Former QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate spoke to Dave Lawrence, host of "All Things Considered" on Hawaii Public Radio, about his recently recorded song "I've Seen The Way The Wind Blows". All proceeds from the track, which will be released in the coming weeks, will benefit MercyWatch, a nonprofit focused on outreach to the homeless community in Snohomish County, located in the U.S. state of Washington, where Tate lives with his family.
Regarding what inspired him to get involved in solving his city's growing homelessness crisis, Tate said (hear audio below): "Where I live, we have a huge homeless problem here. And we actually just had elections that were largely based upon that issue and trying to elect somebody that has a vision on helping out the situation. I live in a town that has 100,000 people and we have this gigantic homeless issue here. So I'm around it all day; I see it everywhere I go.
"The homelessness issue is a gigantic issue and one that is very complex and it requires a lot of thinking to come up with some kind of solution," he said. "I think that there's lots of stopgaps and there's lots of Band-Aids you can put on the situation, and those work to a certain point, but to really get to the real reason why this is happening at such an epidemic level, we don't have that answer yet, as far as what I can see. But I am interested in at least being part of the group that puts the Band-Aid on the situation, so we stop the bleeding until we can figure out what's making the whole thing bleed, is my philosophy. So that's why I'm part of MercyWatch and doing I can there."
According to Tate, he first became aware of the magnitude of the homelessness problem nearly 30 years ago after the recording of QUEENSRŸCHE's "Operation: Mindcrime" album. "It started, actually, back in 1989, '90," he said. "There was a homeless woman that lived in the doorway of a building that was next to where I was living. And I got to know her. And she was kind of a regular in the neighborhood. And then one day she was gone. And I wrote a song about her at that time that ended up on the 'Empire' album called 'Della Brown'. And my mom was in mental-health care. When I was growing up, I had some experiences going to work with her at the Western State Hospital and interacting with patients there who were suffering from mental illness and homelessness too at that point. But it's been kind of a long road. And then having kids and having to explain to them why these people are having this issue or why they're there on that corner or why they're panhandling, it becomes difficult to explain to kids. So my interest has always been there and I've always tried to do what I can to help."
One of the things that Tate really liked about MercyWatch was "their commitment to it; it's almost like a SWAT team that goes out to round up these people and see if they can help," he said. "And they're all professional doctors and social workers and mental-health professionals and they really operate on a shoestring budget and they really need the donations to make it work. And I've seen a lot of success stories with this — with people actually being placed in some care and getting their life back on track. And so much of it is people's dependence on medications — they lose the ability to have the medication, for whatever reason, and then they get lost."
Tate said that he wrote "I've Seen The Way The Wind Blows" about "addiction and the struggle with addiction, describing a little bit about what it's like to somebody that doesn't have it. One kind of interesting thing about it is it actually has a couple of guys that are experiencing homelessness who are former musicians playing on the song too," he revealed. "So I think that's kind of cool."
Asked how he got homeless musicians to get involved in his new song, Tate said: "One of the gentlemen who is very integral to MercyWatch, Dennis Kelly, knew these two gentlemen, and he suggested that I contact them and see if we could make something work with the song. 'Cause I'd expressed to Dennis that I wanted to try to find some musicians to contribute to it too. So I met them through Dennis."
Describing "I've Seen The Way The Wind Blows" as "a cool track," Tate said that he is "hoping that it does something to gather some momentum for the issue so that maybe really smart people can come up with a conclusion on how to fix this. 'Cause it's not just my community or your community that's experiencing it; it's all over the country," he said.
The release of Tate's new song will come just weeks after the arrival of "A New Reality", the third and final of a concept album trilogy from his OPERATION: MINDCRIME project.
Tate is spending at least part of 2018 touring celebrating the 30th anniversary of his former band's "Operation: Mindcrime" album.