Frankie Banali Talks New Quiet Riot, Tracii Guns, Blackie Lawless

For the final interview of his month-long Bananiversary Celebration, rock & roll comic C.C. Banana spoke with drummer Frankie Banali about Tracii Guns, Blackie Lawless and the upcoming studio album. A few excerpts from the interview follow:

C.C. Banana: When can fans expect to hear more of that sweet, sweet Quiet Riot sound?

Frankie Banali: The new album is a work in progress. Kevin (DuBrow) and I made a conscious decision last year to record new Quiet Riot music that would represent the style of music we both like. Since we are financing the project ourselves, we are in no hurry to churn it out because it is not time sensitive. Do we want it released? Of course, but when we are ready to do so and on our own terms. Let’s face it, the Quiet Riot fans will likely go out and buy it when it’s released. All those who aren’t interested in Quiet Riot will ignore it. Then of course, the legions of malcontents who don’t like Quiet Riot (or anything else, for that matter) will slam it as usual, without ever hearing it. So the album will be available when we decide to release it.

C.C. Banana: What was the reason for Quiet Riot re-recording 6 of its past hits for the 1999 studio release Alive & Well, an album that featured the reunion of the celebrated Metal Health lineup?

The label that released the CD insisted on including remakes of the “hits” in order to consummate the deal. We hated doing it, but it was a deal breaker with the label. It would also give them the opportunity to further dilute Quiet Riot by making licensing deals based on those songs.

C.C. Banana: Tracii Guns lasted only about 3 weeks in Quiet Riot (which is less than the 3 years he was in Brides of Destruction yet longer than the 3 days he lasted in Poison). Even L.A. Guns, the band named after him, doesn’t seem to want him back anymore. Tracii has always been cool with us, but can you shed any light on why the man can’t seem to stay in a band these days for more than 2 seconds?

Frankie Banali: Well, the timetable for Tracii’s musical participation was in fact much shorter than 3 weeks, in any real sense. I spoke with Tracii at Kevin’s suggestion, as he thought that Tracii would work out great in the band. I agreed that musically, he could. The discussions between Tracii and myself (and Tracii’s manager) were very mercurial. One day it would all be positive, the next day there would be issues. After much debate, it seemed on paper that the arrangement would work but that no announcement should be made until Tracii had completed some European dates with Brides of Destruction.

The reality is that we had one rehearsal with Tracii, then called it a day. Again, Tracii really is a great rock guitar player so there were no issues there. But I couldn’t overlook his history with different bands in the past. So when Tracii called Kevin the day after our one brief rehearsal and indicated that he no longer wanted to participate, we agreed that such would be best for all concerned. Kevin and I were already having misgivings about the association. In fact, I had mentioned to Kevin after that rehearsal that I would not be surprised if Tracii wanted out. Lo and behold, the next day he was gone. There were no issues, there are no issues. It was just simply not going to work for any of us. I do still hear from Tracii. As a matter of fact, I just got an IM from him a few days ago. He says hi!

C.C. Banana: In 2004 you had a falling-out with W.A.S.P. main man Blackie Lawless, after having worked with him since the late 1980s. During an interview with Wendell Neeley on The Classic Metal Show, you revealed that the rift stemmed from the fact that Blackie did not want to pay you a fair rate in exchange for your live drumming services. This rift later manifested itself in Blackie leaving your name off the credits of The Neon God, Part 2 CD, despite the fact that you’d drummed on the entire album. How did things go so far south?

Frankie Banali: The issue was never really about the money. He made his offer, I declined to accept and we went our separate ways without issue. Or so I thought. He then decided to devalue my participation on his recordings. He would have taken my credit off The Neon God, Part 1 but the artwork had already been completed and the discs were already being manufactured. But he did remove my credit from Part 2 since that release came after the fact. Blackie instead gave the credit to Stet (Howland).

This is typical BL BS 101. He used this same tactic when he and I didn’t see eye to eye at the conclusion of recording The Crimson Idol. He went on to do interviews at the time, saying that I had only played on a few tracks, which was not true. I recorded every song except for a portion of one.

It’s a shame that things ended the way they did between Blackie Lawless and myself because I always got along with him and I understand him. He is actually very talented when he doesn’t paint himself into a musical genre corner. But as long as he travels in the company (and with the mentality) of “I, me, mine,” the end result is evident. I have no desire or intention of working with him again and fortunately for me, I think he feels the same way. I will always be grateful for his attendance at my mother’s funeral in 1990, which is one of the reasons we started working together again, but he lost a good friend when he could not leave well enough alone after we went our separate musical ways.

The entire interview is available here.

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