Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With XYZ

Interview By Keith McDonald

XYZ never had the success of such acts from their era as Motley Crue, Ratt and Dokken. But they did make a dent in the melodic hard rock scene with radio hits ‘Inside Out’ and ‘What Keeps Me Loving You’. Now, years later, original vocalist Terry Ilous has regrouped the band and is returning with their long awaited studio album ‘Letter To God.’ I had the opportunity to speak with Terry and get the inside scoop on the band.


What made XYZ get back together?

The fact that as a songwriter I had something else to say. For the longest time I kept silent in that genre of music. Few events in my life have triggered in me a rage to write and play live again. I don’t do music because I have to, but because I want to. I don't do it for the money. Music is a passion not a business



What are your thoughts on the melodic hard rock these days?

Some great bands, but lots of them keep repeating and rewriting the same CD. Why? I think we owe it to ourselves and to the fans to do something new, without forgetting our roots. I don t think we should do something 100% different from what we have done. For example, go from 80's AOR to Limp Biskit type of music, but a little bit of growing up is good for the fans and the soul.



Why do you think radio and MTV abandoned your styles of music the way it did in the early 90's?

MTV abandoned the music of the 80's because MTV is about money. They realized that more money was to be made with grunge and hip-hop. It’s nothing personal - just business. Interestingly enough, a few years ago I met with the lady who dropped us from rotation on MTV. The reason she dropped our video at the time, "Face Down in the Gutter" is simple: she told us that we were using too many half naked women and it was degrading. Well, one year later all those rappers were doing even worse. Songs like that thong or booty call, where women were checking their asses in front of the camera. See? Anyway, I told her about that and she got embarrassed, but it was nothing personal.



Tell me everything about the new album. What style of music will it be?

The new CD is produced by Jeff my partner and myself. It is a mix of AOR like we know it, and a more current sound. I kept the roots but extended the writing a little, but its very XYZ yet.



Why did you do the two remakes of your hits?

My label in Europe thought it would be a good idea. Whitesnake did the same thing with   "Here I Go Again" and something else. I was not too crazy about the idea, but I was kinda forced to do so.



Why did the band break up in the first place?

The band broke up because two members of the band left and decided to live a more "normal" life. We (Pat and I) tried to go on for a while, but it did not work. You see, being in a band is like being married - sometimes you divorce and find somebody new right away and sometimes the bottle becomes your new friend.



How did XYZ start?

Just like a fairy tale. A young foreigner comes to America with $500 in his pocket to live the big American dream. He did not know anyone. He did construction for a living, then formed a group that no one wanted to sign. Then one day got a break. I thanked God for that many, many times. Why me? So many people were doing the same thing. I guess it s the luck of the draw.



How was the scene back in LA in the 80's?

The scene was great! Lots of very pretty girls, lots of vibes, Sunset Strip was the home of many rock bands, the Roxy and the Rainbow were packed. Unbelievable. Nowadays it's not the same, but it's O - it's another time, and I'm OK with it.



How competitive was it back then? Did any bands ever help you out?

Yes, some bands were helping each others and some were dicks. Overall, people were cool. We wanted the same goals and knew that it would not be easy. I remember doing shows with Warrant and others. They were all cool to us. We use to go to the same parties, same clubs, and do the same girls. hahaha! Overall, except few bad apples, everyone was great.



How did you land at Enigma? How was it being on that label at that time?

Enigma was the best - an indie label with a lot of power. How did we got signed? Well everyone passed on us. The only label we did not approach was Enigma, because they were an indie at the time. Only the major labels were cool. An Italian friend of mine, Pino, who happened to be driving his bike on Sunset dropped his glove. The girl behind him noticed it and since Pino was cute - well you got the picture. He called me and said I met that chick who works at a record label. I said, "Please Pino, please use your Italian charm and 'something else' and give her our tape!" Well he did, and the rest is history. I will always love Italy, and oh sole Mio...



Do you notice any difference between the way bands got signed then, than today?

Today you don't have to play out much. You don't need a big following. If you got a good attorney and a friend with money - you got it. Back then you had to be out there and do a lot of shows and have a big following.



Who are the new members?

J.K Northrop on guitar, Sean MacNabb on bass, and Paul and I are the original members.



Do you still keep in touch with past members?

I talk to Marc once in a while. I love the guy; he's a great guitar player. I was mad at him for the longest time. He left the band just when we were happening, but I guess he had his reasons and I have to respect that. Pat and I - well Pat will always be like a brother. We don't see much of each other anymore. I guess we have grown apart.



What's the difference between XYZ today from the late 80's?

Well, I'm nine years older, and the times have changed. We have changed too, but my heart is still beating to the same groove: heavy guitars and big drums.



What's the future for XYZ?

I’m very Zen, so I don't think about the future. What's important to me is the next few days or next few weeks or the present. It's not really the future, but more an extension of the present. Every time I have made some plans they never happened, so I take life one day at a time. I always say live today like there is no tomorrow, but never forget yesterday.