Kevin Dubrow: For The Record

by Alun Thomas

Currently part of the Grand Slam Metal package with Enuff Znuff, Warrant and Poison, Quiet Riot are touring hot on the heels of their impressive new album ''Guilty Pleasures.'' This encouraged me to interview vocalist Kevin Dubrow and get his thoughts on a subject of different matters. This interview took place as Quiet Riot were preparing to play a show in Kansas City:

The Zephyr: In a sea of shit, how does it feel to be one of the few bands left who know how to rock 'n' roll?

Kevin Dubrow: (Laughs) We never look at it that way, we just try to make the best album we can and have fun doing it.

TZ: But you know what I mean when I say that.

KD: Yeah, but we never compare ourselves to what everyone else is doing.

TZ: But when I listen to you guys it sounds genuine, not forced. A lot of the bands your age can't compare.

KD: Well thank you man. Most 80's bands started in the 80's. We started in 1975.

TZ: What would you say to someone who says what was metal in the 80's is hard rock now? You know Crüe, Maiden, Y&TŠ

KD: This is true. The genre changes every few years, the definition changes, other bands change the marketplace. But really it's just a title, whatever you want to call it. It really doesn't make a difference, it's just the name of a genre. It doesn't matter what you call it, it's just your perspective on it.

TZ: Wouldn't you rather just call it rock 'n' roll?

KD: Exactly, that's what I've always called it. Rock 'n' roll.

TZ: Whose idea was 'Street Fighter'?

KD: I wrote that one. We needed something that was like a ''Run For Cover'' song off ''Metal Health.'' I just had the idea, wrote it on the computer, did a home demo, brought it to the guys and recorded it.

TZ: That's what I call rock 'n' roll. It's more on the terms of heaviness than Slayer.

KD: We needed something like that for the album, something upbeat. I don't know whether I would want to do a whole album's worth of it. It would kind of be a run on sentence. But we needed just one so that's why I wrote it like that.

TZ: How about ''Feed The Machine?'' What exactly is that about?

KD: That's Rudy's (Sarzo, bass) song. It's about sex. I wrote the lyrics to it; he wrote the music. We share the credits equally but write separately. It was all a play on words. Steven Tyler's actually the best at doing that. He does it better than anybody--the strange play on words and all that.

TZ: Do you really dislike ''Scream And Shout?''

KD: Yeah I think it's crap. It just isn't one of my favorite songs. We never play it live. Hey as long as you like it, that's what's important.

TZ: Just about every day I see and hear kids driving around listening to loud hip hop. Why that instead of rock 'n' roll? To me you're more of a bad boy than those turkeys will ever be.

KD: (laughing) It's a different generation. Every generation has its own music. They don't want to be like their parents. And you gotta accept every generation. If you say their music is crap, then you'll end up like our parents who said hard rock was crap. But we have been getting a lot of younger fans to our shows lately.

TZ: To me a real fan will never say ''I'm not listening to this any more.'' If you're a real fan you stick with it.

KD: I think you're right, I agree with that. But that's a true fan in every sense of the word. When you sell millions of records a lot of people get caught up in the moment.

TZ: For me, I started off listening to The Who, went through everything else and ended back up there. They are still my favorite band.

KD: Mine too. They are my favorite band. With Keith Moon of course. ''Live At Leeds'' is my favorite record of all time. The long one, the one that was remastered and remixed, not the (original) short one. The version of ''Young Man Blues'' was a bit longer. They edited it on the original but I like the longer one better. I love ''Tattoo'' and ''Fortune Teller.'' Those and ''Heaven And Hell;'' love them.

TZ: Is Daltrey one of your vocal influences?

KD: Yeah he is pretty much. Not a big one but definitely one of them. Him, Steve Marriot and Paul Rodgers are my big ones. I am a huge Humble Pie fan. I saw them countless times. Marriot was a great singer and songwriter in the Small Faces. He was a real technician as a vocalist. He had an amazing instrument.

TZ; I have yet to hear any of your new songs on the radio here. Instead I know I'm bound to hear ''Ain't Talkin 'Bout Love'' at least once a day.

KD: The problem with radio is that it's too corporate. You have one company that owns 1,200 stations nationwide. So basically you have one guy telling them what to play. The people playing the music, the dj's have no control over it. It's all preplanned. It's just the way radio is done now days.

TZ: I was reading Metal Sludge the other day and they said ''Guilty Pleasures'' has only sold 3,000 copies. How can this be in a nation of 280 million people?

KD: I love that site man. But the album's only been out two and a half weeks and we have to take things slowly. That's why we're on tour. If you don't hear about the album on the radio then you have to do it at the concerts and on interviews like this one. The marketplace is what it is and I think more people will buy it. It doesn't bother me. I'm grateful to the people who did buy it and I think more people will.

