My first encounter with the music of Scott Rockenfield was 15 years ago in high school band, where my best friend and I were members of the drum line. One day my friend pulled out a cassette copy of Rage For Order by Queensryche and told me I specifically needed to hear Rockenfield play the drums. Queensryche is not your average metal band, and Rockenfield is certainly not an average drummer. I was impressed by his powerful but low-profile style, the subtle fills and rhythms he threw into songs like Gonna Get Close To You and the offbeat madness of The Whisper.
As a side project to Queensryche, Rockenfield began working with producer / musician Paul Speer in 1993. Their first project as Rockenfield / Speer was a soundtrack for the music video Televoid, directed by Michael Boydstun, an effort which was nominated for a grammy in 1998 for Long Form Music Video. Now, Rockenfield and Speer have teamed up for Hells Canyon, a collection of progressive rock instrumentals. The songs are open and expansive, painting pictures of desolate and threatening landscapes. The two musicians play off of each other well, Speer's guitars providing melodic runs while Rockenfield lays a solid foundation of energetic drumming. Everything is amazingly subtle. With two great musicians like this, you would expect a great deal of showing off and pointless histrionics. This is not the case, as both keep themselves in check, working towards a common goal. The music is the key, and their respect for the songs and each other as musicians transcends any ego stroking.
I had a chance to catch up with the busy Rockenfield, who was just wrapping up a tour with Queensryche.
Q: How did your collaboration with Paul Speer get started? What is it like working with him?
Paul and I met in 1993 through a mutual friend. From that day forward we found out that we both had very common interests and musical direction. In 1993 Paul asked me if I would like to play on three songs on his album (with David Lanz) "Bridge of Dreams." I said that I would love to and we have been working together ever since.
Q: How was your approach on Hells Canyon different from TeleVoid?
It was different in many ways. The biggest being that with Televoid we were scoring to picture. Something that definitely directs you in a certain way. With Hells Canyon we wanted to free ourselves from having to follow picture and so we felt that we could write and do anything that we wanted. HC is about Paul and I just being ourselves and letting all the rules and constraints (that can happen in the record business) go away. We make records that we want to listen to and fortunately our fans let us do that.
Q: I noticed that the music on Hells Canyon is somewhat subdued, and you guys sound so smooth together. Neither one of you do any overblown solos or showboating--was this a conscious effort, or did it just happen that way?
Yes, Paul and I are a couple of "SMOOTHIES." (Ha,Ha) We have always been the type of musicians that look to write a good song. And that it's all about the "song." I have never been into solos for solos sake.
Q: How is your approach different between Queensryche and your solo work? Is the band supportive?
In a way my approach is very similar and yet it can be very different. With Paul and I, we like to step out and use a large expanse of musical color with what we do. Our instrumentation tends to be different than with my work with QR. Paul and I also don't for the most part have to worry about writing with vocals in mind.(at least not yet). Writing instrumental music can be a challenge because you are only speaking and trying to convey a message with instruments. QR is very supportive of what I do. We support each other in anything that makes us happy as people.
Q: How important is your solo career in comparison to the band?
Very important. I feel that there is a part of me that I need to be able to express. And as long as I can continue to do that then I'll be able to give more to QR and Rockenfield/Speer.
Q: I always thought of Queensryche as sort of an underground/indie band---even though you guys have been on major labels with platinum albums, you seem to be a little more on the outside of mainstream popular music. Does the band view itself that way?
QR has always been about writing music that we, as the band, want to listen to. We have never been able to predict what the audience is going to accept as the next BIG thing. So from day one we have just writen from within and fortunately we have gained a following of fans that has enjoyed what we have done throught the years.
Q: What's next for you and/or Queensryche?
Paul and I are in talks about putting together a live show of Hells Canyon and Televoid. We will also begin working on another project sometime soon. I am also currently in the process of signing a deal to score music for film. QR has just finished our year long tour and we will soon be back in the studio recording our next release targeted for spring 2001.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
Just a BIG thanx to all who have listened to and enjoyed Rockenfield/Speer and QR. Without you, the fans, we would not be able to continue to do this creative thing that we do. Much thanx......Spread the word about Rockenfield/Speer to ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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