Ian Lloyd

Interview by Dennis Morgillo

Interview with Ian Lloyd
by Dennis Morgillo
Ian Lloyd is one of the most distinctive lead singers in the business. With his band "Stories", Ian had the #1 hit "Brother Louie" in 1973, and sold millions of albums. He has continued his solo career working with Foreigner, Rick Ocasek and many others. His latest album O-De-Po won the best hard rock song at the Global Marijuana Music Awards, and a new album is in the works for 2017.

Madhouse: Let’s start from the beginning.  So Ian, you’re a nice Italian kid born in Seattle, Washington, but I always thought you were British.  Why did I always think that?
Ian Lloyd: I’m sure there is a multitude of reasons.  I was born in Seattle but I never lived there.  I was literally on the plane out of there as soon as they would let an infant onto a plane to fly back to New York.

Madhouse: So you’re definitely not British?
Ian: I am definitely not British but I am an Anglophile.  And also you know we’re talking early 70’s which was the British Invasion which affected me and my music and all of my influences greatly.  So that’s definitely a great part of it but you know if you listen to Brother Louie and then you listen to the album it’s on it sounds a lot different then all the other music on there and that’s because me and my co-writer Michael Brown were Anglophiles and we were heavily influenced by the Beatles so a lot of people thought we were British.  And you know it was that whole 70’s thing with the long hair and the bell bottom jeans look.  

Madhouse: I remember seeing you guys on ‘Midnight Special’, I was like nine at the time and I was like “oh man these guys are the coolest, I love this song, I love his voice”.
Ian: Yea I mean it was a tremendous time and especially when you see what’s happening today, it was great and I’m so glad I could have that success and be apart of that time period.

Madhouse: I read that you were classically trained in piano and violin. 
Ian: Yup, all of which is long gone.  But yea my mom was a Soprano and my dad was a professional violinist, who actually was one of the string players that toured with Sinatra, so I was learning the basic music through that.  And I think that singing, because I never took lessons, just came from listening to my mom warm up when I was a child.  So that was basically my training.  And I mean I would much rather have gone out and played baseball when I was kid, instead of playing the violin, but you know I’m grateful for the music.  But I am a big baseball fan!

Madhouse: What’s your team?
Ian: Well I live in New York City so I am Yankees all the way.

Madhouse: That’s what I was hoping to hear!  But let’s get back to your musical influences.  I know you loved the Beatles, but what was your main influence?
Ian: I mean the Beatles were my favorite band but I was alive way before 1965 so I grew up listening to Frankie Avalon, Sam Cooke, Danny and the Juniors you know “rock and roll is here to stay it would never die” that’s how I lived man.  Even to this day I will quote Danny from Danny and the juniors.  But personally when I got out of college the British Invasion was starting and it was the most exciting thing of my life!  The music was so advanced and so different and so I was influenced by the music I grew up listening to but also this new genre.

Madhouse: So now let’s talk about Stories and “Brother Louie”.  I’m sure you’ve talked about it a million times but I don’t personally know the story and I know pretty much everything (haha) but like you said you formed stories with Michael Brown from the Left bank,how did you guys get together?
Ian: Well basically the story is his dad and my dad were professional violinists doing session work together so we all knew each other from that.

Madhouse: Hot Chocolate wrote the song “Brother Louie” and then you recorded it.  How did that come about?  Who brought the song to you and said you guys should perform it?
Ian: You know it’s so crazy because it was so long ago but I always said that there were a couple of things happening simultaneously that led me to that song.  For one, the album “About Us” was already done and “Brother Louie” wasn’t originally on it and you know people used to complain about that.

Madhouse: Yes I actually heard a funny story that you used to carry around 45’s with Brother Louie on it and hand them out to fans because they were so upset that that song wasn’t on the album.
Ian: Yea you know me and stories were very open, and it was the 70’s so we didn’t have to deal with the horror that happens today, but if people had enough initiative to come back stage that was great man, I would talk to them, sign autographs, you know whatever man.  I remember it was in Tulsa, Oklahoma and we were playing under a tent at a festival and at one point I was just kind of frisbee-ing copies out to the audience.

