INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJALA
TRANSCRIPTION BY ANDY OSBORN AND TARU SAARINEN
Frankie Banali is a legendary drummer who is best known for his work with Quiet Riot and W.A.S.P. Frankie joined Quiet Riot in 1983 before the band releasing their smash album “Metal Health.” The album stormed up the U.S. charts; it even reached the number one spot and went platinum five times over in the process. It is worth mentioning that Quiet Riot was the first heavy metal band to top the U.S charts. Unfortunately, their following albums, “Condition Critical” and “QR III,” didn’t reach the success of “Metal Health.” With the lack of success and several lineup changes, the band slowly disbanded in 1988. Frankie started to work with W.A.S.P. “Headless Children” was released in late 1988, and it was a big success. Frankie did a world tour with W.A.S.P, and later on, he worked on numerous W.A.S.P albums, including “The Crimson Idol,” which was another milestone in W.A.S.P.’s career. Quiet Riot reformed in 1993, and after several discussions, Frankie decided to rejoin his old mates. Since rejoining, Frankie has been the driving force behind Quiet Riot. The band released their latest album, “Rehab,” in 2006, and now in 2007, they finally arrived here in Scandinavia for the first time in their career. At the Swedenrock festival, I managed to sit down with Frankie himself to talk about the long history of Quiet Riot, his involvements with W.A.S.P, his work with Glenn Hughes, and various other interesting topics…
TOURING THEN AND NOW
Quiet Riot is now finally playing here in Scandinavia. What is the main reason you have never been here before, even back in the glory days?
Well, you know? What happened in 1983, when we did our first tour together. We were touring in America, and the record has started to do very well, and we were offered the opportunity to play in the U.K with Judas Priest. And so we did the shows in the U.K with Judas Priest, and then we came over to Germany for few shows, but back then, we had so many dates lined up in the United States that we never had a chance to play in any Scandinavian countries. We didn’t have the opportunity to play in Japan; we didn’t have the opportunity to play in Australia. All those places wanted us to come, but there wasn’t enough time, and then when we were through with that tour, we were forced to go immediately into the studio by the label to do the second record because they wanted the second record out. Then we went right back to tour, and we didn’t get to tour Japan until we were doing the “Condition Critical” tour two years later. By that time, when we were ready to come over to Scandinavia but the band, all of a sudden, wasn’t as popular anymore. So the offers weren’t there anymore. So it took us 25 years, 20 years to get here. One of the main reasons we wanted to do this Swedenrock festival is that we were hoping that the show goes well for us. If the audience was happy with our performance, maybe other Scandinavian countries would be more interested in having Quiet Riot come back? Which is what I’m hoping is going to happen. Because I mean you know I’d love to do Denmark, Norway, and Finland dates, I mean, I’d love to go to any place where there are people who want to hear the music.
The style of 80’s hard rock, and metal is still doing really well in Scandinavia.
I know, and that’s amazing. You know the thing about Quiet Riot that we are obviously going to do material that fans are familiar with from the first record to the second record and from the third record, especially. But we continue to record new music, which is what we do with three new songs. I’m hoping we have the opportunity to play, for instance, in Finland. I don’t care that it is a small place. You have to start somewhere. But there’s got to be a promoter in Finland that wants to bring us. We can’t just show up. Someone has to invite us, but if they invite us, we will be there.
So you don’t mind even doing some smaller places with a capacity between 100-300 people?
I’ll be happy to do those sizes of venues because my whole point of doing this is to bring music to people who want to hear it. And it fits big venues great, and it fits small venues great because we play with the same intensity and the same love what we do, whether it’s for as many people as here or 200 people. You know, we don’t make the distinction like: “Well, if there are fewer people, we are not going to try as hard” – that’s bullshit.
Rocklahoma. How does it feel to play at such a festival in the year 2007!
Well, I’m really curious about how it’s going to go. I have found out that the European audience is a lot more faithful to this kind of music. So I’m curious to see how it’s going to happen. I think that potentially the show could do well because it’s not in New York or LA, which both are very trendy. They just sit there like this – they don’t really like anything. They cross their arms, and it is like, you know, they look at you. Rocklahoma is located in Oklahoma, which is a kind of middle of America. It’s got the potential of doing well. So I’m going to be curious to see, you know. Listen, we come in, and we get along with everybody. We come in, and we do what we suppose to do. We stay out of everybody’s way, and when we are done, we are done. We have a meal, and we go back to the hotel and have a drink, and we are done. We are not getting in anybody’s way. We will see how it goes, but I think it’s going great. I mean. I have heard that ticket sales are phenomenal, and people are coming from all over the world.
I heard that they had sold tens of thousands of tickets already!
Oh yeah. I mean, right now, unless you have a hotel booked, you’re going to be staying a good hour, hour, and a half away.
You know… media like Metal Sludge said that the whole festival was a crazy idea, but after all, it seems to do very well!
You know what it’s going to do really well form. Because the problem with Americans is that most people listen to that 20 % “trend music,” and they think they’re the ones that dictated what’s popular and what’s not popular. It’s really funny because we can tour America non-stop and we do it year after year because there are still people who are interested in that kind of music. There’s the specific pocket. I mean, if you go to Miami, there’s always that dance music, and if you go to New York, they are really trendy, and in LA, it’s the same thing, but for the most part, you can still do it. What I like about the European audience is that they are really, really into it. It’s not a fake. They don’t go home and take all the stuff off and put different clothes on the rest of the week. They really care about this, and that’s rewarding.
THE HISTORY IN BRIEF
You joined the band before the mega-successful “Metal Health” album. How did you end up to Quiet Riot, and how well did you know the band?
