Today I had the privilege to sit down and talk with Alex Grossi. Most of you probably know Alex as the guitarist in Quiet Riot. But Alex is quite the journeyman of rock n’ roll and always seems to have a musical project going. Beautiful Creatures also features Alex on guitar along with Joe Leste (Bang Tango) on vocals, Kenny Kweens (Former L.A. Guns), Anthony Focx on guitar, and Timmy Russell on drums. The band have just released a really great re-mastered version of the album “Deuce” and included bonus tracks as well as their first newly recorded track in 13 years. I spoke with Alex about Beautiful Creatures, Quiet Riot, QR’s new vocalist James Durbin and another great side project that Alex has with Dizzy Reed from Guns N’ Roses, called simply Hookers & Blow. Alex was simply a blast to interview. Check it out.
XS ROCK: So I was excited to hear about the release of the re-mastered deluxe edition of The Beautiful Creatures Deuce album.
Alex: So was I.
XS ROCK: So tell me a little about it. How did it come about?
Alex: Well, It’s actually a long and a short story. Last September-October, Quiet Riot was doing the monsters Of Rock Cruise out of L.A. Kenny Kweens was out with L.A. Guns, Joe Leste was out with Bang Tango and I was out there with Quiet Riot. We are all hanging out on the pool deck one day, and I said, you know, why don’t we play a song together, maybe a Creatures tune?
Joe says I’m playing at 9pm and Kenny says I’m playing at 7pm and I was playing at 8pm, so I said well, let’s all try to make it to the Bang Tango show by the time we’re done and see if we can make it onstage. We decided which song to play, but the difficult part was that there is no internet on those cruise ships so we couldn’t look up the lyrics or anything. We had to go completely by memory and we hadn’t been onstage together since 2004. So we’re talking almost 13 years had passed since we last played together. But, we literally just jumped on stage and went for it. Someone in the audience filmed it and put it on youtube and the second we docked, and we had phone service again, our phones all lit up and people were asking us to do shows and recordings and this and that. Is the band getting back together? blah blah blah. So, we just kind of called each other after a few days, after we decompressed from the cruise and we said, “yeah’ let’s do it! Why not? So we decided to get together for some shows and remaster the second album. Anthony Focx, the second guitar player in the band was already established as a major mix and master guy out in Nashville. So we decided to have Anthony do it and we’ll call it Deuce Deluxe and add some new songs and bonus tracks, songs that were never available in the U.S. and put it out as a digital only release. When it first came out it was available on CD, but when you mix and master these days, you do it for digital. Apple iTunes changed that whole game. And that said, here we are.
XS ROCK: So the new tracks are really awesome. I really like the newly recorded song “Get You High”.
Alex: Yeah, We’re really proud of that. Kenny Kweens kind of spearheaded that whole thing. We had some outside writers that helped with it also. Michael Grant from L.A. Guns and Lonnie Paul from Adler helped out. IT was very much a team effort and a great way to bring the band back together. In the mixing part, we re-cut a lot of the guitar parts and drums. We pretty much re-did the whole record to be honest with you. But that new song really helped bring us back together and we’ve got more songs in the pipeline as well. We just have to figure out how and when we want to release them.
XS ROCK: You guys have to juggle all of this around your other bands and projects too, right?
Alex: Oh, yeah. Availability is a big thing. But you know what? It kind of makes it cooler. We just want to do this for the people who wanted it. Our debut show is May 27th in Denver Colorado. None of us are getting any younger, so we just want to do this right. We’ll do Hollywood, of course. We’ve got offers from everywhere like New York City, Tokyo Japan. So we’re rehearsing and getting the wheels all oiled up again. I didn’t realize it had been almost 13 years since we last played together. So, I was like, Oh, wow! I went back and relearned both albums again and it’s kind of like riding a bike, you never really forget, so it’s like muscle memory.
XS ROCK: So how’s Joe (Leste’s) health?
