XYZ is back with the new album "Letter To God" and a new approach to music. Read what vocalist/songwriter Terry Ilous has to say about the CD, the past, and other sincere thoughts about life.
U - I believe I named XYZ "A Dokken wannabe" band in the late 80's/early 90's. Do you find this to be a very unfair statement from yours truly?
TI - Yes and no! The band never sounded like Dokken before he produced us, then he came in the picture, changed the vocal sound, and did most of the back up vox, so of course there is a Dokken flavor there. The truth is at the time I did it, I could not say anything about it. Few years prior to that I was just another foreigner coming to America with 500 dollars in his pocket. Then after a lot of hard work and tons of rejections someone gave me this half million dollars deal. I was aware of his sound on the cd but was not longer allowed to be in the studio, since I was bitching too much about it.. I'm not upset at Don, he tried something and in a way it worked, we sold a lot ...and made a lot of money, but money is not every thing in life. I lost my identity and it took me a long time to get it back.
U - How did you guys hook up with Don Dokken in the first place? (for the readers: he produced XYZ's first album)
TI - He heard about us and saw us play live I think he feel in love with the band, we were no one he was a rock star.
U - Did he have anything to do with your signing with Enigma back then?
TI - No nothing my Italian friend Pino met a girl that worked at enigma. He told me about it so I told him to have sex with her! He said no, she was not his style, though she was good looking and a very nice girl. I told him to do it was for a "good cause" he did... we got signed... he must be good in bed!!!!
U - XYZ's "comeback" album in 2003 is named "Letter To God". There's unfortunately a very, very sad story behind this album. Would you like to tell us, a little bit about your thoughts about it all. Or do you rather wish to leave it all behind you now. (well, I know you can never leave it all behind you - Like I wrote in the review, my deepest and honest symphaties go out to you and your family).
TI - Yes you are right. During the recording of the cd I lost my dad ,then my son... pretty hard, life has a funny way to play with you. All I remember is making sure that I would show my true emotions on that cd so i took my time to record it. The song "Letter To God" was written after my son s death. I was upset at God, myself, the doctors .. every one, but what can I do? Take a gun and shoot myself and every one around me? So I decided to write a song about it, that is why this cd sounds so personal and real. Some people were surprised by it, most... really love it and some were expecting another "spandex" cd. I don't write music to please journalists, I do it to please myself and bring answers to the fans that were waiting for another cd after all these years.
U - The new album is "groovier" than previous one's. How would you describe the overall sound, for the average hardrock fan?
TI - I guess it's back to rock.. it's my favorite cd so far, it's more real classic XYZ with a bit of 70 s and a touch of "in your face kinda rock" basicly it's rock without the glam. From my heart to your soul, 10 years have passed since my last cd, I'am now in my mid 30's so don t think like before... life has made me more humble and also a harder person. I went from living in a beautiful house in Beverly Hills, driving vettes, dating playboys chixs, to sleeping in my car and being homeless.. what do you think, of course the new cd would be a bit different.. it's what I call an evolution cd... that s it! I took the best of the 2 first CD's. combine them with my personal experiences and "voila"... LETTER TO GOD
U - There's a lot of "Led Zeppelin" influences going on here... or??? I mean, you can't hardly deny that "Rainy Day" is very Led Zep-ish or... then again :-)
TI - Thank you for me it's a compliment, Led Zep is the band I always loved. That's what I meant by more 70 s, getting back to the roots. The sound is more in your face. I did not try to come up with popy songs.. just real stuff. Led Zep is my favorite band because they evolved from the first cd to the last. Still the same singer and band but every time something new, a surprise, that is what i was looking for... and that is why I came back to offer an evolution of the classic XYZ sound. It s still me i don't sing like a chix or wear make up the sounds has grown, that's it and my fans did as well. The only people that critisized it are those who still were spandex...
As I said to you, I do it for me and to please the fans, critics i don't care for them. One day I'm the flavor of the month next day I'm shit. An artist should write from the bottom of his heart not please any one else. Other wise you are not real, sincerity is the key..
U - Yeah! And it was meant to be a compliment too! However, I've heard that some reviewers find it to be too "Grungy". But you can't find any Nirvana music in here, right???
TI - It's not grungy at all. What's grungy about songs like deny or asking or burn it up? someone used to say" stick you head above the ground, and you are bound to get it with a stone.." it means what it means. As I said most bands keep repeating themselves, they will give you the same cd over and over again... and its fine.. but not by me... it's more in your face that s all. It's true that if you are looking for that classics 80's sound and I mean classic sound, big choruses, and anthem songs... then letter to god is not for you. If you are looking for a classic XYZ sound that has evolved with more emotion then this is it. One of the the reasons a band dies is because, he starts repeating itself and refuse to grow.. as I said I thank everyone for listening to the cd, those who love it and those who don't. Ultimately when it s all over and done, when i'll be too old to sing, I want to think that I was true to myself. You know by the way as of April it is on most internet retailers s site, the best selling indy rock cd... so most people must like it!
