A friend sent this to me over the weekend. I had completely missed it, but thought I'd share, for those of you interested. It'll also be placed in the "Info Saturation" section. For those that don't know, Dan Birchall of www.scream.org
which is also known as Screaming in Digital, was the first online QR site that covered Queensryche. He developed a very good professional relationship with Chris over the years.
It should be noted that my personal comments/additions in the middle of this, and separate at the end, are in REDhttp://scream.org/2000/02/29/screaming-in-digital-issue-263/
Why Chris Left (Initially in 1997): An Answer
Dan Birchall - (email@example.com)
Years ago, everyone wanted to know: Who killed Mary. In recent years,
that has been replaced by a different question: Why did Chris leave?
Neither Chris nor the remaining members had much to say about it, and
the few things that were said turned out to be of varying accuracy.
After hearing bits and pieces over the last two years, I wrote an article
two issues ago, presenting some circumstances that
could possibly explain the departure, and asked for thoughts. With thanks
to all those both close and not-so-close to the band who sent clarifications,
corrections, and critiques of the presentation, I now present this update.
I believe this to be a valid, truthful and correct answer to the question,
“Why did Chris leave?” It’s not as detailed as it could be - there are
some details that I’ve left out because they wouldn’t really make the
answer any better, and would hurt those involved, or violate the trust
of the people who’ve filled in the gaps in my personal understanding of
events, and I’m sure there are details I still don’t know. And I’m not
naming names, other than Chris, because this is all historical, and how
people behaved in the mid-90’s shouldn’t necessarily impact how we think
of them now. I’m just going to give the facts, to the best of my knowledge.
First, the good news: my suspicion that the decision was not entirely,
one hundred percent Chris’s was wrong. I’ve heard from sources close to
the band, and he wasn’t forced to leave.
That’s where the good news ends, sorry. You might want to skip down to
the classifieds section rather than reading the
rest of this. Not that it’s bad, per se - it’s just there.
Basically, here’s the deal. From the earliest days of the band, the guys
were very close to each other, and to each other’s families. Throughout
the 90’s, though, various members of the band went through various personal
crises. There were battles with alcohol between Empire
and Promised Land. A couple marriages broke up and a few
new ones started, changing the makeup of the “extended Queensryche family.”
EMI mightily self-destructed. The handling of the Empire
windfall varied from member to member, as did their resulting financial
Chris’s life wasn’t entirely trouble-free, but from what I’ve been told,
he appears to have managed to stay focused a little bit more than the
other members of the band. I also understand that he was president of
the Tri-Ryche Corporation, the business side of Queensryche. Whether he
was made president because he was focused, or felt he had to remain focused because he was president, I have no idea. The two don’t even have to be related, really.
Anyway, my sources tell me that Chris was pretty much responsible for
dragging everyone else out to Big Log to sober up and do some recording
after one or two members spent a bit more of their Empire money on booze than they should have, that he didn’t get much help from anyone else in negotiating with Virgin when EMI tanked, and that toward the end, he was essentially helping keep a roof over the heads of another member’s family.
As I said before, Chris’s life wasn’t entirely trouble-free. The tours
of the 90’s were a strain on his home and family life, just like they
were on everyone else’s. I heard in mid-decade that three marriages were
on the rocks - of the three, Chris’s was the only one that survived, and
I’m sure keeping that relationship together wasn’t easy. Being president
of Tri-Ryche, and taking on the responsibilities enumerated above and
others, also can’t have done much good for the man’s stress level.
These challenges were compounded by changing interpersonal dynamics
within the band and the extended family. As the bandmembers’ families
grew, it naturally became more difficult to balance time and energy
between their art and their families. And since some new family members
didn’t always get along with existing bandmembers, the relationships
between those bandmembers were strained. (ed. take a guess, folks)
Ultimately - and this is where it gets tricky, since I’m not inside Chris’s
head - three circumstances converged. Chris wanted very much to be able
to spend more time with his wife and children. His efforts to make the
business end of the band work were stymied, apparently at least
in part due to lack of interest or participation by other members. And
the very close relationships he’d had with one or two other members
crumbled, as they focused more on relating to new family members, who
didn’t necessarily like Chris. (ed. considering the two new marriages were Scott and Geoff, you do the math.)
Of course, this was in 1997. It had taken 5 years to get to that point.
But yes, Chris quit. Chris gave up on the rest of the guys. It’s a fact.
Was he justified in quitting? It probably depends who you ask. I’m sure
Chris thought so. Some of the other members might have thought so too.
But I’ve been told the decision was a shock to some of the guys, and upset
them enough to spark the rumors we all heard back then of the whole band
breaking up. I don’t think I’d make it 5 years in any unpleasant
situation, though, so I can’t judge him.
As far as what Chris has been doing since he left - well, we all know about
the 1998 tour with Jerry Cantrell. And we’ve heard he showed up at the
ceremony kicking off Seattle’s new museum, the Experience Music Project.
And of course there are rumors about him helping out various Seattle bands.
Other than that? My sources say he’s doing pretty much exactly what he
wanted to do - spending time with his family. And in the process, getting
some rest, a break from the media glare after all those years, and a
little space to breathe. (ed. note that this was written in 2000. Since then, Chris had rejoined Queensryche briefly to work with them on two separate occasions - 2003's Tribe sessions and more recently finish the recording of the song "Justified," which was written and partially recorded for Tribe, but was left unfinished when Chris left. He has also worked on a variety of musical projects, collaborating with the members of the band dredg on their Catch Without Arms record, doing some movie soundtrack songs, etc.)
So there you have it - an answer to “Why did Chris leave?” Of course, I
hope that someday Chris will tell us all in his own words, and perhaps
the other guys will tell us in their words, and so on and so forth. But
for now, I hope this one will suffice. We now return you to your
regularly scheduled Queensryche.
>>>>Just a reminder that this talks about why Chris left in 1997. NOT why he left in 2003. Those reasons are known by some, but to my knowledge, haven't been publicly posted like this.
Also, I realize that Dan used the word "source" a couple of times. While I have a rule against people who post here doing that, since this is a quote of someone else's words from another site, I let it go. Suffice it to say, Dan Birchall's knowledge of this situation is much better than most peoples'.