With three children and one more on the way, Queensryche lead singer Geoff Tate is determined to give them the guidance he lacked in his youth.

He touches on that subject in “Sign of the Times,” the leadoff single off the Seattle-based rock quintet’s sixth full-length album “Hear in the Now Frontier” (EMI).

“Sign of the Times,” a plea for tolerance, doesn’t offer solutions, but it does ask plenty of questions.

“I’m fascinated by the human condition,” Tate said recently. “It’s our commentary on that, looking at what’s happening today. Like, how violence is so prevalent in schools.

“Being a parent, it opens a lot of doors to awareness for you. Till you start raising kids and you start passing on your outlook on life to them, then you can analyze things a little closer.”

The biggest thing that came into focus for Tate was how girls are treated.

“Girls have it especially tough,” he said. “They’re pretty much hit over the head in grade school that there are things boys do and things that girls do. They’re like second-class citizens.”

Tate said he plays an active role in helping to knock down stereotypes and other barriers for his children by assisting them with their school work, limiting their TV time and allowing an open dialogue on drug and sex issues.

“My parents never talked to me about these things,” he said, “and they never talked to me about it because no one talked about it to them when they were kids. It gets passed down through generations.

“I was once told a story about a woman and her daughter who were preparing a meal. They were cooking ham, and the mother cuts the ends off the ham, and the daughter asks why she does that. The mother says, ‘I don’t know, that’s just what I do. That’s what my mother always did.’

“The daughter says, ‘Let’s call Grandma,’ and she asked her grandmother the same question, ‘Why do you cut the ends off the ham?’ The grandmother says, ‘It’s just that I didn’t have a pan big enough to fit the ham.’ See, that’s how things gets passed along. Thoughts and ideas get passed along that way as well.”

“Hear in the Now Frontier” finds Queensryche in a decidedly more upbeat mood while not straying too far off the lyrical path it cut with its multiple-platinum hit albums “Operation:mindcrime” (1988), “Empire” (1990) and “Promised Land” (1994).

They teamed again with producer Peter Collins, who oversaw “Operation:mindcrime” and “Empire,” and split their studio time between Nashville’s 16th Avenue Sound and Seattle’s Studio Litho (owned by Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard).

“The last album (‘Promised Land’) took six months to make and we lived out in the middle of nowhere on a remote island,” Tate said. “For this, we wanted to capture the spontaneity of the band, raw and unrehearsed. Our engineer, Toby Wright, his forte is minimalism, using the old-style approach, like the placement of mikes.

“It captured the band quick, fresh and loose, letting it all happen magically like bands do. It worked beautifully. The chemistry is still there for us. We trust it now.”

BWF (before we forget): The Queensryche album discography – “Queensryche” EP (EMI America, 1983); “The Warning” (1984); “Rage For Order” (1986); “Operation:mindcrime” (EMI, 1988); “Empire” (1990); “Operation:livecrime” (1991); “Promised Land” (1994); “Hear in the Now Frontier” (1997).