Interview with Ian Parry, Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, Bandleader
by Petra M. Jansen
Hi Ian, thank you so much that you found the time to do an interview with me. You’ve already worked together with many international artists and musicians. Let´s talk about this please. With whom did you realize which projects?
Hi Petra thanks, the pleasure is all mine. I guess the biggest and most adventurous musical project I have ever embarked on has to be my 5 album concept “Consortium Project” 1999 to 2011. During the Elegy / Kamelot 1998 European Co-Headliner tour (both bands signed to Noise TNT records Germany at this time), I had a number of demos originally for a possible 5th solo album, which I played to Kamelot Guitarist Thom Youngblood and Drummer Casey Grillo. They immediately said they would love to be a part on the album and invited to record with them in Tampa Florida. And so the whole “Consortium Project” adventure started and I ended up co-writing and recording with Thom and Casey for “Consortium Project” / “Criminals & Kings”. After an additional 15 recordings sessions in Wisselloord studios Holland (famous for bands such as: Van Halen, Def Leppard , Judas Priest and many more, then sessions in Hungary with Guitarist Tamas Szekeres, additional session in Holland and Germany with Elegy members Dirk Bruinenberg (Drums) Martin Helmantel (Bass) Barend Courbois (Blind Guardians new bassist) and Ayreon, my colleague Arjen Lucassen from Vengeance.
Finally not forgetting of course my good friend and colleague Vanden Plas guitarist Stephan Lill (who is the best prog-metal guitarist in Germany and worldwide in my humble opinion) and producer guitarist Tommy Newton at Area 51 Hannover/ Germany from Victory whom added additional bass and mixed a fantastic debut “Consortium Project” album “Criminals & Kings”. After worldwide releases massive acclaim and very impressive debut album sales, I went on to record a Penalogy 5 album concept over a period of 12 years. All 5 albums were remastered and released together worldwide by Lion Music Finland which are presently available both in digital and c.d. format. So I am extremely happy with how the concept of a world going out of control later to be saved by women, developed into this epic rock metal project.
Tell us some interesting steps of your musical career, Ian.
The most amazing thing that happened was back in the early 80s. I was a very naive 21year old young ambitious singer, who send off a tape to London hoping to audition for a band. To my surprise I was asked to travel from Liverpool to London Euston for an audition, then suddenly John Lennon was shot and died and the auditions were cancelled. At the time I had no idea why, then later at my parent’s home my Dad answered the telephone and said “Son I have the manager of Ringo Starr’s drummer son Zak Starkey on the phone”. My folks were so proud when I went to London had an auditioned and got the job as singer with Zak Starkey, me too. That same day the world’s press was at John Lennon’s old home Tittenhurst Park Ascot for the wedding of Ringo Starr marrying America Actrice Barbara Bach (know for her roll in the James Bond Movie “From Russia with Love” (later I got to know her very well and she was a wonderful kind lady and amazing mother to 3 children and still managed to be a Hollywood Star). I was invited to the party that same evening to go to their wedding party, but the manager thought it would be too much for this little young singer from Liverpool hanging out with Paul and Linda Mc Cartney, George Harrison, Roger Daultry & Pete Townsend (The Who) Eric Clapton, Brian Ferry and many more amazing celebrates, so I was put back on the train, then the next day when I awoke the marriage of Ringo and Barbara Bach was announced on the BBC and world news and the rest is history. The band first called “The Next”, was followed constantly by the British press who kept writing “The Next What???” and after a few name chances we announced the new band from Zak Starkey was called “Mono Pacific” (the name meaning one world in peace).
