The Premier Queensryche Tribute Band Lived the Dream but Is Ready to Put Its Baby to Bed

Calling the warehouse space where Mesa-based band The Rÿche rehearses a "practice space" doesn't seem fair. Behind heavy metal doors, the room is equipped with a full stage, lined with couches, gig posters, and a sound system that actually puts those at some Valley clubs to shame. In front of the stage, a dozen or so TVs are stacked, flickering video synchronized with the band's on-stage volume.

Jay Redline, the band's manager, ushers me in from the parking lot, where a collection of the band's friends gather around a pickup, and offers me a seat on a worn-in sofa. Wearing a low-slung baseball cap and loose blue jeans, he talks a mile a minute, hyping the band like a seasoned L.A. pro.

He introduces me to the guys just as they finish a tune. He suggests the band play something for me, and following his command — something to the effect of "rock this guy"— the band launches into "I Don't Believe in Love," one of progressive rock band Queensrÿche's better-known songs, from their 1988 rock opera Operation Mindcrime.

The Ryche: Paying tribute to "one of the best rock bands ever."
The Ryche: Paying tribute to "one of the best rock bands ever."

Location Info

Map

Club Red

1308 W. University Dr.
Mesa, AZ 85201

Category: Music Venues

Region: Mesa

Details

The Ryche are scheduled to perform Saturday, May 7, at Club Red in Tempe.

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Pre-recorded tracks whisper through the sound system: "Why'd you do it? Why'd you do it," only to be interrupted by a shout of "No!" as the guitars roar in. For the next five minutes or so, the band performs a note-for-note version of the hit, as the TV screens flash black-and-white footage of an asylum interspersed with the Rÿche logo.

Singer Norm Saavedra belts out the lyrics and twirls his mic stand, though he's slightly less prone to karate moves and spinning than Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate in his prime. Guitarists Mike Hodges and Dave Lansing execute the guitar work of the album version and even duel and play side-to-side the way Queensrÿche guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton do in the video. Bassist Mace Pool matches the exact tone of Queensrÿche bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Gabe Hansen replicates Scott Rockenfield beat for beat. The chorus of the song soars with four-part harmonies, and Redline claps and cheers as the band reaches the finale of the song, with Saavredra reaching deep for the crescendo high note.

I'm not a Queensrÿche expert. Which isn't to say that I dislike the band; it's just that I've never spent much time listening to them nor had any desire to. Sure, I've heard "Silent Lucidity," and found it a little more tolerable than power ballads of a similar ilk. But since sitting in on that practice, I've probably watched the official video for "I Don't Believe in Love" on YouTube 15 times, and I can't say that I would be able to tell the difference between what I heard that night and what's coming out of my computer speakers with my eyes closed. The band's dedication to what they do is so intense it borders on ridiculous.

The Rÿche has been performing concerts for the past three years, mostly at hard rock bars like Club Red, and have earned a reputation as one of the Valley's premier tribute acts, along with The Noodles (The Grateful Dead), Too Fast for Love (Mötley Crüe) and UnSkinny Bop (Poison).

Along the way they have earned kudos from the official Queensrÿche camp. Last year, they played an official pre-show when Queensrÿche brought their "Cabaret" tour to the Orpheum Theatre, and have performed with Pamela Moore, who appeared as "Sister Mary" on Operation Mindcrime.

Unlike many cover bands, Redline stresses that The Rÿche aren't Queensrÿche imitators. "They don't dress up; they don't act like the members of the band. It's about the music."

"You hear a Queensrÿche record, and that's what we sound like," Hodges says. "We don't do it to be better than anyone. We do it to pay tribute to one of the best rock bands ever."

The band's roots trace back to an original band the members were part of, sans Saavedra. "We were all in an original band called Primary," says Hodges, describing the band as a "nu-rock" band like Sevendust, Korn, and Three Days Grace.

"There's a different freedom when you are doing your own thing. You can interpret things differently because it's your own voice," he says. "With this, it's more looking down the barrel, trying to pinpoint exactly were it's at. It's a different concentration."

Hodges and Saavedra hatched the idea for the band on a road trip to Las Vegas. "Me and Norm have known each other quite some time. We had played in a bunch of bands together," Hodges says.

"We were driving, just blasting Queensrÿche, and singing our brains out. We thought, you know what would be really cool? We should start a tribute band. This was kind of when all the tribute bands were hitting. But we never really got around to it. Then we got free — he was out of his band, and I was out of mine — and we just sort of threw it together and it worked really well."

While indie singer-songwriters and serious music nerds may scoff at the notion of succeeding off the songs of another artist, The Rÿche take their craft seriously, acting less like artists and more like skilled laborers. They focus on early Queensrÿche, excluding songs from recent albums like Operation Mindcrime II and American Soldier.

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4 comments
Jinglejangle69
Jinglejangle69

Also check out the Motley Crue tribute band Live Wire. The costumes and stage show comes insanely close...the singer is Vince and the bassist is Sixx...and the guitarist is unbelievable...check them out...I've never seen anything close to Live Wire

Motley Cruehead
Motley Cruehead

If you want to hear a Premier Mötley Crüe Tribute band you really have to check out this band....they really have the Motley sound down! They will definitely be a tribute band to keep an eye out for!http://www.facebook.com/Decade...

 
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