What happened was that Rudy and I had known each other for years. When my family moved from New York to Florida, Rudy was living in Florida, and we started to play when we still were in high school, we began playing together, and we both came up to California at different times. He had joined Quiet Riot when Randy was in the band, and he wants me to join the group, but I didn’t want to join because I thought Randy was great, but I thought they were a pop band. I was then in a band that was more like Led Zeppelin and Free. So I didn’t want to do it and what happened is that Rudy introduced me to Kevin, and he said to Kevin; “Well, you know I think you should get to know Frankie, but he isn’t an easy person to get to know because he is from New York and he doesn’t really say too much.” We then hang out a couple of times, but we didn’t start working together. This was like 1980, but we didn’t start working together until but a year later in -81, -82. By that point, Randy and Rudy had joined Ozzy, so I started working with Kevin, and the band was called DuBrow. Then, after Randy was killed in an accident and Rudy rejoined the band, we were ready to record “Metal Health.” So that’s when I started. That line up with Kevin and Rudy, and Carlos and I did “Metal Health” and “Condition Critical” records. By the time we did the “Condition Critical” record, Rudy was unhappy, and he left right at the end of that tour. So when we did “QR III,” that’s when Chuck joined the band, but it was actually Chuck who played bass on songs “Bang Your Head” and “Don’t Wanna Let You Go´” on the first album. When we did the “QR III” tour, we were in Japan, and then things weren’t doing well with Kevin. We had to ask Kevin not to participate anymore, and we went back to the studio and did the fourth album with Paul Shortino and bassist Sean McNabb because Chuck then decided to leave and play with Free. We did that “Quiet Riot” album in 1988. That version of the band was very short-lived. We did a tour in South America and a tour in Japan, and then we broke up. Then there wasn’t Quiet Riot from about 1989 until I rejoined in 1993. In 1993 when I rejoined, Kenny Hillary was on bass, Carlos, Kevin, and me.
And then you released the album “Terrified”?
Yes, and we then did “Terrified.” Bobby Rondinelli was in the band at the time, and he did half of the record, and he left in the middle of recording, and I did the rest of the record, and we toured for that. After the tour, Kenny left the band, and then Chuck re-joined the band. That’s when we did the album “Down to the Bone,” and after that band took a break about a year. Then Marilyn Manson asked us to play for the private party, and we did the show. Chuck was gone again, so we decided to ask Rudy to play that show. Rudy hadn’t been in the band for ten years, at least. I asked him to come down to play two songs, and then he never left. That’s when we did “Alive & Well,” and then we did “Guilty Pleasures” That brings us up to 2002. In 2002 we did live-DVD “Live in the 21′ st Century,” but before it came out in October, the band split up again. So then there was no band from 2003 until almost to 2005. That’s when I restructured the business and new corporations that bring us up to a point. I talk with Kevin, and we started doing business a little different way.
That was the history in brief. May I ask for some details?
Yeah, for sure!
BANG YOUR HEAD WITH PLATINIUM
First of all, tell the readers how the song “Metal Health” came about?
Carlos was in the band calling Snowy before Quiet Riot, and they had a song called “No More Booze.” The only part that was good about the song was the hook, “No More Booze,” but who’s going to buy a song called “No more booze”? We changed it from “No More Booze” to “Bang Your Head.” I worked on the arrangement and changed it a little more. I was a big AC/DC fan, so I was looking more AC/DC kind of a vibe, so that’s how that kind of structure came about, and we actually did a video for that before we did the video “Cum On Feel The Noize.” MTV played it a couple of times, and nothing really happened. So next, we did the video “Cum On Feel The Noize,” and the whole thing went huge from that point!
You are talking some more about the “Metal Health” period. Like you mentioned earlier, the band became huge, and a lot of things happened really fast. I mean, you suddenly changed from club band into stadium band.
Well, it did happen really fast, which was very funny. When we first started playing – we started playing at the Rocks, which was a fairly small venue, about 300 seats, in LA, and it did very well. We started and went out doing clubs on our own. And we were out a good 6 or 7 months, and nothing was happening – I mean, it really wasn’t happening. So what happened when we were on the road? We got offered to open up for the Scorpions. So all of a sudden, what happened is that we were put in the position where, instead of playing on clubs, we were selling out those clubs 300, 500, 700 seats, but they are still clubs. Soon as we had that opportunity to open up for the Scorpions, we were put on arenas. So all of a sudden, that many people heard the songs. So people started to interest, and they started buying the record.
We were doing so well as an opening act that we were supposed to play four weeks with them, and they extended it to six weeks and then wanted to extend it two more weeks, but we couldn’t because we had been offered the opening spot for ZZ Top. So now we were opening for ZZ Top and in even bigger places. Again we had a four-week deal, and they picked it up to four more weeks, so we were with them two months, and as soon as we had done with them, we got the best possible position which was opening up for Iron Maiden. We were then out with Iron Maiden for about three months. Then we were over the UK, and we had the good fortune to open up for Judas Priest. So it was like opening up for one great band after great band after great band. The odd thing about it is – we did have an opportunity to open up for Black Sabbath during the “Born Again” -tour. It was the most bizarre thing because we’re opening up for them, and their record had come out after ours. We were playing in Cincinnati on November 13th of 1983, which is a day before my birthday. I never forget that day. We found out that day that next week “Metal Health” is going to be number #1 in the U.S. So here we are, opening up for Black Sabbath with two feet of stage room, and our record is number one, and theirs was already sinking, it was a bizarre situation?
It was Mr. Ian Gillan singing in Black Sabbath on that tour?