I was so proud because my brother Vic Parry designed the logo (also more logos later for Hammerhead & Consortium Project). We went on to play selected shows in Reading University (where we met Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs) and eventually we had our first deal offer from A&M records. Zak was only 16yrs old at the time, but Ringo wouldn’t sign the contract on his son’s behalf and shortly after the band split up. So I answered another advert in the British music magazine “Melody Maker” for a Dutch band “Hammerhead” and shortly after moved to Holland after we signed a worldwide deal with EMI Electrola in Cologne Germany and went on to record my first album in 1985 “Hammerhead – Heart Made of Steel” featuring “Twisted sister/ Widowmaker” drummer Joe Franco and “Rainbow” keyboard player David Rosenthal, who coproduced our debut album. That was my 2nd BIG Chance to break in the music. EMI wanted us to be the official tour support band for a worldwide tour with the “Scorpions” (who we meet in Holland, great guys by the way). Sadly the album went way over budget, other EMI partners felt it would be far too much investment to launch the band and so the album was shelved put in a safe and was finally released under license 15 later. I had amazing times at EMI Electrola’s studio. We hung out with the band “Alphaville” (who just had their big hit “Big in Japan” and an amazingly friendly guy called Herbert Grönemeyer. We had no idea how famous he was at the time until I was back in London and saw him in a great movie called “Das Boot/ The U Boat” and nearly fell off my chair realizing who he was ha! ha! These were all fabulous times and great memories, which I will always cherish dearly!
You’re also a studio musician and have made recordings and performances with DORO, Stratovarius, Mob Rules and many others. Recently you´ve been a guest vocalist for some gigs of the actual Fates Warning Tour. Are you now only working on your own projects and still further as a studio musician?
I love to gain experience and be inspired by other bands and artists which helps keep my ideas fresh and the creative juices flowing. I have almost finished mixing my debut band project “Rock Emporium”. It’s about my 14th album I have produced (I lost count I guess my 24th album in total) and the first time that I mix myself, so that’s why I am taking my time with this album. My colleagues from Italian band “Headless” (with whom I recently toured in Croatia, Serbia, Greece etc. with Fates Warning) are also co-writing a number of additional songs. I started in February 2015 recording vocals for the debut album from German guitarist Christian Muenzner (Necrophagist, Obscura, Spawn Of Possession, Paradox), signed to AFM records Germany. It would be great if AFM also work with us on this new album. Christian is a fantastic metal guitarist not only with speed, but has the ability and style to play subtle melodic Neo Classical prog rock metal styles (I told him if we would have met earlier back in the day before I worked with Patrick Rondat, then we would have asked him to join Elegy. Christian would have been the perfect guitarist). Sadly Elegy is no more, but it’s great to be working with Christian and I hope that we get a chance to perform live shows together.
You had 23 album releases credited in over 35 countries and worked together with several well-known international artists like Ayreon, the German Stephan Lill from VANDEN PLAS, Tony Martin from BLACK SABBATH, David Rosenthal / RAINBOW and Robert Palmer, with the son of the LED ZEPPELIN Drummer Jon Boham, ex-RAINBOW singer Doogie White… and many more. My dear! That´s a really amazing biography. Could you tell us something about your previous work?
Woh! When I read this I sometimes forgot how much I have done over the years, because it’s been like a musical fairy tale and you don’t release how much you how achieved until you stop to take a break. Where do I start well as I explained in the beginning of the interview getting the chance to sing my very first recording in John Lennon’s studio where he recorded his famous hit “Imagine” with a son of the famous Beatle’s drummer Zak Starkey (The Who, Oasis) was my first big break. “Whitesnake” also recorded their “Come an’Get it” album there, so it was a huge kick singing with the same microphones as David Coverdale and John Lennon…woh! The biggest most amazing experience once lazy afternoon was when Zak said let’s asked my Dad if we can hang out with him in his (ex-Lennon studio) and listen to some of the sessions his was doing for his “Stop and smell the Roses” album. So of course being so young and innocent I said “sure why not, I have nothing else to do”. So we walked in the control room where Lennon and Yoko Ono mixed his famous Milk ‘n’Honey album, then I hear a familiar guitar sound, then this tall sleezy man walks in and Ringo says with his typical deep lasy low voice “Ian this is Joe…Joe this is Ian the singer of Zak’s band” then I realised it was Joe Walsh from the Eagles who was producing Ringo’s solo album and we sat there all afternoon listening to Joe Walsh recording some amazing guitar parts! Who! Bow that put a smile on my face!
Hammerhead with Rainbow/Cindy Laupa/Billy Joel keyboard player David Rosenthal was cool. My colleagues from Vengeance guitarist Arjen Lucassen more known for his successful “Ayreon” albums. Royal Hunt keyboard player Andre Andersen. I have worked with a few famous actors since I have lived in Holland. Even did voice overs for a children’s cartoon, ha! ha!
