Quiet Riot
Interview with Kevin DuBrow 3-13-03
By Ronnie

I remember it very clearly. In 1983, you couldn't cruise anywhere without hearing Quiet Riot's METAL HEALTH album. Everybody seemed to have that record! Released in March of '83, METAL HEALTH became number one in November, becoming the first debut album from the heavy metal genre to do so. Although they continued to release music, they never repeated the success of that album. Over the years, the group seemed to implode, becoming the typical classic story for VH1's "Behind the Music". While they haven't released any new music since GUILTY PLEASURES in 2001, they are about to release a DVD. And, the classic 1983 Quiet Riot lineup of Kevin DuBrow, Frankie Banali, Carlos Cavazo, and Rudy Sarzo are still touring!

Right: Kevin at the "Rat Pack" mural inside the Riviera club in Atlanta 3-13-03 (photo by Ronnie)

E.C.: METAL HEALTH was the best-selling Quiet Riot album, do you consider it the best Quiet Riot album?

Kevin: No…I don’t know what the best one is, I have my favorites. I think my favorite is TERRIFIED. But, there are some songs off the other ones that I like. Overall, I like TERRIFIED the best because it is the most bluesy. And blues-based music is the music that stands the test of time. I can tell you what I think our worst album is…CONDITION CRITICAL. I hate that album.

E.C.: Well, y’all rushed into that album?

Kevin: And it was leftover songs and the production is SO bad. It emphasized all the cheesier aspects of our group, all the non-bluesy things about it. Over annunciated lyrics and things like that. A lot of ad-libbed vocals about ‘partying’ and stuff… it was not… it was just TOO much.

E.C.: Who is your favorite producer?

Kevin: Of the ones I’ve worked with? I liked working with Bob Marlett. We haven’t worked with that many producers, we’ve only worked with about three. I liked working with Ricky Delana the best.

E.C.: Was he the one that produced TERRIFIED?

Kevin: Yeah, I produced that with Ricky.

E.C.: Speaking of METAL HEALTH, it had more of a slick pop sound compared to the earlier Quiet Riot albums. Here’s a hypothetical question…if Randy Rhoads had stayed with the band, do you think that METAL HEALTH would have been as big?

Kevin: See, the thing about METAL HEALTH, there were a couple of ingredients that we didn’t have with Randy, we would have never had with Randy. First, the big riff, “Bang Your Head” – Carlos wrote. Keeping that in mind, we never would have had that song. But, we might have had “Crazy Train” and “I Don’t Know”. Actually we did have “Crazy Train” – those were songs we did before he played with Ozzy. Not exactly in those forms, but close enough. It would have been a different band. And not only that but, with Randy in the band I wasn’t as good of a singer because he was such a great guitar player. I didn’t push myself to become what I eventually became. So, it’s a real hard hypothetical one to answer.

E.C.: Whose decision was it to record “Come On Feel the Noize”?

Kevin: That was Spencer Profers idea, we wanted to do “Mama We’re All Crazy Now”. The song we really wanted to do was an old soul song called “Rescue Me”. We actually worked that one up. We never worked the words to “Come On Feel The Noize” up because we really didn’t like it that much. And nobody had the record…nobody was fans of Slade. I used to record “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” in LA, so I had stereo versions of it…one of the songs Slade did was “Feel The Noize”, so we all learned it off that live tape. It was half missing and he had a heavy English accent, he’s from Birmingham – so I never really understood what he said. So the words are wrong. First of all, I changed some of the words, its “girls grab your boys” in the original lyric. At the end of it I say “let it rock” and I don’t know what he says.

E.C.: Did ya’ll change your mind about the song after it became a hit?

Kevin: No, nobody really likes it that much.

E.C.: Is it like an albatross for the band?

Kevin: No, its not an albatross because you can play “Three Blind Mice” live and if it goes over the way “Feel The Noize” goes over, you dig it. But as far as a song that I like…I don’t care for it.

E.C.: It was kind of ironic that your version revived Slade’s career. Right after “Feel The Noize” hit, Slade had that song “Run Run Away” which was a minor hit in America.

Kevin: Well, I saw them so many times in the ‘70s I can’t count, because they opened for Humble Pie. Humble Pie was my favorite band, still is one of my favorite bands. So I saw Slade so many times.

E.C.: METAL HEALTH was the first heavy metal album to reach number one…

Kevin: Ah…debut heavy metal to reach number one. Because LED ZEPPELIN I got to number one I think. But it was considered the first debut album by an American heavy metal band to reach number one.

E.C.: Do you think that success jinxed the follow up?

Kevin: I don’t think it jinxed it…there’s only one place to go from number one and it’s not up.

E.C.: Whose idea was it to add another Slade song?

Kevin: Well, that was the one we were gonna originally do for METAL HEALTH.

E.C.: That one was already recorded?

Kevin: No, it wasn’t recorded. It was a mistake because we had a formula and we should have stuck with the formula. But, you’ve gotta remember that we had been slugging it away in the clubs for over 8 years and we had this success. And we would do anything to keep it, we weren’t thinking artistic, we were thinking financial and economical. I mean the Stones did a few Chuck Berry songs…but it wasn’t the same because Slade weren’t Chuck Berry. They weren’t considered a classic part of the rock thing. And we were pigeonholed as a ‘covers band’. But, it was a big mistake. Not only that, but this band, “Mama’s Boy” had done a version of the song at the same time, so we were competing with them for airplay and for video play with the same fucking song.

