Hookers-Blow-Press-Shot-Alex Grossi might be best known as the guitarist in heavy metal band Quiet Riot, a role he’s held since 2004, but for fans of L.A. rock, he’s the founder of the city’s ultimate cover band – Hookers & Blow.

This year, H&B released its first full album of covers, including Stones, Bowie, Zeppelin and Zombies remakes, among others.

 

We sat down with Alex to catch up on H&B, as well as where Quiet Riot stands, after losing its last original member, Frankie Banali, to cancer last year.

Hookers & Blow is back. But this time, there’s a debut album. So what makes this the right time for the album?
Well, we decided in 2018 that after we did a tour with The Dead Daisies, and Dizzy Reed’s solo record through Golden Robot, we should give it a shot. They offered us a deal and complete creative control. It took a couple years, but we did it, we’re proud of it. It was the right time, because we finally found the right combination of people. And there’s been a lot of buzz about the band.

We promised ourselves we’d never become an original band and put out records. But if you could cover records, you get a pass on it. It was a lot of fun to make, we put a lot of time and a lot of our own money into it. And it sounds phenomenal. So it’s not just a quick cash grab. It’s actually, art for the sake of being art, believe it or not.

This wasn’t done all at once, so was this sort of a casual project?
It was done in chunks because we did some out here in Las Vegas at The Basement. Drums and guitars were done here. The vocals and keyboards were done in LA, guitars were done back and forth.

Sometimes I would be in L.A. and then when the pandemic hit, we all had to definitely go virtual, because the studios were closing down. So it was all different kinds of processes, three or four different studios. Thankfully, technology nowadays enables you to do that.

In true Hookers & Blow style, it’s all covers. Which ones did you specifically choose for this album?
The Eddie Money song. There was definitely a push for Eddie Money and Body Count songs. Those I thought were really cool together. I wanted to do Godzilla for sure, because we played it live a few times, and it sounded great.

It’s really a group effort. Everyone had their say and we just made a list and tried a couple in the studio. Some of them we literally learned in the studio, like the Body Count song, we’d never played live. Johnny never even heard it before and we did it on the spot. Each song had a different process.

Which song on the album do you think best describes what Hookers & Blow is all about?
I would say “Rocks Off” encompasses everything what the band’s about, because it’s got, both lyrically and just a vibe you know. That was Dizzy’s pick and I never even heard the song before. But once when I heard the way we did it, the way it came out, I thought it really is what should be the first single video because it captures the vibe of the band perfectly.

Was there a specific song that was unusual for you to perform or just felt different?
“Time Of The Season” is a tough song to cover. But for me personally, “No Quarter” was definitely because we did those separately with Frankie Banali, rest in peace Frankie, on drums. And that process was different because he was in L.A. recording the drums. I did the guitars out here. We never got to play it together, but we played it together in Quiet Riot for so long, it was like second nature, but it was definitely different recording and not having him there with me. He did those songs in one or two takes that are amazing. You’d never know what kind of condition he was in health wise.

hookersblow-albumOn that note, many of the songs on the album are from artists and bands that have lost members throughout the years. Was that conscious in some way or was it just classic tunes?
No, we picked the songs before Eddie Money died, obviously before Frankie died, before Tom Petty died. We had no idea. Eddy Money knew we were recording the song. I called and texted him for permission. He thought it was great. And then by the time it was done, he was gone. It was really sad.

You mentioned Frankie. He was he’s on the Led Zeppelin tunes. You truly couldn’t pick a better drummer to do Zeppelin.
“No Quarter” gives me chills. It really does. He saw that we were recording and he said, let me know when you want me to go in and we scheduled his chemo treatments where he would be strong enough to play and he went in and banged it out one day.

I’m sure the loss of Frankie’s pretty devastating. You’re probably still not over that.
No, none of us are. It is cathartic that we’re moving on doing exactly what he wanted, and being successful at it. It’s like he’s still here with us, because we’re keeping his baby going for him.