Yes, that was the “Born Again” tour. The Sabbath guys, they were very, very nice for us. They came to the dressing room and gave us a case of champagne, and all, and I felt so bad because, you know, here is Black Sabbath, the band I was listening to when I was a kid, and their album is sinking, and ours was doing very well. But yeah, it was a very exciting tour.
As you already mentioned, Chuck played on a couple of tracks on the first album, but when I interviewed Rudy a couple of years ago, he said that when he joined the band, Chuck wasn’t there anymore. So, how the bass track recordings went for that album?
What happened? Chuck, you know? The best way I can put this is, Chuck never really has a steady girlfriend, and that’s because up until now, he has got one now, but that because he had a fear of commitment on every level. So we never knew how long he was going to be around. So there was a mission there, and when we had an opportunity to have Rudy back in the band and Rudy, and I’ve been best friends, and things were already going great with Chuck. The same thing happened when we came back from Japan after Kevin was out of the band. He rehearses with us to do a tour with Paul Shortino, and then, one day, Chuck was gone. So, you know, that’s how it went. But he has changed now.
That’s good to hear!
You know I keep telling – there’s a saying in America that the grass is always greener on the other side. Meaning you know your yard might be dead like this, and you look on the neighbor’s yard, and it is green, so you want to go over there. My logic is, the grass is always greener on the other side until you have to mow it. Okay?
I got it. Whose idea originally was the man with the iron mask?
The idea of the mask was a combination of – the whole idea of the cover was a combination of everybody in the band. We didn’t want the picture of the band on the cover. We were very impressed with the whole idea of Eddie and Iron Maiden, so we wanted some kind of an icon, so we decided that we wanted to have a kind of insane person, but we didn’t want a phrase, or we didn’t want a skeleton head. So Rudy said: “How about if we use a man with the iron mask?” So that was the basic idea for that. Then I came up with the idea of making a straight jacket of leather; I happened to have a red leather motorcycle jacket. So that was the model for that, and then I think it was Kevin’s idea to put buttons on the front of our faces to make the guy a fan. The actual mask was created by photographer Stan Watts who did the cover.
Speaking about the early days of Quiet Riot, whose idea it was to use stripes on clothes?
That was a thing that Kevin was doing way back that whole stripe thing; that was Kevin’s thing. I did it on the drum set. I tell you something that was really, really bad. ” Okay,” When we went to Japan for the “Condition Critical” tour, the backdrop was a black stripe, white stripe, black stripe, etc. One problem, in Japanese culture, that’s what they put on at a funeral.
Haha, but you still finished the tour using that backdrop?
Oh yeah. We did it with conviction. We fucked up, but we fucked up good!!!
How did you feel when Stryper used the same kind of stripes as you only a few years later…?
You know, it didn’t bother me because there was nothing new, nothing original, but they looked like bumblebees. They looked like bees. Who cares? They are nice guys, though.
CONDITION CRITICAL AND QR III
Kevin has often said that he dislikes the next album, “Condition Critical” How about you?
No, I don’t dislike it at all. I understand why Kevin feels that way because we then had a very bad deal. We knew, when we signed, that it was a bad deal. So you can’t look back and say we got fucked. We allowed ourselves to get fucked, but it’s like anything else. I think that everybody likes to think that they could have done something differently or better. It was a great record; I think it was the best record we could have done then. I’m very grateful to Slade for writing a song that, although they were never able to. I mean, it was a hit everywhere else by them except the United States. I’m very grateful they wrote a great song, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” that we made a hit in the United States, and I think it worked out great. We got the fame, they got the money, everybody did good -you know what I mean? I don’t view it the way; I’m a full glass kind of guy, if I see a glass and it is half full whatever I’m drinking, I don’t lament that it isn’t full all the way, I rejoice that I still have some, you know?
The next album, “QR III,” was entirely different compared to previous ones. I guess that producer Spencer Proffer had a lot to do with that?
It is true, but I never blame somebody else. For instance, if I play poorly, I never blame the drums. The drums are just drums; you know what I mean? They don’t make you play poorly. In that situation, what happened was – the producer was not the nicest person on the planet to work with, but he was not only a producer; it was also his label. It was his studio where we were recording it, and there is a thing in America when you sign a record deal that they can put on suspension. Putting you on suspension is like putting a VCR on pause. What happens if you can’t record, you can’t do anything, but your contract is frozen now. So if you are put on suspension for six months, when they take you out of suspension, that six months didn’t happen. So we wrote a whole album worth of material, which was a lot heavier, and he said no.
We said, “Well then fuck you; we’re not going to do anything, right?” And he put us on suspension. So now we can’t tour, we can’t do a record. We finally reluctantly gave in, and at that point, things in the band, I mean, Rudy was already gone. Personality issues between the band and Kevin were not good. The issue with the label was not good. We just didn’t care. It got to the point, “Okay, you don’t like that song, but how do you like that song? Hey, if you like that song, we record that song?” We went in, and he used a lot of keyboards – and there were a couple of good songs, but then it was a mess. I mean, “Wild and the Young” was a good song, and there was a couple of more good stuff, but otherwise, the whole album was a mess. Everybody gave up. You just get to the point that you can get hit so many times that finally, you just stop fighting, and you just take the hit.
Speaking of “Wild and The Young,” how did you get an idea for the drum intro?
I tried about six different things, and every time I tried one, I think, “Nah, someone did that already” or “Nah, that’s too predictable.” So what happened is – and I remember that it was the sixth one I tried – what I did is, I wanted to displace the beats so it would have tension. What I did is, I displaced it and put a half-beat pause, so when you go “prap, prap,” then you have that half-beat pause “pramp, pramp pramp”- it goes to the triplets, and then it picks it up again. I tried, like I said, five things that sucked really bad, and I found out the sixth one that was ok.
