Todd La Torre is the lead vocalist for the heavy metal band Queensryche. On February 5th Todd released his debut solo album titled “Rejoice in the Suffering” via Rat Pack Records. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Todd recently about the albums creation, working his friend Craig Blackwell and what it’s been like working on and releasing and album during the pandemic.
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “Rejoice in the Suffering”?
Todd La Torre: This is a record I have wanted to do now for many, many years. Due to the rigorous touring schedule I normally have things keep getting moved to the back burner and shelved. Once the pandemic hit and touring was officially shut down I called my friend Craig Blackwell who co-wrote the album with me and who also plays guitar, keys and bass to help me get this done. We wrote and recorded the album in about four months. We wanted to write songs that brought us back to our roots as fans of heavy metal and something we could listen to while cruising around in our cars.
AL: Being this was something you had wanted to do for some time now how much of the album was written prior to getting together with Craig?
TL: We had the title track which was written around 2015. That was the only completed song at the time. Craig had a few other ideas and some riffs but we never really sunk our teeth into everything until March of last year. Other than “Rejoice in the Suffering” and maybe a verse for “Pretenders” that was all we really had to start with. The majority of the record was really crafted from scratch when we first got together last year.
AL: Was your writing process for this record similar to when you are working with Queensryche?
TL: For me it was very different. In Queensryche you have five guys in the band. All the guys will have different things that they have written that they then bring to the group. They may have ideas or songs that are different from what I might do and there are a lot more people involved with the process. With this it was just myself and Craig. We were able to move along pretty quickly being it was just the two of us. A lot of these were written in less than a couple days. For instance “Crossroads to Insanity” Craig gave me the music and I had all the lyrics in about a day and a half. “Vanguards of the Dawn Wall” was another one that was written in two days. A lot of these songs were done in a similar amount of time. Queensryche can take a very long time as it’s a totally different process.
AL: How did you keep yourself from going too far into the creative aspects of the record being there were just two of you working on it?
TL: I wanted things to be groove oriented. Craig is a great player and I was able to build on that and really craft the drums around his playing. He would sit down work out everything for his solos as opposed to just noodeling. No page was left unturned by any means but we defiantly didn’t want to over think things either.
AL: Given the lack of touring and promotion options right now due to the pandemic what made you decide to go ahead and release the album when you did?
TL: The release of this was never contingent on touring live. This was just an artistic expression with me and my friend writing songs and putting them out there for people to listen to. If I am able to do some shows around the album later on in the future that would be awesome. I don’t earn a living as a solo artist as Queensryche is my priority. The timing of this release had no bearing on when I could tour or support the record like I would with a Queensryche release. By putting the record out early and ahead of others I think it’s going to get a little more hang time and I can enjoy it being out there for a whole year. Another plus of releasing the album now is that generally when you release an album you start touring the next day. You are then playing brand new material that not everyone has heard yet and the response might not be that great because of that. With this having extra time to get out to fans due to both the pandemic and my work with Queensryche I think when/if I get to do a solo show its going to make it that much better as people will have had ample time to absorb the music.
AL: What was the reception like from the other Queensryche guys when you told them you were planning to do a solo record?
TL: They have heard me talking about this for quite a few years now. When the pandemic hit we were all trying to figure out what that meant and what we were going to do. Up until that point we had been working our asses off for 9 years since I joined the band. This was a much needed break for everyone. The guys were very receptive and thought this was a great time to be able to do it. I knew if I didn’t do it now that quickly things would be starting up again with Queensryche. This could not have come at a better time for me. Things are done, the record is out and I can go on and only have to focus Queensryche. The guys were very happy for me to be able to show other sides of myself as a musician.
AL: Do you see yourself doing another solo album when time allows?
TL: I will do another record. I already have three songs written that are much heavier. I have other riffs and ideas that aren’t yet fully completed but those will most likely be on the second record as well. I am going to let this first one get some legs and traction and then once the new Queensryche album is done and out I will start making plans to get this second one out and then once the dust settles from everything I will release another one.
For more information on Todd La Torre and Craig Blackwell visit: