When we first met/You were just 19
The prettiest little girl/I'd ever seen
Now I'm 40 and you're just 22
You're leavin' me babe/Cos I've been hurtin' you
It's a shame
Booze to blame
"Booze to Blame" - Rilen/Jones (Warner Chappell/Polygram)
Q I remember when the Random Breath Testing thing came in. Before that, people used to get as drunk as hell and still drive. I first noticed a real change of attitude when I lived in Canberra for a while. Canberra's a small town and a company town. Wednesday was the day. Get the paper and see whose name was in there that week.
It's funny. I used to have a flat up the Cross. I drove a '58 Pontiac at the time. When I'd come home from an X gig, totally fucked up, I'd be driving better than I could walk. This is really irresponsible but I knew when I was behind the wheel of that car, I could be cool. I'd get home and the kids would wake up. 'Daddy's home! Daddy, Daddy, take us for a drive!' And I'd go: 'Awww - righto, jump in'. Chuck 'em in the back of the Pontiac. "Vroooom". Down William Street, chuck a left, spin out. They'd all be screaming out, having a good time. 'OK, now, into bed'. Totally irresponsible. It was never a problem, driving pissed, I could always drive perfectly.
The only time I got pulled up, lost my licence, because I forgot to turn on my lights. The cop went: 'Eh mate, you lights aren't on'. I turned around and as soon as he saw me....(laughter)...I blew in the bag and he said: 'You should be dead'!
Got to the cop shop and all the cops were up on the tables (sings) "Cos I'm a bad boy!"
I got a letter from my woman
And this is what she said
I'm sick and tired of your late night drinkin'
And I'm tired of living in the red
"Letter" - Rilen (Control)
Q Somehow, the image of you being a parent doesn't gel with you as the wild man of X. Was that kind of a double life?
Oh no, no. I've always been a family man. Maybe didn't do too well for the marriage. My kids and I - and my first wife - have always been really close. My son is a great songwriter. He wrote a song called "Rock and Roll - Straight From the Heart". And the lyric goes:
I asked my mummy where my daddy's gone
She said: Rock and Roll took him away from us
I just don't think it's the way it was
She just doesn't understand the Rock and Roll way
I thought that was fucking good.
Q How many kids have you got?
Q Is your son J. J. playing music?
He doesn't play live. He just writes songs - to die for. Amazing songwriter. He doesn't have that need to get on stage. He did it once. He supported X in Melbourne. One gig. He's played one gig in his life. And he was fantastic. He's written maybe 100 songs. One of them is on "Love is Murder". "It's OK". That's his song. I don't think I did it justice.
Q Your first wife. Is that Stephanie?
Q You and she co-wrote a song that became pretty synonymous with Hunters and Collectors. "Stuck on You".
Yeah, Steph and I played together in Sardine V. I didn't know she played until I bought a keyboard for the kids and I was writing songs in my room at the house. She just walked by and played a line on the keyboards. I said: 'Do that again'. Fuck, that was really good. So that was it. How Sardine V kicked off. Didn't have a lead guitarist, just me strumming away. She did all the melodies on keyboards. I sold my '56 Chev to buy her a Farfisa. Steph is great. Great lady.
Q Sardine V worked around a lot. Played heaps of shows.
It's just Australia mate. A lot of people thought it was going to be huge. Doings gigs at the Trade Union Club to 800-1000 people and thinking this is going to be fucking huge. Never happened.
I've never been able to capture my music on record as well. Dunno why. Same as X. X never recorded anything that was up to scratch (compared to) a live show.
The 25th anniversary year X: Rilen, Kath Synerdahl and Lucas.
Q I love "Evil Rumours". To me, adding the extra things like strings and keyboards to those songs enhances many of them.
Oh yeah. Fourplay are just fucking fantastic. First time I saw them, they were doing their covers like Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin. 'Fucking Jesus - this is good!' It's a connection. They couldn't go wrong if they were playing X music.
Q So how did your paths cross with them?
I'm not really sure. Everyone thinks it was their idea! (Laughs) Personally, I always loved Fourplay. (Heavily sarcastically. It's a pity Lara's so ugly! (Laughter) It's totally non-sexual! But apart from that, they're great. They do it to me big time. They can bring tears to my eyes, just watching them. So pure and beautiful.
Recording the "Evil Rumours" live album with Laura of Fourplay.
That sax player (Jason Morphett) is really good. (Keyboardist) John Gaucci is fantastic. Just a group of really fantastic players.
Q So you have these recordings coming out as "Passion, Boots and Bruises"?
It's a new studio album, I recorded it in Melbourne three months ago. It's still to be mastered. It's coming out on Phantom, with Sebastian Chase. When I did "Love is Murder", he was talking to my daughter's boyfriend.
He said, 'What's Ian doing?'
'He's got this really good band together'.
'Tell him to give me a call'.
I gave him a call and said I just want to make an album. He goes: 'Go find a studio'. I love Seb for that. He said: 'If it doesn't sell, it doesn't matter. The next one will. If that doesn't sell, the next one after that will. I'm in the business of making good music. I don't give a fuck how many we sell. I'll pay the bill.'
Q So who plays on "Passion, Boots and Bruises"?
Kim, Tony Biggs and Sean Volkman. That's the Love Addicts, except for Cathy Green.
Love Addicts at the Excelsior in Sydney.
