I know you’re from Florida, especially in the Tampa area- that’s all death metal. Growing up were you a big death metal guy?
I wasn’t a huge death metal fan, but I can remember as a teen walking through a local mall and seeing the guys of Deicide. They were young! They weren’t even huge at that point. And they would walk around the mall and you know, all those bands- Death was from my area, I think Cannibal Corpse might have been from Tampa. But yeah, that whole death metal scene. I think Tampa is credited as its birthplace. So yeah, those were my influences. And then you know: Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche , Overkill, Testament, Slayer, Stryper- just a big mix of stuff like that.
Now being a drummer, primarily, when did you realize you had this amazing voice?
Oh gosh, I don’t know.
What, did it just come out one day when you were singing?!
I mean, I always loved to sing but I never sang in bands. I was always the drummer in bands. I didn’t think I was good enough.
Considering the voice you have that’s kind of crazy.
Well, thank you. One day I was watching some friends, a local band, play at this bar where I lived. They did an Iron Maiden song and this other guy I knew was kind of pressuring me to get up there and sing and I was very reluctant and didn’t want to. But I ended up doing it. And so that prompted me to thinking- ‘maybe I’ll start a Maiden tribute band’ but as a vocalist, not as a drummer. So that never came to fruition but that’s when I was introduced to the guys in Crimson Glory, and that was when I really became the front man of a band. And, the rest is history.
I was getting ready to bring that up because you go from not really even considering yourself a singer to fronting Crimson Glory, and I know back in the day they had some pretty high notes you’d have to hit. How do they find you?
We had a mutual friend named Matt LaPorte who played for John Oliva from Savatage. He played in J.O.P and he was one of my best friends and they were doing a memorial concert for the original Crimson Glory vocalist, Midnight, who passed away. They had all these guest vocalists so Matt introduced me to those guys and said ‘hey, you really should have Todd come out and rehearse with you guys and you never know, maybe the band will reform’- and that wasn’t the initial thing. The initial thing was that maybe I can help them rehearse different vocal parts for those guest singers. So I was asked to be one of those singers at the ProgPower show in Atlanta and, you know…
Again, the rest is history.
Uh-huh. And being part of Rising West, I know that’s how you go to know the guys from Queensrÿche. When Geoff was dismissed from that band was it kind of assumed that they’d bring you in and you’d take on the role?
I mean, I didn’t assume that. I wasn’t involved with that whole, you know, storm that happened. We had already rehearsed a lot of the old material and when we did those two shows they were sold out, right away. I guess it just made sense. Like, here’s a guy who’s doing what we do and the fans have already embraced those two shows. He was let go and I guess it just made for a lateral transition. And that was really how it happened.
Were you surprised at all?
Yeah! Because when I was doing the Rising West thing it was, you know, we’ll just do that until the band resumes and they’ll go out as Queensrÿche again. Maybe I would do something with those guys again on the side. That was the assumption. But when shit hit the fan, it was like okay, you’re the new singer of Queensrÿche.
And I know you’re a fan, like you were a fan of Queensrÿche prior to singing for the band.
Is there any animosity between you guys? Are you guys cool?
I’m not friends with him. You know, I met him when I was 18 at a signing session. And then I met them at the Ruth Eckerd Hall show in November, I think, of 2011- was it ’11? Yeah. I just went through the line, I didn’t pay for a meet and greet but the director of that venue said ‘hey, do you wanna meet the band?’ and I was like sure, okay.
You might as well.
Right, I might as well. So I met him then and that was the only time I’ve met him. I don’t know him personally. I have immense respect for what he did musically in the past with Queensrÿche, obviously. I would never deny the amazing voice that he had and that he was very influential to me and to people all over the world. So from an artist perspective, I’ve always respected what he did. Personally, look- there was a lot of drama with things in the band that from what I understand and from what I’ve seen, you know, some things are better left unsaid. But again, I don’t personally have any beef with the guy. I don’t know if we would be cool with each other because you know, that’s not my drama, per say, to deal with. It became mine because I became the singer of the band. I do respect what he’s done and I don’t know if he has any animosity towards me for things I’ve said in previous interviews but we are our own person, I have my convictions and he has his. I guess the short answer is no. But if we ever met again, I’d like to think we’d be able to be civil and cordial and be like ‘hey’, you know? People change, situations happen.
