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Articles Home » 2006 Articles » Lloyd, Ian - 2006 Interview: From Stories to Social Hero
 
Lloyd, Ian - 2006 Interview: From Stories to Social Hero
FROM STORIES TO SOCIAL HERO - THE IAN LLOYD INTERVIEW

Compiled By: Eric Abrahamsen
Date: 29th December, 2006

Ian Lloyd is a name well read around rock music circles. A lifelong resident of New York City, Ian has been in and been seen in some of the biggest names in rock history. Whether it be with his bands Stories, Fast Forward, his solo work, or his involvement with giants such as Foreigner, you'll never see Ian far away from the action. Still there or thereabouts after seeing action throughout the glory days of rock and radio, Ian gives G-DAZE's Eric Abrahamsen a timely update just as we rock out of one year (2006) and roll into a new one (2007).

Hi Ian! Give us some of some background on your early days prior to joining Stories.
Both my mom and dad were professional musicians and performed and toured with various musical groups, so I spent some time on the road traveling around the country for different concert appearances over my early years. My dad was a violinist and played most of the New York City rock 'n 'roll sessions like Lil' Peggy March 'I Will Follow Him', The Tokens, and later John Lennon's 'Walls and Bridges'. I got to hangout at some of those recordings. With my father's connections I was 'discovered' by United Artists rock mogul Jack Gold (credited for signing Jay Black and Bobby Goldsboro). I signed my first record deal while in college. I formed a cover band during my stay at school playing songs like 'Street Fighting Man' (Rod Stewart's version) Pink Floyd's 'See Emily Play', The Kingsmen's 'Louie Louie' etc.. We played all the party/proms and local clubs throughout my stay at school. During that time I also appeared on 'The Joe Franklin Show' and was harassed by Martin & Rossi!

How did you hook up with Stories and Michael Brown?
Michael's dad and mine played most of the sessions in New York City, literally going from one date to the next. I had just graduated from college and was at one of those recordings. Michael's dad gave me his number and suggested I call Michael. We made contact and within a few days we got together. He played me instrumental ideas for what became the first Stories record. As Mike played the first tune, I began singing lyric and melody ideas. We immediately knew what we had to do. Let me say that the songs Mike was working on were supposed to become an instrumental rock album. I changed all that!

Brown has often been compared to Brian Wilson. Was he difficult to work with in the studio?
I know nothing about Brian Wilson, except that I love his music. Having said that, Mike and I share a very close musical relationship. We are both talented professionals and every time we get together we create something special. We've actually collaborated several times in recent years and have a dozen or so tunes. Perhaps some day..


Stories played a legendary concert opening for The Raspberries at New York's Carnegie Hall. What are your recollections of this show?
Yow! Yes I remember it well. DJ Dennis Ellias from WNEW-FM presented us with our Gold record backstage in our dressing room right before we took the stage. As a child I spent lots of time back stage at Carnegie Hall. My dad would often play in the symphony and I'd just be hanging back stage or in the empty hall. My mom also performed at Carnegie as a featured soloist -lyric soprano Valarie Lamoree and I have pictures of myself with her post performance on stage in her gown and a bouquet of flowers (I was 7 or 8 years old). So playing Carnegie Hall with a number one record was a special moment for me. Subsequently my son has also performed at the hall (Three generations! Some kind of a record?) Earlier in the day I went to pickup my white satin suit at 'Granny Takes A Trip' and ran into Gregg Allman. I remember him saying how much he loved the vocal on 'Brolou' and wanted to pay for the suit! I let him pay for the belt! Other then that I remember only being able to see the industry crowd in the audience, which could only mean trouble!

What other bands did Stories share a stage with?
Slade in Duluth, Minnesota where our road crew were 'head butted' by Slade's skinhead roadies during set up and once we were on stage 'They'(?) pulled the plug on us in our third song. Arrgghh! Gladys Knight & The Pips at a 'Midnight Special' shoot and at Hyatt House on the L.A. strip. Partee all night long!!!

