July 9, 2008
By David Huff
Xyz - Rocklahoma 2008 - July 9-13
Timing is Everything
Timing, as they say, is everything. With that comment said, it is not too hard to understand why a great band like XYZ slipped through the proverbial mainstream cracks, then disappeared before their music really had a chance to make a statement.
And that’s too bad. XYZ more than held their ground with the likes of Winger, Firehouse, Steelheart and others of that pop metal ilk who gained a bit of notoriety, however short-lived. Before XYZ could hit their stride, grunge had not only swept the country, it cleared the streets of Hollywood – label rosters and all.
Terry Ilous arrived in Los Angeles from Europe in 1985 with just $500 in his pocket and dreams of becoming a star. The son of a French mother and Spanish father, the gifted vocalist had one slight problem to overcome when it came to forming a band – he only spoke French and Spanish. Fortunately, music is a great communicator, and soon the language barrier was broken for Ilous in the form of fellow musical soul mate, bassist Patt Fontaine. During their four-year tenure as veterans of L.A.’s club wars, slugging it out with the likes of Warrant, Bang Tango, Faster Pussycat, Love/Hate and others, XYZ followed the familiar progression of recording and mailing demos to every ear they could catch. In early 1989 the band won the devotion of Enigma Records. They released the band’s self-titled debut later that year with Don Dokken producing.
The changing of the guard, from glam to grunge, caught XYZ completely off guard. Capital had to honor their two-album commitment to Enigma, but after the release of Hungry, the label (as did all the other majors in town) purged their roster of anything resembling hair or glam to make room for the next big flannel shirt band. Illous didn’t handle the demise of his band very well.
“I thought the good times would last forever,” said the singer shaking his head. “The money, fame, girls, you name it, I never thought it would go as quickly as it did. People went from being happy to really depressed when bands like Nirvana showed up. I was not ready for that. I lost my home, my girl, fame, income and even my self-confidence. For a very long time I was very suicidal and it’s amazing that I pulled through. Talk about humility! I went from being a rock star living in Beverly Hills to a dish washer that sometimes lived in his car. And every night I had to close out the place and clean toilets too.”
Terry Ilous bounced back to not only reclaim his life, but his dignity as well. Starting in 2000, he released four albums in five years, and once again teamed up with Patt Fontaine to write, record and tour. XYZ’s performance at Rocklahoma will also include guitarist Tony Marcus and Joey Shapiro on drums.
Terry Ilous - vocals
Marc Diglio - guitar
Patt Fontaine - bass
Paul Monroe - drums