It wasn’t planned, it just kind of happened. After the ‘Empire’ tour we all went our separate ways for a while. Before we knew it eight months had gone by. ‘Empire’ bought us a lot of time, really. Before that album it had been just a hectic schedule of recording and touring. ‘Empire’s success allowed us to have a nice break, something we hadn’t known until then. It was strange taking time off. I think it was at that point it dawned on us that we’d achieved all the goals we’d set. It was actually kind of difficult to know which move to make next.”

The achievement of their goals is an important point to make. When you feel like you have done all you set out to do, the hunger and the desire starts to die down. It becomes harder to focus again. It becomes harder to detach yourself from your family. So coming into the Promised Land album writing process, it was more or less done from their homes. It took about 8 months to get the material together, and then it was off to a secluded log cabin for another six months to piece together and record the album.

In the same Kerrang interview, Michael Wilton didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the finished product, however he did admit that the album is special in its own way.

“The way we set it all up was real innovative and allowed us to be more inspired, but a lot of the songs I came up with didn’t get finished because the album kind of went in a different direction. It was actually a bit more left-field to the way I think.”

This is another important point to make. Guitarists play a musical instrument, so it is normal that a guitarist will write music. So when a guitarist writes music and it is rejected for whatever reason, it is not a good feeling. I have been in situations just like this. I was coming up with metal riffs, and the band was moving into a Nu Metal phase, that just didn’t suit what I was writing. I had two options, leave the band and start a new one, or just put up with it. In this case, Wilton put up with it and in the end only had two song writing credits for the Promised Land album. He even had less of an input into the Hear Of The Now Frontier album. He only had one song writing credit on the Frontier album. I am pretty sure, he would have been the first person to let Chris DeGarmo now that it was his fault when the album didn’t set the sales charts on fire.

Furthermore, when the band was asked the question, if success has changed them, DeGarmo answered in the following way;

“I’ve probably become a hermit! I don’t really socialise that much. I don’t think I ever really did anyway. I somehow thought that it might change me as a person. I don’t think of myself as an unhappy person, but you think that money might limit the struggle. The thing is, I was so passionate about what we were doing that I never noticed we were struggling anyway! If anything. I think I’m more appreciative of the personal time I get to spend with my wife and daughter.”

So the Promised Land album comes out and the real fans flock to it. The tour is a success and the band members go their separate ways again. Then the bands label EMI America goes bankrupt. The rest of the band members don’t appear to be interested or concerned by this, and it was left to Chris DeGarmo to negotiate a new deal, not just for himself but for the others as well. During this time, the band had the songs written for the album, however they had to wait for Peter Collins schedule to free up, so they can record it. Again, more time away from each other as they wait for a producer.

Hear In The Now Frontier comes out and it doesn’t do well in a commercial sense. By 1997, recorded sales is the definition of success. DeGarmo is blamed for the commercial failure by the other band members, as he was the main songwriter/leader on the album.

Let’s look at how the song writing dynamic changed from Operation Mindcrime to Hear In The Now Frontier.

Operation Mindcrime had 15 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 9 songs. Tate wrote/co-wrote 12 song. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 7 songs. Rockenfield wrote/co-wrote 1 song and Jackson didn’t write anything.

Empire had 11 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 9 songs. Tate wrote/co-wrote 8 songs. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 5 songs. Rockenfield and Jackson both wrote/co-wrote 1 song.

Promised Land had 11 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 9. Tate wrote/co-wrote 7. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 2. Rockenfield wrote/co-wrote 3 and Jackson wrote/co-wrote 1.

Hear In The Now Frontier had 14 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 13 songs. Tate wrote/co-wrote 7. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 1 song. Rockenfield wrote/co-wrote 2 songs and Jackson didn’t write anything.

The main thing to take out of the above stats is the increasing song writing role of Chris DeGarmo and the diminishing role of Michael Wilton. Tate was always consistent, however his piece d resistance was Mindcrime, whereas Empire was DeGarmo’s piece d resistance.

So when you feel like you have put your heart and soul into managing the affairs of a band and then still get blamed when events don’t pan out well, you ask yourself, what is the point in doing this. Just as so many of us walk away from a job that started off great, Chris DeGarmo did the same with Queensryche.

If the Hear In The Now Frontier album outsold Empire, it would be a different Queensryche world.

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30 thoughts on “Why Chris DeGarmo walked away from it all?

  1. jason aka the regina rocker says:

    i hear that queensryche,s new singer left them and now they need my help and they,queensryche can come and find me in regina sask canada so they can get things under way to go out on tour again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. jim says:

    Everyone knows it was Tate’s iron hand, coffee house beat poet music and loss of vocal power that ended the band and pushed DeGarmo away.