Mike Chlasciak from Judas Priest’s singer solo band ”Halford” played with Casey Grillo (Kamelot drummer) and I on a special Led Zeppelin tribute in the USA as part of the “Consortium Project”. We had so much fun all we did the whole time was laugh together…great memories! That’s what I love about my job. Music brings people together from all over the world, you don’t need to speak the same language… just play and the magic happens!
In which countries have you been on stage?
Live on stage with DORO at the Christmas Metal Symphony with a big orchestral was incredible. The last tour of Germany I did was back in 2008 with USA guitarist Joe Stomp. A Live tour with Elegy across Europe in 1997 was the best. I think with played about 18 shows in Germany together with Stratovarius then Elegy whom were signed to JVC records also went off to Japan playing 2 exclusive shows in Osaka and Tokyo. That was cool they collected each band member in a Limosine (and I felt like a million dollars ha ha). Later in ’98 live TV acoustic performances with Elegy guitarist Henk van der Laars at the Hard Rock Café Tokyo (the home videos we added as special bonus tracks for the REMASTERS released via Metal Mind Productions in Poland). I believe my stage jacket is hanging on the wall in the Hard Rock Café Osaka or Toyko, together with memorabilia in Osaka from Elegy. Croatia, Serbia recently with Headless where fans stood in a line with the Elegy “State of Mind” albums wanting my autography. Woh! I will never forget the first time I played with Elegy in the USA at the Brave words & Bloody Knuckles festival in Cleveland Ohio, standing in the lift with UFO bassist who wanted a singer to jam UFO covers with him in Alice Cooper’s restaurant. I was too stupid to say yes! Oh well maybe a chance like this comes around again. That’s what’s so wonderful about life in the music bizz you never know what’s coming along?
How do you involve your knowledge and extensive experience in your new projects? As far as I know you put all your talents into songwriting and producing. What is your main focus at the moment?
Finally I am putting “my money where my mouth is” once again as we say in English, finiancing again my next album. I am also combining all the years of studio writing and arranging experience together and mixing my new album myself for the first time. Obviously there will always be room to improve that’s the amazing thing about music, but I hope that your readers and the fans will appreciate my hard work and enjoy not only the power of the production, but love the “back to the roots” melodic power Hard Rock songs. Next step is to find a label to come on board and work with my colleagues and me. Or this time I may release the debut Rock Emporium online first via my own label Non-Stop Productions, then release a limited addition CD album full of melodic AOR rock bonus tracks. I also have plans for a 5th solo album being about my 25th album this time more experimental aka Peter Gabiel direction and fingers crossed working on songs with Headless for their next studio album. So who knows I may be on the road again soon in Germany and other European countries later in 2015/2016 with Christian Muenzner. Fingers crossed and I can meet you and all from Tool4spirit and all our cool fans soon!
Well, let´s talk about your Bands, Ian. You have worked in several band projects, like “Headless”, “Vengeance” or your own rock metal concept “Consortium Project” and you had contracts with different major labels. Could you sort this a little bit for us? And which are your solo releases?
1 Hammerhead. 12 EP released via EMI Holland 1994. 1 full studio album called “Heart Made of Steel” finally after 15 years locked in a safe at EMI Electrola it was licensed from EMI and released in 2000 worldwide via Transmission 2000 and licensed in Japan via Maquee records.
2 Vengeance albums. Last Teardrop – Sony records 1992 then The Last of the Fallen Heroes 1994 Alfa Japan. Retitled for European release plus bonus tracks called Wings of an Arrow 2000 – Transmission Holland.
4 Ian Parry solo albums. Original Released via my own label Non-Stop Productions, then licensed in Japan via Zero Corporation, then later Europe via TNT Noise records Germany/ Escape Music UK/Scarecrow records Mexico 2006. Hope to start on my 5th later this year in a more atmosphic Peter Gabriel style!
5 Elegy albums from 1996 to 2002 via TNT Noise records Germany/JVC Japan/Locomotive Music Spain/ later the Remaster 2007 via Metal Mind Productions in Poland.
2 Misha Calvin albums Evolution I & II released via Zero Corporation in 1994/1996 also featuring British singers Tony Martin & Damian Wilson.
