Interviewed by Greg Schmitt
Date: March 2007
Greg Schmitt: Hello Frankie, and welcome to Rock Eyez.
Frankie Banali: Thanks for taking the time to ask the questions!
Greg: QUIET RIOT has a great new album out, "Rehab" . More based in 70's hard rock than usual, the retro approach is actually is quite refreshing. Was this by design or did it materialize organically?
Frankie: This is something that both Kevin and I had wanted to do probably since we first met. We have both been heavily influenced by the music and musicians that we love, who are generally from the British music scene of the late 1960's through the 1970's. It was by design while trying to keep it organic and genuine.
Greg: I'm usually leery about cover CDs, but Kevin put out a great one in 2004, might this have been an impetus to the writing of "Rehab"?
Frankie: Although Kevin did do a great covers album which he had asked me to play on (but I declined as I thought it should just be a "Kevin" release) it had nothing to do with the direction or outcome that was achieved on "Rehab ".
Greg: It seems you've varied your drumming style to fit each individual song. "Black Reign" has a Keith Moon feel, while others have more of a Bonham groove. Is this a conscious decision when you're approaching a track?
Frankie: It's not as much conscious as it is what I feel the track calls for in the style of drumming. A perfect example is that Kevin had envisioned "Black Reign" more of a BAD COMPANY direction stylistically. From the first time I heard his demo with a drum machine program, I knew that for me it called for a Keith Moon -ish approach. Kevin had no idea what I had in mind until the first time we played it at rehearsal a mere three days before recording it. I'm just glad that he liked my spin on his song.
Then you take something like "South of Heaven" which was a track that Kevin specifically had my take on John Bonham's style of drumming and drum sound in mind. That one for me was very easy to embrace.
Greg: You brought in some fresh blood for the writing of "Rehab", yet the musicians all gelled wonderfully. Please tell us about the process and why wasn't the previous year's touring line-up featured?
Frankie: I had already been working on sessions with Neil Citron engineering, as well as playing and recording the drums for Neil for a future release of his. So we were already in tune with each other musically and had been writing not only for QUIET RIOT, but also for other artists. Neil is a dear friend of mine, and a great guitarist. The song "Old Habits Die Hard" was a song that Neil and I had written the music for, for another artist. Kevin heard it and said, 'No you don't; this is for QUIET RIOT'. A great number of the songs that I wrote the music for with Neil were foreign in styles to what Kevin was used to. This is when he enrolled Glenn Hughes to write lyrics and melodies for those songs. It doesn't get any better than having Glenn write lyrics and melodies, he's the best.
Kevin had been writing on his own and with Michael Lardie and Alex Grossi separately, so all of these different ingredients make for a different QUIET RIOT record.
When we started seriously working on the record there was no QUIET RIOT lineup, just Kevin and I. There were some unresolved business and personal issues that were eventually ironed out between what Kevin and I needed and what Chuck Wright and Alex Grossi needed to do. Chuck could have done a great job on the record, and while there is no doubt that Alex can play, he's got a ways to go before he can understand and relate to styles of music that came before him. Both Chuck and Alex are back with QUIET RIOT now.
Greg: What can we expect, touring wise in 2007?
Frankie: More of the same as in previous years but we are trying to develop international interest once again with the release of "Rehab".
Greg: If we can, let's go back in time for a brief history lesson...When did you're involvement with QUIET RIOT first begin?
Frankie: I started working with Kevin post the first version of QUIET RIOT in 1981 playing the local LA circuit, which led to the recording of "Metal Health" in 1982 and its release in 1983. The rest is history.
Greg: When the Metal Health -era line-up first started to break, you were on tour with BLACK SABBATH during their "Born Again" tour. Was there any interaction between the bands or any interesting stories?
Frankie: Not really. I think that two experiences are worth mentioning to give you a broad picture of the situation. Initially we were being booked into the same hotels as BLACK SABBATH, which for me was great because we had little money and I used to go to the floor where the BS guys were staying and eat their left over room service, which was discarded outside their rooms on the carts. The downside for BS was that QR partied so much they started staying in different hotels in order to get some rest. There went my free bonus meals...
The other side of the coin is that sadly for BS, their "Born Again" release was not doing as well as "Metal Health" and we actually found out that MH would be #1 on the Billboard charts while opening up for BS in Rockford, IL. They did very kindly give us a case of champagne, which we put to good use.
Greg: After the second album ("Condition Critical") the first member change occurred. What caused Rudy to leave back then?
Frankie: Rudy was unhappy on a number of levels and decided that he would not continue with the band. It was very sad, as I had known Rudy since I was 18 and we had come this far on our individual and collective musical journey.