TZ: Are the days of gold records over?

KD: It seems like it, but I never give up hope. But I get to do what I love for a living. And that's a great thing. I always make a point that all four of us in the band are very lucky to get to do this.

TZ: I'm not going to say being in a band isn't tough, what with being on the road all the timeŠ

KD: It's not that tough.

TZ: But you have been doing it so long you don't even have to think about it do you?

KD: Oh you think about it all the time, because there is nothing else to think about. And we have technical problems with the roadies. It can be stressful. In that sense that there's always something to think about. It's not autopilot.

TZ: Do you think if grunge hadn't been pushed that hard rock would have stayed on top?

KD: No, because you had too much of a good thing. You had too many 80's bands that were not that great popping up, the cream of the crop had already come and you had all these also-rans. Just too much of a good thing.

TZ: Do you find it hard to believe how big it was in the 80s?

KD: No! It was really fun. But things can't stay the same. But it was a lot of fun. Things were definitely different.

TZ: Last year I watched Udo play to ten people in a bar. Does that bother you? And how do you think Quiet Riot would go down in Europe these days?

KD: I don't know. We went there in '93 supporting UFO and did really well. We haven't played to ten people in a bar though. Actually we've been offered two separate tours of Europe, but the people, the promoters trying to put it together were just fly-by-night sort of guys and things fell apart. We bailed out of it before we had a chance to get screwed.

TZ: But what would you say if you went to watch a legend like Udo and you get there and he's just sitting at the bar drinking and no one's there?

KD: A lot of the problem is these bars that book them to play don't do the right kind of promotion. If you want people to fill up a bar, you have to make them think it's an event. And to make them think it's an event, the local radio station in town has to make it like it's something THEY are promoting and endorsing. Without that people don't care.

TZ: In an ideal world wouldn't you be headlining Grand Slam Metal?

KD: You know what my world is ideal because I'm on the tour. Looking at it from a glasshouse perspective I'm happy to be doing what I do for a living on any tour. I wouldn't be particularly happy having to open the show because that's a tough spot to be in for Enuff Znuff and the guys are a great band. But I'm happy where we are, I'm happy with the whole tour. I just can't look at it with a 'what if' perspective.

TZ: I think you're recording better stuff than in the 80s but only the hardcore fans probably care for it.

KD: That's possibly so, but I can't analyze it that way. I just look at it that I'm glad to be working. I'm very realistic about our position in rock 'n' roll, but the fact is I still get to be in rock 'n' roll under any circumstances. The alternative is to not do it at all which I refuse to accept. It's all about the music, you know?

TZ: When I told someone I was interviewing you they said 'ask him about his big mouth.' But I don't care if you had a big mouth in the 80s, it's got nothing to do with now. I would be embarrassed to ask you that.

KD: You're right, it has got nothing to do with now. And you know if someone asks me that, and they haven't on this tour so far, it's because it isn't interesting anymore. It was something that happened 16 or 17 years ago. Very few people care any more. It just isn't part of what is interesting about Quiet Riot. It's all about what you remember. Look, it took me a year longer to make it than I should have. I became very bitter and by the time I started doing interviews I was doing a lot of cocaine. And people get loose lips when they start doing that. I was just bitter and was doing stupid interviews. Everybody does stupid things and I have no regrets. I don't live that way now and that's brought me to where I am today.

TZ: What would you say to some critic who say's you are irrelevant? How could that be when you have been around so long?

KD: I would say as soon as you open your wallet and make an actual purchase of a record then you're commentary will mean something, but until that point who gives a shit what a critic says.

TZ: Did you ever tour with Krokus?

KD: (thinks) Ah yeah we did! They were nice guys! The guitar player was always interested in how we got our guitar sound in the studio.

TZ: Frankie Banali's drumming on 'Alive And Well' made me think Keith Moon had risen from the dead.

KD: You're probably referring to ''I Don't Know What I Want.'' Frankie's a monster. He's fun to play with on stage, has been for all these years. He and Randy Rhoades are the most musical people I ever worked with. Working with Randy was a privilege and I knew it at the time.

TZ: Why isn't ''Winners Take All'' a sports anthem?

KD: I don't know; that's what I thought at the time. We were trying to write a song like ''We Are The Champions.'' The music on that (song) was written by Randy Rhoades. He has credits on the actual publishing agreements, but not on the record. His mom didn't want him to have credit on the album (''Condition Critical,'' 1984) for some reason. So yeah he wrote that, a little piece of trivia for you.

TZ: For sure. I never knew that. That song is inspirational.

KD: Well that was the whole thing, I was trying to be positive. I'm not a negative person and the music tries to reflect that. There are negative things everyone has to deal with and some lyrics are somewhat down, but overall it's supposed to be in the uplifting spirit of music.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online July 3, 2001

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