Chris DeGarmo always interviewed well. At times he was cautious with his words and no matter how hard the interviewer tried to get him to slip up, he always put up a front of unity within the band.
DeGarmo (in 1994 doing interviews for the Promised Land record)
“I like to think of our song writing as people that soak in life and turn around and express it through our music. You have to take time to absorb life to be able to let it breath through your work. You can just hammer out music like you do boxes of soap but I can’t do it that way.”
(The Crossroad’s Edge… Chris Degarmo AOL Interview, http://personalpages.tds.net/~dreemland/tce/chrisint.html)
Chris is talking about his song writing, however he frames the answer in the context of the band, so that if the band members read it, they will be pleased. It is our song writing and our music and then right at the end he contradicts himself, by saying I.
Artists that create songs from their experiences end up having a career. These artists are the anomalies, the paradigm shifters. Look at artists like Dee Snider, Nikki Sixx, James Hetfield, Brent Smith, etc.. They all write about their experiences. What they have experienced, someone else has experienced. Straight away a connection is made. That is why We’re Not Gonna Take It connected and Hot Love didn’t. Both are great songs, however We’re Not Gonna Take It is about as real as you can get, where as Hot Love is about a fantasy relationship.
Queensryche connected with people on Mindcrime, because they had a good story accompanied by great music and melody. People always love a good story. That is why we read books and watch TV shows and movies.
Copycat artists fail. When Guns N Roses came out in 1987, a million other artists came out with a similar look and sound. Even bands that where around changed their styles to suit the GNR sound.
Does anyone remember bands like Skin N Bones, Junkyard, Love/Hate, Shotgun Messiah, Spread Eagle, LA Guns, Danger Danger, Tangier, Faster Pussycat and Saigon Kick? I do and that is because I have all of their albums.
Artists that sing songs written by committees, will have instant fame. There is no doubt about that. This is the corporatisation part of the music industry. The labels that control the charts want that to happen. The label business is all about making money today. The labels are not interested in building a career for their artist. The mainstream press will see these artists as champions. However it doesn’t last. People these days can see that there is no substance and integrity to what they are doing. Everyone that hangs around to be with the star of the moment will abandon them.
Artists that write songs with the thought of being paid straight away will never achieve anything. Creating music is never a dollar driven game. The below quote from DeGarmo sums it up.
DeGarmo (in 1990 on life after Mindcrime and before Empire came out);
“It starts dawning on you that this can actually be lucrative, which is something that has escaped us for so long”.
(Guitar World – Nov 1990)
This is around the time that Empire came out. They have been at it for nine years. Creating albums and touring. The fantasy put out there by the press, is that these artists are loaded. However that is so far from the truth. The record labels are loaded. They make all the money from the sales of recorded music. That is why the RIAA is shaking down sharers and trying to get legislation passed to bring back the glory days. Real artists, that are in the game to create music, remain silent. They just go about their life, creating and building connections and trying to force another paradigm shift.
DeGarmo (in 1997 – doing press for Hear In The Now Frontier and asked about the writing process)
As a songwriter, I think you have to be true to yourself first, and I think we’ve done that, and by doing that, we’ve been able to find other people who are interested in what it is we do, as opposed to at some point changing the strategy all of a sudden and creating albums based on what we think other people think we should do. That gets you into this terrible house of mirrors, and you can’t find your way back.
(Scream.org – Dan Birchall)
DeGarmo sums up my point of view. The reason why the fans came to Queensryche is because they remained true to themselves as artists. By doing that, they found other people (fans) that connected with them. We love a good old story. These days even reality TV shows have scriptwriters. So when a song tells a story, it is magic. When an album tells a story, it is priceless. Operation Mindcrime (the album) told a story. Empire had songs that told stories. Promised Land had songs that told stories and it had a theme of disconnection running through it.
No one should create an album just to please the label bosses. It always ends bad.