“The Sins of Sin City”
Vegas Rocks! Awards
May 14, 2016 – T. Ray Verteramo
While the great German stingers did a highly publicized five-day stint at the Hard Rock Hotel, Vegas Rocks! magazine took the opportunity to host their “first” annual Hair Metal Awards on the other side of town. Red carpet guests included local talents, cover bands, a rapper, and assortment of others, as well as A-listers such as Rudy Sarzo, Twisted Sister, Doro Pesch, and of course, Vegas’ guests of honor, The Scorpions, themselves.
Opening for The Scorpions for this special event is the royal Queensryche. It is safe to say by now that these men have respectfully made a name for themselves over the last three decades, having sold nearly 30 million albums worldwide in the span of their career.
With both powerhouses, Geoff Tate and Todd LaTorre at the mic, the band enjoys a solid, loyal following with all the trimmings, especially the privilege to share the same stage with legends — Dio’s 1985 Olympian project, Hear ‘n’ Aid, notwithstanding. Just last year, they entered the billboard charts at number 27 with their latest project, Condition Human, and their video, “Guardian” has taken over half a million views.
Operation: Mindcrime, Empire, The Warning, and Evolution Calling, are still considered treasures among collections…
…but, they were not invited to the party.
Mr. LaTorre was generous to spare a few minutes to talk a bit at the Hair Metal Awards event, about the honor of opening for The Scorpions and the dishonor of nearly missing a chance to support his Metal brethren.
Yeah, the first week of the tour for a month with them last year, the end of the year, that was awesome. So, they asked us to join them for the residency here, so…because we toured with them before, seeing them now is like a whole different feeling. We know all the crew, we know all the guys, so, it’s like, “Hey, what’s up?” There isn’t like that introduction phase, we’ve already had all that. It was really great and obviously really honored to be asked to open for them. We are doing nine shows total and five out here in Vegas, it’s pretty cool.
The Scorpions are using the same set as they used last year. Are you using the same set, as well, or are you supporting more of the new material this time around?
We are, but we only have a 45-minute set. As the opener, we realize that there are Queensryche fans there, but it is a Scorpions show. So, a lot of people that aren’t up to speed with Queensryche, we are playing a lot of the well-known hits and it re-familiarizes people with “oh yeah, I remember this” from Empire or something like that. We do one song, we open with “Guardian,” which is off the new record. We play “Queen of the Ryche” – we’re alternating, we’re changing one song each night, just to mix it up a little, but we pretty much have a stake hold of songs that we play.
And those songs are very demanding.
Yeah, all of the Queensryche songs are.
How do you prepare – or rather, how does the band prepare for a big residency like this?
It’s just another show for us. Whether it’s a club show or a festival show or a residency, we’re going to give 110 percent of our time and effort. So, it’s not like we’re psyched out or intimidated it’s just work. It’s just our business and none of us feel psychologically overwhelmed by it. It’s just what we do naturally. As far as preparation we’re always on the road. We’re usually a well-oiled machine. Sometimes, we’ll have a couple a weeks off and we may get a little rusty, just one or two little things that people won’t…But, one or two shows later we’re *snap* right back on.
But, it’s those little nuances that remind the audience that you’re actually human.
Yeah, right! That’s true.
So, talking about tonight, when Vegas Rocks! approached you about participating, what was your reaction?
Well, I’ll throw you a curveball: We weren’t approached, which was surprising. We’re here with the Scorpions, doing the residency and I was talking with Eddie Trunk and Chuck Billy and Alex [Slonic, both of Testament] and those guys the other night, and I said, “Awesome! Are you guys playing in town?” And they said, “Well, we’re doing the Vegas Rocks! thing.” I said, “I don’t know anything about it.” And that’s just the truth. We didn’t know anything about it.
I said, “I really would like to go. How do we get to go?” So, I had to work through channels to get tickets. We had four tickets and we couldn’t get another one for Michael [Wilton]. So, I had to pull some strings to see what I could do to get another…thing. So, we’re here in support of the event that we really weren’t invited to.
The awkwardness was very noticeable on the red carpet tonight. [Editor’s note: Queensryche was last to appear, after the award presenters and recipients].
Well, the guy looked through the thing and said “Queue?” And I said, “You’re not going to have anything in there. You’re not going to see anything in there that says, ‘Queensryche’.” And he didn’t. He said, “You guys definitely should be on the red carpet.” And I said, “That’s kind of you, thank you.” But, as I said, we’re fans of what’s happening. I think the Scorpions are getting an award and we’re fans of Doro and Testament and all these people. But, we had to pull strings to get to come here.
What are you going to do? We didn’t know even know about it. We’re busy playing and touring and whatever. I don’t know of every event that’s happening. It’s only that I asked why they were in town that we even knew about it and like I said, we had to go through some channels. I thought, “Oh, there’s an event. We’re playing here with the Scorpions as support for ten days, they’re receiving an award.” You would have thought somebody would have thought, “Hey…”
Well, sure, it’s not like you’re some garage band…
Right. Nevertheless, we are here, not out of obligation. So, if that is a testament of us being supportive and fans, that should tell you something.