Madhouse: Do you remember what the recording session was like?  How you felt when you first heard it on the radio and when it became a big hit?
Ian: Brother Louie is a whole vague thing in my head.  I was looking for outside material to find that one song that we could include in the “About Us” album (and obviously it became Brother Louie).  But I was listening to a bunch of different demos and 45’s and when I heard that one I just knew that it was the one.  I knew it was going to be a hit.  I mean of course that hook is eccentric!  But actually Brother Louie and other songs on the B track were all recorded in one take.  And actually, Hot Chocolate was so pissed about Brother Louie because that was supposed to be there big break out song in America.  It was released in Britain and was #1 for a while but they were not happy because they released the song in America around the same time as us but ours just went BANG you know.  

Madhouse: Yea but they got paid for it if they wrote it.
Ian: Oh man they made a lot of money.  I sang it but I’m poor and they’re rich so…

Madhouse: Yea but to this day it is still one of my favorite songs ever.  When I hear it on the radio I turn it up and I just love that song.  It’s just 99.9% of the people in this world will never have a hit song or a #1 song and that is something no one can take away from you.  Congratulations on that!
Ian:  Thank you and I mean that song had a lot of special meaning.  We got a lot of death threats on our tour when we played in certain areas in the south you know alluding to “she was as black as the night, Louie was whiter than white” that was worse back then than it is now I guess.  But you know that was an important song for a lot of people.  I was the first, if not the only white person to cross over into the R&B top charts.  So that was very special.  But what was most important to my career was that song over and over again appeared in different movie soundtracks.  Like at least 4 or 5 90’s movies including “DICK” which was a comedy about Richard Nixon.  But the big one was “Guess Who” the comedy with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher when they’re driving down the road and to break the tension they turn the radio on and the first thing you hear is Brother Louie so they quickly switch to another radio station haha.  But I just want to wrap the Louie thing up and say the crowning moment for me was when Louis C.K called me up and said “Ian you gotta do me a favor.  Can you re-record the hook for me we can’t find anyone else to sound like how we want it.”

Madhouse: So you re-recorded it?
Ian: Yea like an extended version of the hook.  

Madhouse: So after Stories, which were only around for a short time, you had a solo career with awesome songs like “Slip Away” which was a top 40 hit and you worked with Ric Ocasek on that.  How did that come about?
Ian: Well that was a part of the Goosebumps album, which was my third solo album.  But you know I was involved with the beginning of Foreigner.  I brought Nick Jones and Ian McDonald and brought them into the studio to work on my first solo album and that subsequently became Foreigner.  But basically I was looking for new stuff to do and Nick introduced me to Ric who came down and did some back up vocals for the album.  

Madhouse:  And now I read that your album “O-De-Po” won some kind of marijuana award?
Ian: The title track in “In the Land of O-De-Po” was voted and won best hard rock track at the Global Marijuana Music Awards.  But you know “O-De-Po” was very special to me because my son who produces me now and writes with me now said “dad there is no one in this world who deserves this award more than you” I was like you know “haha thanks son”.  

Madhouse: Yea so now let’s talk about your son and your new album that is coming out.  Your son is a singer and a musician as well you must be proud of that.
Ian: Yea well you always have mixed feelings because the music industry is so insane, especially today’s market.  I mean I’m doing my next album because I have to for myself, it’s what’s inside of me.  You know I gotta get it out and I gotta finish it.  The songs are all short and what I call “progressive pop.”  Short songs that have melodies you can sing along with right away but it has this progressive structure and feel. I’m so excited, I mean I’m going crazy trying to get everything done.  You know how life gets in the way even for a creative person that can mentally bend you out of shape and take you out of your groove but I’m hoping to get back into the studio in about 3 or 4 weeks.

Madhouse: So you think you’ll have this album out by the end of the year?
Ian: You know my son would say yes but I would say we would have it out early in the beginning of next year, maybe the spring we could start playing some of the songs live.  I mean I’ve practiced it all because I wrote everything on acoustic guitar and piano so I’ve made like a mock set that I can play all the way through.  But you know I do four songs on the guitar, then one on piano, then 5 on guitar and then I’m back to piano so in my head I’m already performing it.  But I’ve actually already had a couple of rehearsals, cause you know after I left the bass position, nowadays I perform as the front man which I absolutely love doing.  So all of my old songs I will be performing as the frontman, but with this next album I will be playing rhythm guitar, maybe keyboard and such so I’m really excited to play this next album live with a full band.  It’s gonna be really exciting.  

Madhouse: Yes that’s really exciting.  Well Ian, it’s been great talking to you I’ve learned so much, I can’t wait for the new album.  
Ian: Alright buddy take care!

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