Heart of Steel: Interviews


Singer Terry Ilous

Interviewed by Celtic Bob

 

XYZ is now back together with a new disc (LETTER TO GOD) coming out on May 15th.

Yep, I'm back again. That's right.

What made you re-form the band after such a long time?

Well you know I had for the longest time nothing to say as far as music. I was doing other things that I was pleased with actually. Writing music for other people, I was having fun. For me music is not a business, it's a passion. If I have nothing to say I will just shut up. For the longest time I don't think Rock n' Roll was ready for another album and the fact that there is a lot of comeback for Heavy Metal bands. It's happening everywhere basically and for years I wrote many songs and now it's time for another album, only because I have something to say. It isn't a money thing, if it's a business then why do it? It's a passion.

 

 

What caused the initial demise of the band? Was it personal or "Industry"?

We had a lot of personal problems at the time and the band was very tired after touring for 4 and a half years.

 

 

Judging from the online preview of the album it seems to be heavier than the previous discs yet still maintaining the "80's Party" feel to it. Was this intentional to give the fans a "Blast from The Past" so to speak?

You have to be true to your roots but you have to move on a little bit. I don't think you should be stuck in the same genre of music we're talking about. I'm not doing Limp biscuit or anything like that, it's still Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. It has evolved a little bit, more of a harder sound and sometimes a softer sound like (I don't know if you heard it) "Asking" which is a ballad love song with keys, cellos. It's basically a natural thing.

A lot of things happened to me while recording the album, so some things came out with a lot of anger. That is why I wrote a lot of the songs out of anger. Sometimes I write songs with a lot of passion like "Asking" or "Don't" which are ballads. It's just a matter of how I feel. I write for myself, it's not pretentious what I'm saying. As an artist I create for myself and I'm lucky and fortunate enough that people like my music and that's a blessing.

 

 

How have you been able to move on after suffering such personal losses? Has music been a source of healing for you?

Music is a therapy for me. I write when I have something to say. Sometimes I can't really tell people how I feel, I'm not really good at it. I'm working on it but its not easy so the easiest way for me is to write a song and hide behind the lyrics and music. My relatives and close friends can tell where I'm coming from.

 

 

Why are you putting out 2 different versions of the album?

The Germans only asked me for 12 tracks which actually I did give them. For the US I decided to add 3 songs, I didn't think we're right for the German market. The German market is a little more AOR then the American market. The American market is a little bit different for some reason. I just decided to add 3 songs that were more North American style. There is a difference somehow between Europe and America. America has a tendency to be a little more…I wouldn't say more modern but just… For example: In the US and Canada grunge was very big and in Europe it was a disaster, they hated that kind of music. They hated Nirvana and all these bands. I think its wrong because the truth is Nirvana and all that stuff was the sound of a generation and whether we like it or not they brought something to music. All those bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden some songs were actually really good, especially the Soundgarden for me. I believe it was necessary for these bands to come out and start a new sound.

 

 

Sort of shake up the scene a little?

Yeah! At the beginning of the 90's all these bands were becoming too cheesy. All the Heavy Metal hair bands were too cheesy for me. A lot were not taking music too seriously; it was women, women, women. I mean come on dude, let's be real a little bit. Lets write about something else but you couldn't because everybody was writing about chicks and all these bands (I won't give you any names) were becoming too cheesy. Actually it was a good thing Nirvana and Soundgarden came along and killed some of these bands, it actually brought some good things. That is the truth because from then on everybody began to write differently and I think its great.

 

 

What prompted you to re-record "Inside Out" and "What Keeps Me Loving You"?

The record company MTM Records really told us that it was a good idea to do. I wasn't up for that but it was part of the contract. It turned out that actually it was a good idea because a lot of new fans don't know my first and second albums because they are very hard to find so now they get a taste of it.

 

 

Original guitarist Marc Diglio co-wrote several tracks on the new album. What is the reason why he never played on the album and rejoined the band?

He's not into it anymore. Marc is a great guy, I mean I love Marc, its just he's into country music, he's into blues. He doesn't want to have anything to do with Rock n' Roll anymore so he cannot play. He doesn't have the vibe. The truth is as a musician you have to do it with your heart and Marc said to me "You know what Terry? I don't feel like it anymore. I'm going to be lying to you and to the fans and they're going to feel that. It's not me; I don't feel like plugging my guitar into a Marshall. I'm playing a Strat and a Fender now and I like that old bluesy sound. No longer is it a Marshall and a Gibson for me." And I understand.

