INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
TRANSCRPTION BY MARKO, PATRICK CLEMENT, EVILG and RICK
XYZ is a U.S based hard rock band formed in late 80’s. The original members were Terry Ilous (vocals), Bobby Pieper (guitars), Pat Fontaine (bass) and Joey Pafumi (drums). The band released its self titled debut in 1989 which included the band’s hit singles "Inside Out" and "What Keeps Me Loving You" which both got airplay on MTV and other Medias outlets at that time. The band’s sophomore album HUNGRY was released in 1991 but unfortunately it failed to reach its predecessor’s success and some changes followed. Tony Burnett and Joey Shapiro replaced Pieper and Pafumi and the band then carried on touring until they split some time later in 1992. Since then the band has done some brief reunions with various incarnations and there was an album LETTER TO GOD released in 2003. Another XYZ reunion took its place in Rocklahoma 2009 and since then the band has been doing shows sporadically with a line-up which now consist of original members Terry Ilous and Patrick Fontaine along with longtime members Joey Shapiro and guitarist Tony Marcus. XYZ came to appear in Stockholm’s Rockout -festival last May and here are the results of our interesting conversation which includes various topics…
BACK IN THE GROOVE
First of all I’m and glad you finally made it to Stockholm Rockout Festival after all this mess
Terry: It was beyond our control… but we are glad to be here.
In brief, what’s going on with XYZ these days?
Terry: We kind of took a break from the music-scene, we decided it was time for a little break – the music-scene was changing and everything so we wanted to do other things, musically we all did other things, Pat had a (other) band, Tony was playing with Stephen Pearcy of RATT, I did new music for a while…Joey was doing something else in the phone-business in Denver and back in 2007 we were asked to play Rocklahoma, so that was our first (reunion) show.
When did you last play here in Europe?
Terry: Now it’s the first time in Europe since 1992… last time we did Europe I was 12 years old…” laughter” and, yeah, now I’m 17..! I remember when we played the launching party for MTV Europe and a live show in England, it was wonderful – the only time we played in Europe before this… I mean we’ve been with a lot of European girls, so does it count? "laughs"
XYZ in 1989
WORKING THE FIRST XYZ ALBUM
In a way it does count, of course “laughs”. There’s one name which pops up quite often and he’s Don Dokken. How important he was for your career in the beginning?
Patrick: Don Dokken is of course a friend and the producer of our first record, he’s a wonderful musician, greatly talented guy – can play just about anything… and you know when you’re working with a producer it’s always a little bit of a love/hate relationship, it’s some good days and bad days, you fight and argue and all that… but at the end of the day it was a great experience. The guy’s really talented and he has excellent taste in champagne. We spent most of the day drinking and doing blow on the kitchen table in the studio and a couple hours of recording few songs here and there – it was a really a good time.
Terry: Back in the day, it was a different era because people were not that serious. It was really like a serious experience of course with the record company was always there to make sure it went down according to the plan, but we had a good time, it was fun, we were laughing… I was really good time. Today’s a different day cause now everybody’s got Pro Tools and stuff like that in their living room so the recording experience is completely different than it was back in the day – back in the day there was no way…Back then you had to go to a studio, spend 100 000 of dollars, you had to have the best equipment, the catering and use the limo to get in the studio. You really felt special, like: “Wow, this is great – we’re in studio!” We we’re in there about 18-20 hours a day with all the candles, it was all dark and we’re just creating – it was really great time.
LETTER TO GOD AND OTHER THINGS IN LIFE
There’s actually a third XYZ album released as well called LETTER TO GOD. Would you tell something more about that release?
Terry: LETTER TO GOD is very touchy subject. That album is basically… When the band broke up I wanted to put a new album out, but I don’t think the band was ready for a new album so I called that (album) LETTER TO GOD – XYZ, but to be honest with you it should never been called XYZ. It should have been called ‘Terry Ilous of XYZ’… but the label at the time, MTM, wanted it to be called XYZ, so I said ‘alright’ for the pressure of it. I still think it was a great album, it’s actually a really good album but I don’t think its XYZ –album because XYZ is XYZ with Tony, Pat and Marcus in the band. LETTER TO GOD is more Terry Ilous album but I’m proud of it and we moved on and now we’re back as XYZ.
There are lots of special guests and great names playing on that album like Vinny Appice, Jeff Pilson etc…. How you managed get all those guys involved there?
Terry: I work a lot with those guys in L.A… Vinnie Appice and all those guys are my friends. In L.A everybody knows everybody there so if you want to play with somebody just call them up…
Besides playing with XYZ and other bands you also have other kind of career, right?
Terry: Well, I do voice over for TV animation in Los Angeles. I do some acting in soap operas. I also produce a lot of different artists. I write music for a lot of people. I work a lot with Pat because Pat is a great lyricist and I am a song writer and musician so with these projects that I work with I usually call up Pat and get his help with the lyrics. I always wanted to be a porn star but it didn’t work out. Not because of the dick but because of the hair on the chest and back! (laughing)
XYZ live at Stockholm 2010
NEW XYZ ALBUM?
Like many 80’s bands have recently done, do you guys have plans to record any new
material under name XYZ?
Pat: We’ve been considering it, so far we’ve had such a fun time playing live, reconnecting with the fans and reconnecting with each other in fact… We have talked about it. Terry and I have been working on different songs together, it’s going to happen but we just don’t want to rush it. It will happen – next year, this year, Christmas, we don’t know…
If that’s going to happen, do you already have any kind of contacts to get a decent record deal? I mean, it must be such a difficult task to find label for metal/hard rock bands these days?
