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Flashback Kerby's Exclusive Interview With Quiet Riot Vocalist Kevin DuBrow -- Part I

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Sunday, November 25, 2007 @ 10:16 PM


Metal Health Will Drive You Ma

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Boy-howdy, I’ll bet you’ve got an opinion on this one.

The fact that Kevin Dubrow inspires such a polarization of opinion speaks volumes about the way he has approached not only the way he has pursued his musical career, but also the way he has lived his life as well. The story of Quiet Riot has doubtlessly been told and retold and is now an undeniable part of metal history…the only portion of the legacy that seems to change concerns how various fans chose to interpret the various facts which are available. What is undeniable is that vocalist Dubrow started out on his quest for rock stardom accompanied by a guitar player named Randy Rhoads—a part of Kevin’s career that he still gets asked about even to this day. Of course, that is to be expected any time you’re dealing with a musician who has played in a band with an indisputable legend who tragically died before his time. When Randy left that early version of QR which had already produced two records for the Japanese subsidiary of CBS/Sony, the group disbanded for a short time before Kevin’s insatiable drive to succeed led him as well as metal stalwart Frankie Banali to continue down the path to rock stardom—a destination they believed they had been making strides toward all along. When Rudy Sarzo and Carlos Carvazo finally joined the fold, the nucleus of what would become the biggest band in America was in place.

Nine months after Metal Health was released in March of 1983, the band was on top of the world. The record had sold over a million copies and “Cum On Feel the Noize” was blowing up like Barry Bond’s cranium after a syringe full of ‘roids. Life was good, and the band was finally headlining after a long period of opening up for tons of bands that even included the likes of Loverboy. Drugs and chicks flowed during that time as freely as vaginal discharge from a menstruating ho. Remarkably enough though, within the span of two lackluster album cycles in support of the such forgettable records as Condition Critical and QR III, the ride had almost come to an end. Rarely has a band that enjoyed such an impressive rise to prominence followed it up with such a rapid descent to irrelevance. Besides producing mediocre records, the group’s fall from grace can also be attributed to quotes Dubrow made disparaging other bands from the scene. Those statements have managed to forever affect the perception of the band in the eyes of the public, and Kevin has specifically felt the repercussions of those criticisms ever since.

After the wheels finally came off and the group released the woeful QR III—a record as wack as its name, the dissolution of this once proud band was complete as the vilified Dubrow left group. Since that split which was followed by numerous line up changes and accompanied by endless frustration, the band has recently enjoyed a resurgence of sorts. Quiet Riot have toured extensively since 2000 and even engaged on a lengthy road stint that saw Rudy Sarzo rejoin the group only to leave the band again to escape what Kevin would characterize here as a strained working relationship. Through it all though, Frankie and Kevin have found a friendship and working relationship that they both find to be productive and enjoyable. Now that the lineup is rounded out with the inclusion of Chuck Wright on bass and Alex Grossi on guitar, Quiet Riot is once again looking forward to creating its first complete studio album in years as well as continuing to hit the road at a frenetic pace for as long as their spirits stay fulfilled and there are metal audiences across the land who are willing to bang their heads and wake the dead.

KNAC.COM: Would you consider Quiet Riot a band with a strong work ethic—specifically in regard to touring?
DUBROW: Yeah, well in the first year we went out in 1983, we did 220 shows when we were crackin’ it really big. Then, when we went back to playing clubs again starting in ‘91 we continued doing a lot of shows, but I’m not sure how many. I know that we started to really overplay before that last version of the band broke up--it was one of the reasons we broke up. We had fished the waters dry. There were simply no more fish to be had. I got into this because I love to sing though—I’m not complaining. When I’m sitting here not doing anything, I’m itching to perform. That’s what this is all about.

KNAC.COM: You’d have to consider yourself sort of a social person or a people person wouldn’t you?
DUBROW: It depends on if they’re nice people. [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Yeah, but you’ve never been one to shy away from media or avoid talking, have you?
DUBROW: No, no. I’m a personable guy if you’re nice to me. If you’re not nice to me, then I’m not that personable.