I would say that the result was outstanding!
Oh! Thank you
Still, to date, many young drummers keep on playing that fill.
You know, it is Kevinï’s favorite. Every time Kevin is behind my drums, that’s the first thing he plays poorly, but that the first thing he always plays.
After all these years, how do you like your fans?
You know what; I try to be as good as I can to the fans because the one thing I always remember is that the only reason I’m fortunate to start to do this is because of them. So I never take for a granny because I also understand. Some people go for a great arrange system and a lot of trouble to see you. My position has never been, you know, “they pay the ticket I play my twenty songs, and that’s all you get?” I don’t believe in that because I’m a fan too. When I was still in school, I went to see Led Zeppelin, and it was like a religious experience for me. My dad drove me because I didn’t have a car or driving license, and he said in the parking place, while he was drinking espresso and smoking novelty cigars, which was a Sicilian. I went in and saw Led Zeppelin…when I came out my father said to me: “What happened in there?” and I said “I don’t know dad,” and then he goes: “I suppose you want to come tomorrow again?” “Yeah,” and he bought me another ticket, and I came back the next day. So I never forget that feeling!
So you know what you’re talking about! “laughs!
Yes, it’s really important to me because if I weren’t there for fans, I wouldn’t be doing this. I would be making burgers back in California, you know?
If you give something, you get something?
Absolutely. If you are good to your fans, they are good for you.
PAUL SHORTINO ERA
The self-titled album with Paul Shortino was released in 1988. Tell the readers briefly what happened behind the scenes back then?
Here’s the chronology of what happened. There were some defined problems in the band with personalities. So by the time we played in Japan, the manager came out to Japan, and there was a guy from American label there, and they had a meeting, and they said, “Listen, there is a lot of negative problems with Kevin,” and they said that we should make some changes. I said to them, there was Carlos and me there in a meeting, and I told them, “Listen to what I suggest that we do. Don’t make a decision now; let’s finish what we have now. We only have four shows left in Japan, one left in Hawaii. Let’s go back to L. A and try to solve our problems there?” The fact is that at the end of the day, Kevin is the voice of Quiet Riot. You’re not going to round that, ok? Unfortunately, what happened then was that one friend of Kevin in L.A, the very same time we had that meeting, called him up and said he had heard a rumor that we’re going to fire him. It was wrong because they didn’t have made any decisions yet. When that meeting was over, I went to my room, and my phone rings, and it was Kevin: “Come on to my room right now!” and I said, “Okay.” I went to his room, and he starts accusing me of trying to take all that, and all that, and I said: “Kevin, it’s not the case.” I said, “There are problems, but why don’t we just finish the tour, and let’s deal with this and go back to L.A?! But he goes, “So you are going to fire me!”. I said, “No, Kevin, we are not going to fire you.” But he kept on pushing, and I said, “Oh right, fuck you! That is it when that tour is done; we are done.”When we came back to L.A, Kevin was out of the band, and I wasn’t interested in continuing Quit Riot anymore, but there was one thing that I haven’t take into consideration. We owned another record for the label. So we went in and started looking for singers. I had heard Paul Shortino’s version of one Janis Joplin song, which sounded terrific. I really liked that song, and I took the cassette and played it to the manager and said: “Let’s try this guy out, he isn’t doing anything now?” So we did an audition with him. He did a great job, and we start rehearsing together. Then right in the middle of rehearsals, Chuck decided to leave the band. Unceremoniously, no notice, no nothing, he was gone. So we needed a new bass player, and we soon found Sean McNabb. We started to work on a new album, but it was clear right from the beginning that it didn’t sound like a Quiet Riot record. So I got them together with everybody and said: “Why don’t we just do the record but calling it something else but Quiet Riot?” It was fine for the band, but the label said to me, “That’s fine if you’re going to do this, but you will only get 50% of advance” The fact was that we couldn’t do a record of 50 % of the advance, so we were kind of forced to used name Quiet Riot. I want to say that Paul Shortino is a great singer. I mean, I have got a record which I’m going to release in America on the 18th of September. It’s a Led Zeppelin tribute record. I’ve got names like Glenn Hughes, Mark Boals, Don Dokken, and Kevin and Paul in one track.
Some years ago, when you had some problems with Kevin again, Paul did some shows with Quiet Riot. How did that come about?
What happened was, you know, when the band got together again after a long break there might be problems. When Rudy joined the band again in 1999, we were ok in the beginning, but soon, the old issues between Kevin and Rudy started again. What happened was that Kevin didn’t show up like in two weeks, and we had shows to do. I would have wanted to pack it up because I’m a manager in the band and because it cost me personally money. It cost me a lot of money, and I said to Rudy and Carlos, “That’s it, I am done!” But they both wanted to continue and get Paul back in the band. I said to Carlos, “You call Paul, but I’m going to do just two weekends with him. If we can’t resolve the issues with Kevin, then let’s just pack in.” Paul came out, and we did a couple of shows together. Unfortunately, Paul was very, very unprepared. He didn’t even know the lyrics; he performed with printed lyrics on the stand, which was very embarrassing. I love Paul, but the truth is the truth. It was a very uncomfortable situation for both of us.
Quiet Riot disbanded in 1988, but later on the same year, you joined WASP, and you did a tour and album “Headless Children” with the band. How did that thing start in the first place?