    Ryche is better off without Tate, but it would be cool to see DeGarmo make some sort of album appearance with Wilton’s Ryche even if it’s just in a creative sense.

  3. DeGarmo’s departure was the fall of Queensryche, it’s like if John Petrucci would have left Dream Theater after Scenes From A Memory. It so interesting that these guys were able to write and compose so amazing music(they basically created a new genre) without even been too close to each other. But yeah, Queensryche is a band that accomplished too much, too fast, so the flame was completely gone after 5 albums. Nice post, I learned a bunch of stuff that didn’t know about them.

  4. Jo says:

    Had nothing to do with Tates voice! Tate at that time was still singing amazing.. The grunge vocals on HITNF was def not his best but it was what CD was looking for! Tate on that on the HITNF Tour was actually at his best! His highs were awesome. Years later during the Judas Priest Tour Tates voice was better than it was on The Building Empires Tour! It’s only past 3 years that Tates voice has gone to shit.

  5. alan says:

    The impact Queensryche had on me , and the rest of my aspiring peers, when they hit the scene, was so tremendous, I thought no other group of guys could ever produce the same sound, style or impression they had on my when I was a teen guitarist……their first album was , and forever will be m their best! REUNION – REUNION!!!!!

  6. alan says:

    The impact Queensryche had on me , and the rest of my aspiring peers, when they hit
    the scene, was so tremendous, I thought no other group of guys could ever produce the same sound, style or impression they had on me when I was a teen guitarist……their first album was , and forever will be m their best! REUNION – REUNION!!!!!

  7. alan says:

    The impact Queensryche had on me , and the rest of my aspiring peers, when they hit
    the scene, was so tremendous, I thought no other group of guys could ever produce the same sound, style or impression they had on me when I was a teen guitarist……No one ever will . . . Their first album was , and forever will be their best! REUNION – REUNION!!!!!

  8. Rush says:

    I only ever liked the first four albums and the EP of coarse which first made me take notice. Being a musician is a strange job. In fact its not really a job it’s a bloody privilege. The trouble is its an industry that’s based on synthetica and vanity. If your work doesn’t sell its not considered worthy which is a mistake. Greed and control also dictate the careers of bands. I’m glad Chris got out and found a proper job where his talents are put to better use rather than milked by corporate greed.

  9. I sure wish they(original band members) could and would put aside their differences and come together as a group..there will never be another line up that could compare to their magic and talent…

  10. Hammerhead says:

    I’d like to see DeGarmo resurface and team up with Tate. Just think, with all the unwritten music DeGarmo has in his head…….the possibilities are endless!!!

  11. Mark DeGarmo says:

    All of this is total bullshit. Grunge happened people!
    Radio abandoned the Ryche along with EMI’s collapse, there was no market other than touring. Touring sucks, and Chris wanted to do what he loved. Being with his kids, and flying. He’s very happy, but would consider a reunion when everybody grows up. That’s the challenge….

  12. Ric Grace says:

    I didn’t really appreciate Queensryche until Mindcrime and after.
    I think that when Chris left, the band was nothing like what it once was. The music became simpler, not as structured as it once was.

    I wish Chris would get into something musical again!

  13. Chris Jordan says:

    I think what Queensryche is doing right now (in 2015) is excellent in almost every way. The only thing that’s missing are the hooks and a memorable chorus. I’m not suggesting a bunch of “sing songy” things, but if you think about earlier Queensryche, you had a recognizable bridge and then a chorus… You need that hook. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Tate is gone and the new guy can sing rings around him at this point, but that element is missing. I realize we’re not in the 80s anymore, but good is good.

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  15. Doug Walston says:

    The musical prowess and genius that Chris Degarmo contributed to Queensryche has set the bar extremely high in the artistic and creativity genres. Sadly to say as of until recent some of the original fire has finally been reignited back into the band and their sound especially on the new Condition Human album. Guitarists and musicians come and go like passing silhouettes through revolving doors but Chris painted sonic vivid images of incredible depth that very few could duplicate.
    His decision to leave Queensryche after achieving tremendous success and departing the music scene was hard for me to accept after being such a dedicated fan of his since I discovered their first self titled ep.
    But like all things in life we must evolve, transcend, and make necessary changes in order to sustain happiness regardless of whether it’s in the limelight or the darkness of obscurity.
    I feel blessed to have met him in person at a meet and greet during the warning tour but unfortunately lost his autograph. Even then his soft spoken gentle nature was evident of his compassion for being a kind hearted caring individual who emitted an aura of greatness.
    I wish him and his family all the best in the world and hope he continues to prosper for his music has touched and inspired me for over 30 years and still counting.

