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."

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