Alex: Joe’s had his issues in the past. But, he’s been clean and sober for the last year and half to two years now. He’s doing great. He sounds great and he’s just killing it these days. He’s in great spirits. He’s very cognizant of everything. You know lead singers are a different duck than guitarists or drummers or whatever. In my opinion, Joe is more than a lead singer. He’s a front man, you know. He’s a guy that has a vision. Beautiful Creatures was his vision. Kenny’s good at that stuff too. If you look at the new photo shoot. Those were Kenny’s ideas and they look great. Other than Beautiful Creatures when the first album came out…there was Buck Cherry and American Pearl that was doing that throw back to sleazy, dirty, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll and that was about all. I bought the first Beautiful Creatures album myself, never thinking I’d be playing on the follow-up around a year later. You know, that whole sunset strip attitude of L.A. Guns, Gun’s N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction attitude was lost to guys singing songs about how their daddy didn’t love them. You know, when I go to a rock concert, I want to party. That’s why I love playing in Quiet Riot. People go there to have fun and their not depressed about their childhood and singing about this and that…it’s fun. To me music should be escape from all those things that are depressing.
XS ROCK: The mix on Deuce Deluxe sounds great.
Alex: Anthony gave it the million dollar treatment. When we originally recorded the album, we didn’t have the technology to do what we did now with this remaster. He did it right. I’m not a mix engineer, but I’ll tell you this much, I’d put this record up against anything that comes out this year. Hands down!
XS ROCK: So you were in Quiet Riot back when Kevin Dubrow was still alive. Tell me about that.
Alex: I met Kevin back when he was doing his solo tour. He was supporting a covers record called “In For The Kill”. I got the gig to replace Carlos (Cavazo) when he left for whatever reason, and I’ve been there ever since.
XS ROCK: In that time, you’ve seen a lot of lead singers come and go.
Alex: Yeah, you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince, I suppose. And, I’m not calling anybody else a frog, especially not Jizzy Pearl. He was the real deal. We didn’t want him to leave, but he wanted to leave to pursue more with Love / Hate. When he got in QR he was a total pro and when he decided to leave, we really wanted James Durbin, but he wasn’t available at the time. I had been working with him already on Maps To The Hollywood Scars Vol. One.
XS ROCK: That E.P. was really good by the way. Do you guys plan to continue with Maps To The Hollywood Scars as a side project to Quiet Riot?
Alex: Well, We’ve already recorded volume two. Our main goal is of course with Quiet Riot, making the new album “Road Rage” as good as possible, but I suspect we’ll release more in the future. It’s just really hard to say when. It’s great to be working with guys who are in it to win it. Frankie, Chuck and I have become like basically, family over the years. We’ve been through a lot together. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Quiet Riot movie or not, if you haven’t seen it, go to http://www.quietriotmovie.com and you’ll see everything that you need to know about what I’m talking about. I lived it. I sat through the interviews when it was being made and I didn’t know how it would turn out or how it would be. I just told the truth and what you see on that screen is actually what really happened. I mean warts and all. Good, bad, ugly. It’s all there. We thought we’d get a new singer and it’d be a happy ending, but guess what…we went through another singer and then another singer, and then another. At the end of the day, I guess it made for a better story, but it was not easy. At the same time, it’s the reality of the business. A lot of guys can sing karaoke Quiet Riot songs, but that doesn’t make him a good front man. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad person or not a good singer, but they’re just not the right guy for the band. It’s one thing to be able to hits the notes, but it’s another to be able to do it and really sell it. James Durbin does that. I’ve know him since American Idol and I’m very happy to have him in the band.
XSROCK: So how was Frankie’s (Banali) spirits when Jizzy Pearl left the band? After going through so many singers, did you ever get the sense that Frankie was considering calling it quits for Quiet Riot?