Stories also had the opportunity to open up a few times for BB King which worked surprisingly well and we got to see the legend up close. Alice Cooper was lots of fun, although more party memories than actual shows. I remember playing in Little Rock, Arkansas and some pre-show hi-jinx with Brownsville Station. Cub Coda and we did more than 'Smokin' in the Boys Room'! I think 'Lil' Connie' (legendary groupie) from Arkansas was involved! Bill Clinton, were you there? Breakfast in Chicago was sweet. Stories were staying at the same hotel as Genesis ('The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' tour) and I sat across from Phil Collins and next to Peter Gabriel. I was such a shameless fan boy! We played with so many great artists. It was a constant 'trip'. Joe Walsh, Electric Light Orchestra, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Todd Rundgren's Utopia and many more.

Did 'Brother Louie' becoming such a huge hit surprise you?
Yes and no and yes again. We had finished recording 'About Us', Stories second album and our record company was not happy with the initial sales. Michael had already left the band and I was being pressured to choose a 'hit' song to add to the album. Bob Reno from Buddahh publishing presented me with a bunch of demos. When he played 'Brother Louie' and it reached the chorus, I asked them to stop the tape because 'this song sounds like a #1 record'! I found out later that the demo that I heard was actually Hot Chocolate's UK single! I chose to sing the song in the same key as Hot Chocolate except I would do the lead an octave higher ala Rod Stewart. It was an instrumental one-take session and the magic had been begun!

It was early on in our 'About Us' tour that we felt the momentum of 'Brolou'. As we drove from the Nashville or Memphis airport to the hotel, we heard 'Brother Louie' playing on the car radio as the DJ pronounced 'the most requested song of the week' Much later, 'Brolou' was number one at New York's Jones beach and all radios on the beach were tuned to the same station, playing 'Brolou'. When it finished playing WABC radio did an 'Instant Replay'. It was far out!


Towards the end of Stories Richie Ranno joined the band. What happened towards the end of the group and why not a fourth album?
Mike and I were a songwriting team first. We then put a band together around the songs. 'Brother Louie', 'Mammy Blue' and 'If It Feels Good Do It' were not our compositions. The harsh contrast of styles helped to kill the band. Take note: Stories first hit single was 'I'm Coming' Home' off the first LP. It peaked in Billboard Top 40 and was even played at Shea Stadium's celebration of the end of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1981 when the American hostages were released from captivity. It also became DJ Scott Muni's theme song when he returned to WNEW-FM back in the 90's. By the way, Scott helped usher in FM rock radio! We received a lot of play on tracks like 'Please Please', 'Darling',' Top of the City' etc.. My point being that we had a fan base who appreciated our 'in house' recordings. When 'Brolou' was presented to me, I tried to get the record company to release it as Ian Lloyd and not Stories. They nixed that idea and thus the beginning of the end. To hasten that end, an opportunity of performing 'Brother Louie' on the 'Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson was democratically voted down by my fellow band mates and we did not play on the Tonight Show!

The final nail in the coffin was at San Francisco's Candlestick Park opening for Ike & Tina Turner. Wow, great huh? Well between every song that we played, all we could hear from the crowd was 'Louie, Louie!'. That was it. The old fans thought we had 'sold out' and the 'Brolou' fans were not too enthusiastic about our own 'homegrown' material. Steve Love had quit the band in Los Angeles to join Jobriath; a 'Bowiesque' styled avant-garde artist - very interesting. Rich Ranno filled in for the remainder of the tour, ignoring the 'Louie, Louie!' chants and we went home! Rich did make it in to record with Stories and 'Another Love' was the result. I'm not sure if it was even officially promoted by the record company but there was a 45 released. Remember that format kiddies?

