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Frankie Banali Discusses Quiet Riot’s New Lead Singer + More [Exclusive]

Photo by Chris Swanger

Ever since lead singer Kevin DuBrow’s tragic death six years ago, longtime Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali has worked tirelessly to keep a version of the band on the road that can play true to the spirit of being heavy metal’s first group to have a No. 1 album. Along with his musical soulmate DuBrow, Banali has helped guide the band since their famed album ‘Metal Health’ erupted on the scene back in 1983.

It’s been a tumultous post-DuBrow existence for the band, and in this exclusive Loudwire interview, Banali discusses the recent hiring of new lead singer, Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate, L.A. Guns, Adler’s Appetite, Ratt), the band’s upcoming album and other topics. Banali also gave Loudwire an exclusive look at the new band lineup photo, featuring Alex Grossi, Jizzy Pearl, Frankie Banali and Chuck Wright.

Frankie, as much as you can, describe the changes that have recently taken place — why they happened and what they mean for the future of the band.

Change is inevitable, wish it or not; it’s just how life is. Quiet Riot has always been in a state of change. Even while we were recording the Metal Health record, there were changes in the lineup. After the ‘Condition Critical’ record, there were changes in the lineup. The fact is that Quiet Riot has never recorded with the exact same lineup for more than any two consecutive records. The nucleus was always Kevin and me. I’m actually the only member of Quiet Riot that has been on every single release since ‘Metal Health’ in 1983 through ‘Rehab’ in 2006 to the new record. Life happens and change is part of life. We have just welcomed Love/Hate vocalist Jizzy Pearl into the ranks of Quiet Riot .

What’s been the biggest challenge for you keeping Quiet Riot alive in the post DuBrow era?

I knew that resurrecting Quiet Riot was going to be a major challenge and undertaking. You simply don’t replace a singer and personality like Kevin DuBrow because he was the complete package, the real deal and my best friend. I never set out to replace Kevin, I set out to continue the band in his memory. We tried to work with Mark Huff on vocals and he just wasn’t right for the band. We tried it with Scott Vokoun on vocals and in the end he also just wasn’t a fit, and we parted company amicably. It’s not just about singing, performing, work ethic, priorities, perception and personality, it is about all of those things and so much more. If I am guilty of anything, I am guilty of trying to get it right for Quiet Riot.

Talk about the new music — how important was it for you to have the band record new material? 

One of the things Kevin and I always took great pride in was to continue to record new music and release records even when we knew that in the deflated almost nonexistent music industry, records don’t sell or are illegally downloaded. We continued to do it for the music, for the fans, for promotion and for self fulfillment. That was my mindset, to continue the recorded history of Quiet Riot beyond the loss of Kevin. I wanted to do it because guitarist Alex Grossi had yet to appear on a Quiet Riot record. This is also the first time in 18 years that Chuck Wright has recorded with the band. I also invited Rudy Sarzo to play on two songs; he last appeared on record with Quiet Riot 12 years ago in 2001 and Tony Franklin on two tracks, who played bass on the 2006 ‘Rehab’ record. The new Quiet Riot record will have six new studio tracks with Jizzy Pearl on vocals and four live tracks from 2007 with Kevin DuBrow, which are from the last professionally recorded live shows we played.

What is the status of the band documentary?

The Quiet Riot documentary, now titled ‘Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back’ is in the final stages of post production. We are very excited to have highly acclaimed and award winning sound designer Cameron Frankley (‘The Hangover II & III,’ ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith, ‘Terminator Salvation,’ The Rolling Stones ‘Crossfire Hurricane’) currently working on a 5.1 sound mix.

Talk about the final live tracks with Kevin.

Going back and listening to the live tracks with Kevin once again reminded me of what a great singer and live performer he was. There is no denying that when Kevin died, he was at the top of his game. I made a conscious decision not to use the usual songs that people would expect. I picked tracks that were special and of the moment. Let’s just say that there will be a familiar track, two unexpected choices and one that really shows the roots of Quiet Riot and how the band interacted in the live arena. I think that Quiet Riot fans will really appreciate my choices.

What do you think Kevin would have to say about all of this? 

Knowing Kevin as I did, he knows why I do things and how I do things and he would approve. We always prided ourselves in doing the best we could for Quiet Riot and this is no exception. With the new songs, I know he would get it, and there is one song in particular which is my personal farewell to Kevin and very tongue in cheek. And don’t expect it to be a ballad! The choices I made for the four live songs would be the same ones Kevin would have agreed with. Kevin and I had an understanding. I always expected to die before Kevin and we had both agreed that no matter who went first, the other would continue Quiet Riot. That was set in stone years before Kevin died. I just never saw it coming and even knowing that Kevin was fine if I continued Quiet Riot past his lifetime, it still took me three years of mourning to even think about continuing and here I am six years later still trying to get it right.

And for the future?

Quiet Riot continues as it always has. We will play our last show of 2013 on New Year’s Eve in Flagstaff, Arizona, which will also be the Quiet Riot debut of Jizzy Pearl on vocals and it is a positive way to enter the new year. The first official show of new year will be in Saint Charles, Ill., at the Arcada Theater on Jan. 18, where Quiet Riot will be special guests to Geoff Tate’s Queensryche, who are the headliner and with a lineup that includes my oldest and closest friend Rudy Sarzo on bass. It is going to be a great way to start 2014!

Our thanks to Frankie Banali for this exclusive interview on the status of Quiet Riot and their upcoming plans. See the band’s scheduled tour dates here.

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