  16. Rich says:

    This may be nothing, but it brings back a memory. I saw ryche on the Rage for Order tour, and I have always since vividly remembered Degarmo staring blankly out through the audience while playing. Robotic like. It always struck me as strange and remained the most vivid memory I have of that concert. He didn’t look happy. I don’t know if he was or wasn’t, but he didn’t look fulfilled, even way back then. Maybe nothing. Just an observation. Regards.

    • Jean Guion says:

      degarmo was feeling the detachment of growing old…like all wolves..they require the company of other wolves..not easy to find in group of cats….i know a guy in town here…same scenario…very talented gutarist..
      I can see so much energy in him ..but hes got no one to share it with..very cold player…badass but very cold…degarmo is the same…like steve via..but with no sass..

  17. Tracey says:

    I feel in love with Queensryche from their first album. They have and always will be my favorite band. When Chris left,for me something major changed. The Mindcrime concert was the best I’ve ever seen to this day. When Promised Land came out, for some reason I just didn’t get into it. Chris is an amazing guitarist and vocalists, backing up Geoff ‘s super high notes. I’m happy for Chris, working with his daughter and enjoying his life. I still listen to Empire and back all the time. As for Geoff Tate, I feel very blessed by his off the charts, 4 octave vocal range, screaming out those amazing high notes. It’s a shame that after all they have given us, that he simply cannot continue to do it. I do like the”Newrychse”, but even though Todd La Torre can hit the notes, it will never be the true Queensryche again. I consider Queensryche’s music a wonderful gift 🎁 to the world and I thank each and every one of the original members. God bless you all!🎸 🎶

  18. Chris and Geoff had a chemistry that worked on the early songs.. its so obvious when you hear it on mind crime ..Once you have made a score like that it’s hard to top it. They pushed bands hard In those days and didn’t give them time to breath. You only have read up on queen to see how they struggled in the early days as well ..Chris and Geoff could been the new writing team of our time but got pushed too hard ..

  19. Dutch says:

    Just saw the band last night in Ybor City. Better than I expected and very impressed with the new singer. DG is very much missed as his sound has never been duplicated.. Hopefully he’ll find that passion once again and join the band once again..

  20. Jared Miller says:

    One thing is for sure Chris when you left the band it was not the same and never will you made some great music that will stand the test of time God bless you and your family and always remember bud “take hold of the flame” I love that song and what it means to me thanks Chris sincerely Jared miller

    • Mike Runkel says:

      Well, he must of had his reasons. What ever they were. My point is, that his part of Queensryche was vital to the band as a whole. However you describe it or why.

      I simply wish things would have been better for him and the band could have remained whole.

      Silent Lucidity was always my favorite work, but there were many wonderful songs.

  21. Lezley says:

    Chris Degarmo wrote the FAVORITE song of my life and that is beautiful and organic as I am a musically inclined person, who breath music to live. Without music the world would would not be worth living. And no one really knows that “Silent Lucidity” exists. Yes, some do, but with 7 billion people, that is a very small fraction. The video and even the lead singer does not really do justice to the song as he sounds as if he is whining. The classical impact is there with much more to comprehend in the lyrics that the video gives the song any real artistic presence. I could imagine so much more with the piece. It is such a relevant piece for every human being and his name and genius is unknown. It makes me sad to know that most people will never hear it as I have in my mind, with the images it deserves, and a voice or voices, that Mr. Degarmo, wrote. Mr. Tate does a adequate job, but he isn’t the voice it needs. Someone else should be the master of this song. I wonder if Mr. Degarmo, himself, sings? I wish somehow Lady Gaga or Beyonce or Madonna didn’t exist so that a song of this type was allowed room on the stage instead. My thanks to this talented Einstein of music, and I am grateful for the sounds I’ve heard in my head for his contribution to my life for writing it. I will have it played by my family at my funeral in celebration of this dream we live everyday. As life is only a silent lucidity of memories, and only a short one in which we experience pain and pleasure with music being this immense pleasure that it is. Thank you, Chris. I appreciate your contribution.

  22. Geoff Tate is ,was and always will be a phenomenal singer and front man! Chris Degarmo was a genius on the guitar, I never heard anyone who could make a guitar sound like water, souring through air, so many beautiful, unusual sounds. He is my all time favorite guitar player! I love all the other guys, Michael, Eddie and Scott are all amazing musicians! I just want my old Queensryche back! A reunion would be wonderful, after seeing a Queensryche reunion show, I would be able to die a happy woman! ! !

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