Terry Ilous - XYZ

April 10, 2003

Give us a little background on the band.

Sure, of course. We started the band in 1987 in Los Angeles. It was a very difficult start actually. We had some poor record deals. It was very difficult. No one wanted to sign the band and eventually we got signed to a small label called Enigma Records. We did very well actually. The album went gold. We toured the world. We did another album after that on Capitol Records. We continued touring and then in 1994, we basically called it quits. I decided to do something else. A year ago, I don't know why, a lot of European labels started to call me to find out if I wanted to do another album. First I said no and then I said yes and here we are today.

You have a different lineup now. Tell us about the new members in the band.

Sure. The new bass player we have is Sean McNabb and JK Northrup on guitar. Sean used to play with Great White of course and Quiet Riot. JK's been playing with a lot of people and doing a lot of studio work in Los Angeles and New York. He's been around the block. The drummer is the same. The original drummer, Paul Monroe, and I myself, the original singer.

What have you been doing during your hiatus?

I took some time off. I spent a lot of money and traveled a lot. I lived a very crazy lifestyle for a couple of years doing the wrong things. Then I was completely broke. I was completely, completely broke. I had nowhere to turn. I went from having a nice house and having a few cars and dating beautiful and blah, blah, blah to being completely homeless. I was completely homeless for a little while. I had no money. It took me some time to actually get back on my feet and I started to do recording again for a lot of people. I do a lot of voice overs for cartoons. I've done the Rugrats and I've done other things. Stuart Little. Money came back and with money lots of new friends and blah, blah, blah. But I kept a very distant approach this time around to this entire scene and I'm glad to be back on my feet but I'm more cautious than ever before.

How did you get into doing voice overs?

I just have this thing. All these people living in my head. It's horrible. I drive my wife crazy every day because I would call her store and pretend to be a customer from Pakistan and she'd go nuts. "Who is this?" She doesn't recognize my voice. I do that to a lot of my friends. Crank calls with an African accent or whatever. "Who is that guy? He's an asshole!" I play the nerd and people hate that the most. I just decided to do that one day. The truth is Paramount was looking for a singer to do a French song for the new Rugrats In Paris and they couldn't find anybody in Los Angeles so I sent them a very bad tape three months prior to that. I was the only guy in town that could sing that kind of thing. She called me and said "all right, all right. You've got to come to the studio and see if we can arrange something but no guarantees." I was like "all right, all right." I did it and she said "oh my God, can you do the same thing in English?" Because when I sing I don't have an accent. People say "all right!" I did the same thing in English and she said "okay, you get the job." From then on I got hired by a bunch of people because everybody knew that I could do all these voices but also I could sing in French or English or Spanish without having an accent. It's the beauty of music so I get hired left and right and I work a lot but my main thing is music of course. I have my own recording studio and I'm doing okay.

I think that's so amazing.

I like it. It got me very close to kids and things like that. The funny thing is I never wanted to have kids all along this time. As I started to work for cartoons and I did a lot of things for Disney and Paramount, automatically I got in touch with a different side of myself. A more real side and less rock and roll star. I started to be more just myself and I love it. I'm very happy now. I'm just a regular person trying to play good music. I'm lucky because some people like my music but it's a blessing.

You had the opportunity to tour with bands like Alice Cooper, Steppenwolf, Enuff Z'Nuff, and Ted Nugent. What was the best tour and who was the best band to be on tour with?

I guess two things. The first time around we played with Ted Nugent in front of 15,000 people. It was at Cobo Hall in Michigan. I had a great time because it was my first time in front of 15,000 people. I would say the best shows were...we did a tour with Michael Schenker of UFO. We did an acoustic tour and it was just himself and myself and my guitar player. We actually played Texas many times and we did these acoustic shows. These were the best because I could sing in front of a live audience but sing songs the way they were written. Just with the base minimum. Just the acoustic guitars and that's it. The response was amazing. All the shows were sold out. The entire tour was sold out and of course the venues were much smaller. Still the shows were sold out everywhere we played so it was great. It was the best tour ever. I met so many nice people and I just felt like I was part of the community. I felt like there was this incredible vibe between the band and the public. I just miss that.