KNAC.COM: Do you encounter negativity often or is it kind of an anomaly?
DUBROW: Funny you should ask because what I’ve noticed is that because of all the things that have gone down in my career, a lot of people are convinced that I’m an asshole. They figure this even though they have never met me. For some reason, from things that they have read, they make this assumption. Instead of saying, “yeah, he may be an asshole, but let me see for myself,” they will come in and be assholish to me. It’s just common sense that if someone comes in and treats you badly, you are going to treat them badly in return. I’m not going to have someone treat me rudely and then try to win them over. Be nice, and I’ll be nice. I think that is a normal human reaction. In the ‘80s, I said ten dumb things that got reprinted ten thousand times. Because of that, I still have this litmus test of people wanting to try it out and see if I’m an asshole in 2005. I read things that people post on the Internet calling me the biggest jerk they ever met, and I keep thinking, “Where the hell was I?” I don’t remember it at all. We go to restaurants and are on tour all year long, and we are at the Cracker Barrels and the Waffle Houses and people want autographs. Sometimes, we’ll even give fans free pictures and free this and that. I’m always as nice as can be. That’s why when I read someone write that I was an asshole to the opening band or some band that was supporting us, it doesn’t make any sense to me because I never even see the opening act. We get there fifteen minutes before we go on because we don’t want to breathe the smoke, and we want to have fresh ears. I don’t feel like I’m being persecuted or anything, but you asked me the question, and that is how I feel when I read something fictitious. I don’t remember any of that, and I have a really good memory.

KNAC.COM: You would remember if you got into a shouting match with someone while you were eating a Big Mac or something wouldn’t you?
DUBROW: Absolutely. I equate peoples attitudes towards me on what time we play. That goes the same for my stage rap as well. If we play at midnight in a club, we usually do the meet and greet after the show. By the time we get back there, it is 2 A.M., and you just know everyone has had all the drinks they drink at that point. That is when they get… shall we say, uninhibited? That’s when you get people who will sometimes be inadvertently unpleasant to you. It might be like someone goes, “tell me something about Randy Rhoads that you’ve never told anyone.”

KNAC.COM: You mean at 2 A.M. when you don’t even know the person?
DUBROW: I mean, I don’t know how to answer that. It’s 2 A.M., and this really isn’t the right forum for it. I’d be happy to sign something for you, but this really isn’t the right time for an intimate disclosure. I adore Randy, but a Quiet Riot show now isn’t specifically about him. That’s another thing I always read is that I am always trying to capitalize on Randy Rhoads or that I mention him everywhere. Well… he was one of my best friends, and I played with him for five years. If I don’t mention him, then people will complain that I don’t give him enough credit. There is no winning. On stage, I like to talk a lot in between songs, but if it’s after midnight and the people are hammered, then they don’t want to hear it. They just want me to play the hits and shut the fuck up.

KNAC.COM: What effect does that have on you? Does it make you want to talk more?
DUBROW: No, no. I don’t want to talk if no one is listening. I mean, a lot of the things I say I think are fairly funny, but if I don’t get a reaction, I’m like, “fuck it” let’s move on to the next song. I like playing earlier in the night better anyway. I think I’m better during that slot.

KNAC.COM: That would be easy to understand considering a normal person’s daily cycle is definitely not on the upswing at that point.
DUBROW: Exactly right, and they’ve drank a lot. When you go to see Quiet Riot, many of the hard-core fans from the ‘80s come to hear the hits, but they also come to relive a lot of their behaviors from that time which included a lot of drinking. In order to get into the spirit of the ‘80s, a lot of people get really hammered. I’ve got no problem with that, but sometimes it gets out of control. Most of the time though, when we do the shows earlier, it’s easier.

KNAC.COM: Well, I’m okay with the drinking too, but reliving the wardrobe and the zebra striped pants might be a bit much. I guess though, when someone is trying to relive a time period or a memory, every aspect of it is fair game.
DUBROW: Yeah, that might be a bit much, but when I read something on the Internet about me supposedly being rude or an asshole, it amazes me. I mean, I don’t think I’m the Pope, but I’m a guy who goes and says, “hi, how are you doing?” and I try to put on the best show every night that I could possibly do. I’ll be 50 this year, and I started doing arenas when I was 28. I’m just trying to compete with myself. I just want to do the same if not crazier show than I did when I was 28. I just want to do the best I can, and when I read this stuff, it just confuses me. It doesn’t upset me. I’m not that type of person, and I can’t lose sleep over someone who just doesn’t seem to get it.

KNAC.COM: It’s true that the Internet gives a forum to all kinds of people who may not have had one otherwise--is it so bad though that you would say the negatives provided by the ‘Net out weigh the positives?
DUBROW: Well, I just think that people who have negative thoughts take more time and energy to post their feelings.