That was a really serious advance because what happened is Blackie had called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to join WASP, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have time. I was very committed to Quiet Riot. I said to him, “If you have a problem finding someone to came to do the record, I committed to doing that record, but you should find a drummer who is committed to doing both the record and the tour.” What happened was that he couldn’t find the drummer he was happy with, and he asked if I would do the record with him. I said it was “Headless Children,” “I’ll do the record, but do you understand that I can’t tour?” But as it ended up, we were the Quiet Riot version with Paul Shortino; we had done the shows in Japan, and at that point, it was evident that the band didn’t exist anymore. So when we were in Japan we had four shows left to do, and I called a band meeting, and I give a notice! We have nothing else on the calendar after Japanese shows, so I’m not letting anybody down, but the next show in Tokyo Sun Plaza is going to be my last show with this band.” By coincidence, right after the meeting, Blackie calls me up, and he goes, “Is there any chance at all that you could do the “Headless Children” -tour? I told him what was happening with Quiet Riot, and he goes, “I call you back in half an hour.” Half an hour later, he calls me up, and he says, “I was going to come to Japan to do press, but now I have changed my plans. I will go to Europe and do press there. You will stay in Japan for a week, and I’ll send Chris Holmes out there, and both of you can do the press in Japan.” So the day that Quiet Riot checked out of Tokyo Hilton, there was a guy from EMI to check me out. He checks me out, we pick up Chris, and then we went on the other side of Tokyo, where we did the press thing. After that, Chris and I did fly to London, where we did a week for tour rehearsal, and then we did a world tour, almost twelve months. I played in Scandinavia for the very first time on that tour.
“Headless Children” is the most successful WASP ever?
I think so, and I also believe that it was the best W.A.S.P record ever recorded because it was a record that stood on the strength of the music rather than the theatrics.
Unlike in the past, there are lots of lyrics about serious subjects on the album. It was such a different record compared to anything he had done before.
Yes, he actually, Blackie took a lot of time, and he wrote some songs that he put some thought into it, and it wasn’t all movie gore. There were actually real issues, and he then doubts about it. I think he wrote an excellent record, and I’m very proud of my performance on that, and I’m very proud of what I did on “The Crimson Idol” too. No matter what, he, no matter how he likes to change the history, but I am on every song on that record except on one section on “Chainsaw Charlie.” That’s the only thing that I’m not on, and that’s because we had a very bad falling out at the end of the recording, the same thing that happened with me and the recordings of “Neon God” -albums. I did both albums, “The Part I” and “The Part II.” He asked me when he had already done artwork for “The Part I,” where I had my credit; he asked if I would tour for the album? I said, “What is your offer?” Because I wasn’t doing anything at that time with Quiet Riot, he knew about that, and his offer was very poor. He wasn’t going to pay almost anything, and I said: “I love you, but I make more money just staying at home and doing session work.” Blackie isn’t that kind of guy you say “no” to. Hands down, I don’t have credit on “The Part II,” but if you listen on the record, you can hear it’s me.
Speaking of “The Crimson Idol,” it took 18 months or whatever to record that album. Why it took so damn much time?
It was difficult because, I mean, I can understand both sides of it. I know Blackie wanted it to sound like a better record than “The Headless Children,” which was an almost impossible thing to do. We started recording at a studio in Hollywood. He wasn’t happy with how it sounded, so he bought this building almost across the street from there. It was available, and then he starts moving the studio there, and then the problems started. Working with Blackie is sometimes very difficult because sometimes he thinks that it can’t be possible that some parts would be good enough with one or two takes. I remember when we were doing “Metal Health,” almost every song on that record was one take, and it’s the same thing on the new Quiet Riot record. I mean, I do my job because I love it. I do it well because I pay attention. I learn my parts, but I also leave some open space for creativity, but with Blackie, you have to play everything 20 or 30 times. Now what happens is by the time you play something part like 15 to 20 times, it’s absolutely perfect, but it’s also absolutely sterile. There is no life on it. Every song sounded like that, and I remember when we had a falling out, this is the true story when we had a falling out; he showed up to the studio one day. I was not happy about sitting there all day because I had better things to do, so we go over the song maybe nine times, and finally, I got fed up, and Blackie is sitting in the control room. Because of the way we recorded, there is a guitar track and a scratch vocal, and then just me with my headphones. I was doing my recording by myself, and I leaned down on my stern and said: “Blackie, are you there?” He goes, “Yeah!” I said, “I am doing that song one more fucking time, and then I am done!” Then there was a long pause, and then he said to me, “You are done.” That’s how that ended. I still love him, but I just can’t work with him.
How aboutBob Kulick? He played guitar on “The Crimson Idol” and “Still Not Black Enough” albums. How was it to work with him?
Bob Kulick is a very talented guitar player. I don’t think Bob had his own style, but he can copy everybody’s style. I enjoyed working with Bob for the most part. He is ok to work with, but sometimes he is a pain in the ass, you know, but everybody is sometimes like that. I’m like that sometimes too, “laughs” He is good to work with, and he is very, very talented.
He never did any shows with W.A.S.P?
No. I think that Bob is much happier being in the studio and producing the records and playing a lot of guitar tracks and that stuff. Later on, we did that “Blackthorne” record together, and it was a very good record, but we didn’t tour either. It was just a project.
The very last question about W.A.S.P. Which are your best and worst memories about working with the band?
Right, my whole thing with Blackie is that kind of person you have to understand that Blackie and W.A.S.P are the same thing. You may as well call it Blackie, but if it were called Blackie, nobody would care, and that’s why he calls it W.A.S.P. There’s never going to be any room for anything other than Blackie wants, which is fine because it’s his band. My best memories of W.A.S.P are recording of “Headless Children” album and doing the following tour. That was a wonderful experience. I would even say that every record that I did with W.A.S.P was a good experience for me. I enjoyed doing them.
