Saturday, October 20, 2012

LOST INTERVIEWS (Pt 1): Quiet Riot's Kevin DuBrow


I recently discovered an old dusty file in my office. The manila folder contained Xerox copies of several arena rock star interviews that I had conducted more than a decade ago and were published previously in old school print publications. And although I look forward to sharing them all with readers in the upcoming weeks, I was moved to immediately post this particular interview from back in 2001 with Quiet Riot founder / frontman Kevin DuBrow, who died tragically in November 2007. It also represents a writing op for which I literally had to fight tooth and nail to secure.

(Pt. I)
Quiet Riot's 
Kevin DuBrow 

One of the biggest concert
tours currently stomping
across America is the
multi-band Glam Slam
Metal Jam outing. In
addition to chart-busting
headliners, Poison, this
package also features
Warrant, Enuff Z'nuff
and one of the hungriest,
hardest working acts on
the road today; Quiet Riot.

The story of Quiet Riot began in Los Angeles in 1975. The band was formed by frontman Kevin DuBrow and lead guitarist Randy Rhoads. But after a few years of struggling with only limited success in Japan, the band folded. Rhoads went on to achieve legendary status playing with Ozzy Osbourne, while DuBrow continued in Los Angeles seeking the ideal musicians for the next phase of Quiet Riot. By 1983 the re-vamped line-up which also included guitarist Carlos Cavazo, drummer Frankie Banali and bassist Rudy Sarzo had inked a small deal with the newly-formed Pasha record label.

After being bludgeoned nearly to death for years by disco and the new wave movement, the time was right for a harder and heavier sound to dominate the international music scene. Quiet Riot was the right band at the right time. And their "little" album, entitled Metal Health, went through the roof — becoming the first heavy metal album in history to reach #1 on Billboard magazine's Top 200. Spawning the iconic hit singles, "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)" and "Cum on Feel the Noize," the album ultimately sold in excess of ten million copies.

As they say, what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger, and in the years following their landmark smash debut, Quiet Riot achieved amazing career highs and survived incredible lows — drugs, alcohol, egos, as well as personnel changes, and they've lived to tell about it.

Today, the classic Quiet Riot line-up is back on top, playing nightly to huge, enthusiastic crowds, just as they did back in their glory days as they tour in support of their latest record, Guilty Pleasures. I recently tracked down Kevin DuBrow on one of his days off and I roped him into chatting with me and offering some personal insight into his band's impressive comeback.

"Everything is going great," DuBrow said of the current tour. "The shows have been fantastic. The guys from Poison have treated us really well and the vibe is really great."

Despite my interfering with his morning workout, DuBrow remained gracious and upbeat.

"The fact that Poison asked us out and we have a new record out means that the stars have lined up for us to still be able to do this for a living," he admitted. "The '80s to me weren't a decade, they are a state of mind and so is this tour."

Our hour-long conversation ultimately navigated to the subject of the band's latest album, Guilty Pleasures and DuBrow was only too happy to talk about it.

"We tried to make a record that was really song-based, that recaptured the kind of songs that people expect from a band like Quiet Riot and not a record where people ask, 'Why are they trying to sound like Alice in Chains?' We embrace the '80s. As long as we remain ourselves, we'll be like nobody else. It's supposed to be fun. By not changing anything, we come off totally original."

DuBrow has been known for years for having very strong opinions on various topics so I had to get his take on the state of the current music scene.

Kevin DuBrow (L) with rock critic Gail Worley
(C) and Frankie Banali (R) backstage at New
York's Jones Beach Amphitheater in 2001.
*Photo courtesy of the
"Drummers have gotten better," he confessed. "Some guitar players have gotten better, but the singers have gotten way worse. Buckcherry has the right idea and I like Type O Negative just for the fact that they're so different from the norm. I really like to listen to older bands like Humble Pie, Free, Spooky Tooth and The Who. The Who's Live at Leeds is still my favorite record."

"Considering our history, we're so grateful to be here,"  DuBrow concluded humbly.

-Christopher Long
(June 2001)

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