Greg: Chuck Wright was then brought in. He was in the band prior, yes?
Frankie: Chuck has been a revolving part of the QUIET RIOT musical equation since 1981.
Greg: He lasted for the one record ("QRIII".) What sort of touring was done for that record? Why didn't he stay on for S/T Shortino disc?
Frankie: He actually played bass on the"Metal Health" tracks "Metal Health" and "Don't Wanna Let You Go." And also on a track on "Condition Critical", as well as providing background vocals prior to "QRIII" which was the first full QR release that he played on. He didn't stay for the "QR " release, which Paul sang on, because he thought he could do better for himself elsewhere.
Greg: I recall some bad business blood involving Spencer Proffer. How long until it was all sorted out?
Frankie: I moved on from those issues a long, long time ago and really don't recount them, as it only gives old news new life. I try to be a happy person and stay that way because the past is the past and I only visit there when asked.
Greg: In the 80's there was almost a sibling band to QUIET RIOT. HURRICANE featured both Robert Sarzo and Tony Cavaso. Is there a story how that came together, and do you know what ever happened to either of them?
Frankie: Not really. I think that it was natural for siblings from two members in a band that had found unexpected success to unite in the hope of creating success for themselves. Robert I believe is back in the music scene and Tony still plays from time to time as far as I know. Both are really nice guys and I wish them well.
Greg: Was Tony Cavaso ever considered for QR in those times when a new bass player was need?
Frankie: Tony did actually play bass on a couple of QR sessions but it really wasn't what the band was looking for in a bass player, so we never used his bass tracks. He played fine, but he was not just what we were after musically.
Greg: You played on the charity project Hear N Aid. Obviously Vinnie Appice got the gig thru the DIO camp, but why was it you were brought in as a second drummer? Any memories from the session?
Frankie: Vivian Campbell phoned me to tell me about the project and the song. He came to my house, played it acoustically and asked if I'd be interested in playing it along with Vinny. I of course agreed, as it was a great song, a great idea and most of all a great cause. It came to fruition much later and as it happened, the session was the day after I got back from a QR tour of South America. It was a great honor to be included as part of the recorded track. The session was painless: great musicians, great engineer, and the great Ronnie James Dio, Nuff' said!
Greg: In the early 90's you'd done some interesting band projects (HEAVY BONES and BLACKTHORNE come to mind. Were these ever toured or were they just approached as "one offs"?
Frankie: HEAVY BONES was an accident waiting to happen on so many levels, and it did, but we did record what I consider to be a great record that came out at possibly the worse time musically for that type of band. We did maybe three electric shows and a few acoustic endeavors. BLACKTHORNE was simply a session. That was a good record as well.
Greg: QUIET RIOT always seemed to have a fluid line-up. Even you were AWOL for a little while during the 1993 "Terrified" era (with Bobby Rondinelli brought in) Can you tell us about that time period? Who is actually on that record? Was that after "HEAT "? (Kevin & Carlos' short-lived project)
Frankie: That was indeed after "HEAT " which I was not a part of. Bobby played on half of the "Terrified" release. When he left the band, Kevin phoned and asked if I would finish the record, which I did. That is when I first rejoined the band in 1993.
Greg: 1995 saw Chuck come back again for"Down To The Bone", replacing Ken Hillary. How did Ken's tragic death fit into the time-line?
Frankie: Kenny left the band well before his untimely death. There were no issues that led to him leaving the band. We all got along great with Kenny and he played and looked great. He just didn't want to play anymore. It was really sad when I heard about his death, which was tragic and senseless. He is very much missed but when I think of him and his sense of humor, a smile comes upon my face. He is missed.
Greg: You've also been in WASP and for a long time, Blackie's "go to" studio drummer. Was it your decision not to tour those later records and was there ever any animosity between yourself and Stet Howland?
Frankie: I had gone as far as I wanted to go with WASP, no animosity on my side of the block.
Greg: I know you weren't involved with the Randy era, but you must realize that fans are still clamoring for those albums to be released on CD. I've heard Kevin mention that since you manage the band, it's not a priority for you, any chance of looking into releasing them finally?
Frankie: It's not a question of priority, but more of a question of rights of ownership, legality and red tape, none of which I have control over.
Greg: Thank you for your time Frankie! Anything you'd like to add in conclusion?
Frankie: Nothing other that thank you for your interest in QUIET RIOT and taking the time to do this interview, both of which I appreciate! For QUIET RIOT news please visit my Website at: www.frankie-banali.com