KNAC.COM: To anyone who has ever spent any time on the ‘Net, that would have to seem like a pretty valid statement.
DUBROW: I do have to say this though about the people who post on the Internet and say bad things about me and others--you have to give them very little credibility for one simple reason. I can just picture in my mind’s eye this guy sitting in front of his computer and reading this which will start the rants on KNAC like they always do, and starting tons and tons of this negative stuff about what a piece of shit I am. I can just picture a guy like that who with one hand is typing out “Fuck Kevin Dubrow--he’s such and asshole” while with the other hand he’s got some hand lotion jacking off to some porno site. That’s his life, so I give very little credibility to it. I might read something like, “I saw Quiet Riot and there were ten people in the audience.” What Quiet Riot show were you at? The shows I do are 85% full if not sold out and the other 15% generally don’t do well because they weren’t promoted. The living proof of that is on Pollstar. Go and check our numbers. Also, we wouldn’t keep getting booked in the same places if we weren’t making any money.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, promoters are kind of funny that way.
DUBROW: Yeah, no one is giving to the Quiet Riot Charity for Wayward Headbangers. That is how I view the Internet. It is a great communication tool, but I just believe the people who post negative comments on it do so because that is their life. If they want to spend all their time and energy going after ‘80s bands and saying what garbage they are, then that’s up to them. I am an assiduous reader, and I go on KNAC.COM, and I go to Blabbermouth, and it seems like the only band anyone says anything good about is a band called… Meshuggah?

KNAC.COM: Yeah--nice guys, but their music isn’t the most accessible in the world, so it sort of odd that they would have so many fans on these sites.
DUBROW: I’ve never heard of them, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s like “Quiet Riot sucks, but Meshuggah rocks!” Well, who the fuck is Meshuggah, and what do they have to do with us? I wish them nothing but good luck, but you know what I’m saying.

KNAC.COM: It’s true that chronic negative ranting does suggest a certain pathology. I mean, everyone hates this or that, but to hate everything seems to suggest an unsatisfactory home life or an unsavory diet.
DUBROW: I think that one of the reasons they do is because they are able to. It is really venomous.

KNAC.COM: Is it a little spooky or odd that someone in Sheboygan could care that much about your hairdo?
DUBROW: To be so venomous about Kevin Dubrow or Jani Lane or Bret Michaels or Vince Neil or whoever. I have to keep stressing that I don’t really care. It just happens to be what we’re discussing. It impacts my life in no way whatsoever.

KNAC.COM: Did it hurt at first though? It seems like getting to the point where that type of criticism doesn’t bother you would take some time.
DUBROW: It started when I did it to myself in the ‘80s prior to the Internet when I said some negative things about other bands in the magazines when Hit Parader started going into the hate mail there. It started off so early for me that I became numb to it years ago, but I realize that though in spite of it all, I still have a career. I know people say, “yeah, he still has a career—he’s playing Pizza Huts.” I’m not playing Pizza Huts, and as long as it’s paying me, and I get to do what I love to do, which is perform—then I still have a career. I still, after all these years, have a band, Quiet Riot, that is still in existence. We are still touring and performing and playing good shows. I became numb to it so many years ago.

KNAC.COM: Was the backlash fair though? It seems like to me that if you are going to be even a halfway interesting interview that it helps to have an opinion about something, anything or whatever. Any time you have an opinion, someone is bound to find it controversial—is it just the fact that you stated specific negative comments about other bands that caused all the animosity?
DUBROW: I can answer that—it’s a really easy answer. I’m not an unintelligent person, but what I should have realized is that when I’m doing an interview, I’m not just talking to you. I mean, I’m talking to Jeff Kerby, but I’m also talking to whoever is reading this article. When I started doing press, I was inexperienced, and I was talking to the person interviewing me like I’m having a conversation over drinks. That’s dumb. That’s dumb because you aren’t just talking to the person interviewing you—you are also talking to prospective record buyers. When you personalize with the person you are being interviewed by, you’re being stupid. This isn’t a conversation as much as it is a sales tool for your music or your product. If you say something bad about a band that you have a common fan base with, the fan of that other group might say, “Kevin just insulted my favorite group—I don’t like Kevin.” It was just a common sense thing that I didn’t see. Our drummer always has this saying, “If common sense is so common, then how come no one seems to have any?”