Tell me about your CD, A Letter To God.

When my son passed away I was very upset. I had so many feelings going through my head at the same time. I was asking God because I believe in God and I was asking God so many questions. Why would you take a little child? I wrote that song, "A Letter To God", basically to say unfortunately we don't have control over our lives. We don't. Somebody else controls our lives and that's God. It's so true. We don't control our destiny. We can control little things like "oh, I'm going out with my friends to have a drink" or "I'm going to the store." Vague small things but the truth about life is everything is all decided anyway. The main thing. Why would someone get involved in an accident? Why would somebody kill somebody? We don't know. It's just a mystery of life. God is not a bad person whatsoever. God is a good man. It's just the way things are written for each person, that's all. That album is very close to me. Funny, it's a very tragic album because I lost my dad at the same time. I wrote another song called "Asking". I was looking for forgiveness because I had never taken the chance to talk to my dad so I wrote that song because it's like a therapy for me. Writing music is a therapy. The rest of the album is very rocking. The mood was very up when I wrote the songs. It's a very raw album. A lot of edge. It's very in your face. I love that album.

I'm very sorry you lost your son and your dad.

My son and my dad just a few months apart. It was pretty tragic for me. As a father it makes you realize that we're not much in this world and life is so small and so precious that we have to appreciate what we have when we have them. That's all I can say.

Are there any particular tracks you'd like to discuss?

I love many tracks on this album. Funny thing about it is I wrote a song called "United" way before everybody else started to sing about the war and everything else. I wrote that song called "United" because I was really upset when this entire September 11 came. Really, really upset so I wrote that song "United" and it says "his wings are yours to claim." It means the wings of the eagles. I get a lot of bad publicity in Europe for writing that song because people are thinking "oh, he's European therefore he should write songs that are antiwar." Not at all. I said to the world "no, I'm not for war whatsoever, however I do believe that somebody has got to do something about Saddam Hussein." I wrote a song about terrorism and this country being united. I get a lot of bad vibe in Europe, believe me. That's a song that's very close to me.

According to some reports he's safe and sound somewhere.

I think he's dead but he's a very dangerous man. There are many dangerous people like him in this world. He's not the only one, believe me. Behind this entire war we know there's more than just Saddam Hussein. We know that. Let's not be stupid about it. The truth is we need to get to these people because one day they're just going to come to Dallas, TX and just put a bomb there or to New York again or to Los Angeles and put another bomb just because we're American. That is not right. We're all different. American people are different than the rest of the world. We have values that the rest of the world somehow doesn't anymore. We believe in freedom. We believe in things the world doesn't much care for anymore. Anyway, we are kids because we believe in values that are close to us that don't mean much to other people.

When you did the new album, it was with the current lineup that you have. Who produced it?

Actually I produced it. The guy who mixed it, Tom Fletcher, has worked with Ozzy Osbourne. Of course he's done the biggest album for Ozzy, No More Tears. He's done many things. He's worked with Yngwie Malmsteen of course and other people. I liked his sound. I liked the way he approached music. It's very raw but in your face but still to get an edge of being able to be played on the radio. I liked his approach and I decided to work with him. It was a pleasure to work with him. I'm glad I did. It was a good call.

Are you guys touring anytime soon?

We had some plans. We were supposed to go tour this summer with Great White. We had 57 dates lined up but they had a big tragedy recently as you know so the tour got canceled and I'm waiting to see if we're going to get something else for the summer. As for now we're still waiting. We had some offers but nothing really good. We have to be with another band of course but playing the same kind of music. So far we've been asked to do some shows with some glam band but we're not a glam band. We're not a dark heavy metal band either. We're just in between. We need to be associated with the same kind of people. We are waiting. It will happen. I'm very confident and of course I would love to play Ohio because I love Ohio. I love Texas. I've played Texas so many times. I love Texas. There's just something about the sky, the vibe, and the people are so nice. I love Texas.