 

 

Is it a similar situation with original bassist Patt Fontaine?

Patt is doing something else now, he's into punk music. You know Patt is a punk and I respect that, I absolutely respect that. Patt said I have a band now and I'm going to give that band a shot. I want to concentrate on that.

 

 

How did you hook up with Sean McNabb?

I knew Sean from the past. Sean's been around for 10 years playing with Great White, Quiet Riot, all these bands. I just knew him. The LA scene is actually pretty small, you know everybody. Everybody goes to the same club. It's very easy to find people.

 

Was it a similar situation with JK then?

Same thing, if you're looking for a player there is not that many great players in town. There are a lot of people but not that shine. These guys are really good players, they are successful but not only by accident some yes. The truth is most of these cats have something; even the people that can't really play have something. You don't get there by accident; if you do then you don't stay there long. I'm not just talking about musicians I play with but some of these famous bands have something, that's why they're there.

 

 

Didn't Jeff play with you in other projects?

Jeff played with me in Cage. The Europeans didn't like Cage at all; they thought it was too grungy.

 

 

Was there much confusion with the other band Cage?

Oh my God!! There is another band called Cage now. (Laughs) When we did that recording in 1996 then in 1997 the band called Cage took the name, but since we didn't care much for the project we just didn't argue. We said sure let them use it. Cage was just a name we came up with. Jeff and I were doing this project together and said "Let's call it something?" How about Cage? Alright, great. Actually they should've called us and said "Can we get the name?" The truth is we didn't care much for it.

 

 

Tell me a little about Flynn?

The way I look at it is an artist has many sides and myself Terry Ilous beneath me is Heavy Metal/Hard Rock like XYZ and Cage. There is Flynn which is a more romantic softer side. I do Spanish Latin music also and voiceover animation for kids so I sing on allot of soundtracks for kids. There are all kinds of sides of myself. You have to be versatile as an artist. Some people do just Heavy Metal and that's it. That's good for them but for me I like to do other things. I like to listen to Jazz. I'd like to record a Jazz album actually if I can. I don't know if I'd be good at it but I'd like to try it.

 

 

That would be interesting to hear.

Yeah, like a Sinatra kind of album. I'd like to do that just for myself. I don't think I'd put it out to sell. Just record a couple of songs and see what's gonnna happen. I think you got to open yourself up a bit.

 

 

How come you never used your real name for the Flynn project?

Because at the time I wanted to hide completely from the XYZ past. I denied everything. Fans recognized me on the road and said "Aren't you Terry Ilous?" and I'm like "No, No fucking way. No. I'm Flynn". I really denied everything for the longest time. I was very disappointed with the XYZ thing. The fact that they didn't want to pursue it, I was really sad about it. It took me a few years actually to get over it. I was really unhappy because the band was successful and doing very well even though a new era came with Soundgarden and all these bands. We could've moved on and lived actually longer but the band (2 members) just quit. It was over, we couldn't find replacements right away.

 

 

So are your Cage, Flynn and Lucasmusic projects over with or just on hold?

Well Cage doesn't exist anymore. Lucas is on hold and as soon as I'm done with XYZ I'll get back to that. In fact I've written songs already so I have to record them. I absolutely want to finish my Spanish music, absolutely. You know I do songs in French as well? I'm from France originally. I like to be versatile, as an artist you have to do that. My main priority right now is XYZ that is the truth. This is what I want to do and nothing else but I'll continue with other things as well.

 

 

Capitol Records is planning a "Best Of" cd later this year. Do you have any input into it?

Of course, I'm producing it for them, it will be my baby. I will be putting the songs together and doing the entire package for them. I'm very pleased with that. We have found songs that we never knew we recorded. (Laughs) I'm going "Oh my God! I can't believe we have that song" So actually it's going to be an interesting album.

 

 

So the label isn't just cashing in on the reformation in order to make a quick dollar?

No, No. You know I don't like that. I'm going to bring the best songs of the first and second albums and lots of pictures that are interesting as well as other recordings we have done on the road or some B-Sides. Lots of things that you cannot find anywhere. So that is why it's going to be interesting.

 

 

That's sounds great.

