December , 1984
By David Huff
Quiet Riot Toning Down the Noise
Last year, Quiet Riot made quite a bit of racket in the music industry when their debut album, Metal Health, steadily climbed the charts to eventually unseat Michael Jackson's record shattering LP, Thriller, from atop Billboard's Top 200 album chart.
Before Quiet Riot, the only challenger to Jackson was The Police, who also released an incredibly brilliant recording called Synchronicity. Quiet Riot’s ascension was nothing short of miraculous. It has also paved the way for other like-minded bands like Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue and Ratt to make inroads with their music as well.
Quiet Riot consists of Kevin DuBrow, vocals; Carlos Cavazo, guitar; Rudy Sarzo, bass and Frankie Banali on drums. Their determination, hard work, persistence and most of all timing, has enabled this rock ensemble to shout out to the world, ‘cum on feel the noise!’
JAM: Heavy metal music has carved out its own niche in rock and roll that not only comes with its own style of clothing and loud bombastic songs, but also has a bit of a rebellious streak written throughout the music as well. As a musician, does that bother you to see such strong aggressive towards one style of music?
Rudy Sarzo – No! The only danger that heavy metal has posed is the fact that it is trendy. This music has made it fashionable to wear studs, fashionable to wear leather. But what you must realize is that heavy metal is also an attitude, not the clothes that you wear. Take off your clothes and look at yourself in the mirror and see how heavy metal you feel. That’s the real heavy metal. It comes from inside, not what you wear.
JAM: Most people don’t really know heavy metal means because it’s often confused with melodic heavy rock, like Def Leppard. Is the quote, 'metal cycle’ already dying out?
I think it's the weeding out cycle that is occurring with this genre right now more than a trend dying out. Last year was big for heavy metal. There was a big commercialization and upsurge in popularity of bands like Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Motley Crue. Suddenly, you had every record company out their looking for their own version of those type bands. Because of urge by labels to jump on the wagon, a lot of bands were signed. Out of that, you are going to get a big explosion of music with those bands going out there fighting it out for airplay, fighting it out for tours. This last year there were more heavy metal bands out on tour since Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath went out years ago. Now you are going to have a weeding out of these bands by the kids on whom they want to see and who they want back. Those are the acts that are going to survive and be around for ten years.
JAM: Are you sure there isn't more to it than that?
I think that the bands that have really made their marks are going to have to enhance their stage appeal with the audience. They are going to have to have a certain charisma as far as putting out a good album, nice cover art work, and an interesting image and profile as far as the press goes. Heavy metal bands also have to move on beyond what they’re doing right now. They cannot keep playing the same songs that got them the recognition in '83 and '84. The only way this genre is going to survive is if it moves on. Bands are going to have to keep on changing even more so today than before because the kids are growing up really fast. If you don't keep up with them they'll leave you behind.
JAM: Why do you think that rock and roll, and in particular heavy metal, is targeted by religious groups and others as being associated with the occult and evil?
Now more than ever, there is a connotation that heavy means evil, and honestly, I just don’t get it, No one gets up onstage and portrays the real devil worship, occult type of thing. Oh, Motley Crue my use some sort of pentagram, but it’s all for show more than anything else. I know that because I used to play with them. Black magic has this image because of stories written about Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. That band was named after a Boris Karloff movie that Bill Ward and Ozzy saw advertised on a theater marquis. Their management and record company capitalized on any controversy that was aimed at the band. The press picked up on it thus causing curiosity with music fans. One thing you can’t deny though is this. Black Sabbath produced some great music and has several songs that will go down as rock classics.
JAM: That may be true up to a point, but after a while, can't that image get distorted? When controversy takes on a life of its own, the truth is the last thing the press, or anyone, wants to hear?
The only real problem is people believing what they read. When I toured with Ozzy Osbourne, I saw some really evil-minded people who would come to the show and really get off. These people thought they were bearing witness to an extraordinary experience and were a part of something they thought was actually evil. We weren't being evil on that stage. We were just performing songs from albums. These people came to the show specifically to see dogs blown up. Can you believe that? Can you imagine people believing all of those rumors about Ozzy mutilating animals onstage during his show? Let me tell you, there were actually people in those audiences that did. It was incredible.
JAM: Do events like that spill over to other groups performing the same type of music, thus typecasting anyone who plays loud and aggressive music?
It is entirely up to the individual who goes to the show and pays ten dollars or whatever, to get into the show. Will they experience evil at the show? Will they get inspiration to do terrible things? Some people might. Throughout the Ozzy tour, I did meet someone who was into the occult and he said to me, ‘Do you really think that anybody that is into the occult is going to get up there on stage and do the things that Ozzy does?’ The answer was obviously no. For individuals into the occult, it’s a sacred religion to them despite the negativity attached to it. These people respect the religious aspect of it and don't treat it as some stage thing.