Are there any particular bands you'd like to tour with?

There was one tour I wanted to be a part of but it did not happen for us because when they chose their bands, they didn't think about us because they didn't think we would be ready for the tour. The Poison tour would have been great for us although they are a little bit glam but still they rock. The Poison tour would have been great for us. Poison and Skid Row but nobody thought about us because they didn't think XYZ would be ready. Yes, we are. Plus they didn't know what to expect from us. People said "oh, they were an '80s band. What kind of music are they going to do right now?" People were scared and now that they have the album, they realize we can still play and we still have the vibe. Now people are saying "I wish you could come with us on the road but it's already decided and blah, blah, blah." We'll see. I'd love to do shows with Dokken of course. I know Don very well. Scorpions. I'm talking to their touring agent at this moment and we are that they will take us on the road. We'll see. We are ready, that's for sure.

Don Dokken worked on your first album.

Yeah, he did. He produced my first album.

I recently saw Whitesnake, Scorpions, and Dokken.

Did you like it?

Oh, yes. They played at this really cool venue and I took my Mom. She is a major Scorpions fan.

Klaus is an incredibly good singer and a good man. He's just a regular guy believe it or not. Although he's a very big star, he's just a very regular guy. He doesn't think of himself as the biggest wonder of the world. He's sold millions of albums. I've always loved The Scorpions and of course Whitesnake being who they are. David Coverdale is one of my favorite singers of all time. That would have been a great tour but we were not ready. There was no way plus on top of that they didn't want an opening act. See, Whitesnake is the big guy and then The Scorpions and Dokken. They didn't want another band. That's okay. Next time.

Any other thoughts or comments?

The one thing I want to say is that it's a very sincere album. Some people do an album because they need money. Some people do albums because it's a convenient way to pick up chicks. The truth is, at this point in my life I'm making great money doing other things with my music and I'm very happy on a personal level. I do music because I want to do music. I do music for the fans. I do music for myself. First of all for myself but for the fans as well. The truth is I don't try to do what I've done already. A lot of people expected the album to be more AOR in a way. More like the first album and I said no. I'm not going to repeat myself. I'm not going to rewrite the same songs. A lot of bands do that. They keep writing and rewriting the same songs. They don't want to evolve a little bit. They just want to do the same thing. I think as a band you have to evolve. You have to remember your past. You have to remember your roots in order to be part of the present but you cannot only live in the past. It doesn't work. So many bands, that's all they do. I kept the vibe from the past which I had and I mixed it up with more of a modern rock sound and they shift in between so I think it can please all kinds of people. People that like heavy, heavy metal because there are some heavy songs and people that like more AOR rock music. That's basically it.

You did a couple of remakes of some songs.

Yeah, off the first album. I wasn't up for that to be honest with you. I was kind of forced by my label to do so. My label in Europe, in Germany, said "you have to do "Inside Out" and "What Keeps Me Loving You". These were your big hits and blah, blah, blah." I was not up for it to be honest with you. I said no. It was part of the deal and I was actually pretty pleased with the results. I didn't expect the songs to turn out to be so good so on the U. S. version I decided to keep the songs on the CD. And why not? After all, they sound good and people that don't know what I've done in the past, at least they can hear these songs because they may not have the chance to listen to the old songs. I said why not. Plus bands like Whitesnake did it when they did "Here I Go Again". This was a song that they wrote in 1982 and they came back with it in 1987 and it was a big hit for them. It was actually my record company's choice.

It sounds like it worked out well.

Yeah, I did a good version of it. More bluesy. More what I'm up to right now.

Where can people buy the CD?

People can get the CD online of course. For the moment it's going to be online. We have all the sites like CDBaby.com, Amazon.com, plus I think we must have a distribution deal with a couple of stores in Texas and Ohio mostly. I think it's going to happen. They can go to my website, www.xyzmusic.com or www.terryilous.com, and they can get the CD.

Terry Ilous