KNAC.COM: I might be in the minority, but I am really not apt to condemn someone for saying something slightly edgy or that has a bite to it. Obviously, there are limits, but… in the big picture, how offensive were those quotes really?
DUBROW: Yeah, but it was supposed to be about Quiet Riot, but then it became more about the bands I was being asked about. I wasn’t there to talk about those people. It was a sales tool… what the fuck was I doing?

KNAC.COM: I understand, but your band was tightly connected to a genre that also included the people you were discussing, right?
DUBROW: I suppose.

KNAC.COM: Okay, so it wouldn’t have been that far off in left field for you to have had an opinion about that, would it? I mean, it wasn’t like you were discussing time travel or potential vegetation on Mars.
DUBROW: Yeah, but knowing what I do today, the last thing I could care less about are other groups in our genre.

KNAC.COM: But you’ve changed, right? You had to feel at certain times though during the Metal Health period that you were bullet proof.
DUBROW: I can’t put myself in the same headspace that I was then. I don’t know what I was thinking.

KNAC.COM: You can’t understand someone who is young with a platinum selling album that can’t resist the urge to get into a public pissing match with other bands that are, in effect, his competition? I mean, it’s easy--you thought you were invincible, right?
DUBROW: I did, but you know what really motivated that was that we had given up all of our publishing to Spencer Proffer, and I knew that Motley Crue got to keep all of their publishing. I knew that Great White also got to keep their publishing, and all these bands that came after us got like fourteen point deals… and we got like, four. Man, that just set me off real hard. When they asked me about what I thought of all these other bands, I was just so pissed because they got to keep their publishing along with a fourteen-point deal. We got the “Indentured Servitude” deal. That is where that started.

KNAC.COM: So you’re saying that you were just guilty of misplacing some animosity then?
DUBROW: That’s exactly right.

KNAC.COM: Was the situation with your publishing also irritating because maybe you felt as if money was being taken away that you could probably use maybe twenty-five years down the line?
DUBROW: Yeah, well the publishing was never going to revert back to us, so that was one of the reasons I remained angry all of those years. After a number of years though, you just accept sometimes that there isn’t a lot that you can do about certain things in life, so why waste even more energy on them? I am still very comfortable with my life even though I realize that there are many dollars that didn’t flow in the direction they should have. It is water under the bridge, big time. I’m not the type of person that lives in the past though. I couldn’t be happier with the way things are right now.

KNAC.COM: Did you expect that you would be on stage over twenty years later?
DUBROW: Yeah, when Quiet Riot broke big, I thought that because of the hit “Cum On Feel the Noize,” even though we didn’t write it, that we’d have a career for as long as we wanted one.

KNAC.COM: Really? On what basis?
DUBROW: It was just that big. It was so big that people forget sometimes. It was also significant on other levels. The imagery in our videos… our band wasn’t faceless. Like it or not, we were a very good performing band. When we go to the airports this day, everyone recognizes our ugly mugs. That had to do with the birth of MTV, and all those things made it the dawn of a new era that has now passed. Still, to this day, people want to remember it. I didn’t know what form I’d still be on stage back then, but I feel really comfortable with the places we play. We still play arenas occasionally, and we do well. We’re about to go off on this ‘Rock Never Stops’ tour, and life is really good.

KNAC.COM: Can you say anything about the Bad Boys of Metal Tour and how that really worked out? I know Jani left before the tour was over.
DUBROW: What do you want to know?

KNAC.COM: I had spoken to him a week or so ago, and he said he left because he felt “uncomfortable.” He didn’t get really specific, but he did say that he felt that it was just better to remove himself from the situation. Was it an amicable split in your view? Do you have any insight into what he may have been referring to?
DUBROW: That’s just a lie. It was uncomfortable for him because he was out of it. I didn’t really see what he was doing. Everyone was just telling me about it because I don’t pay any attention to him. I was worried about my show. Everyone is aware of Jani’s problems and his addictions. We were in Buffalo, New York, and he got up in the morning looking pretty ragged. I’m a pretty in your face kind of guy. I wanted to get a shower and get a hotel room. I got up at eight in the morning, and I got Chuck up and said, “do you want to get cleaned up? Do you want to do some shopping? Let’s rock.” He was like, “sure.” Jani was all like, “what’s goin’ on?” I’m like, “do you want to go to the hotel--yes or no?” He was like, “no, I know some people here.” He found somebody who--again, I wasn’t there--who sort of supplied him with whatever he was looking for, and he called me up and said that he wanted to take the day off. I was like, “day off?” I said, “day off?” Then he came up with this whole lie that was some sort of health-related issue. It was this whole song and dance. The ambulance came to pick him up. He bailed. Then he supposedly went to rehab for three weeks. He did go to rehab--I heard. Oh yeah, it was hypoglycemic shock. That was the story. He was supposed to be in this hospital in Buffalo. We called the hospital--he wasn’t there. He was never admitted there. So he felt, “uncomfortable?”