You were actually in the band with Kevin as well, which is an entirely different era of this band. Are there things you miss from that original lineup that you were in?
I miss Kevin and Frankie every day. I met Kevin when I was 25, and he brought me into the circle. At first I was his guitar player for his solo project he was doing, when there was no Quiet Riot, and then when they reformed, Kevin and Frankie asked me to be the guitarist.

I miss those guys all the time. I mean, they were hilarious to be around. I was really fortunate to have that education by working closely with those guys, who really did it. Not guys who have one hit in the 90s. I’m talking guys who sold 10 million records. There’s not too many of those guys out there, and if you can work closely with them, and pay attention, you can learn a lot, and I’m glad that I did.

I’ve heard there might be a new album coming at some point.
Yeah, we’re working on it right now. We just released a song that was debuted on Six Degrees of Sarzo, Rudy Sarzo’s podcast. And he actually played bass on it. It’s called ‘Rock In Peace’. It was on his podcast, and then we’re working on a full length as well.

Are there any songs leftover from Frankie or Kevin?
Yes, Frankie left behind about two albums worth of drum tracks at least. So he will still be on the albums.

A lot of it was already started when he passed. We were already working on stuff. It is a little strange to not have his feedback, but he was such a musical drummer. And he had such a good instinct when it came to arrangements, which a lot of people don’t realize. He left the blueprints very easy for us.

But yeah, you miss them because you don’t have that feedback. You’re just playing to what’s there, but fortunately, I’ve been in the band almost 18 years now. I know how he plays pretty well and it’s nice to hear him even if it’s just through speakers.

So again, Frankie’s a guest on the album. Hookers & Blow is known for its guests, and its interchanging members, especially over the years. This album has an appearance by the Okai Sisters. How did they get involved in this?
They’re Hookers & Blow alumni. Shows that I couldn’t do, they would go out and kill it for me, I believe it was Tsuzumi the bass player for Limp Bizkit and just their family. They’re close friends of ours, and they’re great players. And we always did Godzilla live with them. They would scream in Japanese and break down and they nailed it. And I’m like, you got to put Godzilla on there. I just played rhythm on it, it’s all them, they crushed it. They did great and they’re phenomenal players, they’re friends. Everyone on this record is family.

Are there other guests on there that I’m not sure of?
Yeah, we had a producer Alistair James plays guitar on a couple tracks. Scott Griffin played on a tracker or two, from L.A. Guns.

I think the most interesting guest we have is in the chorus of “You Gotta Fight for Your Right To Party”, we have the entire cast of Counting Cars singing the chorus with Danny “The Count” and all those guys.

We recorded to at his studio, and we were laying down the lead vocals, and I’m like, we need a gang we need like five drunk dudes. I looked at the parking lot and I see Danny. I go, Hey, Danny come here, we got them all in there. We mic’d them up. It was like eight of them. We recorded four tracks and eight of those guys screaming. And that’s what you hear. That was definitely Danny “The Count” Koker and company.

We also had as special guest and Stoney Curtis is the guitar player as well. Yeah, that was a fun night.

Does having a record out and working with the record company, play into this somehow now?
No, not really. Literally, when we signed the deal, we wanted full control over everything. And they gave it to us. So we do what we want. Wait until you see what the vinyl looks like, the back cover of the vinyl. Use your imagination.

What is the lineup for Quiet Riot that’s on the road?
It’s myself on guitar, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Johnny Kelly from Type O Negative on drums (who Frankie approved to be the replacement) and Jizzy Pearl on vocals.

It’s great to have Jizzy back I bet.
Oh, yeah, he’s one of us. He’s a pro. We tried singer a, singer b and singer c, but Jizzy at the end of the day is from the genre, maybe at a later part of the genre. He gets it.

Kevin and Jizzy were good friends out here in Vegas, and it all makes sense. Even with Johnny, Type O Negative was one of Kevin’s favorite new bands. It’s really weird how that worked out. Maybe he’s up there pulling the strings or something. Who knows?

 

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