Interview with Kevin DuBrow
By Keith McDonald
Hard rock and metal fans are well aware of what Kevin DuBrow has accomplished in his career as the lead singer of Quiet Riot. Most know all the turbulent times that Kevin and his bandmates endured over their successful career. Through all the good and bad, Kevin has carried on. After another break up of the QR boys, Kevin has returned with a new album of covers via Shrapnel Records. I had the chance to speak with Kevin who gave me a look into his new solo career and the trying times of being in Quiet Riot. You can check out his website at www.kevindubrow.com.
What made you decide to record an album of covers?
I’ve always wanted to do an album of this sort. Mike Varney of Shrapnel gave me the chance and I thank him for it. As I’ve said before Mike is an old school music guy and he understands the era we were dealing with. The big challenge was to do these songs without them sounding like ‘Karaoke Kevin’ versions of them. I think we succeeded in doing that. It also gave me a chance to examine what it was that inspired me about these songs in the first place which really kick started my songwriting again.
Were these songs that you always wanted to do or just for fun?
Except for the T-Rex tune that was Varney’s idea, yes very much so. The song “Red Light Mama, Red Hot” is one of the coolest songs I’ve ever sung and I finally got to record it. The whole process was a great deal of fun. Also I made a new friend in former Great White keyboardist Michael Lardie my co- producer on “In For The Kill” who is an incredible talented.
How was the ‘Bad Boys of Metal’ tour? What happened with Jani Lane?
The Bad Boys tour was musically fun. My band were great but it was a nightmare with some of the real “Bad Boys”. Jani and Steven more than lived up to their reputations which left me to deal with all the day to day stuff getting done. Being on a Tour bus with those 2 was difficult for me at best and I’m sure they would have no kind words for my ‘army sergeant’ attitude. But when you’re out there to work I think you have to be professional. It’s important to remember that prior to this I have been in a band run by a guy (Frankie Banali) who was total pro and had everything organized. I wasn’t use to all the nonmusical shenanigans. It’s my feeling that Jani needs some serious life long help and Steven, well let’s just say that Steven should have someone taking care of him at all times. As far as what happened with Lane you’ll have to ask him. (if you can find him) (good luck)
Why did QR spilt? Was it the same problems as before?
That depends on what problem you mean. All bands are like marriages and ours was no exception. It’s been well documented whom my problem was with. Why continue to rehash it? Having said that, in spite of my less than professional way of dealing with the situation Frankie Banali and I still remain the closest of friends. Also Chuck Wright is back playing Bass with me, so I’m happy, Chuck’s happy and Ronnie James Dio is happy. Everybody’s happy!
What is the status of the QR/Randy Rhodes DVD? When will we see it?
That’s a hard one to answer. When QR broke up I started to put some time into organizing that project. Little did I know that I would get so busy as a solo artist? At the moment it’s on the back burner as there are so many other things going on in my career.
What is the deal with the QR name agreement you signed that doesn’t allow anyone to use the QR name?
In past interviews I’ve made my comments on the issue, however, at this time there is a situation which legally prevents the particulars involved from discussing it further until that situation gets resolved in satisfactory manner.
Who’s idea was the new album cover? Pretty cool.
Thanks, that was my idea. I call it “The Kevinator”. It was photographed by my good friend original Quiet Riot bassist Kelly Garni and manipulated on PhotoShop by his wife Pamela.
Do you speak to any of the former QR members?
I speak to Frankie Banali many times a day. Regardless of playing together we are very close. Carlos I have not seen or spoken to since that chapter of the band ended. I also speak to Kelly Garni often.
Even though QR sells many albums every year, 140,000 a year I believe, you and the guys never see a penny. Why is that?
We see pennies. Pennies on the dollar!
Do you think Guilty Pleasures should have sold more, it was a very good album?
Thanks. I think in today’s market very little short of Van Halen in our genre has much of a chance on the radio. It’s a shame but that’s the way it is. As much as I like Guilty Pleasures I want to do something more bluesy next time. GP was an album of classic Quiet Riot type songs and I’d like to stretch out on my next visit to the studio.
It seems, despite all the success QR has had over the years, QR is still a ‘blue collar’ type band that needs to work to make ends meet. Is that true?
We work, or shall I say worked because that’s what we do – we play music. I got into this for the long haul. I love singing and would do it regardless of the financial situation.
How much has the music scene changed over the years?
Completely. It’s totally different game now. Artists are not developed. One album and that’s it. Keep in mind that Bruce Springsteen didn’t become successful until his third album. That would never happen today.
Will you ever record a studio album of new material?
I sure hope so. I’m always writing and demoing new material.
Who is currently in your band?
In the past year since I recorded my solo record, I used different musicians for the most part than who recorded the record. This was due largely to who was available and the circumstances of the dates, so I really don’t consider myself as having a more stable line up at the moment, But Chuck Wright who played Bass on the original recording of “Bang Your Head” and many Quiet Riot albums is playing Bass at the moment. When he is available Frankie Banali is always my first choice for drums. Not only because he’s an amazing drummer but playing with your closest friends makes the music that much better.
Will you ever work with QR again or is that it?
Hard to say. I know that I am having fun again on stage; the volume is at a place that makes singing really pleasurable. Frankie Banali and I have great musical chemistry and he is definitely part of my comfort zone. I can say that chapter of Quiet Riot with that particular lineup is over. What the future holds remains to be seen and I am very open to possibilities.
What changes would you make, knowing now what you know, as a band that you didn’t do years ago?
Do it for the right reasons-the music. Play as a band, not 4 individuals performing musical masturbation for no reason. Find the groove and worship it. The song is more important than the players, but the players have to excel at what they do too.
What do you think caused the fall of hard rock and it’s backlash?
Too much of anything gets old. With 80’s stuff you had all these third string bands that were just a mediocre re hash of something that had been done better the year before.
What lies ahead for you?
The future looks very bright for me. 2004 has been a great year and 2005 looks even better. All sorts of things are on the horizon and I feel very lucky to be fortunate enough to still be doing what I love.