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Frankie Banali – Drums for Quiet Riot

Date: 11/11/06
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Frankie, you have been a member of Quiet Riot since “Metal Health” in 1983. The new cd “Rehab” has more of a Hard Rock approach than Heavy Metal like “Metal Health”. What are the reasons for this after all these years?

FRANKIE: I actually started working with Kevin DuBrow in 1981 in his band " DuBrow " after Randy Rhoads left to join Ozzy followed by Rudy Sarzo . Eventually that turned in the "Metal Health" Quiet Riot in 1982. The difference is style between the music that we did for the majority of the Quiet Riot recordings from Metal Health on is a direct result of both Kevin and my love for late 60's and 70's British hard rock music, things like Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck Group, Humble Pie, etc. That's the high water mark that we set for “Rehab”.

2. Tell us about the new record. Who wrote the music and lyrics and what were some conscious decisions you and Kevin wanted to fulfill while making the record?

FRANKIE: Kevin and I wrote separately and with other writers to achieve the variety of music styles that we set out to accomplish. I wrote with guitarist Neil Citron. The songs that came out from the writing and demo sessions that Neil and I did was the music for “Blind Faith”, “Old Habits Die Hard”, “In Harms Way”, “Don't Think” and a track that will appear only on the international version of “Rehab” entitled “Wired To The Moon”. Many of the songs that Neil and I brought to the table musically were foreign in style to what Kevin was used to, so he enlisted the assistance of old friend Glenn Hughes to lend a helping hand with lyrics and melodies to some of those songs. I also submitted lyric ideas for “Don't Think” which Kevin used partially for that song and oddly enough on solitary line that made it to the chorus hook in “South of Heaven”.

In turn, Kevin wrote two songs with Alex Grossi , “Free” and “Strange Daze”, two with Michael Lardie “South of Heaven” and “Beggars and Thieves”, as well as singularly writing “Black Reign” and “It Sucks To Be You”. The only non original penned song is “Evil Woman” which was recorded in 1969 by Spooky Tooth but was also not written by them.

The only thing we wanted to accomplish with the songs on “Rehab” was to do songs that we enjoyed writing, recording, playing and some to be performed live. No expectations of grandeur or acceptance. We simply wanted to make a record that reflected our roots and taste in music we love.

3. What lead to the departure, or firing, of Kevin Debrow for the 1988 self titled album?

FRANKIE: No one was getting along at all by then. We were still suffering from the public's perception of things that were said by Kevin to the press. That coupled with a fractured lineup, sagging record sales, and pressures from the label, producer and management made the situation very difficult. With the past success of the band, those associated with the band through business wanted to place blame somewhere, and the obvious place was to start with the plethora of media related problems that surrounded Kevin. You have to understand that a singer in a band is generally the focal point and therefore the one who is given the forum. If that forum turns ugly, that person is also the focal point. There were discussions as to what to do. Stay as we were, break up and call it a day, or to no longer continue with Kevin. Since we were close to the end of the year and the end of the tour, I thought it would be best to just finish the tour and then take up the matter. We were in Tokyo when Kevin heard a rumor that started in Los Angeles that he was going to be asked to leave. From that point there was no convincing him that was not the case because no decision had been made. By then the relationship between the band as it was and Kevin was all but over. We finished the Japanese tour, did our final concert in Hawaii and parted company then and there.

4. What are your thoughts on that album and having Paul Shortino as the vocalist? Any songs you would like to put in a setlist ?

FRANKIE: We were looking for someone to fill the void and no one we auditioned really worked. We had heard a tape of Paul Shortino doing a rendition of Janis Joplin's classic "Piece of My Heart" and knew he was talented. It seemed at the time a reasonable choice. To this day I think that Paul's vocals on that track cannot be improved upon. We actually wanted to change the name of the band to have a new beginning. When we were unceremoniously informed that if we did change the name our recording budget would be cut in half because we wouldn't get a "QUIET RIOT" size budget, we decided to keep the name. It was also a sense of pride. We had worked very hard as Quiet Riot to just abandon the name and the hard work that had been put into the band. I used to wonder if changing the name would have made a difference, and I don't think so. I say leave well or not so well enough alone as it would be pointless to ask Kevin to sing songs he didn't help to write or record.

5. Kevin returned in 1993 for “Terrified” and “Down to the Bone” followed in 1995. Two records I personally like and find several very good songs on. Talk about those two records. Why was Rudy Sarzo not yet involved with the band again, do you find those records strong ones?

FRANKIE: I had just finished two years of rehearsal, recordings and a few live dates with a band called Heavy Bones that was signed to Reprise/Warner Bros. I was unhappy in that situation and had made up my mind to leave the band around the same time that Kevin DuBrow called me. He and Carlos had resurrected Quiet Riot once more and were doing dates. They needed a drummer to fulfill a commitment for about a half dozen shows. I had not spoken with Kevin or Carlos in nearly five years but it was really natural for me to get together with them. I agreed to do the dates but nothing more. They had already started recording what would become the "Terrified" record and needed to record the remaining half of the record. I agreed to record the tracks and they asked if I would join. I turned them down three times for no other reason than I was not sure what I wanted to do. In the end, Kevin persuaded me to rejoin and I've been here ever since. We toured for “Terrified” and in 1995 Recorded “Down To The Bone” and managed to survive the dreaded 1990's. As to Rudy, he was busy taking charge of his own career and Kevin and I continued to take charge of Quiet Riot.

