By Jeb Wright
Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali’s rock and roll journey has taken him from L.A. clubs to some of the world’s biggest stages (see the video for the US Festival in this interview)… and even the silver screen!
Frankie’s wife, Regina Russell Banali, undertook a task five years ago to tell the tale of one of the Sunset Strip’s most famous bands, QUIET RIOT. She told the story with integrity, honesty and a dedication to perfection. The end result has seen the documentary QUIET RIOT: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back become the talk of the hard rock community, as well as the film crowd. The undertaking became a crossover hit that pleasantly surprised Banali.
In the interview that follows, we discuss the film and the creative drive to produce it. Frankie talks about QUIET RIOT in the modern day and how he had to stay out of Regina’s way and allow her to make the movie without his influence.
If you have not seen this one, then, by all means, please do. Even if you are not a fan of Heavy Metal, QUIET RIOT: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back will touch you. Order from the band’s website and receive the DVD signed by Frankie!
Check it all out at http://www.officialquietriot.com/
Jeb: Did you help produce this Rock-umentary as a tribute to Kevin Dubrow’s memory and to document his place in rock and roll history?
Frankie: That’s certainly a part of it.
Jeb: In between all of the cool stuff, interviews and famous guests are clips of you guys basically enjoying being rock stars… young, dumb and full of… well… Where did you get that footage?
Frankie: I’ve always kept as much of my history with QUIET RIOT be it video, personal photos, magazines, photo sessions, all along and started building my archives with the band as far back as the DuBrow band days, when Kevin and I met in 1980.
Jeb: Also who gets credit for finding all the old magazine covers and clips and photos?
Frankie: All the credit goes to Regina Russell Banali, the director and producer of the film. Most of it I already had in my archives, and anything else she needed she acquired, but she put in the work and the time to organize it all in a manner which she could work with.
Jeb: How much did your wife inspire you during the making of this film?
Frankie: She made the film. I was her inspiration during the making of the film.
Jeb: Was making this film easier, or more difficult than you thought when you started out?
Frankie: She thought it was going to be much faster and easier than it ended up being, that’s for sure. She worked really hard, and it took nearly five years to complete. Making a film of a band with three plus decades of history, including the Randy Rhoads era QUIET RIOT, to the present, was no easy task and the story continued to change and evolve in real time, which added to the already complicated story.
Jeb: Was one of the reasons you did this ‘in-house’ so that you had total creative control?
Frankie: It was Regina’s idea to do the film. There was never any question of anyone else doing it. She was inspired and wanted to tell the story right, truthfully, without filters, the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the highest points and the lowest of lowest points, without outside interference. Otherwise, the film wouldn’t be real… and I totally trusted her. This film is real, the realities of being in this thing called QUIET RIOT and what it took, and takes, to continue.
Jeb: You self-funded this project. It was a very successful venture. Did your hand cramp from autographing stuff? Seriously, a lot of bands try to do this. What are the highs and lows of this type of capital-raising experience?
Frankie: We crowd funded early in the process and that was the seed money to get it started. In the end, it was more than 90% self-funded. Regina and I had meetings with a couple of different production companies who were interested in funding the project, but that would have meant giving up Regina’s creative control and our ownership. I trusted Regina’s vision and wanted her to make the film she wanted to make, so we funded it ourselves so that would be possible. As far as the Kickstarter rewards, I’m always happy to sign things for the fans. You get out what you put in.
Jeb: This was on Showtime. It was in a film festival. How proud are you that this sucker is getting good press?
Frankie: I’m happy that the film has been well received by fans, critics and especially non-fans and the non-rock and roll typical audience. It crossed over to everyday people. That was also very gratifying.
Jeb: What is the experience like, to see what you’ve been a part of become a living document of that time? What was it like to watch this from your point of view?
Frankie: I waited until it was finished to watch it in its entirety. It was surreal to see so much of my life pass before me. I laughed a lot and cried, too. I’m very proud of the film.
Jeb: I was buds with Kevin. We loved a lot of obscure music and we talked about bands most people had never heard of. Too many people want to remember him as a wild man and a big mouth—at times he was both of those. However, there were other sides to him. Talk about your relationship with him.
Frankie: A lot of my personal relationship with Kevin is in the film, and in my words and his. It’s all there for the world to see and understand. He was a great friend to me and I was a great friend to him in spite of all the difficulties we shared.
Jeb: You cover all eras of Quiet Riot. How important was this for you to do?