You released 3 solo albums between 1976 and 1980. 'Goose Bumps' is considered your best by many in the AOR community. Would you agree and what are your thoughts on these albums now? Do you have a particular favourite?
My first solo record was released on Polydor and was basically the origin of Foreigner. I brought my two Brit friends whom I'd always wanted to play with and asked them to help out. They were Mick Jones and Ian McDonald. Gregg Diamond from the group Five Dollar Shoes and I produced a dance feel for the overall sound. 'Sensation' and 'Silver Chain' were club hits in South America and still are getting played in Europe as well. 'Goosebumps' and the Disco era, this was the first of three solo projects with Bruce Fairburn, one of the Great rock producers having produced Bon Jovi, BTO, Aerosmith, Yes and more. 'Slip Away' was the first single and hit the Top 50 in Billboard. Top 10 in rock club charts nationally. Thanks Rick Ocasek and Ben Orr from The Cars who stopped by to add some backing vocals and guitars! The topping of the cake for me was to bring Larry Fast (Nektar, Synergy, Peter Gabriel) into the mix with a grooving fat bass hook. Larry also helped out with my cover of 'Time of the Season' using his lush string sounds and sequencing. Let's not forget Lou Gramm singing with me on backing vocals including my own tune 'She Broke your Heart' Yes, that's Mick Jones on lead guitar. He is also on 'Time of the Season', 'Love Stealer' and more. The choice of songs and guest artists on this album really puts this recording over the top. Unfortunately, it's only available as a German CD import. Look on eBay for an overpriced copy!

'Third Wave Civilization' or '3WC' was also a Bruce Fairburn production. This record also had some interesting guests like Paul Dean from Loverboy playing guitars on the albums 'Do you wanna Touch'. 'Trouble' is one of my faves with 'The Aliens' which was a Foreigner out-take from 'Head Games'. We took two of the master reels (I think that song had at least 4 or 5 reels) and set up a second 24 track board with Ian McDonald and Mick Jones producing my lead vocals. It was REEL exciting! Also making a guest spot on 'Lonely Nights' was a cameo rhythm guitar by Bryan Adams and of course my fave 'Progpop' styled writings including 'Dedicated to You ', 3WC' and 'Wanderers' ala 'Bridges', 'TU' and 'Stories Untold'. I actually performed a few shows for this record. My band consisted of Chris Jones from Glass Moon on drums, Meatloaf bassist Steve Buslowe, Jamie Glaszer on lead guitar (Jean Luc Ponty as well as Glass Moon) and Foreigner's Al Greenwood on keys. I played rhythm guitar as well. We opened for Blue Angel which was Cindy Lauper's band about 6 months before 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' came out (and believe me she does!), Mahogany Rush at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan for Halloween, October 1981. We opened the night with 'She Broke Your Heart.' We extended the intro and had our road manager walk around the stage in a Frankenstein mask. Very scary!

Give us a few more details on your unique relationship with Foreigner
I first met Mick Jones when he entered my manager's office. He had just arrived from the UK with his wife and we immediately hit it off and became good friends. We'd hangout almost every morning and jog thru the park and head for croissants & coffee. Mick actually credits me with teaching him how to throw a baseball and about the sport in general, and of course turning him into a New York Yankee fan! (Lou Gramm is also a major Yankee fan doing vocal sessions with a TV monitor during the Post Season games, or was that me?). It was during that time that I was preparing my first solo record. I believe Mick was playing with the Leslie West Band and Kenny Aaronson was Leslie West's bass player. I introduced Ian McDonald and Mick Jones to each other and had them play on most of the tracks on my first album. Right after we finished that album Mick and McDonald started looking for 'other' band members for their new project eventually becoming Foreigner. When the band was finally assembled, and landed their deal with Atlantic Records I was recruited to do my vocal 'thing' and I did. Listen to 'Waiting for A Girl like You' and 'Cold as Ice', not to mention 'Feels like the First Time' which the Ian Lloyd Band is currently covering with a different arrangement in an 'Altrock' style.


It's interesting to note that other than Mick, I'm the only person to appear on all Foreigner records. I remember Mick calling me at 8.30 am New York time from London telling me a car was coming round to pick me up and take me to the plane. They needed me to finish up 'Unusual Heat' (1991) with their new lead singer Johnny Edwards. We recorded at The Farmyard studios in Little Chalfont. We were right down the street from an air force base when the lights went out! This was at the beginning of the first Gulf War. We all took a break and went to the pub for a few pints..

Playing live with Foreigner was a trip. It was more like making an appearance with them. The first time was at Jones Beach Theatre in 1996. I stood between Mick and Lou during the performance. It was grand! Mick even introduced me, to some fan recognition (bet they thought I was Ian McDonald!) The other occasion was at the Beacon Theatre in New York around 1997. I remember taking a Foreigner tour bus from Beacon Theater in the upper west side down to The Harley Davidson Club in midtown east. Wow! Stereo, video, bar and beds. Quite an entourage I might add. No Cab for those lads!