It’s not your fault for what happened.
Yes, exactly. It’s not my fault for what happened, so, you know.
And now you’ve written on two Queensrÿche albums, right?
Prior to the Queensrÿche albums, did you do a lot of songwriting? Or did you just kind of jump in?
You mean with the guys?
No, like songwriting in general prior to being in the band.
I’ve done songwriting since I was probably fourteen or fifteen. I’ve been a songwriter as a drummer, guitarist, lyricist, vocalist- just on my own stuff. And I was in other bands where we did songwriting and that kind of thing. I’ve always kind of been in it in some fashion.
And how is it writing and working with Queensrÿche?
And everyone gets along?
Yeah, the whole band gets along.
I mean, we’re together because we tour so much so, you know, everyone has their own unique personalities. But we all have our own special friendships individually and collectively. So there’s no fighting, there’s no problems- it’s smooth.
As it should be. And I’m sure you’re well aware of the fact that your voice is very Geoff Tate-esque. Was it just a happy coincidence that you ended up in Queensrÿche and you’ve got this voice? Do you alter it at all to sound a little more like him or is this really just your voice?
That’s a good, honest question. When I do Queensrÿche material, I naturally sing that way. I’m not forcing a sound to be like that, but I have many different vocal sounds. I’ve got a lot of more brutal stuff that the world hasn’t heard yet.
I’ve only heard it in the Jamey Jasta Podcast which I listened to again last night.
Ah, yes. I have my own solo stuff that I work on that has a variety of vocal stylings, obviously the gutturals and stuff that I like are not Queensrÿche. So if I do something more chest with grit on it, people will say ‘oh, he doesn’t sound anything like he does in Queensrÿche’- but that’s just another outlet for me to show another side of me. That’s like saying well you’re a painter but you only do abstract stuff, but then you do something very realistic and you realize you can do very different things. So the songs just call for a certain thing and I write it in that way.
I’m glad you brought that up because you’re kind of a jack of all trades- have you done any solo things? Is that something you’d like to pursue?
I’m writing a solo album with a lifelong friend named Craig Blackwell. I’ve got a handful of songs, a lot of ideas, I’ve got demos recorded- not a full album’s worth of demos recorded but a lot of material. When I’m not writing with Queensrÿche that’s my next priority, to really put out my solo album which is gonna be, musically- I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s good, power-groove metal that’s kind of thrash…I guess if I had to compare the music part of it I would say Fight meets Pantera. As far as the musicality, it’s got a bit of that southern metal, if you’re a fan of that kind of sound. The vocals are melodic; it’s got gutturals on it and really heavy, hardcore stuff. It’s definitely going to be way heavier and a different animal than Queensrÿche. Queensrÿche is a very special thing and has its own unique sound. What I’m doing is way more aggressive and more pure metal sounding. We’ll see what it really sounds like what it’s all done being completed, but that’s really something I wanna get recorded and put out.
Is there a time you’re looking to get that out by? A year, two years?
Well I would like to have it out, maybe, this year. It depends. We’re supposed to do some initial pre-production stuff in March with Queensrÿche, but again, we have so much personal things going on from being on tour and then going home and dealing with our own private lives, you know. We just wanna make sure that that’s the best record we can make. Hopefully, if that record is done and comes out this year then I may postpone mine a little bit. I don’t want there to be any clashing with the two. It’s hard to say. When would I put out my record? Cause if we’re touring on a new Queensrÿche record, it’s like, if I release mine it’s kinda weird. But if we’re writing and recording and I release mine it’s like, ‘I thought you were writing and recording with that band?’. There’s never really a perfect time for it, when it happens it’s gonna happen. But I’d like to have it out within the next twelve months, for sure.
My last question is Queensrÿche has been doing a lot of touring, but there is a new album in the works- yes?
Is there anything you can tell us about it?
There’s some fully completed songs, there’s lots of ideas. Like, you know, here’s a couple verses or here’s a verse and a chorus and we have to build around that. So we’re still songwriting, and when I’m home I’m recording demos and in the writing process for that record.