Editor’s Note: It was a great conversation to chat with arguably one of the most underrated vocalists of the 1980’s. In my view, XYZ flew under the radar in terms of being popular in the 1980’s metal scene. XYZ was great and highly underrated because of their musicianship and the impeccable vocals of Terry Ilous. Terry Ilous is a musician first when it comes to his singing. He recently released a cover album entitled “Gypsy Dreams”, which gives a snapshot of his influences throughout his career as a vocalist, and it shows why he’s helping to be the flagbearer for legendary 80’s metal band Great White to this day! I am hoping to continue the conversation with Terry in regards to Great White’s upcoming release, which is due out this June. In the meantime, please go pick up a copy of “Gypsy Dreams”, which includes Latin/flamenco influenced covers of various songs by The Doobie Brothers, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath. Without further delay, here is my conversation with Terry Ilous in regards to his solo album entitled “Gypsy Dreams”.
M.T.C.: I want to thank you for taking the time to interview with me for Madness To Creation. The purpose of this interview is to maybe discuss a couple of career highlights that you have, but let’s start off by talking about what influenced you to create this unique cover album entitled “Gypsy Dreams”.
Terry: Basically, I wanted to, well, I’m a big fan of so many of these great songs, and I wanted to pay tribute to those artists, and use my own interpretation of those tracks.
M.T.C.: Let’s talk about a couple of those tracks. Which one was the first one that you wanted to do?
Terry: Well, the very first one that we did was “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath with Dio. We get together with myself, Luis Villegas, and Mike Bennett, we catch each other, and I said, “why don’t we get together to do a Sabbath song, let’s give it a shot”, and Luis, my guitar player in flamenco, and we did the song and it sounded really well. We did a show playing the Monsters of Rock, and nobody expected me to go into the song with that, we did the song, and the response from the audience was pretty amazing, I think people are very surprised and they didn’t expect that, and I knew from that moment on that I had something different, the album is very different from, well I don’t think for better or for worse *laughs*, I think that it’s a humble opinion, nobody has done that before, and hopefully people will like it!
M.T.C.: What inspired you to have a Latin/flamenco flavor to the music instead of creating a rock cover album?
Terry: Well, I grew up in Europe, my dad was a Spaniard, when I was a kid, I used to go to Spain all of the time, my dad used to take me to watch those flamenco dances, flamenco gypsy shows, and I fell in love with the music, and later on, I became a rock singer of course, and I didn’t do any flamenco or anything like it, but eventually, with this album I thought it would be a good idea to combine different genres of music altogether. You know, in Europe, we are exposed to all different kinds of styles of music, on the radio, the radio stations used to play all different kinds of stuff, they went from rock to Brazilian to pop to whatever, to songs *hums “The Chicken Dance” song*, they would play rock, they would play The Rolling Stones, so basically, we are exposed to different things, and it’s great because as an artist, you have to roll with it and be open-minded, so when I made the album, I thought it was a good idea to make different styles.
M.T.C.: Speaking of evolving as an artist, based on your experiences with XYZ and Great White, what would you recommend for a new artist to make it in the music industry?
Terry: Get a degree in business! *laughs* Things have changed from when I started tremendously, I think nowadays, you need to understand the nature of the business more than ever before, because if you think about it, unless you’re a major star, you would most likely make less money than before. Back in the day, you would get signed, get a major record deal, and you would get on the front cover of so many magazines, now things have changed, you’re here today and you’re gone today, so my advice to artists nowadays is that you understand the nature of the business so that nobody screws you, so you have something to fall back on, when my parents told me that, I laughed. Before, you could make a living doing music, I think today it’s due to so many artists coming out and the Internet has changed everything, so you really need to have something to fall back on, some education, whatever it is just in case it doesn’t work.
M.T.C.: Do you think the Internet has changed it for better or for worse?
