Kiernan Robertson

Operation Mindcrime

Kieran Robertson is the brilliant and charismatic lead guitarist for one of the most legendary voices in metal history, Geoff Tate and his solo band OPERATION MINDCRIME. Kieran hails from the beautiful country of Scotland where he first picked up a guitar and found his calling in life, entertaining the world with his music. Being fortunate enough to know Kieran on a personal level, Metal Temple writer Fred Bonanno was able to spend some time with him while on his holiday break from his hectic touring schedule and answer a few questions.
By Fred Bonanno
January 6, 2023
OPERATION MINDCRIME's Kieran Robertson: "The worst day on the tour is the best day of any other job
Hello, my friend, thanks so very much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions for Metal Temple so we can all get to know a little bit more about Kieran Robertson. First off, how are you doing, and I trust you're having a wonderful holiday season, finally off the road for a while.

Hello Fred doing good brother nice to talk to you too, I'm enjoying some time off the road to recharge even if it's only 10 days, spending time with families and composing myself for the start of the world tour in January.

You are from Glasgow, Scotland, tell us about growing up there and how it influenced you in music and in life.

Honestly I didn't listen to a lot of music from Scotland until I was older, growing up I loved American bands like KISS and Mötley Crüe, I didn't really have many friends growing up so I really just listened to the music my parents listen to, Glasgow is a weird place man, it's got its ups and downs, it's beautiful, great for a night out and has some of the funniest and most honest people you'll ever meet, but I also had the feeling that I was never really believed in here and my dreams were seen as something that just wouldn't happen.

So how did you first get involved in music?

I've played guitar for as long as I can remember, I think I started probably when I was like 9 maybe earlier. I then ended up playing in a kids band and just kept going from there it's all I have ever done and all I can do, ha-ha.

You are one of the lead guitar players in Geoff Tate's OPERATION MINDCRIME band, how did that happen?

I have no idea. A strange turn of events. My dad is a promoter, and he promoted his show in Glasgow. So, I came along to the show just as a fan because I love QUEENSRYCHE, I love the old stuff, so I went and got talking to Geoff's daughter, Emily. I was really friendly with her and then basically they needed a guitar player a month or two later. I had already done some songwriting for Emily, so I wrote some songs so they knew what I could do and what I was capable of. I just got a message going, "we need a guitar player do you want to come out to the US for three months?" I was like, "yup." They were like, "cool – you're leave on Friday." I just had to pack my bags, quit my job and fly out here. So, a strange turn of events.

I've seen you preform over a dozen times, your energy and charisma on stage is amazing, and I know you and the band are on tour most of the year, traveling all over the world, how difficult is that, and how do you maintain the stamina to do that night after night?

Lots of alcohol (Laughing) it's draining but I think we all push each other to test our limits and perform to a certain standard, no one wants to be the weak link in the band, and I play with a great bunch of guys, so we keep each other in line, the worst day on the tour is the best day of any other job, I have to remind myself that sometimes and then when I do, I have unlimited energy.

Preforming with a musical legend in Geoff Tate must be incredible, what have you learned from this experience?

I have learned more than I could ever explain, it's like how can you explain learning from the best, it definitely saved me years and years of making bad decisions and really accelerated my career.

I know you're good friends, and partners in crime with the other guitar player, Alex Hart, I've personally seen your antics up close and in person, and I know you both feed off each other, it must really help to have such an amazing counterpart on stage and also to travel with

I'm so proud of Alex, man we both have come a long way and it inspires me to see him getting better and better every tour. I'm super stoked I get to tour with him.

Tattoos…'ve got em,  lots of em, do you know how many, do you remember your first and do you have a favorite?

Honestly I have no clue how many I have, just one big one, my first one was the top of my arm when I was 16 and I haven't stopped since, I think my favorite is my Johnny Depp portrait as it just turned out so well, trying to slow down now and not get as many since I'm running out of room.

Let's play a pretend game, if you weren't with Geoff Tate, which artist or band would you love to be part of, past or present?

Dude, I could have totally taken that Mick Mars part in Mötley Crüe but I think John 5 will do an amazing job, All respect to Mick, he is the GOAT.

I know you've collaborated with Geoff on some songwriting projects, where do your inspirations come from?

To me there is only good music and bad music, my inspirations come from everywhere. I try and write for Geoff's voice and try to do things that I think he and his fans will think are cool.

Geoff and his wife run a tour company called Back Stage Pass Travel, which is where we met when my wife and I were on the Seattle tour a couple years back, it's an unbelievable adventure as the group is with Geoff and the band the entire week, hanging, singing, eating, drinking and living like a rock star, that must be so much fun for you and the band, and by the way, you're a blast to be with, but my liver needed a rest after spending a week with you.

It's so much fun, glad you guys had a good time too, ha-ha sorry about your liver but you only live once right.

While we were on that tour, you made a random comment to Alex, that when you die, will he "smoke your ashes", and we all got such a enormous kick out of that concept and thought it would make a great song. As you know I then wrote the lyrics, are we finally recording that?

Dude I would love to, next trip you guys come on we can do it, I always travel with my portable studio so that sounds like a plan.

When you sit down to listen to music, who's on your playlist, anybody that would surprise us?

Tons of stuff that would surprise and disappoint you (snickering) right now I've been listening to a lot of MACHINE GUN KELLY and BLACKBEAR,  TIPPIE REDD and that sort of stuff too, there is a great band coming out of Ireland just now called JUST MUSTARD, who I've been really getting into.

Who are some of your musical influences?

KISS and MOTLEY CRUE, of course, QUEENSRYCHE, and JEFF BUCKLEY to name a few.

Do you have a favorite Queensryche song to play?

I get asked this a lot and my answer always changes but I always come back to Jet City Woman, watching the crowd sing along is insane.

I am an avid collector of music and sports autographs and memorabilia, I've been collecting for over 40 years, and I must admit, one of the prized items in my collection are the red, leopard print leather pants you gave me and signed after the show in Seattle, just so you know, they're hanging on my wall at home. Some people find that weird.

No way dude, that's not weird, that's cool as fuck.

Over the years you've done some acoustic sets with Geoff, do you find that as a "nice change"?

It's nice to take a step back and let Geoff's voice really shine through, it's also a testament to how good those songs are and that they can be played striped back on an acoustic setting like that.

I will end on this personal note, during the Seattle trip, one of the many evenings of having a few cocktails with Geoff and the band, you and Alex would break out the guitars and play a wide variety of songs, even Geoff would join in, but that evening you guys were so gracious and brought up my wife Kelly to sing "Familiar Taste of Poison" by HALESTORM, I can't begin to tell you what an absolute thrill that was for her and me, I can't express my gratitude enough for that, something we both will never forget, thank you my friend

Kelly nailed it! She has an awesome voice, I'm so glad we got to do that.

In closing, thank you again for your time, I know you're busy and are home now in Scotland with family relaxing before hitting the road again in January with Geoff. Can't wait to see you all again and party hard in Italy in May. Take care and never lose your boyish charm. Love ya man.

Love ya bro, See ya soon, thank you.

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