Friday, March 28, 2003

Interview: Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot

They're the band that taught the world to "Bang Your Head." In 1983, Quiet Riot brought heavy metal to the mainstream with their U.S. debut "Metal Health," which became the first heavy metal album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Their cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel the Noize" from the album became one of the most enduring anthems of the decade.

But almost as quickly as they appeared on the scene, Quiet Riot faded into obscurity. Internal strife and management problems caused the band to self-destruct, perhaps stunting their potential. But two decades later, the band is back on the road, and lead singer Kevin DuBrow says their fans are responding.

"We love our fans," he said. "We get up there and we feel appreciated, and it's flattering. It's what you work years for, and it's a wonderful thing for us."

In an era when rock bands from the 1970s and '80s tour with only one or two original members, Quiet Riot is a rarity. They've got all four members from "Metal Health" in the fold - DuBrow, drummer Frankie Banali, guitarist Carlos Cavazo and bassist Rudy Sarzo. DuBrow said that makes the fans even more responsive.

"It shows a loyalty to each other that people respect," he said. "It's the public's favorite lineup, so it makes it fun for us."

But then, Quiet Riot has always been a little different. Their biggest hit, "Cum On Feel the Noize," was a song the band didn't want to record; they had to be convinced by their record company. (Later, band members would say they went so far as to play it as badly as they possibly could so it would get cut from the final album.)

DuBrow says Quiet Riot wasn't looking for the rocketship to fame that many of their 1980s counterparts sought and were reluctant to focus on hit singles. They wanted to be in it for the long haul.

"We were the one band from the '80s that didn't concern ourselves with writing hit singles," he said. "We wanted to be like the bands from the '70s that were album bands."

While things have changed since 1983, Quiet Riot is still alive and well, and judging by the crowds at their shows, still a guilty pleasure for many. They just celebrated the 20th anniversary of "Metal Health" in mid-March, but DuBrow said the band doesn't have any big plans for the occasion. Instead, they're just going to keep doing what they do best.

A new live DVD is set for April release, and DuBrow promises it will please fans.

"We're trying to make it the best we can, with a bunch of extra stuff besides just the concert," he said.

As for what the extra content will be, even DuBrow is not sure at this point. But it could feature some footage with original guitarist Randy Rhoads, who rose to fame as guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne before dying in a 1982 airplane crash.

"I know they filmed a lot of backstage stuff," DuBrow said. "They have a lot of footage from the '70s with Randy Rhoads, and they have a lot of stuff from the '80s. I don't know what they're using."

What DuBrow does know is that what you see on the DVD will be what you see any night of the week at their show. He said the band isn't going to doctor the performance.

"We didn't go in and fix anything," he said. "Every band in the world goes in and fixes errors and stuff they played badly. We kept it all live."

And that means a good time. During days where the news is usually dark, people may be seeking an escape. Quiet Riot is happy to oblige with fun songs like "Slick, Black Cadillac," "Party All Night" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now." DuBrow sums up a Quiet Riot show in three words.

"Fun, excitement and party-time."

So, "Bang Your Head."

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Review: Ted Nugent, "Full Bluntal Nugity"

If you've never experienced Ted Nugent live, it's something any rock 'n' roll fan ought to see. Whether you agree with Uncle Nuge's political views or not, you can appreciate the raw, ripping chainsaw noise channeled from a Gibson Byrdland through amps cranked up to ear-bleeding levels. It's rock 'n' roll power in its purest form.

His latest DVD, "Full Bluntal Nugity," is the next best thing. The video is the companion piece to the album of the same name. The show was recorded live in his hometown of Detroit in August 2001 and features most fan favorites, and even a snippet of "My Baby Likes My Butter on Her Gritz," from his excellent 2002 album "Craveman," which was still a year away from release at the time.

While Nugent, at age 53, isn't the same wild man that he was on stage in his youth, there's still plenty of energy in his performances. While he's not climbing amps and swinging from vines anymore, he channels all of that into his playing now.

One of the most striking things about this DVD is Nuge himself. Despite the fact that we know he's played most of these songs a bazillion times, it's still obvious that he loves what he's doing. He loves being on stage and in command of the audience, but most of all, he loves playing his music. Just take a look at his face as he cranks out the opening riff of "Cat Scratch Fever."

As always with Nuge, there is that air of cocky self-confidence, bordering on conceit. For example, when he calls that same riff the "greatest guitar lick in the history of the world." I'm not sure if that's the case, but it is certainly one of the most recognizable.

The concert performance is cut with some quick scenes from Nugent's daily life from rehearsals to an afternoon on the shooting range to an inspired jam version of "Red House" at the wedding of his long-time manager Doug Banker.

In addition, on several songs, an icon pops up which allows you to access classic performances of the same songs from the 1970s and '80s, and even a stirring acoustic version of "Fred Bear" from his 2000 Whiplash Bash. These and other features on the DVD give you an overview of Nugent's career from a 1967 performance of "Journey to the Center of the Mind" with the Amboy Dukes, to the 2001 version of the right-wing anthem "Kiss My Ass," to his latest video for "Crave."

Get "Full Bluntal Nugity."

Review: Dream Evil, "Evilized"

Dream Evil's debut "DragonSlayer" was a collection of solid, if a bit unremarkable, retro power metal. It was easy and fun to listen to, but it didn't really stick with me.

I expected more of the same from "Evilized," but from the cutting riffs of the opening track "Break the Chains," the album sucked me in. With knife-edge guitar riffs and a nostalgia for the golden days of metal, this album will capture the hearts of old school metal devotees.

For those who catch the reference in the band's name, it will come as no surprise that there's a heavy Dio influence on songs like "Bad Dreams," "Fear the Night" and "Invisible." (I have to confess when I saw the title "Invisible" I was hoping for a cover of the Dio classic. Alas, I was disappointed, but it's still a great song.) But there are also shades of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Savatage and plenty of other classic bands.

Fast, heavy and melodic are the hallmarks of Dream Evil's music and they do those things as well as anyone out there. If you're one of those people who wonders why they don't make metal like they used to, then you'd do well to check out "Evilized."

Get "Evilized."