Terry: Better AND worse. Better because you get to hear all of these wonderful artists that come out today and to have a chance to be heard, which is great. Before, it was more difficult because you had to sign to a major label. Worse, because there are so many artists that you can discover on the Internet that its more difficult to stay focused on the artist’s life, you click on a different link, and all of a sudden, you are somewhere else, then you click on somewhere else. It’s especially difficult for artists to have a long career. It seems to me, back in the day, major bands had a long career, now it’s “here today, gone today”, which kind of sucks to be honest with you. The Internet has helped a lot, but it’s much more difficult for the artist to make money. If you think about it, we can download things for free everywhere, you can download stuff, you can hear stuff on YouTube, the artist doesn’t make a penny off of that, I think it’s quite a shame, especially for an artist to make a living. If you’re a touring artist, you charge x amount of money to go to the concert, and you hope that people by the merch and all of that stuff. Other than that, it’s difficult for the artists to make money, unless you are Rihanna, Bruno Mars, or one of those people, then you’re doing very well.
M.T.C.: Speaking of pop artists, if you could create one song with a pop artist or pop diva from today, who would it be and why?
Terry: You’re going to laugh, but I would like to do a duet with Celine Dion. I think she’s a brilliant singer, she’s one of the best in the world, I would like to do something with her of course. As far as male singers, I like Bruno Mars, I think he’s great, he’s a great songwriter, I admire him a lot. There’s so many great people out there that it’s hard to tell. I also really love Sheryl Crow. I would love to do something with Sheryl Crow.
M.T.C.: Is she still making music today?
Terry: I’m a huge Sheryl Crow fan! I have everything that she has ever put out there. I have everything that she has ever released. I love her music, I love her lyrics, she’s a great artist. She is by far my favorite female artist!
M.T.C.: I think there is a lot of honesty in her music, I think her arrangements are very underrated.
Terry: You can say that again! Great musicianship, great arrangements, I’m a big Sheryl Crow fan! I would love to do something with her, again Celine Dion is the best singer in the world, and Sheryl Crow is a wonderful writer and artist.
M.T.C.: Do you plan on touring in support of “Gypsy Dreams”?
Terry: Well, to tell you the truth, I do a lot of dates with Great White and Great White is my priority, so I have to make sure that that’s first. When Great White has some time off, then I’ll be able to do some dates to support this album.
M.T.C.: What can Great White fans expect from this solo project that you did?
Terry: *laughs* Well, I’m not sure whether Great White fans will like it or not. I have no idea, I didn’t think about that when I went into the studio. It sucks to be honest with you. I do music for myself, and I hope that people will like it, I’m blessed when people do like it, but I don’t do things for the people, I do this for myself. It’s a very selfish experience for me. I thank the Great White and XYZ fans for the support, it’s very personal to me, although I may play in front of a big crowd, it’s still very personal. I do it for myself, I do love to sing, I enjoy being on stage, I don’t do it to be rich or famous, I do it because I enjoy singing. I still enjoy meeting new fans, I’m blessed because some people have said, “I love your new stuff”.
M.T.C.: Where can people pick up “Gypsy Dreams”?
Terry: People can get the new album on I-Tunes, Google, Amazon. They can get it pretty much anywhere, including local outlets, and on my personal website, which is www.terryilous.com. Great White has a new album coming out June 2nd, very excited! Great album! It’s very bluesy and heavy in a raunchy way! We were able to work with Michael Wagener, who is a class act, and a wonderful music producer, it’s a very humbling experience getting to work with him. As far as my personal album, I’ve been blessed to have such wonderful musicians, Luis, Jose, Mike, Chris, and Al and all of those guys. I’ve been blessed to be able to work with those artists. I’m going to continue to do more things together.
M.T.C.: Thank you so much for your time!
Terry: Thank you very much!
And there you have it! Here is the download link to purchase “Gypsy Dreams” off of I-Tunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gypsy-dreams/id1224968088 and please go to his official website for further information.
Check out his cover of “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin!