Interviewed by Dave Palmer (12-16-2005)
Looking back at the mid to late 80's, one band in my opinion that stood out and still finds time in my deck today is XYZ. I thought the band was skilled in not only good songwriting, but the musicianship was equally impressive. This band was one that had to work really hard in the trenches, but when they got their break they took advantage and released a couple of good hard rock albums. Since then, we have been given some more from the band, all I would consider good. I had the chance to talk to Terry Ilous about the past, present and future and feel that it was a very good interview and was informative with a good look at a variety of things. I hope that you find this informative and take a little bit from it at the least. If you haven't checked this band out, you can still find albums in various places. It is worth your time.
Heavy Metal Resource: Hi Terry, I do appreciate the time. Let's get started! I wanted to jump in immediately to the status of XYZ. Recently the album 'Forbidden Demos' came out. With this album, these tracks are from earlier in your career, so what is the status of the band at this moment?
Terry Ilous: I think right now that the band is gonna take a break. I'm not sure if the band is gonna come back with another album. I think that the band is pretty much over.
H.M.R. : I also remember your other project that I believe was called Cage.
T. Ilous: Yeah, that was quite some time ago. I have done many, many things in the past. I think I will be touring under the name Terry Ilous now and bring XYZ to an end unless the original members are interested in continuing this thing from the past.
H.M.R. : Now just to clarify, when you say original members, you are talking about the self titled album lineup I am presuming.
T. Ilous: Yeah, I've got Paul with me, but I want to get Pat and Marc. If I don't get them in the band, I don't think there is any sense continuing. I'm missing something live. I'm really happy and enjoying it alot, but we were best friends and I am missing that alot. I just believe it is time to put the project aside and whatever happens happens. I am almost positive that it is pretty much over though.
H.M.R. : As I already mentioned, you just recently released 'Forbidden Demos' which was a collection of B sides, well, not really B sides, but maybe more unreleased material...
T. Ilous: Yeah actually demos and stuff that had been previously unreleased.
H.M.R. : Now as I understand it, there was a reason that this album was released at this time. Maybe you can get us to the bottom of this as I feel it is important for everyone looking to buy XYZ albums to know.
T. Ilous: Well, what happened was... actually, the band was formed in 1984. When I came to Los Angeles in 1984, we met this guitar player, actually on the East coast, who joined the band for about 9 months. During that period of time we recorded about 25 songs, some of them were pretty good and some of them were pretty bad. He actually left the band in 1985 because he thought the band wouldn't do anything. Well, he got hold of these demos and some of them he actually co-wrote and some of them he didn't. He took those tracks and decided to release those without authorization because he was no longer a member of the band. He was a member in 1984 so he needs legal authorization. He didn't. He just went ahead and bootlegged me. He used my name and my pictures and my recordings. He did something really bad. The quality of that album was absolutely awful. I was really upset. He was leading the fans to believe that it was an actual XYZ release calling it the first original XYZ release. I was appalled. I got hold of my attorney and he said that if I wanted to sue the guy, it was going to cost $20,000 and I wasn't going to get much more because the guy doesn't have any money. At this point, the only thing I could do was come back with the real demos.from that period of time. From 1984 to 1991. Take all of them and remaster the heck out of them and make them sound great. Even include some of the songs that were included on the 'Rainy Days' cd to show people all of the songs, and I did that. There is a big difference in quality. First of all and second of all, this is the only authorized cd. Nothing else. This guy called himself XYZ...who is he...he was in the band for 8 months. He never suffered like we did, toured like we did. He left the band after '84 and in '89 we struggled trying to get signed. We got signed and then tried hard to get success out of that.
H.M.R. : I went looking for this album on the net and I believe it was at Metal Mayhem Records. Just so people know what to avoid...it's called 'Rainy Days'. It really does look very generic, not really what you would expect from an XYZ album anyway.
T. Ilous: It's absolutely terrible. My friends were asking me what the fuck it was. I immediately made a statement on Mtv news that the album had nothing to do with the band. I was really stressed over that. It's a terrible cd. You should listen to the quality of it. He didn't even get the masters of the tracks. There was no way he could actually remaster them. He just got hold of a very bad copy and told everyone that he was remastering it. It was not true, it was terrible. It's a real insult... really.
H.M.R. : I am really surprised that Metal Mayhem is willing to carry that title as shitty as it is and at this point doesn't seem willing to carry the actual authorized version that you put out.
T. Ilous: Well, I thought Ryan was a friend of mine. He has sold lot's of my cd's in the past. I think people just need to stay away from Metal Mayhem.
H.M.R. : Well, we'll kind of let that one rest and move on. It is definitely a sore subject. One thing in getting back to the band that I was curious about is how much contact you have if any with the members of the popular XYZ from the later 80's. I am guessing not much due to what you had mentioned earlier, but did want to clarify.