Fast Forward released just one album. Give us some background on this band.
I consider Fast Forward my fourth solo effort. It was the combined effort of mine and Bruce Fairburn. We recorded the album using Bryan Adams' band and a bunch of Bryan's unused songs. (Some later rerecorded by him and went to #1!). Bruce and I shopped the project around the record companies until rock legend Chris Blackwell heard it and asked me if I wanted it to be a solo effort or a band concept. Bruce and I chose the latter and immediately flew back to Vancouver to ready the artwork for the project. We found some great players and brought them together for a video shoot, (No they did not play on the record!) and rehearsals for our only live show. The show was a live coast to coast Canadian broadcast which included songs that have never been recorded! The video was 'What's It Gonna Take' (the first and only single). It received modest late night MTV play and the single got most of its radio play in Canada.

What have you been up to in the years since?
Let's begin with the birth of Dillo (David Lloyd of Social Hero). No nanny for this kid. Nothing but the best from 'Rockin' Robin' to 'Supper's Ready' to 'Black Hole Sun' and beyond! Basically, I took care of the lad and concentrated on session work for Billy Joel's 'Stormfront', Mick Jones solo CD, and Beth Neilson Chapman etc... (Check out Ian's Machine Dream Records website for a complete discography). I spent lots of time doing television and radio ads, commonly referred to as Jingles. I hooked up with Elias Productions and performed on lots of national commercials for Doritos, Michelob (my first commercial), Toshiba, Ford (singing a Jon Anderson composition); Orangina; Pringles and many, many more. My friendship with Jon Elias became a great working and writing relationship. I made appearances on his solo CD 'Requiem for the Americas' and other avant garde projects some of which might not have been released.

A lot of my recent Planet-X CD came from our Yes inspired writing sessions and my work on Yes' 'Union' was another project that Jonathan got me involved with. I was actually hired to appear on the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe record but it turned into Yes 'Union' instead. I spent time with Jon Anderson (legendary lead vocalist for one of my fave bands of all time) in the hills above the L.A Strip. It was fantastic! Had I died and gone to rock heaven? No but.. I actually got to sing on songs like 'I Would Have Waited Forever', 'Shock To The System' 'Without Hope' not to mention singing the lead vocal hook for 'Dangerous' A mind blast! (Yes, that's Ian singing, not Jon Anderson. Thanks Jon!)

'Live At The Garden!' (Actually, the Paramount Theatre WPLJ 70's revival). I received a phone call from an old drummer friend asking if I'd like to open the night! I immediately jumped on that and did the show. My drummer played the show with me and I used the rest of the house band that the other the artists were using. I had horn charts made up for the Uptown Horns and the sound was awesome! A second WPLJ '70's performance at the Ed Sullivan Theater live on air broadcast of 'Brother Louie' and I was ready to make a move. This was the beginning of my 'comeback', actually putting together a band to play my 'hits' and solo stuff, but mainly to showcase Planet-X material. The Planet-X project/ band actually played a bunch of gigs in and around the city, but perhaps the highest profiled show was the mini Woodstock in 1997. Buddy Miles jumped up on stage and played drums on 'Brother Louie' and it wowed the crowd. I am still trying to find a video of that show. I saw lots of cameras on and off stage, but no see video!

Planet-X or P-X is my fifth solo effort and was a direct offshoot of writing sessions with Jonathan Elias. We spent a few months being quite prolific and had a great time creating songs like 'Heartbreak', 'Walking on the Outside', 'Time Will Tell'. The CD was finally released on a small German record company. There was limited distribution and almost no promotion and advertising. It's very difficult to find anywhere today, but it will eventually be available at my web/record site.


