Kevin DuBrow – 2004 Interview

 November of 2017 marked 10 years since Kevin DuBrow’s passing. This was an interview I did with him in 2004 to promote the release of his solo album In For The Kill. It was one of my favorite interviews. Kevin had a love for a lot of the same great ’70s hard rock as myself, and was very easy and down to earth to talk with.  Quiet Riot [who lead the LA scene in the early 80s] were huge in the ’80s, and although the band was past their peak at this point, DuBrow could still belt ’em out. RIP. 

 Kevin DuBrow was the frontman for legendary LA metal band QUIET RIOT since the mid ’70s.  Back then the band was relatively unknown outside of the LA scene, but also featured a young guitarist named Randy Rhoads. A few years later Rhoads would become internationally known playing on the first 2 Blizzard of Ozz albums [before passing away in a plane crash in March of ’82]. DuBrow however had kept the Quiet Riot name going with guitarist Carlos Cavazo, drummer Frankie Banali [later to work with WASP] and bass players Rudy Sarzo [also with Ozzy’s band] and Chuck Wright. The band was a huge success in the early ’80s with such albums as Metal Health and Condition Critical, both of which featured a few hit singles and great videos. [most notably a Slade cover on each!] 


By ’87 DuBrow was out of the band [following QR III], but revised things in the early ’90s following a short stint as ‘Heat’ with Cavazo. From 1993 to 2001 Quiet Riot would release another string of CDs before splitting in the fall of 2003.
In May of ’04 Shrapnel Records released Kevin DuBrow’s solo album In For The Kill, which was an album of covers, mostly obscure ’70s classics by the likes of Deep Purple, Nazareth, the Sweet, Montrose and more. DuBrow had also put together a new band and was on the road as part of the “Bad Boys of Metal” Summer tour, which also featured Jani Lane [ex Warrant singer, RIP] and Steven Adler [ex of Guns N Roses].  

You can still find In For The Kill on Amazon. Frankie Banali still carries the Quiet Riot flag these days – touring, and a new album > https://quietriot.band/

Q – Can you tell me a bit about your new solo album?
K – In For the Kill was something I was approached to do in December of last year by Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records. He wanted me to do an album of all cover tunes; actually he wanted Quiet Riot to do it, but Quiet Riot had broken up in September. So, it was something I wanted to do for many many years; I had planned on doing with Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali. I had the songs selected already, so it happened very quickly. We agreed on a price, we agreed on the songs, we went in the studio within 10 days.

Q – So, it was pretty quickly done!?
K – Yes, we just had to find the right musicians. Some guys he had lined up to do it, and one guy I really wasn’t thrilled about using, so we changed one of the players, and we got in a great line-up of guys. He has this great guitar player named Kevin Curry that’s just really got the spirit of the thing down, because it’s a real 70s album in the sense that it’s all songs from that era and the 80s guitar players wouldn’t really be able to cop the feel correctly. So we got Kevin Curry who really pulled it off well. He got Michael Lardie, who was going to record & mix it and also ended up co-producing it with me. He’s super-talented and a really nice guy.

Q – How did you go about picking the songs?
K – They’re obscure covers, like b-sides and outtakes. There’s only one well known song – ‘Stay With Me’ [by The Faces]. Otherwise, it’s ‘Red Light Mama’ [by Humble Pie], ‘Burn On The Flame’ [by The Sweet], ‘Good Rocking Tonight’ [by Montrose], ‘Rolling With My Baby’ [by Silverhead], ‘Drivin Sister’ [Mott The Hoople]. Most of these songs have not been covered before.

Q – That’s good, because most cover albums tend to feature the same songs over and over.
K – Correct. I didn’t want to do ‘Smoke On The Water’, Again!

Q – Why an album of covers as opposed to an album of originals?
K – Because when you do an album of covers every song is great, when you do an album of brand new songs, only a few songs are great. He [Mike Varney] didn’t really want to do a new album from me at that time although I have a whole album’s worth of material written. I wanted to do an album with Glenn Hughes, my good friend from Deep Purple. We’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve been wanting to do something together for a long time, and we probably will next year. But this is what he wanted to do. So, it was an easy way for me to release a record quickly. I was not objected to it at all.

Q – How did you approach doing the covers? There’s a few cover albums out there where they kind of do a note for note cover and then you get a few others that are a bit more experimental.

K – I’m in the middle. I did the arrangements very similar to the originals, but they weren’t note for note. They were with our personalities. We didn’t try to copy the originals but we didn’t try to do it like, say … some of those Hendrix cover albums, where they completely re-do them.

Q – Who else is on the album, other than Kevin [Curry, the guitar player]?
K – Michael Lardie played keyboards and produced with me, Jeff Martin [from Racer X] is on drums, and a guy named Gunter Nezhoda’s bass.

Q – Who’s in your touring band?
K – Jeff Martin on drums, Chuck Wright on bass, and Alex Grossi on guitar. It’s a really good little band.

Q – Are you doing a lot of the covers or mixing it up with the Quiet Riot stuff?
K – We’re doing 3 songs from ‘In For The Kill’ and the rest is Quiet Riot stuff.