T. Ilous: I lost touch for the longest time with Pat and Marc. Ironically I just saw Pat last night. We just talked about a few things and how I felt. We are talking again which is great. Pat is like a brother to me and I have the utmost respect for him as an artist and as a person. Things just didn't go a certain way, so we had to move on. However, I can tell you that I hope we will be able to work again. I really liked the performer and the artist, but also the person as well.
H.M.R. : I think there definitely was alot of chemistry in the band during those years. I was really surprised when I read that the band had such a hard time getting signed. I'll be honest with you, there were quite a few signed bands I didn't feel should have been signed. XYZ had a very cool nature about them and after the popularity of the two records, the proof was really there.
T. Ilous: It was very difficult to get signed. Not too many people were interested in the band. The funny thing was that we were packing the clubs. In fact we still have the record according to Mario who owns The Whiskey. We pulled 870 people at The Whiskey which was ridiculous, but we still couldn't get a deal. We opened up for bands that were bigger than us and we drew the crowd. When we were done playing, everybody left. Finally, we ended up getting a record deal, but unfortunately for the band, I think we got signed way too late. If we had gotten signed 2 or 3 years prior, I think the band would have been as big as Warrant or even Poison. It's just unfortunate that the band came to late. We were as good as anybody else. One thing about XYZ, we are musicians, we didn't put banana's in our pants to make our dicks look bigger.
H.M.R. : I was looking at the website recently and was curious about an album that I have as it was not in the discography. 'Take What You Can - Live' was not present. I'm taking it that it was an official album by the band?
T. Ilous: There is an official XYZ called 'Take What You Can - Live' by me, but then after that there has been lots of different versions by different labels. They were re-releasing the cd without even talking to me or anybody in the band. Basically, making money off of the band. Four or five thousand cd's a year and that's it. What are you going to do? You can't sue everybody. I can't spend my time suing people, I'm not that type of person. I think I'm a very straight shooter and that's why people like me or don't like me. All I can tell you is what you see is what you get. There's no bullshit about it. I think it's very sincere and that's what it is all about.
H.M.R. : So if you were to look into the back catalog of XYZ albums and I asked you to nail down one tune that you would consider to be your favorite, what would it be and why?
T. Ilous: I think my favorite song by XYZ is 'Off to the Sun'. It's off of the second album 'Hungry'. I just love that song live. It's a very heavy song... it has a heavy slow tempo, kind of a Dio-ish or Black Sabbath vibe. The vocals are high and heavy the way they should be. It shows a full range of the voice. It is a very hard song to sing. Every time I nail it I feel on top of the game.
H.M.R. : The one song I think I went back to the most was 'Nice Day to Die' off of the self titled album.
T. Ilous: 'Nice Day to Die' is a great song Dave, I dig that song alot. I have not done that song live since the heyday of 1990. I'll tell you one thing... live it's a heck of a song. We rocked it, it was like a 15 minute long song live with a huge guitar solo and Marc was absolutely tremendous. Marc is one of my all time favorite guitar players. When he came out, he was everybody's nightmare because he was an awesome guitar player. An attitude from hell. Not a bad attitude, marc had a great attitude and was a very nice person and all of the chicks loved him because he was so good looking (laughs). So he was everybody's nightmare...it was like 'wow', he can play and on top of that he was a nice guy.
H.M.R. : For me that was one of the major elements in that song... the huge sounding guitar and solo. The solo just got me going every time.
T. Ilous: We wrote that song when we were very depressed. We couldn't get signed or get anything going. One of our band members was suicidal at the time. We wrote the lyrics and music in 5 seconds. We took it to rehearsal and said 'Let's record it'. It was great actually. I love that song. On the live album it is actually heavier than on the first cd.
H.M.R. : Which live album are you referring to? Is it the 'Take What You Can' album?
T. Ilous: Yeah, the 'Take What You Can' album.
H.M.R. : I also noticed in the discography that there was an album titled just 'Live'.
T. Ilous: Yeah, that is a European version put out by Axe Killer Records. I gave them the rights for that, about 2000 copies. I've never seen a dime after that and they just keep selling and selling.
H.M.R. : I wanted to ask you about Fyco Records. Give us a little on that.
T. Ilous: That's my label. I have distribution through Super D. They are a big distribution company here in the U.S. and I have distribution through SPV/MTM in Europe. I have my gig going.
H.M.R. : With Fyco, do you plan on signing any other bands? Also, I think Cage was on Fyco back when it cam out wasn't it?
T. Ilous: Yes, the Cage project was the first ever release on Fyco in the U.S. although I didn't really pursue that. We released a few copies and that was it. I thought that this could be the beginning of something, it is a beginning of something actually. I really dig working on the label. I'm really having a great time doing it.
H.M.R. : So you might bring some other bands into the label?
T. Ilous: I'm looking for other bands. I would love to sign other bands on a deal. Everybody deserves their shot, so why not.
H.M.R. : Just as a follow up, does 'Forbidden Demos' pretty much wipe out the unreleased material as far as XYZ goes?