The greatest thing with me and W.A.S.P are W.A.S.P’s fans, who have been so wonderful to me. They were great for me even I was never a member of the band, and they were supportive for the most part when there was a falling up between Blackie and me. They have been so incredibly kind to me, so supportive. W.A.S.P fans are really great. So for me, that was a plus. I think the worst part about it was the fact that Blackie and I had a great friendship that started before I even was in Quiet Riot, and it meant nothing to him. If that friendship would have meant something to him, he didn’t have to pay me more money, but he didn’t have to get mad about it either. Why couldn’t he just say, “Okay, I understand your position,” and still give me credit, right? But straight, the credit early out of spike was wrong, and I think it’s very sad that he was willing to throw a 25-year, 26-year friendship away. I have no ill feelings towards him. I will never work with him anymore, but I wish him and the band the best of luck. This is a top business we are in, and I think that every musician deserves fair treatment. I was pretty angry when it first happened because I thought that was unfair, but I’m the kind of person that I don’t let anger ruin my life because anger will destroy you if you let it do it. So I’m very happy about where I’m now. I wish him the best of luck!
Because you earlier mentioned the band Blackthorne, I have to ask how that band started and why you broke up so soon?
The Blackthorne thing? Bob and Graham had a lot of issues. If you hear Graham singing like on Rainbow stuff, you know what that voice sounds like? But if you hear his vocals on the Blackthorne, it is more almost radical, almost a thrash metal kind of vocal, and Graham didn’t want to do that. And that was Bob who wanted to do that. There were always a lot of conflicts there because Bob wouldn’t let Graham sing the way Graham sings because Bob had a different vision of what he wanted from that record. From that point, that record was doomed right from the start because you have two principal people who don’t get along. That was a very weird situation.
You never did an actual tour with Blackthorne, but I have heard that you did some shows with them?
I did one show with them. There was a benefit show in Hollywood, and that’s the only time I played with them. The band really didn’t tour.
Okay. I talked with Graham last autumn, and he wasn’t too pleased about the whole Blackthorne thing?
Yeah, well, and that’s why because he was pretty much forced to sing in the manner that wasn’t him.
RETURN IN FOLD WITH “TERRIFIED” AND THE TRAGEDY OF KENNY HILLARY
Let’s go back to Quiet Riot’s history and the album “Terrified.” How did you end up being back in the band, and whose idea it was to restart Quiet Riot again in 1993?
Well, what happened is that Bobby Rondinelli was in the band, and he had just left in the middle of recording the album “Terrified.” Kevin and I hadn’t spoken for years. Within exception one case, what happened was, when my mother passed away in 1990, he actually found my phone number. He got my phone number from someone, and he called me and said: “You know I know you and I have our issues, but I just wanted to call you and say that I’m sorry about your mom passing away.” That did mean a lot to me. When had Bobby left the band, Carlos said to Kevin, “What we’re going to do? and Kevin goes, “What if we call Frankie?” Carlos did think it was a good idea and that I would do it. What happened next was that they were rehearsing at a rehearsals studio in LA, and the guy had my phone number, but they were too afraid to call me because they were expecting me to hang up or said: “No, fuck you!” Finally, they called me up, and I said, “Sure, let’s get together” So we get together, and we talked about it, and they asked me to do a record and join the band. I said, “I’ll finish the record because I know you guys need to finish it, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to do this Quiet Riot thing again.” We finished doing the record, and they asked me to join the band, and I first said, “no.” Little time goes by, and they ask me again, and I said again, “No!” They did it again, the third time, and then I went through some thoughts and figured – it’s a big part of my history. So, I get back in there again. It was in 1993.
It wasn’t the most comfortable time for hard rock/metal bands.
Yeah, it was a tough time. We were playing in small places, the half-packed houses, because it was all about the grunge thing and things like that. It was a difficult time for all hard rock bands, but there were still enough fans interested who made it worth doing it, and that’s why we continue doing this now. It was a difficult time.
About late Kenny Hillary, who played bass on “Terrified.” Did you recognize that something was wrong in his life? I mean, was it surprising when he did what he did back then?
We didn’t know too much about Kenny. I have beautiful memories of Kenny. He had a very dark sense of humor. He was very, very funny, but in a very dark kind of way. When we finished the tour, he left, but he wasn’t done with Quiet Riot. He was done with music. He didn’t want to do it anymore, and we respected that. He had a beautiful girlfriend, and he got a job, you know, I can’t remember what he was doing, but he was happy doing that. When I found out he has committed suicide, we were out of the road, and it came us in complete total shock. I have no idea what could have been so terrible in his life that he would do this to this himself and his family. I haven’t to this day…I really don’t know; I have no idea. It was very sad because I can’t imagine anybody’s life to be so terrible that it’s the only option. There are always other options. He was a very good guy, and I think about him often. I talked to Kevin about him today because we were doing some dates in 1997 in Germany opening up for UFO. We used to do some Free songs on soundchecks, and he was always doing them so great. We talked about it today because we had it on the video, and actually, I’m doing a little clip of him playing and put it on my website just for people to see him. He was a really good guy.
DOWN TO THE BONE AND THE RETURN OF THE CLASSIC LINEUP
“Down to the Bone” was released in 1995. I remember that the album didn’t get too much attention when it was released. Do you agree?
Yeah! A lot of that had to do with the fact that Kevin and a friend of his decision to form a record label together and release the album through that.
So there wasn’t too much promotion either?
