Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s Bram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
This week, it was revealed that Quiet Riot is reuniting with a new lineup. That’s right, even though singer Kevin Dubrow died three years ago and two of its members from the “classic” era have moved on to other projects, Quiet Riot is “reuniting.” Drummer Frankie Banali, the sole original member, is joined by returning members Alex Grossi and Chuck Wright, and new singer Mark Huff. Now at this point, you’re probably asking yourself the following: Why?! Does the world really need a new version of Quiet Riot?
Such questions can really be posed to any band coming back from the dead with only half or so original members. To some, it seems simply pointless (sorry Quiet Riot, but you kind of fall in that category). To others, or to the more concerned fan, continuing on under a band’s name without certain members is indeed harmful to the brand. So in this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl, Bram and Zach debate whether it’s truly damaging for a band’s legacy to continue on without its “definitive” lineup.
Bram: I’d say it really depends on the band. Quiet Riot put out one great album in 1983, and that’s it. Sure, they put out quite a few more before Kevin Dubrow’s untimely death, but they’re really best known for Metal Health. So even though Dubrow was the best-known member of the band, the casual metal fan that knows “Cum On Feel the Noize” probably won’t be all that discriminating if they see that Quiet Riot are playing their hometown club. It’s a little bit like Journey. After Steve Perry left, they got another guy that sounded like him named Steve and now they have that Filipino dude that also sounds like him. There are probably some people that don’t even know or care that the original singer isn’t in the band. What’s your take?
Zach: I’d agree that it depends on the band, but that it also depends on how that said band goes about it. Take for example Alice In Chains. Many people never thought Alice In Chains could reunite, let alone record a new album, without Layne Staley. Yet here they are, back as a major touring attraction and with an amazing album, Black Gives Way To Blue. I feel that part of the reason why their return was a success is because they took baby steps and never approached it as a “reunion” per say. Their goal in the beginning was to never replicate their previous fame, rather to pay homage to their fallen brother and the music they created. Though I’m sure that goal has changed a bit over the years, that mentality still feels present, at least to me.
The reason why many stick up their noses to band’s continuing on without key members is because for the most part, many bands go about it in the wrong way. Case in point, Guns N’ Roses (and this is coming from an actual Axl Rose/Chinese Democracy supporter). Need I explain further?
Bram: Yeah, but Axl and his appetite for dysfunction traveling circus side show still sell out shows. Nostalgia is a pretty strong emotion. Stephen Pearcy tours with a bunch of guys that aren’t Ratt as Stephen Pearcy’s Rat Bastards. People know they’re not getting the original, but they don’t care. I can’t imagine someone demanding their money back from a Quiet Riot show because it wasn’t Kevin Dubrow. As long as this guy kinda sounds like him, everyone that comes out to the state fair or bar they’re playing can get all hopped up on cheap beer and reminisce about cranking “Metal Health” while fingerblasting a girl for the first time in their IROC Z in ’83. As long as people are willing to pay to see bands play, why wouldn’t bands reunite, even if they’re missing a key member or two?
Zach: But don’t you think that it devalues the band’s legacy just a little bit to see one original member and three other guys performing in a bar under that name? I mean with Stephen Pearcy, he wasn’t calling it Ratt. And even now he sees how much more money/”credibility” he can earn with reuniting with at least two of the other original members (Ratt has three “key” members right? Can you tell I don’t really care?) since Ratt’s new album actually did fairly well in it’s first week. I’m not saying that a band should quit just because a member left the band or doesn’t want to play anymore, hence why I support Sepultura still (sorry Max and Igor, but you quit the band! Get over it). But it leaves me slightly uneasy when it’s blatantly obvious that the band’s motive to move forward is to make a few extra bucks and not to better its legacy.
As for GN’R (and again, I actually somewhat support Axl continuing on as GN’R even if his ego is screwing himself over), they might be headlining festivals and selling out arenas still, but they surely aren’t selling CDs. That to me says more about a band’s status than whether they can headline a festival or not.
Bram: I agree to a point, but it comes down to what kind of a legacy the band has. Aside from a guitar player poached by Ozzy before they got big and some pretty amazing accomplishments with Metal Health, what’s Quiet Riot’s legacy? In fact, the band even went through a period in the late ’80s when Dubrow wasn’t in the band. I say let Frankie Banali make some cash, and if you’re going to see a band that you didn’t know was still around play a bar, set your expectations lower.
What do you think? Is it ok for a band to reform, even with as little as one original member, or is it damaging to the band’s credibility?