E.C.: It’s like when the Who did “Summertime Blues” and Blue Cheer had a version of that song out at the same time…

Kevin: But they were different versions and no one could compare to the Who because they’re one of the greatest bands ever. We do “My Generation” in our show now…it’s on our DVD coming out next month.

E.C.: I was also surprised when I read that in the ‘70s Quiet Riot had such great attendance records compared to some other bands at the time like Van Halen…

Kevin: Yeah, we blew them away…

E.C.: But YOU didn’t get signed first, Van Halen did…

Kevin: Van Halen had better songs that we did…but we were a prettier band in the ‘70s. You know who the biggest band was? There were three bands in that time…there was us, Van Halen and a band called “Wolfgang”. Wolfgang later turned into “Autograph”. They were the biggest draw of all of them. They blew all of us out of the water in terms of local draw.

E.C.: And I read that there was a chance that you would be signed to Casablanca?

Kevin: Yeah, we actually had a deal with Casablanca and our manager at the time also handled “Angel”. And they got into an argument about Angel somehow and…Neil Bogart, who was president of the label said, “if we can’t sell this album, then the Quiet Riot deal is done.” Two separate times we had a deal with Casablanca and it never happened. The first time that we ever showcased for a label was to Neil Bogart of Casablanca and we got a deal that first time.

E.C.: It’s probably a good thing because Casablanca folded in the early ‘80s?

Kevin: Yeah, but this was in ’76. Not only that, but the original Quiet Riot did not have good songs. I mean, we never really had great songs. I mean “Slick Black Cadillac”, I didn’t even want to record it. Frankie convinced me…forced me to. It was a different kind of thing. When I started working with Carlos, things got a little bluesier.

E.C.: Are there been any live gigs that surpassed the excitement of your big gigs like the US Festival?

Kevin: The US Festival was not a high water mark for me. It was just the biggest gig. It wasn’t the best gig, we had lots of technical problems, we were out of tune for the first few songs. We did a gig in ’83 with Humble Pie opening for us – that was the high point for me.

E.C.: Does the name Tom Teeley ring a bell?

Kevin: No…

E.C.: I interviewed a band last issue and he claims to have been a guitarist for Quiet Riot…and these were his exact words “replacing the legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads…”

Kevin: Tom Teeley? This guy is high! He is an absolute liar! The guy is a full-blown liar. Let me tell you the chronology…when Randy left Quiet Riot, I formed a band called Dubrow. The first guitarist was Greg Leon. Not Tom, whoever-the-fuck this guy is! He left, and I got a guy named Mitch Perry that later played with Michael Schenkar. Got a guy named Bob Stephen…got a guy named David Brighton for a short while. A guy named Craig Turner, who was one of Randy’s students. And the last guitar player we had was Carlos. I’ve got a great memory for everybody that I’ve played with. This guy is absolutely LYING!

The Tom Teeley bio that was in question was actually that of former Classical Mystery Tour guitarist David Brighton who DID actually play with Quiet Riot. When CMT changed guitarists, the name was changed on the programs, but unfortunately the biography remained that of David Brighton. We apologize for any misunderstandings that their error might have caused.

E.C.: Going back to your influences in the early days, I’ve seen Mott the Hoople and the Faces listed as some of your influences. Those were also the primarily influences for the Sex Pistols, those two bands…

Kevin: Really?

E.C.: And they took it in a completely different direction. What did you think of punk rock when it came out?

Kevin: We didn’t like it, because the guys couldn’t play. I like the idea of it, but in fact it was shit because the guitar players were garbage, the drummers couldn’t stay on beat and the singers couldn’t sing a lick. I mean, I was into singers like Paul Rodgers and Steve Marriott…these are guys who were real deal singers and these other guys would basically just talk and yell. They were garbage.

E.C.: I think it was also ironic that a lot of the ‘80s hard rock bands would cover Sex Pistols tunes…

Kevin: Yeah, Motley Crue did…

E.C.: The last Quiet Riot album was in 2001, will there be another one anytime soon?

Kevin: Yeah, the first thing we have coming out is this DVD that we filmed last year called “Live in the 21st Century-20 years of Mental Health”. That comes out in April and we’ve already started work on material for the next record. It won’t come out until 2004. We keep doing albums on these independent labels and we change labels every time. Like the label we did the last one on, I don’t know if it even exists. The independent labels are kinda fly by night. Not only that, I gotta get in the groove to write songs. I wrote 8 of the songs for GUILTY PLEASURES, I wrote them in a really short period of time. Boom, boom, I recorded them on my computer at home. I think Frankie wrote the rest. Which is interesting because Carlos and I used to write everything. Carlos hasn’t written anything for a long time, so I don’t know what’s going on with him.

E.C.: Do you think we’ll see a resurgence in heavy metal like the glory years of the ‘80s?

Kevin: I have no idea…I can never call trends. I mean, who would have thought that the record business would be in such trouble. It happened to itself, because it’s run by a bunch of idiots.

E.C.: Do you think politics has a place in rock ‘n roll?

Kevin: Not mine. (laughs) Somebody else’s…but if its in theirs, I’m not gonna listen to it. Not for me. But if you are into that sort of thing, everything has its place. Songs about peace and love pretty much transcends time…but I think write what you know about.

Click here to visit the official Quiet Riot website
Click here to visit the official Frankie Banali website