There wasn’t any promotion at all. You know, anybody can do a label. That curly guy with a yellow t-shirt beside the Gibson, he can do a label, but that doesn’t mean that you really have a label. You have to have a promotion; there was no promotion for the record. I think it was a good record, but I don’t think it was a great record. Some parts are really, really good, but there was no promotion, and the album was forgotten really soon. Having said that at that time, at the point of the time it came out, rock music is so unpopular that unless you are a Bon Jovi, nobody was going to care about it anyway. On the one hand, there was no promotion, but to be honest, would it still have done any better than it did? Probably not?
You already told us how the reunion of the “Metal Health” era line-up started but was that a plan you had for years or did that just happen by accident?
Well, I knew that Rudy wouldn’t come back unless… I wasn’t even sure what it was, but to have Rudy come back, I had to invite him. I had to stretch my hand out. We invite him just to come in and do two songs at that show. But what I noticed, as soon as he started playing, it sounded right again. So after the show, it was around the holidays, I said: “What if we talk more after Christmas?” We talked, and he felt comfortable with coming back. By the time we did that live DVD, the band wasn’t doing well. I think the performance of that DVD is subtended. You can tell if you look at it that it’s a band that doesn’t want to be a band anymore. If you look at it carefully, some of the songs have been played too fast, because we didn’t care anymore. Everybody was doing their own thing, and it was four people playing the same song, but not together. What was really unfortunate from the business point of view, less than a month before it came out, Kevin decided to leave the band again. So I get left holding the business back. Here I am. I promised to company that we can promote DVDs and then suddenly I had no band to promote.
It’s not always easy…
Hey, somebody’s got to clean the kitchen, right?
How about the “Alive and Well” album. Whose idea was it to re-record the old songs? I just didn’t get it when I first heard the album?
That was the idea of our record label, Cleopatra. Here is what the deal was; they gave us the record deal only if we record a certain amount of old songs. The reason they wanted that, then they had the right to take the “key songs” and put them to that record, was to make more money. At that time, we couldn’t get a deal otherwise because of what was going on in the record industry, so we were lucky to have one, but we really hated doing the old songs again. We didn’t rehearse, and we just played them; we didn’t care. Was that a good business deal? No. Was that a bad business deal? No. We managed to put out a new product, there was still new material, but we didn’t want to do it that way.
I would say that all newly recorded versions are not so bad. I would say that this version of “Wild and the Young”sounds better than the original version, don’t you agree with that?
Yeah! Well, the whole point evidence, what was the point in remaking what you already did? We played some songs a little differently, but our hearts weren’t into it because we didn’t want to do it. We were forced to do it.
ONE MORE TRY, NEW ALBUM “REHAB” AND DEMOLITION RECORDS
Quiet Riot broke up in 2003, but after a hiatus, the band returned with this new line-up. What was the main reason you decided to start the band again at that point?
Well, what happened is that a couple of years ago, I mean, there has always been a lot of discord in the band. A couple of years ago, I said to Kevin that I want a restructure of how we do business. I wanted to restructure how we make music, and I want to restructure how our attitude is towards what we do. We have been doing this quarter of the century. I want to see if we can improve what we’re doing. And what that takes is a solid line, a relatively happy band, a band that also understands we’re not at the peak of our popularity. So to be grateful for what we still have and or what we continue to do. What that also means is that we have to co-operate with the press. You have to talk to people who are interested in talking to you, and hopefully, that will create more interest, and so far, that’s been the way it’s going.
The latest album, “Rehab,” received many positive reactions and good reviews from everywhere. In recent interviews, you’ve said that musically it represents everything that you’ve wanted to do for a long time, right?
Exactly. Kevin and I finished that complete record from start to finish. Because when you’re working this way, nobody was going to tell us what to do and how it should sound like? So what we did is we just wrote a kind of music that we really wanted to play. If it is selling, great! If it didn’t, we didn’t care because we wanted to do a real honest record and what we are with it. If people liked it, that’s the greatest compliment, and if they didn’t, we were still happy with it. The only thing I’m disappointed with here is Demolition Records because there is no open line communication between us. I send them e-mails, but I never get any replies. I mean, it’s really sad. I’m happy that management released it to the European market, but the label should talk to the band, and the label should definitely talk to management.
You don’t sound like a big fan of theirs?
I’m very unhappy, and as a matter of fact, I got an email from the republication department at Demolition four days ago. They wanted to set up some interviews, and I said: “I would be happy to discuss the possibility of doing interviews, providing that you speak with Eric Cook and ask him to answers these questions for me.” I had four questions, and I said, “If he answers these questions for me, I will do every interview. If you don’t reply to me, I won’t do anything for you.” I never heard from him?
That’s sad because the Swedish guy who did pick you up for this interview said he had something like twelve interview requests for Quiet Riot interviews?
Well… As I said, I had four very basic questions, four very basic business questions that I wanted answers to. I waited, but they never answered. So my position is, “I’m not your fucking slave, ok?” “I don’t jump when you say: Jump!” I would be very cooperative, but you have to do it if you agreed to do something contractually – then do it, and I would do the same. If you don’t, then, “Fuck you!” So simple is that. So what happens now is this individual will send me an email requesting that I do these interviews, and I will again send these records. I’ll be happy to do all these things for you. Answer me for these four questions, for these four basic questions. But no, Demolition Records. So, every time I send him an email, I click the thing for received emails. So then I automatically know when they are getting my email.
So there is no way that you would continue your working relationship with Demolition records anymore?
That’s not going to happen because they haven’t shown their willingness to communicate so far today. My position has always been; if you agreed to do something, you do it. That’s how simple it is? When there is that kind of lack of communication, and it’s very one-sided, I mean, what’s the point to continue here??
MIGHTY GLENN HUGHES
Going back to the “Rehab” album. There’s a really interesting guest musician on the album called Glenn Hughes. You played drums on his HUGHES /THRALL album in 1982. How was that session back then?