U - I guess you are pleased with the outcome of the album?
TI - Yes overall a few things I would change, but I'm ok with it
U - Any favorite songs you can name for us? I must say that "All I'm Asking", is one helluva ballad!!! My fave-track for sure.
TI - I thought it was a grungy song? Just kidding!!! I wrote it when my dad past away. I felt so bad, I was never a good son, never took the time to know him, but I knew he loved me, so all I could do is write a song about it. Only those who have lost some one can feel that, or those who have a "mature soul" that's the problem. Some people when they think of bands like XYZ they think, shallow lyrics about girls with big tits. That's cool I can dig that too, and dig inside them too... but most of those 80's bands have souls too. Some people refuse to accept that, so what should I do write for those guys. When I was down and out, homeless and poor, none gave a shit about me... so was I supposed to write songs about things that are not real too me. I write with my heart and soul, I have learn to be very humble. You know man, I'm honest with you. Sincerity is a word people forget,
U - You're so right! How come you decided to do a "Whitesnake" then?? :-) Meaning that you've re-recorded two songs from the debut album (Inside Out & What Keeps Me Loving You). I must admit that I'm not too crazy about the idea at all.
TI - Agree! The German label I've made a deal with in Europe thought it would be a good idea. I think it's ok, it gave the fans a chance to hear songs they can no longer find on the net... but it would have been nice to forget about it. So when I made my deal with my US label, I decided to include the songs because they were already recorded that's it..
U - You and drummer Paul Monroe are the only original members left, since last time XYZ played. Whatever happened to guitarist Marc Diglio and bassist Patt Fontaine? Do you still keep in touch with them?
TI - Pat and Marc were supposed to do the cd, but last minute changed their minds so I had to carry on, I was obligated by contract. I love them guys, I think Pat is a true rocker that believe inone thing; music. Pat is "the Jessie James of rock'n'roll". He is for real the true definition of a heavy metal guy, no girl friends, just chixs he fucks, does have a real job never had, don't give a fuck about nothing but his bass... can't be more real then that. I'm not even sure he takes shower? Oh no that's because he's French sorry.....
U - What lays in the future? Any tour plans for this album?
TI - A tour but too early to talk about it... and of course more XYZ music, I.m very pleased to be back. I received over 80000 emails over the last few month...that should tell you something.. it does too me tell that the fans are ready for us, they want to see the band live. So we are working on it. I love my fans... they are loyal I always try to make sure that the one that don't have money get in the show anyway.. sometimes I get in troubled with promoters but... I know some people think it s too much, but I don t think so. Not every one has money to see a band,so... plus i know what it s like to be poor.
U - After reading my "Don't Mess With The 80's" article. (click here to read) What can you say about yourself and other musician friends, from the time. Is there any truth that "most" 80's rockers are ashamed about their past?
TI - I am not ashamed of the 80's!! It was a blast, best time in my life. Played huge concert, had great moment with the fans, fucked more girls then I can remember... love the music girls were pretty, music was fun, cool cars, man what a blast. I was a little boy in a candy stores. Your article of "the 80's" was very cool, you said it very well. Man, the sunset strip, girls in mini skits, what a blast! Thank god I was not into drugs, cause it was all over.. I was into women... women, from all over the world, all colors.. and with one thing in common... well I won t say it cause I'm polite, but all I can say is LOVED THE 80'S. The only man that has been with more woman then I, is Gene Simmons, and that is because he was a bigger rock star.. that is it. The 80's were great, America was strong, the Dodgers were great, Mike Tyson was winning... we had a blast.
U - Thanks for your kind words about my article. What the heck is up with you and the Rugrats then??? What's your connection with those crazy toons anyway? :-)
TI - When I was down and out a friend of mine at Capitol helped me out reconstruct my career and took me under his wings. His name is Bruce Reiner. After that I went on, to sing lots of jingles, do some acting and record some voice over for the Rugrats, Stuart Little etc etc. I love them it's fun, I do a lot of voice over, I'm with the most prestigious agency in the world, ICM, I'm very pleased about it lots of great talent in this town, so sometimes I get a great job and some times, well i don't. That s ok I really enjoy my life now, I'm preparing a theater play in june.. it s gonna be fun too, plus I should be doing a new movie too.
Thanks for everything! If there's anything you'd like to add, say, or promote. Please do:
TI - Thank you for being patient all these years. Your concern and support gave the strengh to carry on and come up with the most sincere cd I have ever written. I hope to see you on the road, God bless you all, my family and the USA. and my dog Ivan. Please contact me at www.xyzmusic.com
by: Urban "Wally" Wallström,