STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Like their song goes, “metal health will drive you mad.”
More than 30 years after Quiet Riot gave mass appeal to heavy metal with “Cum on Feel the Noize,” the band’s drummer/manager Frankie Banali described in an email how hectic it’s been getting ready to go on the road. The latest tour includes a show at 8 p.m. May 2 at Sellersville Theater 1894 at Main Street and Temple Avenue, Sellersville. Tickets are $33 and $45; call (215) 257-5808 or check www.st94.com.
But it sounds like hectic is his happy place.
“When I was still in junior high and high school I also had two jobs most of the time, rented a room in a commercial building and had my own rehearsal studio. When I was 20 years old, and working at a record store where I had already become the manager, my garage band opened a show for David Bowie on his ‘Ziggy Stardust’ tour. I’m highly motivated! If I ever find a publisher and the time to write a book, it might just be interesting, saving the good stuff, LOL,” Banali wrote.
The email conversation continued …
Since you mentioned writing a book someday, tell me about the new Quiet Riot “Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back” documentary.
“It’s the story of Quiet Riot and is airing on Showtime right now (March 16). It spans the band’s 35-year history and follows our journey in 2010 to get the band back together after Kevin’s untimely passing (Lead singer Kevin DuBrow died of a drug overdose). It’s a very funny and touching film. It’s been getting very good reviews and we have been hearing great feedback from viewers. It’s coming out on DVD and VOD this summer. You can sign up for updates on the release at http://www.quietriotmovie.com.”
What’s the story behind how “Metal Health” ended up in “Footloose” in 1984 (It was also the entrance theme for Randy the Ram in 2008’s “The Wrestler.”)?
“The film company felt that “Metal Health/Bang Your Head” would be a perfect fit for the scene, so they licensed the song. It was a great opportunity for Quiet Riot because it gave us greater exposure to middle America and world markets that we had yet to fully develop. The film is a classic, and we are very proud to be a small part of it. The film was remade in 2011 and directed by the very talented Craig Brewer. We happened to attend Craig’s Halloween party in Memphis last year and he said that when he came on board to direct the remake that there was ONE thing from the original that he wanted to carry over to the remake, and it was the scene with the song “Metal Health.” So of course we are proud of that as well.
In 2008, after Kevin died, you pretty much said Quiet Riot was over. What changed your mind?
“Kevin, rest in peace, passed in November of 2007. After spending the greater part of my musical career sharing the world stage with Kevin for over 27 years, and what became a lifelong friendship, I just couldn’t see past his tragic death and loss. The catalyst for trying it one more time was a product of, and the idea of, making the Quiet Riot documentary and the process of going through my Quiet Riot archives, which span over three decades.”
Tell me more about the current band lineup. It must have been very difficult for you selecting a singer that could fill Kevin’s role.
“The last lineup of Quiet Riot with Kevin included longtime bassist Chuck Wright and guitarist Alex Grossi. Kevin was really happy and comfortable and stable with that lineup, so they were the ones I enlisted once I had decided to move forward. After a couple of false starts with two other singers, we found the right vocalist for Quiet Riot as it is now with Jizzy Pearl. Jizzy has done a great job in meeting the vocal requirements and sound of Quiet Riot while still retaining his own style and personality.”
Were you and Randy Rhoads (who rose to worldwide stardom playing guitar on Ozzy Osbourne’s first two albums) ever in the band at the same time? I’m curious what he was like back then.
“Yes, and no. After Rudy (bassist Rudy Sarzo) had joined the pre-‘Metal Health’ Quiet Riot lineup, the band had considered changing drummers in 1979 and I got the call from Rudy. I really liked that version of the band — saw them live in Hollywood often and really liked Randy’s playing and Kevin’s vocals and stage persona. Of course, Rudy and I had known each other and played in numerous bands since 1972. But even with all of that, as good as they were, they were a power pop band and I was more into a heavier British-influenced style of music in my band Monarch. I did go in and had a play, but my heart was not into it and it went nowhere from there.