That was absolutely wonderful. They auditioned almost a hundred drummers at the time in 1982. I was already involved with the band, but that was actually before doing anything solid, and I got three callbacks. I never expect to get them, but I did. I’ve been a fan of Glenn since Trapeze before the Deep Purple. So for me, it was a thrill, and I know about Pat, he was a guitar player from the Pat Travers Band. I was very thrilled. To today it is still one of the best recording experiences of my life; it’s absolutely wonderful. I talk to Glenn all the time, and I call him “Big daddy” I talked to him all the time, and he is wonderful. He is, without a doubt, the greatest singer I know, and he is such a sweet man. I can’t say anything but good about Glenn because he is a wonderful person, and he is a great bass player. It’s sad that he’s such an underrated bass player because he is such a great singer. It was an honor and thrill to do the “Hughes/Thrall” record, and it was wonderful to have him play bass and even do some vocals on “Rehab,” it was absolutely wonderful.
Have you heard the re-mastered version of the Hughes/Thrall album yet?
No, I haven’t heard it yet.
Kevin appeared as a backing singer on Glenn’s “Live in the City of Angels” DVD and was released a few years ago. Have you seen that one?
Yeah, he did that one. I was actually going to the filming of that too, but I missed it because I had to take my daughter for her riding lessons. My daughter’s riding lessons come before anything else, so I never got to see them performing. I did an interview before I left here, and I saw the DVD, it’s wonderful. Anytime when Glenn opens his mouth, he is amazing. I wish that I could play drums as great as he sings.
Maybe you have to ask if you can play some drums on his next studio album….?
You tell Glenn…he has my number! “laughs.”
REHAB is the first Quiet Riot album without Carlos Cavazo after he first joined the band in 1983. He’s not in the band anymore, but are you missing him as a person or musical point of view?
Carlos and I were never close, we were never enemies, but he’s got a completely different personality. He likes to watch TV, he likes to build models, and he’s pretty laid back, and I’m a very active person. I participate in life; he watches life. We are different personalities, as a matter of fact, Carlos, when we first started to make big money, we got big houses. Carlos never came to my house, not even once, and it wasn’t like there are any problems, but we are just different people. What Carlos does is… he does that one thing, and I don’t think that we could have done an album like “Rehab” with Carlos because it would always sound different, more like the old Quiet Riot. I saw him over Hollywood some time ago. We get along great, and it’s always great to see him because we share so much history. There are no problems or no issues as a matter of fact; I actually made an offer to him when I structured the band. I gave him the opportunity to come back and do it, but he wasn’t interested. He said that he wanted to do some other things, and I respected that, but I also said to him #You got to understand that this opportunity would not represent itself again. If you’re out and we do a record without you, then it’s over for you.” He accepted that, and it is all good. We have no issues.
Have you heard his new band Three-Legged Dog?
I saw one video clip from this new thing, and my impression is that they try to sound like a 90’s band? Why would you want to sound like a 90’s band? It doesn’t make any sense to me, but you know, if he is happy. That’s great! Do you know what I mean?
I agree with you on that thing!
As I said, he was a big part of the band, but I learn from experience that if you tried to force something or somebody, it never really works because it’s only a matter of time. It might be good for a little while, but eventually, all the problems will come back again.
THE FUTURE OF QUIET RIOT?
What are the plans of Quiet Riot from now on?
I really want to try if we have opportunities to send ourselves to a more significant presence in Europe. I really do, because I think that for some reason, we have never been able to cultivate the European market, and I want to do that in the future. One of the reasons I accepted this Swedenrock date, this is a long way to come for one show, is that I was hoping that we played well enough. The audience will receive this well enough that perhaps other promoters would be interested in bringing us over again. We will go to the studio and do another record, but when? – I don’t know? We would probably do the same way as we did “Rehab.” Kevin and I will find answers again, you know, we will do what we can do in our way. What it’s going to sound like? I have no idea? There are no pre-taken sections here.
The next studio album, is it going to include current band members, Chuck and Alex Grossi?
You are right. This lineup didn’t play on “Rehab.” We had Neil Citron on guitar, one of my best friends, and Tony Franklin, a wonderful bass player. I don’t know who will play on the next record? I think Alex is a very good guitar player, but I don’t think that Alex, at this point in time, has the musical vocabulary to be able to do all those different kind of things that we want to do, and that’s why he doesn’t play on “Rehab.” Chuck was more than capable of playing on the record, but if there is any chance I got to play with Tony Franklin again, I will use it!
I saw Tony playing live with Whitesnake some years ago, and he was amazing!!
Both of those guys Neil and Tony are amazing. The greatest thing about Tony is that he is such an incredible talent and when he gets in a situation to play with other musicians. He doesn’t just show up, he always plays like a band member, but he doesn’t put himself on the front. He is very much a team player, and that’s so rare to have somebody that can play with the most people but has self-control with the unit. I have nothing operation form. I’ve probably done eight or nine records with Tony, and every single time it has been absolutely a pleasure. I don’t know? I would like to record the next album with this lineup because this is going to be a touring lineup, but I don’t know for sure yet?
The very last question; everybody is now releasing DVDs, both new and vintage material from the past. Do you have any plans to release anything new related to this?
Actually, yeah. I’ve been speaking with the company I’ve done business with before, and we were talking about possibly doing something. What I would like to do is, I want to find another band that would be a good combination with us, and then we would do a show together and film that for the future. So yeah,” I haven’t started negotiations yet, but I’m in a discussion of that right now.
Ok, Frankie. Thank you for the interview!
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PICTURES OF QUIET RIOT SHOW AT SWEDEN ROCK 2007 !!!