QUIET RIOT Guitarist ALEX GROSSI Talks Bands That Use Backing Tracks In Live Performances - "Today, MILLI VANILLI Wouldn't Have Had To Give Their Grammy Back"; Audio

October 11, 2023, 4 months ago

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QUIET RIOT Guitarist ALEX GROSSI Talks Bands That Use Backing Tracks In Live Performances - "Today, MILLI VANILLI Wouldn't Have Had To Give Their Grammy Back"; Audio

In a new episode of radio show and podcast, It’s Showtime With Rikki, Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Grossi and host Rikki Lee Travolta dissect the band’s history and future, as well as some of the current trends in the industry. The conversation has a number of entertaining asides and revelations.

In the exciting interview between Grossi and Travolta, one subject to come up is how some bands now play to tracks during their live performances and how that relates to music industry footnote Milli Vanilli.

Quiet Riot is one of the most in-demand touring acts in classic heavy metal – and they do it without a net. Every note they play comes from their instruments, not from a laptop.

Live Vs Canned:

Travolta, for one, contends that there is something special about playing 100% live. By not relying on tracks, the band can move as one, adapting to where the music takes them.

Both Grossi and Travolta acknowledge that there is a place in the industry for bands that play to tracks. It can create a very dependable performance that some audiences desire – a note-for-note recreation of exactly how songs sound on the albums that made them famous.

In a 2020 interview with Rock Feed, Shinedown guitarist Zack Myers stated that he believes 90% of bands currently use tracks in their live appearances.

Mötley Crüe has been in the headlines in recent years for their alleged use of backing tracks. In the band’s divorce from original guitarist Mick Mars, there have been conflicting accounts from the band members on if they had been using tracks in their touring appearances – something Mars says he was not a fan of.

Both Grossi and Travolta are adamant that using tracks is a choice that bands are free to make, and that in many instances it results in a show that makes fans happy. However, it is not for everyone. In the case of Quiet Riot, Grossi, bassist Rudy Sarzo, singer Jizzy Pearl, and drummer Johnny Kelly do their shows 100% live.

Milli Vanilli Grammy:

At one point in the conversation, Travolta notes that Milli Vanilli came up randomly on one of his playlists – noting the R&B duo could be considered the textbook example of performing to tracks. Milli Vanilli won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, for their breakout album “Girl You Know It’s True”. However, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were forced to return their award after it was learned producer Frank Farian used studio performers for the vocals on the album and that Rob and Fab were lip-syncing to tracks in their live shows.

Now though, with the advent of things like Pro Tools, producers can create stellar-sounding albums even when the musicians in the band are subpar. This prompts Grossi to joke that if Milli Vanilli situation happened today, they probably wouldn’t have to return the Grammy.

Pro Tools also characterizes how albums are recorded today. During the It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee interview, Grossi and host Travolta discuss their early days in the music industry of recording on tape in the studio, compared to modern digital recording where in some cases artists can lay down their individual parts remotely and email them to the producer and engineer to assemble.

“It's funny, back in the day you had to be good. There was no Pro Tools. We were recording on tape and if you didn’t get it right you had to rewind it and do it again,” says Grossi. With Pro Tool, however, musicians don’t have to be virtuosos, because the studio engineer can fix missing notes and any other errors. Thankfully, Quiet Riot doesn’t need tricks to sound great.

Grossi has been thrilling audiences with Quiet Riot since 2004 and has become part of the identity of the band – just like the late Randy Rhoads was when he started the band with Kevin DuBrow. Rhoads later left the band to work with Ozzy Osbourne and then died in a tragic plane crash in 1982, but will always be associated with the Quiet Riot sound. Grossi recorded and toured with DuBrow until his passing in 2007 and has continued to serve as an ambassador of the band's music.

Quiet Riot Legacy:

“You have to be pretty damn good to be the guitarist in the band started by one of the greatest musicians to ever play the instrument,” notes Travolta about Grossi. “Alex Grossi has become an integral part of the Quiet Riot experience. He’s an superb musician and audiences just love the stunning music he and the band create each night.”

Life on the road is nothing new for Grossi. The guitarist landed his first touring gig in the music industry right out of high school.  In addition to being the guitar focus of Quiet Riot, Grossi has recorded with such acts as Angry Salad, Star 64, Bang Tango, Beautiful Creatures, John Corabi, Steven Adler, Public Enemy, and Hookers & Blow.

Hookers & Blow is a subject that comes up in the interview. The band is a supergroup that Grossi formed in 2003 with Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses. The revolving lineup has included members of Type O-Negative, W.A.S.P., Enuff Z Nuff, and LA Guns to name a few. The carefree nature of Hookers & Blow is a direct contrast to the structured shows Quiet Riot puts on year-round.

The life of a rockstar is never dull, although as Grossi points out – it does mean a lot of time in airports.

“We're out pretty much every weekend,” says Grossi of his schedule with Quiet Riot. “This weekend alone, I'm taking 10 flights to do all the shows we have booked.”

The sacrifices that Grossi and the other members of Quiet Riot make traveling the world to be with their fans have made the band a consistent draw. Fans love the band, and for good reason.

“Alex Grossi is one of the best guitarists in the industry and Quiet Riot has proven themselves to be in a class of heavy metal all their own,” states Travolta. “Quiet Riot is one of the true greats and their live shows are phenomenal. Alex Grossi is a big reason for that.”

From Hollywood A-listers to the biggest stars in music, It’ Showtime with Rikki Lee provides a weekly behind-the-scenes look into the world of entertainment. Host Travolta is also known for being the publicist for Steven Adler of Guns N’ Roses fame and makes the program an entertaining blend of playful fun with just the right touch of journalistic integrity.

It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee is currently ranked among the top 225 entertainment podcasts on Apple Podcasts. It is available now to listeners around the world on all major podcast platforms including Apple, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Google. In addition, the program airs every Friday at 3 PM, Central on 101.5 FM WHRU out of Chicago’s Huntley community.  

In addition to his work with Steven Adler, Travolta previously worked on campaigns for artists including Janet Jackson, Extreme, Sting, Bryan Adams, The Zeros, Diamond Rexx, and Crowbar. He also achieved huge success in PR in the business world, helping to create some of the biggest corporate brands in the country. However, he points out that rock n’ roll is more fun.

For up-to-date information on Quiet Riot’s upcoming performance schedule visit www.QuietRiot.band.

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