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Queensryche tells its tale

For lead singer Geoff Tate, Queensryche's multimedia "Road to the Promised Land Tour" hits close to home.

Maybe a little too close.

"It's a story, really, of one man's life and what happens to him along the way," Tate said in a recent phone interview. "It has a philosophical ending, and it sort of spans the majority of our material from all our records.

"The lyrics tell the story. Things I say between the songs help the story along, and the visuals and the films and the camera work help it along as well."

Queensryche gives audiences their money's worth in a 2{-hour journey through what Tate admits is mostly an autobiographical tale. Bay area fans will get a taste of it 7:30 tonight at Florida Expo Hall in Tampa.

A myriad of lights and two large screens at the rear of the stage lay down a barrage of live-action film and animation, while a theatrical Tate commands the audience's attention with a potent presence some critics have likened to the late Freddie Mercury.

"The story we're telling about one man's life is mostly me but also a conglomeration of various parts of our lives," Tate said of bandmates Chris DeGarmo (guitar), Michael Wilton (guitar), Scott Rockenfield (drums) and Eddie Jackson (bass).

Some of the narrative deals with a subject that draws many fans to Queensryche's brand of intellectual rock: reconnecting with family members and friends after coming to grips with a difficult childhood.

"I lived with my mom and my sister," Tate of his single-parent upbringing. "I was the oldest, and we lived a good portion of my childhood without a father figure. At the time, it seemed natural to me, but looking back on it, as I got older, I started questioning things and tried to figure out what it was I was supposed to be.

"I knew I was the oldest, I was the son, and I knew I had this responsibility to take care of my sister. My mother unknowingly put me in the position of being the man of the house at a very young age, when I wasn't emotionally ready."

As he approached his late 20s, Tate said, he saw his past in a more objective light. He became interested in anthropology, psychology and the study of the human condition and read about tribes around the world and how their families function.

"As a writer, I pull from all that and it makes me think and compare my own life and lives of people I know," he said. "It makes for interesting subject matter in a song. Songs and music in general are quite a way of communicating with people, sometimes better than books, because it strikes me from a primal side. You learn a lot from a good song."

One of those good songs is The Bridge, a track off the band's latest platinum-selling album, Promised Land (EMI Records). In it, DeGarmo wrote of the broken relationship with his now-deceased father: "You're begging me for a brand-new start/ trying to mend a bridge that's been blown apart/ but you know . . . you never built it, Dad."

Tate and his wife have one child and another due in September. He said he now knows it's not easy to be a parent, especially one who's on the road a lot.

"I am torn," he said. "I keep in constant contact every day and that's really all I can do in this space of time when we're on tour. Our tours don't last that long, mostly like seven months. And we usually structure our tours so that we have like seven weeks on and then 14 days off. So, for 14 days solid, I'm with my kid.

"It's definitely not as good as it could be if I was home every day. I do feel the stress of that, definitely."

But at least he has his priorities straight: Family comes first.

"There's a commerce in this country based on a negative self-image," Tate said. "People unhappy with themselves feel a need to fill their lives up, and we buy into it. We can work ourselves to death, but we can have this incredible house, two cars and material objects, while we sacrifice the quality time with our families.

"We don't even realize we're doing it, and it's sending a negative signal to our kids. We get caught up in what we think we should be doing."



7:30 tonight, with Type O Negative, at Florida Expo Hall in Tampa.