Geoff Tate sounds like he still can't quite believe things ended as badly as they did between him and Queensryche, but he's still enjoying life on the road with his new band -- and looking ahead to new music.

"I didn't see it coming. I didn't even think it was possible," Tate told "Why would you fire the main writer? Why would you do that -- and the person who is the face of the band and is the identifying key figure in the success of the group? I don't mean that to sound egotistical because it's not. It's just the truth. Why on earth would you do that? It sounds like career suicide, especially at our ages. We're all in our 50s, for God's sake. Why would you break apart this successful thing at this point in life?"

Still, he insists he's landed on his feet, particularly in terms of band personnel. "There's a lot of ad libbing that goes on, which we hadn't been able to do with the old Queensryche, because we played everything to a click track," he claimed. "There's no click track with this band, so we're playing everything live. And so many times I've looked at everybody and held my hand up and given them a four count, which means we're going to extend this section four more measures. And so that's a great thing. It's kind of like in sports where you call an audible. You change up the plan and you create something new at that moment. It's very much like that. And that's very, very fun to do and very satisfying."

Tate's also begun formulating plans for his next album, which he hinted will find him returning to his roots. "I can say in a general sense, that it's conceptual, so there's a story line that is followed and the music paints the picture and sets the atmosphere for the story to take place," he teased, adding that fans should think of the Queensryche records 'Operation: Mindcrime' and 'Promised Land' as templates for the new music. "These albums are conceptual pieces of work, so I'll be working within those parameters."

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