Frankie: I had no opinion in that regard. I trusted her to make the film she wanted to make and cover as much, or as little of anything she wanted. She made the film as she felt it needed to be told.
Jeb: When Kevin died you did not think you could be in Quiet Riot again. I know it was a big decision for you to go back out there. Many gave you hard time behind your back that is was about money. I know you too well to think money is the only reason you did this. For the naysayer out there, tell me why you resurrected the band and why it is important for you to keep this band’s music alive.
Frankie: When I decided not to continue QUIET RIOT, that was very honest and done at a time when I was in the depths of grief and I didn’t decide to try it again for nearly three years. It was important to me to continue because it’s my band, too. I’ve devoted a lot of my career to the band. Ultimately, anyone can resurrect a band, but it’s up to the fans to make it possible to continue.
Jeb: Does this documentary make you want to do a new album? Does it get the juices flowing?
Frankie: I love recording. I’m the only member of QUIET RIOT to have played on every single QUIET RIOT record from 1983’s Metal Health to 2006’s Rehab. Will there be another QUIET RIOT record? Maybe. It has to be the right time and for the right reasons. Not on the horizon, but not out of the question.
Jeb: What to you is the most special musical moment that you experienced in Quiet Riot in a live setting?
Frankie: There are a few. Our first performance after the release of Metal Health in 1983, which were two sold out nights at The Roxy in Hollywood as headliners. The US Festival with its 375,000+ in attendance. Playing Madison Square Garden in 1983. I saw Led Zeppelin there, and so I was on that stage with my drums where John Bonham sat. L.A. Forum in 1984, hometown boys make good! There are just so many more, so many happy memories. I could write several chapters on just shows.
Jeb: On your last album with Kevin you guys recorded a song called “Evil Woman” that I think was a Spooky Tooth song. That is one of the best remakes EVER. Your thoughts?
Frankie: When Kevin first came out to see me play live in January of 1980, with the trio Monarch with Michael Monarch from Steppenwolf and Detective fame, after the set we hit it off right away. I had already met Kevin when Randy was still in the band, but this night he came specifically to talk about working together based on recommendations from both Randy and Rudy. We loved the same bands and music. It was that night that we said someday we would record “Evil Woman.” It took 26 years.
Jeb: What is next now that this movie is out? Where does the path take Frankie Banali now?
Frankie: We continue to tour. We’ve been touring nonstop since 2010. Out first show of 2016 is headlining a festival in North Wales in March.
Jeb: Okay just for smiles… Quiet Riot saw and did just about everything. What is the most Spinal Tap moment you experienced?
Frankie: Wait for the book… If I ever write one!
Jeb: Tell me how great it is to get so many wonderful guests to appear on this sucker. Glenn Hughes, Dee Snider, Steven Alder, Matt Sorum, Eddie Trunk, Martha Quinn… wow. It had to be humbling and nostalgic.
Frankie: I am so truly grateful for all of them and yes, I am so humbled that they wanted to be a part of the story, represented in this movie.
Jeb: One that was not on there that should have been was Jeb Wright!
Frankie: You should see the “Hey, what about me?” line!
Jeb: Was there any footage that HAD to be left on the cutting room floor? If so, what was the hardest clip for you not to include the film?
Frankie: I didn’t make the film. You would have to ask the filmmakers. After about the first month or so, I just stopped looking at dailies, or the progress. I was too busy dealing with keeping QUIET RIOT moving forward with so many obstacles. I also didn’t want to influence the film one way or the other. I had to step away from it voluntarily to ensure that it was truthful, even if some things in the film make me uncomfortable.
Jeb: The Stones said, “It’s only rock n roll but I like it.” Is it only rock n roll to you? Or is this something more?
Frankie: It’s my life. It’s been my life since I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan on my parent’s television back in Queens.
Jeb: Last one: Which is a better song…”Cum on Feel the Noize” or “Metal Health?”
Frankie: “Metal Health,” though I am grateful to Slade for writing a great song which we made into a huge hit.
Jeb: Last year you did a show in Oklahoma and a fan had a CD cover of every album that you ever appeared on... it was dozens and dozens of covers. I think you signed them ALL for him. How does it feel to be THAT appreciated?
Frankie: I did sign them all and that’s always an amazing experience. You see, I am a fan, so I get it when a fan feels that way. It is the most wonderful feeling and it’s one of the reasons why I keep doing what I do and why I keep QUIET RIOT alive.
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