Rudy Sarzo Interview
"Metal Health" (Pasha/CBS Records) marks the debut album on
that label for L.A. rockers "Quiet Riot." The group having formed
in 1975 is enjoying huge success throughout the U.S. "Quiet Riot" was
featured at this year's U.S. Festival in California. One of "Quiet
Riot's" current chart toppers is a remake of the old Slade song "Cum
On Feel The Noize."
In town for a recent concert appearance, we spoke with bassist Rudy Sarzo
to find out what all the noise for "Quiet Riot" is about.
Q - It's rather strange that "Quiet Riot" is
being branded a new group, when in fact you guys have been together since
'75 and recording since '77. Do most L.A. groups stay together this long?
A - No, as a matter of fact most L.A. bands get together just to get a
record deal. The life span of a typical Los Angeles-based band is anything
from six to eight months. They figure it'll take them a couple of months
to put some original material together, do a demo, start showcasing around
town and start to bring in as many record co. people as possible. If within
that eight-month period nothing happens, they'll just go on to something
else. And sometimes it will fall into trends. You'll see the same people
going through either the new wave or hard rock period or the punk period,
letting their hair grow, getting back to whatever, just to make it, because
it's a very competitive market, which was never the case with "Quiet
Q - In 1979 "Quiet Riot" disbanded. Why?
You had a good sales record overseas, growing popularity in your home
town and were opening concerts for major acts.
A - Because we had the fans, but we didn't have the record label. Around
us, they were signing all those local bands wearing white shirts and skinny
ties, 'cause that's what was happening at the time. All of a sudden "The
Knack" sell so many million records, so they try to find the next "Knack." We
were totally ignored.
Q - But in Japan, you had two albums that did quite well.
A - It was the business of the time. The reason for us getting the Japanese
deal was to prove ourselves in a market. In this country they were so locked
into new wave they thought that hard rock or heavy metal was never gonna
come back. They thought the wave of the future was The Cars, The Knack,
and that was going to be it for every band.
Q - Are they ever surprised today.
A - Oh yeah, but they're on our side now. There are some die hards in
the business, in the record industry, some people who are always into hard
rock and will always be into it, and they're the guys who are fighting there
for us. They're the ones who are making our record the success it is today.
Today, we hit our 400,000+ units. That's not bad for a hard rock act. Its
27, with a bullet in Billboard.
Q - How'd you get the recent gig at the U.S. Festival?
A - We were touring at the time with the Scorpions, and we just happened
to be doing a series of dates for Feyline Concerts, Barry Fey. We just
happened to be playing in Boulder, Colorado and Chuck Morris from Feyline
happened to see the show that same day that John Cougar pulled out. Now,
Feyline were the people who were booking the bands for the U.S. Festival.
So there was talk about us doing it. Then our manager went in the next day,
negotiated the deal, and we got it. We heard about it, a couple of days
before it happened, and it was just incredible. About a week later we started
coming down from the whole rush.
Q - Who's idea was it to record the "Slade" song?
A - It was suggested by our producer, Spencer Proffer. He felt it would
be a good pop song for us to record. We gave it a try, liked the way it
came out, and did it.
Q - Randy Rhoads was of course one of the co-founders
of "Quiet Riot." When
you were in the group with him, did you ever have any idea that he was
going to become a rock legend?
A -I always felt that he was an incredible guitar player. Now whether
he was going to get the exposure to make him able to achieve that, that's
a whole different story. Obviously he did get the break to be exposed. His
musical background was incredible. He came from a musical background. Everybody
in his family, including his mother, was a musician. Even his father was
a music teacher in college. The family owns a music school. He had been
teaching guitar for many years.
Q - Can you sum up in a few words what kind of a guy Randy Rhoads was?
A - Very humble, humble towards everybody else and always trying to achieve
the most and trying to be the best Randy Rhoads he could be. He wasn't trying
to be anybody else, just the best he could be. That was all.
Q- The late rock critic Lester Bangs once wrote
that Heavy Metal was "a
fast train to nowhere."
A - Well, if that's true, it's a very crowded train because I would say
everybody's on it.
Q - Pete Townshend on rock 'n roll, "If it screams for truth rather
than help; if it commits itself with a courage it can't be pure it really
has, if it stands up and admits something is wrong but doesn't insist on
blood, then it's rock 'n roll." How many groups in rock today are living
up to Pete Townshend's definition? Maybe The Who don't even fit that
A - No, I don't think that The Who fit that definition anymore. I think
they have become what I consider exhibition rock. You have boxers that cannot
box anymore but they use to be great and everybody wants to see them, so
they just go around from town to town doing exhibition bouts, which to me
is what The Who and other bands of their same era, they're still around,
are doing. I saw The Who, the last tour at the L.A. Coliseum, and I've seen
them in film. If you look back or even check out "The Kids Are Alright" and
look at their early performances, they're not even a shadow of what they
used to be.
Q - You played bass for Ozzy Osbourne. Creatively speaking, what do you
get out of something like that?
A - Creatively, I consider myself to have been in one of the greatest
Top 40 bands. He asked me to play exactly what was on the record. I was
only up there reproducing. I looked forward to the day when I would go into
the studio and do an album, under the right circumstances with Randy and
Ozzy, which never happened of course. I learned a lot about the business.
I got exposure. See it was such a non-creative experience playing wise that
I turned creatively to my performing rather than playing. There's just so
far you can go playing somebody else's music. I tried to be more creative
performing wise, within the perimeter of what I was allowed to do, which
was not very much, so that was even a bigger challenge.
Q - Who came up with the group's name?
A - The history of the name "Quiet Riot" was actually given
to Kevin DuBrow by one of the members from "Status Quo." way back
in 1975. He asked him what should I call my band, and the guy said in a
real thick English accent "Quite Right." And so Kevin couldn't
understand him and the guy said just say "Quiet Riot.'' And that became
the name of the band.
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