One of the funkiest songs out in the early 70s was “Brother Louie,” the Stories’ Billboard chart-topping cover of the Hot Chocolate tune. Singing lead on that tune, giving it plenty of edge and soul with his raspy vocals, was Ian Lloyd. Lloyd was destined to be a musician, the third in line of three generations of musicians in his family. Steeped in everything from classical to big band to rock ‘n’ roll, Lloyd was and is an original, with a unique voice and signature sound that can be heard on Foreigner’s “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold As Ice,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” and “Double Vision” and on Billy Joel’s “I Go To Extremes,” as well as on recordings by Yes, Peter Frampton, Ian McDonald (King Crimson/Foreigner), and Survivor. He’s had six solid solo album releases, as well as the hits “Mammy Blue,” “I’m Coming Home,” and “Top of the City” with the Stories. He’s a prolific songwriter and veteran musician who embraces his craft. He recently sat down with dampfang.com to talk about his career and what he has coming up.
Examiner: What were your musical influences growing up?
Ian Lloyd: I was born in Seattle, but grew up in Queens. I went to boarding schools in Peekskill, NY. I ended up moving back into the city after college. My father was a famous orchestral, television and session violinist. I used to hang out with him backstage. That was fascinating. He introduced me to Michael Brown through Michael’s dad, who was also a session musician. I’ve been singing my whole life. My mother was an lyric sopranist, I used to practice with her. And my dad managed her.
Examiner: What was the first 45 that you bought?
IL: Lloyd Price’s “Personality.”
Examiner: So what’s the scoop on “Brother Louie”? How did you guys end up doing the cover?
IL: Errol Brown and Tony Wilson of “Hot Chocolate” wrote it, it was produced by Mickie Most. Our label wanted us to have a hit. They had me listen to some unidentifiable tracks and I picked “Brother Louie” because of the chorus. I knew that was it. The song’s been on a few soundtracks, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” “Zodiac,” “Dick.” Also on “Nip/Tuck,” as well as “Louie,” Louis C.K.’s current show.
Examiner: How do you think the music industry has changed since you first started out?
IL: The music industry has always sucked! (laughs) Many performers have horror tales about not reading the fine print. Our group broke up because of “Brother Louie.” We got a larger fan base and the song was a major hit, but it wasn’t the direction we wanted to go in. I’ve always been more into progressive rock.
Examiner: Who would you like to collaborate with who you haven’t?
IL: I’d love to collaborate with Peter Gabriel. Genesis, when he was a part of it, really turned people on. Also like Muse’s work, wouldn’t mind collaborating with them.
Examiner: What are you currently working on?
IL: My last release, which I really enjoyed working on, was “In the Land of O-De-Po.” It was something a little different for me. The album touches on some of my problems with the law. (chuckles) As well as my being a proponent for medical marijuana. The title song won the 2009 “Best Rock Song” for the Global Marijuana Music Awards. I’m working with my son, David, and his group, Social Hero. We just had a show on August 13 in Washington, D.C. at the Velvet Lounge. I’m also collaborating with John Ford of The Strawbs. They had an album that topped the U.K. charts, “A Part of the Union.” We should have something out by the end of next year. We have one song written, plan to have six tracks. We’re appearing at the Taj Lounge in Manhattan, troubadour style, on October 1.
Examiner: Which do you prefer, being in studio or touring?
IL: Definitely touring. There’s an instant gratification in performing live. The studio experience is more heady.
Examiner: What’s your creative process?
IL: It used to be watching “Family Feud” with Richard Dawson…! (laughs) Now there’s all that Reality TV stuff on, which I don’t like. The song’s usually in my head. I’ll sometimes write while watching a baseball game.
Examiner: What do you love about music?
IL: That it’s universal, something that reaches all people.
Examiner: What is something that people don’t know about you that you’d like to share?
IL: I love comics…! I have over 80,000!
Lloyd remains very active, touring with his son’s band, Social Hero, as well as appearing with his new music partner, John Ford. He keeps his music up-to-date and progressive and stays true to himself. The genuine article, his powerful vocals and above-the-bar musicianship keep him at the top of his game. Be sure to check out his reworking of “Brother Louie” on Louie, which is on Tuesdays at 11:00pm on FX. Ian’s voice is part of rock’s music landscape and its sound highlights the horizon. Keep it rockin’, Ian!