Well, with this having now gone on for over 24 hours, let's take stock:
1. We don't have any "blind fanboys" on this board, which I guess I already knew, as no one has voted for option 1.
2. A few people share my opinion that though the band hasn't jumped, it has come perilously close on occasions.
3. Though Geoff's voice and QR.com are regular topics for discussion on this board (and the latter annoys the hell out of me
), they don't seem to be the main reasons why the band is losing it, probably because both can be fixed with a bit of hard work and the correct decisions (vocal coach, quit the evil ciggies, get a better webmaster, etc.)
4. There are some miscellaneous reasons that annoy some of us. KDO alluded to OMII, which is understandable, because OMI is a seminal prog-metal album, and OMII - whatever its merits, is still a come-down from OMI's heights. (Maybe I should have added another option: "Three Words - All The Promises"
5. Strangely, there aren't many takers for "QR - DeGarmo = Jump the shark", which surprises me. I guess what we really want is that, even if Chris never comes back, the band gets a top-notch guitarist who can also do background vocals and contribute to the songwriting process, to act as a counterpoise to the more prog-rock, melody-oriented, emotion-focused (and at times melodramatic) Geoff Tate. It can still happen. The band isn't old enough for the rocking chair yet (with apologies to the Eagles) and they still have time to fix this.
6. Samsara, did you by any chance vote for the last option (with the idea of "Three words - Losing My Credibility"?)
7. Finally, it seems that if we could change it all, we'd all have Susan relinquish the wheel and hand over managerial responsibilities to someone with actual qualifications and experience (in managing the band, that is, not in exotic dancing
) Sadly, at least to me, that's not going to happen. The part below this is just speculation, and if it offends anyone, I shall redact it accordingly.
My reason for saying so is that Geoff seems to be very, very attached to her, if not actually dependent (in an emotional or psychological sense). I base this conclusion, tentative as it is, on a few points:
* Geoff's own lyrics: Even if we stop knocking "Sacred Ground" and "Anytime/Anywhere", we have: "Saved" (where he's literally imploring a significant other to save him and restore him to life), "You" (lighthearted, but he certainly has turned the band upside down and inside out for Sue), and half of Q2K (heck, apart from Falling Down, Breakdown, Burning Man and The Right Side Of My Mind, that record is practically a concept album about his love for Susan and his family). Note that when DeGarmo got back on board, that aspect of the lyrical content was damped down (you can at the most make a case for Losing Myself and the first verse of Rhythm Of Hope). And though OM:II and American Soldier couldn't logically include this sort of track, "Home Again" can be construed in this manner.
* The dynamics within the band: True, Geoff is the de facto
band leader and handles most of the interviews, the lyrics, etc. However, he is extremely quick to give credit to Susan in interviews and even on albums, and her name appears on all the remasters even though I doubt she had anything to do with the likes of Rage For Order or Promised Land. The uncharitable way of looking at it is to assume that she's a shrew (to use an old-fashioned word - apologies if anyone thinks this is sexist, it wasn't meant that way) and would bite his head off if they weren't there
, but I'd prefer to be a little more positive. Also, because this relationship has become the "core" of QR from a psychological point of view, the other band members are dissatisfied and look outside the band for musical expression (Soulbender being the greatest example - even though Whip doesn't write lyrics, the more I read the words of some of their songs, the more I think there's a connection to the situation with QR). While the others might have tried to have their say or rock the boat at times (I'll give them credit for that), they might have found themselves ignored or arbitrarily sidelined and decided to stop wasting their energy - a phenomenon known as learned helplessness.
* Geoff's solo album, to which the comments I've made about Q2K above apply - not just lyrically, but musically.
* The sensitivity to criticism that the band has shown since Susan got on board. I'm pretty sure this is a trait of hers and not Geoff's, judging by some of the reports of her conduct I've read here and on the now-largely defunct rec.arts.music.queensryche. When your personality traits start interfering in the handling of a band that you aren't even a member of, you have a problem, and so does the band "leader" for allowing you to get away with it.
My conclusion? The Geoff / Susan relationship has reached a point where the boundaries between spouse and manager have become blurred; Susan probably wants to (consciously or otherwise) "run" QR like she does her family. Geoff, in turn, would probably consider firing Susan as manager the equivalent of divorcing or dumping her. Now I don't begrudge Geoff and Susan their happiness. I see enough unhappiness within families (heck, it's part of my job) as it is, and can appreciate the opposite. We've been willing to cut QR a lot of slack. But (to quote one of Geoff's own lyrics) "where does one draw the line in the face of injury?"
We're not wishing Susan Tate ill in any manner. All we want (here I go with the DeGarmo lyrics) is for the band to run like a rock band, and not like the Dysfunctional Family Circus that it looks like at times. Get someone on board who can counterbalance Geoff (yin / yang, if you will). Whether that person is a manager or a strong-willed guitarist/songwriter is irrelevant, as long as they can fill that particular part of Chris' role.
Summing up - I'm reminded of the passage in Adrian Mole
where Adrian, after having comically attempted to run away from home, has to meet a psychologist and list out all his problems. He makes a long list, in which a major item is that Pandora, the girl he has a crush on (and continues to, for several sequels) doesn't care for him. The psychologist goes through the list and provides him with suggestions, but then ends with this stinger:
"Pandora comes under the heading of insoluble problems."
Is Susan Tate (as manager) an insoluble problem?
The right side of my mind wishes dearly that it isn't.