Q – Are you changing the 3 around?
K – The same 3. The 3 that I really like doing – ‘Burn On The Flame’, ‘Red Light Mama’ and ‘Good Rocking Tonight’.

Q – Was there any songs that you recorded or considered recording that you took off or decided against at the last minute?
K – We started to record ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’ by The Jeff Beck band, and right at that time we started having major equipment problems, so we took it as an omen that we were done with the tracking.

Q – Growing up and listening to a lot of the early 70s stuff, did you have much of a preference of the British bands or the American bands?
K – I liked the British bands much better. I mean, I liked Montrose. That was the only American band from the 70s I liked. I didn’t care for many American bands. I was a big British rock guy.

Q – Humble Pie!?
K – Loved them! … Free, Spooky Tooth, Bloodwyn Pig – all that stuff! We did a song by Quatermass, ‘Black Sheep Of The Family’.

Q – That’s the Rainbow song!?
K – Yes, that’s the same song. They covered Quatermass’ version. I did the Quatermass’ arrangement.

Q – What will you follow this album up with?
K – I’m going to do an album of originals later in the year. I’ve got the songs written pretty much. And I want to do it with, like, say Glenn, Frankie Banali on drums, somebody cool on guitar, somebody real ’70s’ on guitar; like a Ronnie Montrose or Pat Travers – somebody like that. Someone that’s got that whole bluesy thing going on. I don’t want to use somebody that’s a real ‘Whammy’ Bar, 80s kind of a guy – I’m sick of that kind of guitar playing. There’s nothing wrong with it, I’ve just had my fill of it for a while. It doesn’t have a lot of feel to me.

Q – Are you nervous about being out as a solo artist as opposed to being part of a band?
K – I never even think about it. I’m just out there doing what I feel I need to do for myself. I was always the main songwriter in Quiet Riot, and the lead singer, so whatever I do is going to have a certain distinctive sound to it. It’s up to the people, if they like it and purchase and come see me play. I always try my best to give a good live show.

Q – What’s the status of the guys and Quiet Riot? I know you’re friends with Frankie. Do you have any intentions of working with those guys in the future?

K – Me and Frankie are definitely going to do something together again. I haven’t spoken to Carlos since the band broke up. Definitely, Rudy Sarzo won’t be involved in anything having to do with anything I do for the rest of my years on this planet. Life’s too short. I want to do things that make me happy, not things that make me miserable.

Q – I take it, it was a frustrating time over the past few years!?

K – OH yes, very unpleasant!

Q – The last few albums you guys did weren’t too bad. I liked ‘Alive & Well’ a lot. What did you think of that period as far as the albums were concerned?

K – Some songs were better than others. I liked the guy that produced Alive & Well, Bob Marlette. He was real easy to work with. He made it real easy. He really knew how to use the Pro-Tools technology. The song ‘Don’t Know What I Want’ [from Alive & Well] was one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. There’s some other songs on there…once again, I don’t like to write by committee, so when you get people involved in the songwriting process that aren’t songwriters it can be difficult and frustrating. ‘Guilty Pleasures’ was a lot easier to write, but the guy that produced it wasn’t really a producer, didn’t know what he was doing, so it made the mixing process difficult. I prefer the ‘Terrified’ album we did in ’93. I really like that. It’s heavier, it’s angrier; it’s ballsier, less pop-ish. But the rhythm section … we couldn’t play blues oriented stuff…..

Q – Who’s idea was it to do the remakes on the Alive & Well album?
K – That was Cleopatra’s idea. I hated the idea. I hated the way they turned out too; they’re awful!

Q – Was it just a quick sell idea?
K – Yes, that was their idea. I thought it was just garbage. I can’t express how much I hate those versions.

Q – And you did the AC/DC song on there?
K – That was different. That was for an AC/DC tribute album, and I really quite liked the way that turned out. That was on a one-day recording from beginning to end. It had a lot of energy and a lot of spark and we did it our own way. That I dug.

Q – One thing I like about you guys that you could always recognize, from Terrified, Live & Well, and the earlier ones, that not just because of your voice, but it’s obviously the same band and you never got in to all the experimental crap that the ’90s had.
K – It wouldn’t have been believable from us.

Q – Another thing I’ve always liked about the band is Frankie’s drumming, because he’s one of those drummers that you can actually recognize the drums with.
K – Great drummer! Cozy Powell was like that too. And playing with Frankie is a joy because of that reason.

Q – If you listen to the stuff he did on the WASP albums, he makes a world of difference.
K – For sure.

Q – Was it ever frustrating during the late 80s / early 90s, where you’re connected to that 1 [or 2] albums that were huge and then not getting that same backing again?
K – No. That’s the nature of the business. It’s sort of like evolution. In the evolutionary scale dinosaurs die off and certain animals eat their young. It’s the nature of the business. The business eats it’s young.

Q – You had a few other things during the late 80s/ early 90s, like ‘Heat’!?
K – That was basically me and Carlos doing Quiet Riot with a different rhythm section.