Q So what about the semi-regular band that's built up around you while you've been doing this residency? Are you going to do more with them or concentrate on the Love Addicts?
To be perfectly truthful, Mick (Cocks) hasn't played for a while and he's a dear friend and shit. I thought he needed to get out there and play a bit, so I said, 'Let's go'. He's a great player, but his style of playing isn't really conducive to my style of music. Mick's great and plays some great stuff. We're great mates and we all get pissed, we get 50 bucks each and it's something to do on Sundays.
But Kim Volkman's the man. No-one can touch it. I play a song and he just hits it.
But this thing on Sundays that I've been doing - Andy Thompson. If I could be brutal, I'd just do it with Andy and me. But I find it hard to be confrontational and say: 'I don't want you to play this week'. I hate confrontation. I love playing with Andy, but then again saxophone can get a bit much after a while. Sax is good on three or four songs here and there. But Andy's beautiful. He knows when to play and when not to play. He changes the whole of the songs. I really like it.
Snakeskin boots and a Jaguar guitar are gonna get me out
Get me outta this town
Get me outta this town
Get me outta this town
Get me out
"Got to Get Out of This Town" - Rilen
Q So what about the future? Where do you see yourself going from here?
I just want to play around the world. If I can get out of town. I want to play Europe and I want to play America. I'm going to come back over here for summer and I'm going to go over there for winter. Come back here, chill out, play a few gigs and work my arse off over there. "Cos I've probably only got 10 or 15 or 20 years left in me (laughs).
Q Having seen the way you still perform live, you've got at least that much in you.
I really don't care about making lots of money. I just need to play to lots of people. I need to do it and I think people need to hear it. It's unique. The Love Addicts - you can't go and hear it anywhere else. No-one does it. It's a one-off style of music.
From what I've heard from travellers who'd come here and heard us, whether they're from Finland or New York, they say: 'Why aren't you here, why aren't you there'. Even "straight" players from Australia who tour around the world, people who play with John Paul Young and shit, anal sort of music, they go: 'Fuck man, you should be here and you should be there'.
I'm sick of hearing I should be here and I should be there. I wanna be there. I'm sick of fucking sitting around in Sydney and Melbourne and doing nothing. doing a gig a week. Going to Melbourne, doing six shows and coming back to Sydney.
I love waking up and not having to think what I'm going to do tonight - because I have a gig. That's what I like to do. I hate waking up and thinking: 'I've got a week before the next gig'. I just want to be playing.
Take me to Paris/ Paris, France
I'll play my guitar, Find a new romance
Out of this town
"Got to Get Out of This Town" - Rilen
The new studio album "Passion Boots and Bruises" - all it needs to be done is mastered. The artwork is nearly done. Out in January, I reckon. Unlike "Love is Murder", it's live. recorded the whole thing in two days. Then I sat around for the first time behind the desk and did a bit of twiddling and fiddling. It was good.
Q Where you happy with "Love is Murder"?
Yeah, for what it was. The guitar player in Skindiver, Bones, he just didn't turn up one day. The guitar player, James Cruickshank, was in the audience. 'Hey James, you wanna come up and play some guitar?'. Some girl said she had an acoustic in the boot of her car. He got up and played mega guitar. So he ended up playing guitar in the band for a few Sundays.
Then, James said he's love to produce an album. I said: 'What, Skindiver?' He said, 'No, Ian Rilen'. Forget the band. We'll get different people in. If you're game, we'll do it as Ian Rilen. Just let people hear your songs'.
So that was good. I just sat back and said whatever you want to do. I gave James a free reign on it.
(Engineer) Chris Townend was really scared about the session. 'James Cruickshank - oh my God. Ian Rilen - OH MY GOD'. But we were really good. We didn't get drunk. No-one got on drugs. Everyone did it straight down the line. We knew, when we'd finished the session, we knew what we were going to hear. So I was quite happy with it.
Q Does it worry you when your reputation precedes you?
Oh, sometimes it gives you the shits because it's so not true. I very rarely fuck up a show because of what I do. I might fuck up after. I'm always there and I always do the gig and I never do drugs or anything (at the show).
Q X never blew out a show, did they?
My reputation in the industry is not too hot because people might see me out at five in the morning and I'm "rrrrarrrrrarrarrrrarar" - I'm out there - but I reckon if you kick a goal with a bad reputation, it's a better goal than if you kick one with a good reputation. I don't sort of base my future on that. It's just the way it is.
Funny, we were talking about Sam Rigghi before. That live recording we did at the Excelsior - he just loves it to death. He and Mick Cocks share a place together. He's been playing this to all these hot shot promoters from all over the world and they're going: 'Fuck, this is red hot'. And he goes: 'I'm not telling ya!" (Laughter)
Sam's a good bloke. Over the years, a lot of people have gone 'Fuck him - he's fucked'.
Q I wasn't singling him out. It was more than he was at a big agency and X snubbed them.
Oh yeah. X fucked everything that the industry stood for. We enjoyed that. That's the way it was. Didn't need 'em and they didn't like it. That's why we couldn't get into studios, we couldn't get this, we couldn't get that. Because everything we stood for and did, was against their fucking 10 percent.
I don't think I'd really change anything. I'm quite happy where I am. And hopefully, where I'm going to go.
"Passion, Boots and Bruises" is out in February 2004 on Phantom.
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