T. Ilous: There are more songs. Whether I want to release them or not, I think not. Once in a while I will release a song and you will be able to purchase a song from the website, but that's about it. There is no sense in releasing an album again and again. I think it's time to move on. It's been a great year for me. I toured alot and I had a great time with alot of friends. I did this acoustic tour with Ronnie Keel. It was great. I will embrace the past but it's time to move on now to something new.
H.M.R. : One thing I also like to bring up in my interviews because of the interest to the fans is the video footage. Do you have anything like that hanging around?
T. Ilous: I do have something that I am going to be putting together, but only for the fans. You will not be able to buy it. I guess from time to time fans will be able to download the tracks. I'm not going to make any money off of that. I could care less. From time to time I will make the songs and the videos available. I really love the fans.
H.M.R. : You guys also made some promotional videos as well that I remember seeing. Any access to those?
T. Ilous ; We did 4 videos for Mtv. 'Face Down in the Gutter', 'What Keeps Me Loving You', and 'Inside Out' can be found on the Internet. The fans can check places like Yahoo. They are really good videos. They cost like 250 grand. Damn, we were good back then (laughs).
H.M.R. : Yeah, you guys really were. If I remember right, the self titled album came out on a smaller label and was then picked up by Capital wasn't it?
T. Ilous: Yeah, we signed to Enigma Records for very little money. As soon as the album started to rock and people were buying it, we got a deal from Capital Records. Once the album went gold, people were freaking out. They never thought it would do anything. The album went gold twice. I think that is a pretty big accomplishment.
H.M.R. : I personally think that album was one of the best albums to come out of that era. It was a complete album that I can pop in at any time and listen to it all of the way through. It was just a great album.
T. Ilous: It is a very sincere album. That's why the demos are good. They sound a little more raw, less production to it. I kind of like 'Forbidden Demos' because of that. It's a good album for the fans.
H.M.R. : I really do think that is important to emphasize a that point to. We discussed the 2 different albums, the really bad album and then this latest album and there is no doubt that 'Forbidden Demos' sounds really good and should be the fan choice. Every now and then you have bands that pull more shit out of the vault to make an extra buck, even labels sometimes. This is not that. It's a sincere release.
T. Ilous: Yeah, it is sincere. Believe me, I spent alot of money doing it and probably won't see much out of it, but that's okay. I'm still doing interviews and still having fun. It's time to move on to something else. I embrace that. I'm alright.
H.M.R. : So were just about to head into another year and everybody gets that fresh start. What can we expect from Terry Ilous in the new year?
T. Ilous: I'm half Spanish so I am going towards my Spanish music. It's time to really do what I want which is sing in Spanish and try to conquer a different market. If I don't do it as an artist I can do it as a songwriter. I'm looking forward to working on that. I do alot of Spanish writing for Soundtracks. That is what I want. It is still going to be rock, but in Spanish. It's going to be interesting.
H.M.R. : So when you mention Spanish, how would you describe the sound you are going for?
T. Ilous: It's much more pop. It's more earthy. Piano and acoustic guitars, poetry and the lyrics. It's rocking also. It's a completely different direction that will take people by surprise. It's going to rock though. I've done a few tracks already. It's just more earthy. I like Lenny Kravitz. I like Jimi Hendrix. I wanna go a different direction. I'm not going to repeat myself. Some artists just can't do that. That get stuck in a genre and that's it. I was fortunate enough to have a Dad that was a guitar player, a Spanish guitar player, he imbued me with the love of music and a taste for different styles. I think it's a blessing.
H.M.R. : I'll be really excited to hear that. Others like Steve Stevens went off and did the Flamenco thing...
T. Ilous: Oh I know, I really love that. It took me by surprise, but the truth about that is that Steve is a really great guitar player and he's an interesting character. He's a very, very talented person. One cannot deny that. The talent is there.
H.M.R. : I bring that up because he is proof that you can pull that type of thing off. He's done the rock thing and the Flamenco thing and both equaled each other in quality. If Steve can do it, I know you can do it as well. We'll be really excited to hear what you are up to so you have to keep us posted. In closing, anything you want to add?
T. Ilous: First, it was a good interview because the questions were good. Second, I think the meaning behind being a musician is not getting stuck on one genre but to be able to open our minds and ears to different styles and that is the beauty of it. That is what I want to say to people. Don't be closed minded, listen to all kinds of music. Also, we shouldn't take anything for granted. Basically you are here today and gone today. So appreciate what you have, appreciate the people that you love, your fans and friends and your parents. It sounds corny, but that is what it's all about. Give and you shall receive is what it's all about.
H.M.R. : Great, that is good sound advice.
T. Ilous: If people want to contact me they can go to www.terryilous.com or www.xyzmusic.com and send me an email. I am also always looking to collaborate. If someone wants to work on a song or have me sing on a track, a professional track, I'm always willing to collaborate.
H.M.R. : It's been alot of fun Terry, I appreciate it once again!
T. Ilous: Take care of yourself....thanks!