QUEENSRŸCHE's MICHAEL WILTON: 'At Our Age Now, We're Still Crushing It'

April 29, 2024

In a new interview with Brian Aberback of The Aquarian, QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Michael Wilton spoke about the band's decision to perform its entire 1983 debut EP and 1984's "The Warning" album as part of the ongoing "The Origins Tour". Asked what the impetus was for the trek, Wilton said: "It came about last year. A promoter asked, 'Have you ever thought about doing the EP and 'The Warning' in their entirety?' We said, 'Well, let's think about it,' and it just kind of blossomed. We said we'd do it at this Hell's Heroes festival in Houston. Then ticket sales were through the roof. We thought, 'Hey, this would be a good thing to do.' It was born out of that. And our manager put it together and then our booking agent put it together even more. All the venues were highly interested in it, so for us, it was, 'Okay, let's get it going.'"

He continued: "It's pretty amazing to go back and play those songs. We've played a lot of them, so there were only a few we had to kind of relearn. It's all challenging, progressive, and heavy music. At our age now, we're still crushing it."

Reflecting on the making of the EP, Wilton said: "When you're 18, 19, 20 years old, and with the technology back then, we were just making demo cassettes and jamming on them. Before QUEENSRŸCHE, we were called THE MOB. We were playing roller rinks. We were performing everywhere, playing [covers of] JUDAS PRIEST, DIO, AC/DC, IRON MAIDEN. Then we decided to write music on our own. We kept hammering out riffs and ideas and songs. We got to a point that we could afford to go into a studio at that time.

"When we recorded EP, we could only afford the graveyard time. We had day jobs, so we were recording the album at night. That's when Geoff [Tate, QUEENSRŸCHE singer] came in and things just went from there. We took a mastered cassette to our management at the record store. They played it and people in the record store were going, 'Who the hell is that? Oh my God, that's killer.' It was a slam dunk. We put out the [record label] 206 record, which was released by our management at the time who owned the record store — 206 was the area code of where we lived. After we sold 50,000 to 60,000 of those records, the record companies were knocking on our door. EMI offered us a six-record deal. We said, 'Okay, let's do it.'"

"The Origins Tour" launched on March 22 at the Hell's Heroes festival in Houston, Texas and will run until May 12 in Ft. Meyers, Florida, "The Origins Tour" 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 new 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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