Terry: It’s good and bad. The record companies are out of business. The good news is that we have a best of that was released recently by Capitol/Emi so we have some support from them. The bad news is that the companies exist but in a skeleton way. They don’t sign bands the way they used to. The good news is we have a new media, the computer, so we can get out there. We don’t have to pay the money that the labels used to pay so that we can get out there and we have access to the technology to communicate with anyone on the planet. If we were going to make the record Joe, my drummer, has a studio in Denver so we will probably reunite in Colorado to do some snowboarding and some music. We don’t know how it will pan out because we aren’t thinking that far ahead. We are excited to play, it’s a great time and we will see how it goes
What kind of expectation you would have for the sales of new album. I mean, it’s a tough time even for the biggest bands now?
Terry: It’s a tough time. I tell you something, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you can find music for free. That’s the obstacle. If your music is free why buy it? This is a really touchy subject because Piratebay is based here in Stockholm and for sure some of you are really proud of it but…
Well, we are from Finland…
Terry: Ah… sorry… but anyway when something is completely free why you would pay for it and of course the record sales will go down because of it, that obvious.
Terry Ilous on stage
How about current XYZ lineup? There have been several changes in the past but how long have you guys been playing together?
Terry: Talk to those guys?
Marcus: 20 years…20 years (laughter)
Joey: Tony and I have been in the band since ’91.
How did you guys end up in this band in the first place?
Marcus: When I moved to California with my best friend at the time, who was the drummer, Paul Munroe. And basically, to make a long story short, I moved to California to find my big break obviously and for the most part these guys gave me that. It was my first real gig. I was able to go out and play, tour, do shows. I was there when these guys got the record deal. I was always around and I was a good friend of the band for a while before I was playing with them. So I knew about them right when Paul got in the band actually.
Joey: It was a similar situation for me. I lived in Denver, Colorado at the time. The band was very popular everywhere in the States, and very much so in Denver. They came through town on an acoustic tour. So it was without their drummer and I ran into them, it was a complete fluke. We just ran into each other and they said “hey, you play drums?” and I said “yeah” and we went and partied all night, we went to the rock club in town. I had heard their songs on the radio enough that I could play them, I didn’t practice, I just got up on stage and we played “Face Down in the Gutter”, “Inside Out” and I think “Follow the Night”. It was great for me because I was a fan of the band. We went our separate ways, went back to Los Angeles and Pat called me 2 weeks later and said “hey, ah…we have a whole tour booked and it starts in 3 days and (from the background – you’re lucky I gave you 3 fucking days, that’s plenty of time…laughs) so when can you get here?” I flew in the next day, we rehearsed one day, next day we’re on the road.
Terry: We’ve been together list that since ’91 so it’s not like we change members ever day or something. XYZ is a very different band than most. We are very loyal to each other. We’ve known each other a really long time. Although sometimes we disagree on things, like everybody else, we’re still the same members since 1991. I’ve know Pat since (beep)….yea 1945 (laughter).
Patrick: We were soldiers together…
Terry: In World War II.
Patrick: We went to Vietnam together (more laughter)
How did the band start in the first place?
Terry: Well ah, in face I was asked that the other day, I’m trying to remember when the first rehearsal was. We had different levels but the band really cemented itself in Los Angeles.
So when did this happen?
Terry: Our first rehearsal, well in Los Angeles….our first show wasn’t until ’86. So we probably started rehearsing in ’85. The band really took off on the Hollywood scene you know…playing The Whiskey, and The Roxy. It took about 3 or 4 years then we had a deal with Atlantic. We were signed to Atlantic for about 5 minutes. Then we were dropped and we worked a couple more years and we got signed to EMI in ’89. So you can consider it a band from the mid-80’s really. We started working in ’85 / ’86.
Where does that name XYZ actually come from?
Terry: Ah I was a little kid in fact. I was probably 7 to 12. In the record store I always thought there like a, b, c, d…and at the very end of the record store there’s X, Y, and Z there’s a band there was always XY and ZZ Top and I thought nobody is there so I thought XYZ would be a great name for a band.
You’re right "laughs"
Terry: The actual truth is I wanted to call the band Van Halen but it was already taken (laughter).
Patrick: But what can you do? (laughs)
Signed XYZ promo shot from late 80’s
MORE ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM AND MTV
Just another stupid fan fulfillment, last time I saw an XYZ video (“Inside Out”) on MTV was ’89 or ’90, I don’t know, so when will we see the next video?
Terry: That’s a good question my friend. We’re thinking about it. You do know MTV doesn’t play music any more. So it’s tough. So the next place you’d see a video would be on your computer for sure. We’re working on something… we were just talking about it 2 seconds ago. Everybody’s asking us, “Can you do a new album?” The truth is, it’s not them. It’s him (Pat) and I, not that they are not a part of the band, but it’s him and I that have to ah…
Patrick: I got to get up tomorrow? Ahhh… fuck that….I gotta write? (laughter)
Terry: The truth of the matter is, unless we are touring and on the road playing live shows, these 2 guys don’t want to have to look at each other “laughter”. Right now it’s great, we have an excuse.
Patrick: But you do have a bit of an exclusive here because as you were talking to Joe, we, Terry and I, we looked at each other and it was like “we have no choice bitch, we’re going to have to do it!” “laughter”
Terry: So we are going to do an album. We have one song already. (laughter)
So it’s going to be my fault “laughs”
Patrick: Yeah, you started it.
Terry: We’re going to call the album “Finland here we come”! (laughs)
XYZ unplugged show in Harry B. James in Stockholm
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