MICHAEL WILTON On Success Of QUEENSRŸCHE's 'Empire': 'We Collided With Public Taste, The Average Person'

May 8, 2024

During a recent appearance on "The Adamantium Podcast", QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Michael Wilton reflected on the making of one of the band's most acclaimed albums, 1988's conceptual effort "Operation: Mindcrime". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "['Operation: Mindcrime'] was a major project for us and a major time in our career. We had just signed with a new management, and things were set in motion and everything came out. But it wasn't until MTV started playing the video of 'Eyes Of A Stranger' that things took off for us. And that kind of opened the door for a lot of bands. So, the whole video thing that happened, every kid was glued to 'Headbangers Ball' and checking out all the new metal bands. And then, from there it was just a progression, a stepping stone of what do we do next."

As for how the 1990 follow-up LP, "Empire", came together, Wilton said: "We wanted to do something different than a conceptual album like 'Operation: Mindcrime', we wanted to do something that just was more song oriented. And we went up into Vancouver, Canada and recorded 'Empire'. And that took off. We collided with public taste, the average person. We were at award shows, we won MTV music awards, American Music Award. It was mindblowing. And we were touring almost two years straight. So it's been great, but a lot of it, it's timing. Now it's so tech heavy, and it's been — I don't know — I think, split apart. Nobody knows where to get their news like they did back when you had magazines, guitar magazines and rock magazines and teen magazines and all that stuff. You could see really easily who was coming to town, who was on tour. Now you've gotta dig, you've gotta search, and then there's lots of distractions attacking you on the Internet."

Released in 1990, "Empire" included the hit ballad "Silent Lucidity", which reached No. 9 on the Billboard singles chart, helped propel "Empire" to No. 7 on the album chart and earned two Grammy Award nominations.

QUEENSRŸCHE is performing the band's 1983 EP and 1984's "The Warning" album in their entirety as part of "The Origins Tour". Launching on March 22 at the Hell's Heroes festival in Houston, Texas and running until May 12 in Ft. Meyers, Florida, the trek sees QUEENSRŸCHE — singer Todd La Torre, guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Casey Grillo — joined on most dates by another highly respected/influential band that also launched in the '80s, ARMORED SAINT.

Early last year, QUEENSRŸCHE completed its 2023 U.S. headlining tour with support from former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman and TRAUMA. On that tour, QUEENSRŸCHE's 18-song set included no less than five songs from the band's sixteenth studio album, "Digital Noise Alliance", which came out in October 2022 via Century Media. The record was once again helmed by Chris "Zeuss" Harris, who previously worked with QUEENSRŸCHE on 2015's "Condition Hüman" and 2019's "The Verdict" LPs.

Stone, who rejoined QUEENSRŸCHE in 2021, contributed guitar solos to the band's latest studio album.

Since late May 2021, Stone has been handling second-guitar duties in QUEENSRŸCHE, which announced in July 2021 that longtime guitarist Parker Lundgren was exiting the group to focus on "other business ventures."

Stone originally joined QUEENSRŸCHE for the 2003 album "Tribe" and stayed with the band for six years before leaving the group.

For the past seven years, drummer Casey Grillo has been filling in for original QUEENSRŸCHE drummer Scott Rockenfield, who stepped away from the band's touring activities in early 2017 to spend time with his young son.

In October 2021, Rockenfield filed a lawsuit against guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson, alleging, among other things, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful discharge. A few months later, Wilton and Jackson filed a countersuit against Rockenfield, accusing him of abandoning his position as a member of the band and misappropriating the group's assets to his own personal benefit. That dispute has since been settled out of court.

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