5 Consortium Project albums from 1999 to 2010 licensed worldwide to various labels; InsideOut Europe & America/Century Media Records/Mascot Records Holland/NTS France/Nippon Crown Japan/King Records South Korea/Megamind & Dynamo records Brazil 1999/2002 then final Lion Music records Finland 2010 then re-releases 2011. Plus another several and more albums with Andre Andersen – Royal Hunt Denmark/ Mob Rules – Germany/ Infinity Overture – Denmark / Ayreon – Holland / Dawn of Destiny – Germany and many more (see details above).
Which were previously your band projects?
Consortium Project and now the Debut Reck Emporium album entitled “Society of Friends” featuring Blind Guardian bassist Barend Courbois & Delain/ Vengeance Guitarist Timo Somers (see details above).
Is your musical project “Consortium Project” still relevant? Which international musicians are/ were involved into this project? I read something about the ex-RAINBOW singer Doogie White and other well-known musicians.
I sang backing and harmony vocals together with Doogie white for Royal Hunt. I have closed the book on the final chapter of my rock metal concept story about a world going out of control which is saved by women whom later discover that our origins are all from an Alien species”. This was the 5th and final Consortium Project “Species” album back in 2010. I was proud to have worked with some of the best rock metal musicians around the world from band members such as: kamelot/Ayreon/Elegy/Dawn of Destiny/ Lou St Paul – Winters Bane USA (See list below). 5 albums during a period of 12 years was an incredible experience and a roller coaster ride which I absolutely loved and the fabously times and memories I will always cherish til’ the day I move on to my place in musical heaven!
CONSORTIUM PROJECT V & QUADRILOGY PERFORMED BY:
IAN PARRY – Vocals (Elegy/Ayreon/Vengeance) GB
STEPHAN LILL – Guitar (Vanden Plas) D
NIELS VEJLYT – Guitar (Infinity Overture) Dk
THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD – Guitar (Kamelot) USA
PATRICK RONDAT – Guitar (Jean Michel Jarre/Elegy) Fr
TAMAS SZEKERES– Guitar (Tamas) H
DIRK BRUINENBURG-Drums (Elegy) NL
IVAR DE GRAAF_Drums (Within Temptation) NL
CASEY GRILLO – Drums (Kamelot) USA
ARJEN LUCASSEN-Bass (Vengenace) NL
BAREND COURBOIS- Bass (Vengenace) NL
JAN BIJSMA-Bass (Vengenace) NL
JENS FABER – Bass (Dawn of Destiny) D
KRIS GILDENLÖW – Bass (Pain of Salvation) S
VEITH OFFENBÄECHER (Dawn of Destiny) D
JAN-PETER KLEEVENS-Piano (Hammerhead) NL
JAN VAYNE- Piano (Jan vayne) NL
INGEBORG WIETEN- (Actrice) NL
LOU ST PAUL – Guitar (Wintersbane) USA
LENE PETERSEN – Female vocals (Infinity Overture) Dk
ANI LOZANOVA – Female vocals (Ani Lozanova Project) Bul
Your biography is stunning, a great compliment for your musical career. Bows in deep respect, Ian! But in my announcement of our interview, I realized that many people in Germany do not know you and your amazing work. Can you imagine the reasons for this?
I think the main reason is I haven’t done any extensive tours in Germany since Elegy/Kamelot Co-Headlining tour in 1998. The last mini tour I did was with USA guitarist Joe Stump in 2008 and since then no more live shows in Germany. Another reason is labels don’t advertise much in the Germany or Dutch metal magazines anymore, so the only promotion I get these days in Germany is C.D. reviews. This is called free publicity and everything nowadays is going over to online promotion over the internet. However I hope to change this soon once I have all my lead vocals recorded for the new band project and album from German guitarist Christian Muenzner. As yet Christian (guitarist with varius German acts such as: Necrophagist, Obscura, Spawn of Possession, Paradox), has not signed any license deals and I hope his previous Germany colleagues from AFM also release this debut album. I am sure there will be live shows coming later in 2015 from Christian, Headless and Rock Emporium.