Yeah. That's the purpose as a fan; I'm a fan of music and remember checking out a band like Zeppelin putting out a compilation of something. Always looking for that special bootleg, that special track that nobody has. Don't forget we are musicians but we are also fans of other bands that we loved before that. That is how I look at it.

 

 

Similar to myself looking for the rare and obscure Beatle tracks.

Absolutely! Whatever it is, you find the track nobody else has, a bootleg and your like "Oh my God, it sounds great" although it sounds like shit. You don't care.

How true.

I know. That's music man. (Laughter) We're doing music because we like music, it's not a business.

 

 

Do you feel labels are turning around and starting to support Hard Rock and Metal again?

I think so. For a time then they'll move onto something else. The industry is very shallow, they don't give a fuck. They just want to make money. What is important is the fans and they should take advantage of that because it's not going to last. Definitely take advantage that the industry is actually putting out more Hard Rock bands and things. They should go to concerts, enjoy it and buy the cd's. Have fun because it won't last. But it's OK, It's OK.

 

 

What artists are out there today that you enjoy?

There are so many great bands out there and shitty ones too. I love Sheryl Crow to be honest with you. I think Sheryl Crow is a fucking great songwriter, she sings great. There's a band from Canada, I keep forgetting their name. They're very big actually. Hard Rock band from Canada. You know who I'm talking about?

Tragically Hip???

No, No, No. They're heavy heavy rock band from Canada. They got a few hit songs and did well for themselves.

Helix, Kick Axe, Annihilator..???

No, No. More of a modern rock sound. 
(PAUSE)
The guy got a little goatee. You know who I'm talking about? He did a song for the Spiderman movie.

….Chad Kroger…….Nickleback?

Yes, Nickleback. Good band. A good combination of old stuff and new stuff. I like the singer allot, I think he's good. I like the vibe, they write excellent songs. There's allot of great bands. I usually just listen to the internet and don't know who's playing because half the time they don't tell you. I listen to some great stuff, some heavy stuff also. I like the new Ozzy, I think the new Ozzy is really good. I like all kinds of stuff.

 

 

Terry Ilous - recent press photoThe video for "Inside Out" never got allot of airplay because at the time it was a bit too risqué. Did this hurt the band in anyway?

Actually we got played allot but we had to argue allot. It was very difficult, we had some major problems. Funny you should mention that because the one we really had problems with was "Face Down In The Gutter". Too many girls, half naked girls in it. The lady that was taking care of MTV at the time came to me one day and said "I can't play your video anymore because there is too many half naked women in it. It's degrading to them. It pictures them as bimbo's. We're not going to play it anymore". I'm like "Alright. A year later bands come out with songs like "The Thong" and "Shake Your Booty" and these were completely just girls shaking their asses in front of the camera. So I say this is not right, why would these guys have the right to do that and a rock band couldn't? That's business.

Total double standard.

Fuck Yeah! I told her that. Told the girl in '96. I said "You remember me?" and she did remember me. Because we went to MTV and had this big argument and said that it's not right that all these bands came out a year later. She goes "It's business, nothing personal". I know it's not personal but it's still not right.

 

 

Wasn't there a 3rd XYZ album recorded titled INTO THE NIGHT?

No.

 

 

Is there much unreleased XYZ material sitting in a vault somewhere?

We have allot of unreleased material. About 20 songs (Laughs).

Will we get to hear them someday?

Maybe one day. We're going to g start playing live and do allot of live recording. I own a recording studio so we can bring it to life someday.

 

 

Will you be coming to Canada?

Man I love Canada. I played Canada many times. I have some great memories of Canada. I've never been to Newfoundland but I've been to Toronto many times, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. I love Canada; in fact I wanted to move to Canada. I had a great time there. I went to Victoria and the crowd was one of the best crowds ever for me. So cheerful and knew all the lyrics. Great crowd, great people. I love Canada.

 

 

What are your future plans?

Touring, just touring. Just see what happens. We're going to tour and then play it by ear. I tend to live one day at a time. I don't want to make a big project. Every time I make a big project it never happens. Just one day at a time and see what happens. Live the present to it's fullest. The new cd will be out in a few weeks.

I'm looking forward to properly hearing that.

It's a pretty dark and heavy album. It's different, you'll see. Keep in mind that I write songs…I feel songs and don't write because I have to.

 

Anything you like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules?

If you need to get a hold of me just go to my site www.terryilous.com and www.xyzmusic.com. I hope to see my Canadian friends on the road soon. God Bless you all.

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