KNAC.COM: Yes, I do believe that was adjective he used.
DUBROW: Yeah, well, I guess if you run out of the substance that you need at that time, it can make you feel rather uncomfortable! [Laughs] I bear no ill will towards Jani Lane though. I wish him the best, and I especially wish him sobriety because the man has a severe alcohol problem. I can say that because I have been a drinker, and I’ve been a drugger--my two best friends are Frankie Banali and Glenn Hughes. Glenn Hughes has been a member of alcoholics anonymous for thirteen years. He has pretty much known from a long time ago that he had a problem. The guy has turned his life around in a way you could never believe, and he is the greatest singer to walk the face of the planet. Jani Lani is not untalented, but he needs to be in a program. Going to rehab and coming out drinking again isn’t going to work. Yeah, so if he said he was “uncomfortable” then I guess that’s one way of putting it. Listen, I lost some money because of Jani because they lowered some of the guarantees because he was out of the tour. Again though, that is water under the bridge, and I wish him sobriety, I wish him good luck, and I wish him help.

KNAC.COM: That being said, you have to take a person’s history into account when you enter into a business relationship with him, right?
DUBROW: Well, I didn’t assemble the tour. Actually, I had passed on it three times. Some background musicians didn’t want to play on it because Jani was involved. Other people didn’t want to have any part of it because Joe LeSte was involved. We got on a bus, and I have a history of substance abuse myself, but not when I work. I ended up basically getting on a bus with a bunch of people who were just hammering it out with the booze. I’m not talking about my band—Alex, Chuck or Jeff Martin, but the other guys.

KNAC.COM: You still have to be around them though—
DUBROW: Yeah, and the worst of them all was Steven Adler. He was just a nightmare and nearly got us all arrested. Steven shouldn’t be in public. I don’t have any malicious intent here, but he needs to be in a home or some type of a mental institution. You might meet him for an hour and not realize it. After an hour though, you realize that this guy has some serious shit going on here. He didn’t have two strokes and a heart attack because they just happened to him. He was my arch nemesis on the whole thing. Jani also saw me get physical with Steven twice, and that might have freaked him out a little bit.

KNAC.COM: Was it the result of him not holding up his end of the deal professionally or was it just a cumulative effect of day-to-day irritations?
DUBROW: Let me just try to put this somewhat vaguely: there was some contraband left out somewhere. Okay? I told Steven that if he was going to do that sort of thing on the bus that he had to be cool about it because there are other people who aren’t in a band with him. Steven likes to chain smoke pot, and the smell made it like a ganja bus. You could smell it three miles away. I told him, “If you leave your shit out, everyone is going to get busted.” He said, “fuck you, asshole.” Guess what I did? I got physical with him, and I think that freaked Jani out. I am a live and let live guy. I’ve done a lot of blow in my life. I’ve drank a lot of booze, but I never did it in a way that infringed on anyone else’s freedom or got them all arrested. That’s the difference, and Steven Adler just did not care.

KNAC.COM: Yep, I can just picture the police in Tennessee or wherever taking the time to carefully study each nuance of the investigation. Actually, it would probably be more like, “let’s lynch the longhairs!”
DUBROW: Yeah, we’re all going to jail. I tried to explain this to him, and he just told me, “fuuucckk yooouu assshhooolle.” (This statement mimicked by Dubrow was done with a stoned Ozark nasal twang—very nice.) In that retarded voice. It took three people to get me off of him. There were people on the bus when it happened, and I’m surprised it didn’t make the press. It happened about two or three times. I’m a nonviolent guy, but I don’t want to fuckin’ go to jail.

KNAC.COM: I can understand that since the rumor is that lots of people in jail actually are violent guys.
DUBROW: That’s right. It’s easier to laugh about the ‘Bad Boys’ tour now because as Jeff Martin put it, there were many “tidbits of buffoonery.” It was a learning experience that taught me that Quiet Riot is my home.

KevinDuBrow.com

STAY TUNED FOR PART II OF KERBY’S INTERVIEW WITH QUIET RIOT VOCALIST KEVIN DUBROW….


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