6. Even though you were not in the band at the time, the first two Quiet Riot records from the 70's were never released in the States. Are there any plans to do so?

FRANKIE: That is a decision that can only be made by Sony Records. We are out of that loop entirely.

7. Why have there never been any of those songs included in the bands live set? I think “Trouble” is a great song and would go over well live.

FRANKIE: I think we may have tried a few of those live in the early 1980's, “Back To The Coast”, “ Gonna Have A Riot” and maybe one other one. In the early 1990's we did play “Last Call For Rock & Roll” for a short time. Although we still play “Slick Black Cadillac” live, it's because we recorded it for the “Metal Health” record.

There really are three periods of Quiet Riot to date. The Randy Rhoads era QR, The “Metal Health” era QR which covers everything from that release through the “Guilty Pleasures” record inclusive of the revolving door of players, and now we are in the “Rehab” phase of the bands evolution.

8. You have recorded with Blackie Lawless and Wasp for many years and appeared on several albums including what I think is the bands “A Night at the Opera”, “The Crimson Idol”. Have you never been part of the touring band?

FRANKIE: I have participated in whole or in part on the following W.A.S.P. recordings: Headless Children (1988) - Crimson Idol (1993)- First Blood/Last Cuts (1994) - Still Not Black Enough (1996) Drums - Best of the Beast 1984/2000 (2000) - Headless Children w/Bonus Live Tracks (2000) - Crimson Idol w/Bonus Tracks (2000) - Unholy Terror (2001) - Unholy Terror - Japanese w/Bonus Tracks (2001) - Dying For The World (2002) - Dying For The World - Japanese w/Bonus Tracks (2002) and my final recording and participation in the band, the The Neon God I and II (2004).

I toured for a solid year worldwide with the group in support of the “Headless Children” which I feel was a groundbreaking recording, but beyond that I never had the time or the inclination to be a member of the band.

9. What is some of your favorite work with W.A.S.P.?

FRANKIE: The Headless Children.

10. What do you think are Quiet Riot's best moments both in the strongest songs and overall albums?

FRANKIE: Because “Metal Health” was a one of a kind, once in a lifetime recording achievement and especially commercially, I separate that one for all other QR releases. So for me there is “Rehab” and then everything else in random and non specific order or reason.

11. Which Quiet Riot albums do you find are vastly over looked or underrated by both the fans and critics?

FRANKIE: Hard to say because I helped create them. None in their entirety, but certain elements of “Terrified”, “Down To The Bone”, “Guilty Pleasures” and again excluding “Metal Health” from judgement . Not that this matters, but the critically deemed failure “Condition Critical” was a top selling failure that sold over two million copies, so what do I know?

12. Which albums, if any, do you find are not good and why?

FRANKIE: Again, there are no QR releases that I think are no good, but like most records there are good parts, mediocre parts and some bad parts. Unless you are Led Zeppelin, The Beatles or Sting just to name three, records are just that, a musical representation for a time and place in a career, nothing more.

13. Any plans to release a DVD with classic concert footage from both the 70's and 80's with all the promo videos?

FRANKIE: I have no say or control of anything having to do with the 70's era of Quiet Riot. As to the 80's versions of the band, I do have a great deal of footage but none that I am interested in releasing or marketing. I am more interested in the present Quiet Riot than the past Quiet Riot.

14. What are the touring plans for " Rahab "?

FRANKIE: “Rehab” was only just released at the beginning of October and is just only now hitting the shelves, but we have been actively touring in support of it by adding three tracks from “Rehab” to our set, “Free”, “South of Heaven” and “Old Habits Die Hard”. The 2006 touring cycle is nearing it's completion but we are looking forward to a very active touring in 2007 both domestically and internationally.

15. From what I understand albums like QRIII, the self titled, “Terrified”, and “Down to the Bone” are either out of print or hard to find. Any plans to re release or remaster the QR back catalogue with bonus tracks?

FRANKIE: QRII is a Sony Records controlled property so that would be up to them, but I doubt it as it was not a stellar seller even with the attention that the track “The Wild and the Young” initially received. No plans whatsoever to re-release or augment either “Terrified” or “Down To The Bone”.

16. Are you involved with any other projects outside of Quiet Riot?

FRANKIE: The odd session every once in a while, but QR keeps me very busy between drumming and managing the band which I've done so for going on twelve years. The most recent session that I did was for the Butchering The Beatles release. I played drums on the track "Magical Mystery Tour" along with Jeff Scott Soto ( Yngwie Malmsteen / Soul Sirkus ), vox ; Yngwie Malmsteen (Rising Force / Alcatrazz ), lead guitar; Bob Kulick , (Meat Loaf / Paul Stanley Band), rhythm guitar; Jeff Pilson ( Dokken / Foreigner), bass.

17. Closing thoughts?

FRANKIE: I think that anyone who is remotely interested in QUIET RIOT should give “Rehab” a listen. I'm not saying go out and blindly buy it unless you are so inclined, but check out the sample MP3 tracks and if you like what you hear, then maybe pick up the CD and check it out. I think many might be surprised and hopefully pleasantly so.

You can check out the MP3 samples at my official website www.frankie-banali.com .

Thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview and for your interest and support!


Frankie Banali

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