Alex: No. In fact, it’s like I always tell everyone….If Kevin Dubrow‘s untimely death, which broke all of our hearts didn’t cause the band to break up, then nothing will. Frankie, Chuck and I have talked about that. Quiet Riot is not about who’s singing, it’s about the songs, the brand and all the work that Frankie’s put in over the years. Kevin’s family has been so supportive of everything. It was a bummer when Jizzy left. I’ve known Jizzy for years. People have got to do what they’ve got to do. Life goes on. We just continue to do what we do and try to put on a great show. I’m proud to be a part of it. When you watch the VH1 Quiet Riot: Behind The Music you realize it’s really about Kevin and Frankie. Those two guys were the band. And now Frankie is the band. Kevin was always looking at Frankie and they were laughing and having fun. It was so funny. When I first met Kevin, he didn’t have an actual copy of Metal Health. He gave me a DVD of them playing live to learn the parts. I wanted to do it right, because I was learning these songs and I wanted to get the tones and tuning right. He sent me this live DVD and I watched the synergy between Kevin and Frankie and the were like Slash and Axl from Guns N’ Roses or Joe Perry and Steven Tyler. Usually it’s the singer and the lead guitar player, but with Quiet Riot it was the singer and the drummer. And when I joined the band, I totally got it that these guys were the band. And with Durbin in the band, I’m seeing that develop between him and Frankie, which is nice to see. James Durbin is a natural front man and we’re happy to have him.
XS ROCK: You replaced long time guitarist Carlos Cavazo. Have you ever met him?
Alex: No. Not really. But, I’ll tell you this much….he’s a great guitar player. I had a lot fun learning his parts. And I hope I do them justice on stage.
XS ROCK: So let’s talk about another one of your cool side projects called Hookers & Blow. Tell me how that’s going?
Alex: Hookers & Blow? hmmm, Where do I start. We broke the mold with this band. The band started in January, I want to say 2003, but maybe 2004…anyway, I met Dizzy Reed, the piano player for Guns N’ Roses at the Cat Club in Hollywood.
So we started talking about doing some solo stuff. I’m a huge GNR fan so I was like, we can call it the Dizzy Reed band and book some shows. And he said, no. I want to call it Hookers & Blow. And I was like, so you want me to book a band called Hookers and Blow? So I said can I at least put featuring Dizzy Reed from Guns N’ Roses? He said yeah, but I want to call it Hookers & Blow. Two days later he sent me the logo for the band and we went out and did some covers and just did it for fun. It morphed into something bigger than we ever thought it would be. It’s now thirteen or fourteen years later and here’s the best part…we have not changed the set list. We have not learned one new song. We do not write any new music. We do not rehearse and our earnings seem to double every year. We do everything just the opposite of what real bands do. It just works. Our crowning achievement has been…remember the band Tantric? They actually opened for us. All we do is get drunk and play songs. It’s hilarious. It’s so weird. We did a show together in front of about 40 people and then my girlfriend and I went and saw him with Guns N’ Roses in front of about 40,000 people. We went to talk him after the show and he started talking about Hookers & Blow stuff. I’m like, Dizzy you just played for a football stadium full of people and left in a private jet, but that’s just him. It’s like going on a fishing trip with your buddies where you just drink beer and goof around and have the best time. That’s essentially what we do. At the end of the day we do kind of take it seriously. We usually bring Don Jamieson from That Metal Show out to host. He basically makes fun of us before we go onstage. So we get roasted before we take the stage. It’s a fun night and then he usually comes out and jams with us, even though he doesn’t play an instrument.
XS ROCK: Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
Alex: Well, I encourage everyone to pick up the Beautiful Creatures Deuce Deluxe album. We’re very proud of it. If I was a betting man, I’d say you will also see new material out before the end of the summer. No idea if it’ll be an EP of 3 songs, or an album with 10 or 30 songs. It’s too early to say, but I’d bet money you’ll see a new release from Beautiful Creatures in that time frame.
XS ROCK: Thanks again Alex for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today.
Alex: Hey, Thank you! I appreciate it.