After Randy left Quiet Riot, he remembered me from playing with Monarch around Hollywood and asked if I would like to come down and play with him and Ozzy at a Hollywood rehearsal studio. It was a great experience and I will leave the rest of the story there in case I write a book someday. Randy recommended me to Kevin when he was looking for a new drummer.
After Randy achieved success with Ozzy, along with Rudy (who was in Osbourne’s band from 1981-82), they both came to a show that Kevin and I played at The Whiskey in Hollywood and both sat in on two Quiet Riot songs — a great memory.”
What was Kevin really like, and how is the DuBrow family doing?
“Kevin was a truly honest person — told anyone and everyone exactly what he thought with no filters. This of course got him into a lot of trouble and made him a lot of enemies. Kevin was my biggest asset and by biggest liability; but he was also the best friend I ever had, even with all the difficulties in our careers and our personal friendship over the years. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him or wish he was here. I’m very close to Kevin’s mom and the DuBrow family. They are all well and love the Quiet Riot movie, and they are in it!”
How much do Randy and Kevin influence what Quiet Riot does now?
“Randy not so much because the style he played in Quiet Riot is very different to what he did with Ozzy … those styles were different from the ‘Metal Health’ Quiet Riot. With Kevin, I am very respectful of our shared legacy, so I always try to ensure that I continue to do what he and I always did which is to keep the music centered in the Quiet Riot tradition, while still moving forward and growing.”
There’s new music from the band coming out?
“We recorded and released a new record, ‘Quiet Riot 10,’ last summer via iTunes and Amazon digital releases. We have been asked many times if and when there will be a physical release. We intended to release this record on digital platforms only. The marketplace is just a different landscape these days. With all the illegal downloads, it’s pointless to invest in a release only to have many feel that it should be free. Sometimes you just have to say, ‘Great record, bad marketplace.’”
Knowing from our conversation how driven you’ve always been, describe the point where you felt like you were the guy to manage the band, and keep it going?
“It was not my idea or my agenda. In 1993 Kevin and the band asked me to manage the business of Quiet Riot. Kevin had been dissatisfied with the handling of the business affairs of the band in the past and knew that I have the drive, work ethic, discipline, business sense and motivation to make things work, and for the benefit of Quiet Riot. Here I am 22 years later, still taking care of Quiet Riot.”
What are the biggest “Spinal Tap” moments that have happened to Quiet Riot over the years?
“First show of the 1985 ‘Condition Critical’ tour when the three elevators that lifted Kevin, Rudy and Carlos (guitarist Carlos Cavazo) to the top third tier of our stage set malfunctioned simultaneously, leaving them with only their heads exposed to a sold out arena, while I continued to play the opening number of ‘Sign of the Times.’ It’s like the scene in ‘This is Spinal Tap’ when Derek Smalls’ pod won’t open. I was laughing so hard that I’m surprised I didn’t fall off the drum stool!”
Do you stay in touch with Carlos and Rudy much?
“Carlos not so much. Rudy and I have been best friends since we met in 1972 and we continue our friendship now 43 years later. We speak often, have coffee together all the time and Rudy was interviewed extensively for the Quiet Riot movie and is a big supporter of the movie and band.”
What can we expect for the May 2 show at Sellersville Theater?
“We’re going to give Sellersville exactly want they want and expect from Quiet Riot. The set that I put together consists of most of the ‘Metal Health record’ — not just the hits, but deep tracks too. Songs from ‘Condition Critical’ and ‘QR III’ are represented, as well as a track from the last Quiet Riot record, “Rehab,” that I did with Kevin. That song is also featured in the Quiet Riot movie. We are really looking forward to it.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Quiet Riot in concert.
WHEN: 8 p.m. May 2.
WHERE: Sellersville Theater 1894, Temple Avenue and Main Street, Sellersville.
TICKETS: $33 and $45.
INFO: Call (215) 257-5808 or visit www.st94.com.