'O-de-PO' is my current project. It began as songwriting sessions with keyboardist Paul Morris (Rainbow) and P-X guitarist Dante Natelli. As songs were written and recorded we brought in engineer/ DJ Tony Sankitts. I saw the opportunity to upgrade my style to conform to more of my favourite contemporary sounds. Tony was a hip DJ with massive recording talents and pro-tool skills. I turned him on to Incubus, Korn etc. to show him the direction I wanted to take. Tony and I spent most of our free time working on more recordings like 'Wonderful World' and the title track 'O-de-PO' (Dante brought the original instrumental idea to the table). This project will eventually be released on my own record label and will be my best solo effort yet! I'm actually trying to add a few more tracks that are almost done. One of those songs is collaboration with Michael Brown and another is a song I wrote with Social Hero lead vocalist and writer Dillo. This will be my sixth solo record and should be complete by the end of next year.

(Go to: www.myspace.com/ianlloydsstories to hear a few complete tracks from 'O-de-PO')

I created Machinedreamrecords.com as a way to get closer to my fans and as a home for my projects, including my current Ian Lloyd Band and Social Hero. You can find free mp3 downloads of live Stories gems and see classic Stories moments like the 1973 'Brother Louie' TV ad there. I'm also currently offering a 3song limited CD teaser of 'O-de-PO' music and am planning to sell CD's including Planet-X; 'Stories: Live At The Record Plant' and a few gems that I've found like 'Stories- Live in Memphis'' radio broadcast circa 1972 with the original band- that's the original 4 piece unit with Michael Brown on keys and Ian Lloyd on bass & vocals. This is a rare recording and is predominately first Stories music ('Winter Scenes', 'Hello People', 'Take Cover' and more). Also included is my introduction of 'a new song that will be on our next record.' I was referring to 'Darling' and the 'About Us' album! T-shirts, stickers and other memorabilia will eventually be found there as well as a 'Stories Collection' 3 CD set and the live Fast Forward Canadian radio broadcast. I haven't forgotten that the 'Goosebumps' CD seems to only be available as a German import on eBay from $30 to $60 bucks. I plan on offering fans a cheaper alternative.

The Ian Lloyd Band lineup for current shows includes: P-X mate Dante Natelli (guitar), Antti (Bass) Jon Ihle (drums, background vocals) and Dillo (keyboards, background vocals). The legendary Moogy Klingman from Todd Rundgren's Utopia 'You've Got To Have Friends') has been appearing on stage to help out with the Stories hits including songs like 'Mammy Blue',' Brother Louie' and 'I'm Coming Home'] We also play 'Bridges' and our historic cover of '21st Century Schizoid Man' (co written by Ian McDonald) rocks! I've added 'Nice to Have You Here' and 'You Told Me' to the set. 'Darling' will soon be included as well. The first part of my set includes various solo songs and a handful of 'Progpop' tunes from 'O-de-PO' including 'Hi2Fly', the title track ,'Rip It Out' and 'Wonderful World'.


The Social Hero project is the brainstorm of David Lloyd (Dillo) and Brandon Lotti (Bass). The group started with song ideas and an understanding of all that has gone before! With this in mind Dillo has written a large amount of great Rock n' roll songs with influences from Sam Cooke's 'You Send Me' through 60's Brit rock including Cream, Traffic, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, plus Foreigner to STP, Spacehog and Muse. I am directly involved in recording and performing shows as well as supplying other areas of guidance. And we do some great Beatles covers like 'She Love's You' with the spirit of the 'Fab Four' clearly apparent. Both groups play together whenever possible. This is a Must see show! Our next duo-group performance will be in New York City in early February 2007. Check it out!

Any final thoughts Ian?
Yes! As a child I crept down the staircase and snuck a peek of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. I knew then and now that 'Rock n Roll Will Never Die' (Danny & The Juniors) A decade plus later I saw The Beatles live at Shea Stadium, then The Doors opening for Simon and Garfunkel then Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Genesis w/ Peter Gabriel, Yes, Bowie's Spiders From Mars and lets not forget STP and Muse! Wow- Rock Lives!

Have a safe journey!

IAN LLOYD

PLEASE checkout these websites for pix/sound (old & new) and intimate contact: ianlloyd@machinedreamrecords.com

www.machinedreamrecords.com
www.machinedreamrecords.com/ilb
www.myspace.com/ianlloydsstories
www.socialhero.com
www.myspace.com/socialhero

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