Two PTHS grads meet, talk music

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Editor's note: Tommy Rage, who graduated from Port Townsend High School in 1990, has a radio show in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is a music reviewer and on-air radio producer. He recently interviewed Parker Lundgren, guitarist for the national recording band Queensrÿche, who is a 2005 graduate of Port Townsend High School. He shared excerpts of that interview with The Leader.

Having followed the career of a fellow Port Townsend High School alum, I had an opportunity to catch up with Port Townsend native and 2005 graduate Parker Lundgren in Madison, Wisconsin, during the 2017 Brat Fest, the world’s largest bratwurst fest.

The lead/rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist shared some of his thoughts on Port Townsend, Queensrÿche’s 2015 release of “Condition Hüman” (U.S. Billboard, no. 27), and supporting fellow small-town musicians.

Tommy Rage (T.R.): As the lead/rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist of a band known around the world, Queensrÿche, what is different about touring nationally versus our small town back home?

Parker Lundgren (P.L.): We love performing all over the world. I especially enjoy Europe and the East Coast. Finding a nice little authentic “speak-easy” reminds me of the little places back in Port Townsend.

T.R.: You and I come from the same small town in Washington state (Port Townsend), with less than 140 people in your graduating class. What advice do you have for kids from a small town here in Wisconsin or back home about being a successful musician?

P.L.: It’s easier when you are younger; even though you have school, you don’t have a job, and you have a little down time to work on your craft. I’ve taught at music schools before, and I think kids learn things better than adults, especially if it’s something they are into. The best thing to do when you are young is to start a band and play with other people; it really teaches you a lot. I started a band as soon as I got a guitar. We were awful, obviously. We started playing shows right away and we learned together.

T.R.: So, what were some of your influences as a kid?

P.L.: There is a jazz and blues festival every year at Fort Worden, where you and I grew up. People come from all over the world to learn from other musicians. They stay a week or two with long and intense classes. I got to go every year and learn from some of the best musicians in the world. The theory and scales of jazz and blues is way more intense and more difficult than what you might think.

T.R.: Do you still make it back to Port Townsend?

P.L.: I still have family back in Port Townsend. I live near Seattle now and have my own recording studio, where I teach music and record for the band. It’s fun to be out on tour, but sometimes it’s like being married to five guys who you see every day for 200 days while we are out on tour.

T.R.: You joined Queensrÿche, a multi-platinum album band in 2009. Coming from Port Townsend, was there any hazing or initiation rituals you had to go through from fellow Queensrÿche members?

P.L.: No, the band didn’t, but the fans sure did. Fans would say that they have been listening to this band before I was born. It took them a long time to accept me, until I wrote the song “Where Dreams Go to Die” in 2013. That was a rebirth of the band, and the band asked me to stay after Geoff [Tate] left.

T.R.: You were in the Port Townsend High School jazz band. With all your jazz and blues training, does that mean that we might hear a little jazz or blues sound on the next Queensrÿche release?

P.L.: No. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We stick to what we do best.

To connect with Tommy Rage, search “Maximum Ink” on Facebook.

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