JAM: Has the drinking deaths of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Bon Scott of AC/DC who both died choking on their own vomit, and to an extent, that absolutely tragic death of Randy Rhodes in a plane crash fueled the negative images of heavy metal?
No, they don’t. When you die from non-natural causes, it is always going to cause speculation. I actually think it’s more the lifestyle above anything else that creates rumors that spread more than the type of music you play. You’ve gotten more jazz artists dying from alcohol and drugs than you do in rock and roll. Like I said, I think that the lifestyle has more to do with it than anything else.
JAM: That doesn't explain why heavy metal is constantly under attack not only in press circles, but by parent groups, religious organizations, you name it?
You want to know why? Heavy metal is a powerful, subversive type of music. It arouses the kids. Any time you arouse kids, parents are going to complain about it. 'Don't bother my children.' An eight-year old today is equivalent to a 15-year old kid twenty years ago. Today’s youth have all gotten much smarter and keener. It's like as soon as they see you on TV, they know you. I have had three-year old kids come backstage and say to me, ‘Bang your head.’ I mean these little ones were totally into saying it, and they didn't even know what it meant. Kids today, no matter what age, can figure things out. They can pick out which band member does what on a music video as well as know the names of everyone in the band. They may not know what Iron Maiden means, or who Eddie the mascot is, but they will be able to identify the songs and know the lyrics. For a majority of these kids, this is all show business to them. For the bands performing the music, entertaining crowds with special effects, lighting, you name it, it’s all the part of the show they hope they’ll be remembered by. Remember, we all want repeat business. The only way to do that is to make sure you make a memorable impression the first time out.
JAM: Aren't you aware of the power you can exercise over people on stage while you're performing?
We are on that stage to entertain an audience. You don’t see metal bands on stage preaching morals or teaching kids to emulate us. I am an entertainer and a musician. In this business, you have to be both. If people want their kids to have religious training, then do it at home, or in a place of worship. It’s never going to happen with a rock band no matter how hard, or commercial, the music is.
JAM: You are quoted as saying, ‘When we are recording an album in the studio, then I am totally a musician. On the road it is something else.’ Could you clarify that comment for me?
Do you have any idea what it’s like write the same book every single night? When a band goes on tour, that’s exactly what they do when they perform night after night in city after city. Every single night a band performs its music, they have to be on. You can’t play a better show in Los Angeles than you would Norman, Oklahoma. This business doesn’t work that way. Every stop you make on a tour, regardless of the venue or its size, are extremely important. These people are all paying the same type of money to see you perform at your best. You should treat them the same way onstage as you would any other person in any another town. You just have to learn to psyche yourself up for every show. When you are only onstage for an hour and a half, no one cares what you went through the other twenty-two and a half hours before you hit the stage. By the time you hit the stage, people don't want to know that you didn't have lunch today, you couldn't sleep the night before or you are having personal problems. You have to blank that out and perform. Of course it helps when you enjoy what you are doing.
JAM: Because of Quiet Riot's style of music, does that limit the band to what it can do? I mean, was there a real difference in your first and second albums?
Our current album, Condition Critical is what I would call the bridge album for Quiet Riot. Its job was to take the listener to the other side of where Metal Health left off. Our first album set the foundation for our music. We weren’t about to jump ship on the second one. It doesn't matter how much material you have available to you, if you start jumping around you are really going to confuse a lot of people.
JAM: Was it important to create a new musical identity with this record and give Quiet Riot another direction to explore?
Here’s the thing. We could see that the music that we had created on Metal Health was being reflected over and over again by other heavy metal bands that were signed after the initial success of that record. These bands tried to emulate the formula we had established. By the time we were ready to make Condition Critical, we wanted to create music that was a little bit removed from the first, but didn't get totally away from the sound.
JAM: Have you helped create the ultimate fantasy with heavy metal?
I would say that our lifestyle is the ultimate fantasy. There really isn’t any type of heavy metal lifestyle. We don't go to airports wearing black leather or looking like we are about to hit the stage. We are more of a hard rock band. When a band comes out saying they are heavy metal, the kids expect only one thing out of them. There are too many influences in this band to be limited to one style of music. We are a hard rock band and we can do anything, or go any direction, we chose. Those principles should apply to any band out there that has had any ounce of success. There shouldn't be anything out there that could limit them musically and keep them from growing.