James Durbin loves metal and has a set of pipes on him which can deliver the goods — and both of those things no doubt helped him to a fourth place finish on season 10 of American Idol, which in turn helped him secure a new gig as Quiet Riot‘s lead vocalist. Billboard announced his ascension back in March, and since then, he’s been a busy boy indeed.
“I have to be honest, there wasn’t much time to think about it or let it hit me,” he says regarding his orientation. “As soon as I joined, I learned the set, we played some amazing shows together, and then I started recording the album.”
Said album is Road Rage, which is due Friday August 04. The disc was originally recorded with ex-Adler’s Appetite wailer Seann Nicols, but he exited stage left after a few months due to the time-honored “creative and personal differences”. Quiet Riot’s drummer Frankie Banali had talked to Durbin a couple of years ago about taking over lead duties, but he was in the middle of a Las Vegas residency and couldn’t swing it. However, while he was there, he met Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Rossi; they got together to record an EP, Maps To The Hollywood Scars: Volume 1, and that set the machinery in motion, culminating in Durbin officially joining Quiet Riot.
At that point, it was work, work, work: Durbin was given three weeks to write, demo and start recording some brand new songs with the music given to him by Grossi, Banali, bassist Chuck Wright and Banali’s songwriting partner Neil Citron. “It was a real test as a songwriter, but I really enjoyed the creative process,” he says. “Road Rage is 100 percent my lyrics and vocal melodies, and I feel very blessed and humbled to have been given that responsibility.”
Banali says Road Rage is “true to the classic Quiet Riot sound. The drums were recorded on 24-track analog, while at the same time we made full use of today’s recording technology to add a fresh take on it. This is really what we’ve done with every Quiet Riot record over the years: blend the past with the present.” He says the lyrics for the track below, Can’t Get Enough, come from Durbin’s life experiences. “From that perspective, I think a lot of people can relate to what this song is about. Musically, it is a very straight-ahead, driving rock song with great melodies in the tradition of Quiet Riot.”
Exhibit A: The first video the band has shot in almost three decades.
According to Banali, the band decided to shoot the video because they reckoned “the timing is right to give the fans a visual of the band. Between 1983 and 1987, Quiet Riot videos were well represented on MTV. While obviously much has changed since, it seemed the time was right to release a video to show everyone what Quiet Riot is all about in the 21st century.” He also liked the uplifting vibe on Can’t Get Enough and figured it has one of the strongest musical and vocal melodies on the album. “The band has always made fun videos, and this was certainly in keeping with that tradition,” he says.
Quiet Riot are on the road into November, and Durbin says that as much as he enjoyed the Road Rage sessions, the live gig is where it’s at for him. “I love creating new music and the recording process, but there’s nothing like getting out there and connecting the classics to the people that love them. The greatest part of my job is seeing people’s horns up, losing it, screaming along to ‘Cum On Feel the Noize’ and ‘Bang Your Head.’ But what they don’t know is I’m one of them. I’m having just as much fun with my horns up, losing it, screaming along with them!”