Q – What else do you have in the works?
K – Well, this tour starts, and that’s going to be my big focus. It should be really interesting – 11 guys on a 12 bunk bus starting next week for a month. It should be insane

Q – What are some of your own favorite recording moments?

K – I really like ‘Don’t Know What I Want’ [from Alive & Well] because I really love the song. It turned out so great. ‘Love’s A Bitch’ was great. We did ‘Metal Health’ because it turned out so much different than we expected it to turn out. ‘Bang Your Head’ was probably one of my greatest moments because it sounded like I envisioned it to sound when it was done.

Q – Your album’s not so much ‘metal’. Do you perceive yourself getting away metal stuff and doing more things like blues-rock?
K – Yes, hard-rock / blues-rock – like Free and Humble Pie. But, if Quiet Riot got back together next year we would do a very metal record. And if Quiet Riot ever does get back together I want to continue doing solo stuff because Carlos Cavazo is not a very bluesy guitar player. He can’t do the bluesy stuff I want to do – which is OK, because he sounds right for Quiet Riot. I’d like to do other things. 

Q – Can you tell me any of Randy’s guitar influences?
K – Yes, Bill Nelson from Be-Bop Deluxe; he loved him. He loved Johnny Winter, Leslie West, Glen Buxton from the Alice Cooper Group, Mick Ronson.

Q – What did you think of the 2 albums he did with Ozzy?
K – I thought they were produced badly, I didn’t think they sounded good [I still don’t]. I think the guitar playing was great. I think some of the songwriting’s very cool.

Q – What did you think of that original line-up with Bob & Lee?
K – It was good. I think that Bob’s a great bass player, a really inventive songwriter, and Lee is a great basher drummer and plays what’s right for the songs. That was the band to me.

Q – Are you familiar with Bob & Lee’s stuff with Uriah Heep?
K – I know Lee’s still with Uriah Heep. I saw Uriah Heep a million times. I got to meet Lee and Trevor Bolder. When Metal Health came out in 1983, we were in France and the French record label took us out to dinner and Heep was playing the same city. And Trevor Bolder was a HUGE hero of all of our’s, being with Bowie, and he was in Uriah Heep. So, we took Lee, Bob and Mick Box out to dinner with the French label. And, it was great! I saw Uriah Heep open for Deep Purple in like 1971 and they blew Deep Purple off the stage! So, we loved the guys. And Randy Rhoads adored Lee! He thought he was the greatest guy. And he’s the one who told me Lee wrote all the vocal melodies that Ozzy sang. I’ve not met Bob Daisley in person, but I have had correspondence with him over the e-mail, he seems like a really nice guy.

Q – Do you have any favorite old Heep songs?
K – We almost did one for this [solo] album. We were going to do ‘Tears In My Eyes’, but when I went to sing it, it really wasn’t in the register for me. I really wanted to do ‘Stealin’, but Mike Varney wouldn’t let me do it; he thought it was too down tempo. So, I’ll do it the next time.
I was a huge Uriah Heep fan. I loved all the bass players – Mark Clarke, Gary Thain…

Q – Yes, Mark Clarke went on to Billy Squier and was in to a bunch of stuff…
K – He was in a band ‘Tempest’; I loved them – with Alan Holdsworth and John Hiseman. I’m a huge collector of that stuff.

Q – What are you listening to these days?
K – I just got the Jeff Beck ‘Live At BB Kings’ in the mail today [because you can only get it from the web-site]. I love that; it’s really recorded well. I love Jeff Beck. I’ve been listening to some Type O Negative. I don’t buy too many records. I don’t like much new stuff that comes out, doesn’t really interest me.

Q – Do you find yourself [like me] looking for older bands with new albums?
K – Kind of…a lot of older bands have new albums, and I don’t like their new albums. Jeff Beck’s ‘Beckola’ album with Rod Stewart, they’ve re-released it with 4 new songs on it, so I’ve got to buy that.

Q – Lately I’ve picked up a bunch of Glenn Hughes solo stuff….
K – I got all of it his solo stuff, pretty much.

Q – The one that got me back in to him was ‘Crystal Karma’.
K – I love Crystal Karma! That’s my favorite solo album; that and ‘From Now On’. Midnight Meditated, Mojo – it’s a great record! I like From Now On, The Way It Is, I love the Burning Japan : Live. He has a DVD coming out, you know. It’s a live DVD and I sang back-up on it. And I also interviewed him for it.

Q – Is there any other people from your genre that you keep in touch with?
K – No, not like Glenn. Glenn and me have a connection. We have a really common sense of humor. Frankie Banali played drums on the Hughes/Thrall album, so I knew Glenn from that. Nobody like Glenn, Glenn’s a special animal.

Q – Is there anything you have to add about the new album?
K – Check it out. It’s got the best reviews of anything I’ve done in my career.
Thanks.

Links:

Quiet Riot: Kevin Dubrow on Metal Health Album, Randy Rhoads, Rudy Sarzo, Frankie, Carlos, Interview – YouTube

Kevin Dubrow: Quiet Riot lead singer | The Independent | The Independent

Keep On Rollin’ – The Book | Facebook

Interview: © KJ. /  July 2004

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