Presently you start with another great project in collaboration with several world class musicians to form your AOR rock formation “ROCK EMPORIUM”. Release of your debut album “Society of Friends” will be this year. You are songwriter, producer, singer and you start this project with music professionals like Timo Somers (DELAIN), Sander Zoer (DELAIN), Barend Courbois (BLIND GUARDIAN/TANK), and for live shows with keyboard player David Guitierrez Rojas (Kingfisher Sky) and you, of course. Classic rock at it´s best or in which direction goes this new album?
Yes. Rock Emporium is something which I have been working on for a number of years now even while I was active with the Prog Metal albums from Consortium Project, I felt I needed the musical freedom to expand my horizions more and go “Back to the Roots” combining classic rock ACDC / Whitesnake style songs with modern Neo-Classical hints within the song arrangements and this time not only co-write and produce, but mix the entire album myself for the first time. So far I have 50% written recorded and mixed. In November 2014, I quickly put my mix on hold to help out Italian rockers Headless during the last leg of their European tour with Fates Warning in Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece (which was amazing). On returning home German metal guitarist Christian Muenzner asked if I would sing all the vocals on his debut Metal Project. The Debut Rock Emporium album will come soon. I have not approached any labels to license the album. I will however have 3 or 4 bonus tracks for the Limited edition C.D. version for our loyal fans which will be my 25th album release, so I have lots to celebrate this year. YES!
What are your expectations when the new album is placed on the market?
Only one to make the fans happy that I decided to follow a different road and embrace my Rock roots once again!
First time you release by “Non-Stop-Music-Productions”, is this your production company, Ian?
Yes, Petra. I started NSP back in 1993 after borrowing money from a family friend (which I hansomely repaid I should add). I was simply fed-up having to kiss ass at the majors and labels and my father (whom incidentally is a fabulous Jazz drummer said “hey son my friend will help you out and I think it’s time your started your own independent label”. So for once in my life I took his advice and I have continued finiancing and producing my own album productions for over 20 years (as many artists do these days). Not bad for a little curly haird singer from Liverpool, who’s music teacher kicked out of the class and said:”You’re useless and you will never go anywhere in music” …I think the man was on drugs or drinking too much English Tea! Ha ha!
Are there any gigs or a tour in progress after the release of “Society of Friends”?
Plans and discussing with a Dutch promoter and German manager for a European tour. I hope also to perform more shows in italy this time with Headless who will kindly help me perform a number of songs as a C.D. presentation in Venice.
Are you satisfied with your previous successes as a professional musician? Would you say that you have achieved everything you wanted? What are your aims?
I guess the only wish I have is to be remember for writing one fabously song to leave behind as my lagacy for generations to come!
Do you have a tip for young singers or vocalists from your point of view?
Quote Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel from the “SO” album…”Don’t give up ‘cos you have friends”. In the music business if you have talent you also need friends who support you and help you believe in yourself. Young talent can go a long way a lot further than the vintage musicians. So don’t listen to outsiders who think they know better but are sometimes only trying to make money out your god given gift. Listen to your heart, use common sense and then kick ASS!
And now…leave a short message for your fans, for the folks outside – just one sentence, please.
Thank you all so much those of you whom have supported my colleagues and I for many years and continue to support us by buying our music. This enables us to continue to make these fabously albums. God bless you all and if all else fails “Let’s rock until we drop”. YER BABY!
I’m assuming that you are personally available for your fans. Is that right, Ian or do you hire a webmaster for your communities?
From the beginning of my career some 25 years ago I have always have a one to one contact with my fans. I have sent personal message to all the friend requests on the social networks over 2,000 and counting. I am also interested in the lives of my fans, that’s why some 25yrs later they show their appreciation and kindness by bringing their teenage children with them to shows. Now that’s the biggest honour any proud musician singer Artist can be given!
One last question: with which band or musician, with whom would you like to be on stage or realize a musical project in future?
A difficult question now. Maybe a duet with Kate Bush or a collaboration with Peter Gabiel. To Rock on stage live with Van Halen and Coverdales “Whitesnake”and maybe record a song with Deep Purple…sheer musical heaven”.
Oh, and find me a beautiful lady and findly act like a real grown up and settle down ha! ha!
I thank you very much for this great interview, Ian. Good luck for you and the band and all the best. Rock on!
The pleasure was all mine Petra I wish you good health, happiness and lots more success with the magazine and website from Tool4spirit Germany.
© Petra M. Jansen