Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

Killing time
The Ike Reilly Assassination, America’s best kept secret
Related Links

Ike Reilly Assassination's official Web site

I first met Ike Reilly in what we’ve agreed was most likely the fall of 2000. At the time, he was little more than a construct placed in my mind by 1) the magazine editor who’d asked me to interview him for an "Artists To Watch in 2001" feature, 2) an earnest female publicist who seemed unusually happy to be working with an artist whose music she felt some passion for as she made arrangements to fly me to NYC, and 3) a couple of unusually quirky songs that somehow reminded me of Beck on a forthcoming major-label debut I’d yet to get my head around. "You’re going to love Ike," I remember her telling me as we were driven from one end of midtown to another. "He’s just so . . . " — her thought trailed off as she reached for a ringing cell phone to find out how the photo shoot she’d set up for Reilly was progressing.

This was pre–September 11, but New York has always struck me as a place where they’re continually paving over scars that run so deep, you could lose yourself in them for five or six blocks at a time, a city endlessly on the mend, from Martin Scorsese’s 18th-century Bowery gangs to the crack-cocaine epidemic that had spread like a virus through the downtown alphabets in the 1980s. New Yorkers were so used to this state of affairs that the recent Disney-driven clean-up of Times Square had set many of them on edge. But if you can find yourself a tiny corner at one of the dozens of no-name bars at just the right time of day — those magic hours between the end of the late lunch rush and the onset of early nightlife — NYC is still a city where you can comfortably kill an entire afternoon without even realizing it.

We entered a nondescript building, took a nervously creaking elevator up a few flights, and walked through a couple of white rooms that smelled of fresh paint to find Reilly in the process of frustrating the hell out the photographer charged with coming up with a cover shot for Salesmen and Racists, the 2001 album for Republic/Universal that was supposed to put him on the map. It was clear that Reilly hadn’t been through this process before, and if the photographer had a concept, well, Reilly wasn’t getting it. He didn’t look right in the designer rock duds an assistant kept pulling from a makeshift rack in another room. And when he produced some of his own rumpled clothing — including what I believe were a pair of purple pants — from a gym bag, well, at least there weren’t any audible gasps. The final version of the album included not a single shot from that session. This was only the first indication that Reilly’s transition to the world of big-business rock and roll wasn’t going to be a smooth one.

The two of us eventually escaped to a booth at one of those no-name bars, and as the drinks flowed, the story of his unusual life came pouring out in bits and pieces. For starters, even though the Salesmen and Racists’ songs that had first caught my attention — "Hip-Hop Thighs #17," for example — married semi-surreal stream-of-consciousness storytelling to a decidedly Dylanesque delivery ("Hip-hop has blown my mind/John Cash has done his time/When you and I were in the weeds drinking wine/With that English singer and your hip-hop thighs . . . ") and set it all to arrangements that mixed looped beats with acoustic strums and quirky guitar hooks, Ike was no Beck. He grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, a blue-collar suburb of Chicago, started his own family there, and worked — happily — for two decades as a doorman at a fancy Chicago hotel before stumbling into a record deal. The hotel closed, a friend sent some of Reilly’s songs to a lawyer friend in LA, and, with no day job to return to, he entertained offers from several labels before settling on Universal’s Republic imprint. He seemed as bemused by this turn of events as you’d expect of a down-to-earth doorman with a wife and kids. Even at a young-at-heart 38, he was off to an unusually late start if rock and roll glory was what he had in mind. And it didn’t take long for Reilly to go from "Artist To Watch in 2001" to little more than a musical footnote in a year defined by bigger, meaner events.

Or as he puts it when I reach him at home in Libertyville, "I got dropped, man. I mean, it didn’t sell and I got dropped. That label was driven by radio, I didn’t get any airplay, and that was that. I have no regrets about it, and I’m not bitter about what happened because it gave me a chance to start a band that’s turned into something that I’m excited to be part of. That never would have happened if those major labels hadn’t come around bothering me."

If I’d never heard from Reilly again, it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least. But we’d swapped cell-phone numbers, and before long I started getting the occasional late-night call. The band — and Ike didn’t even had one when we first met — were coming together, as was his songwriting. He had no apparent plans to pursue another doorman job. Instead, he was continuing to record, and every once in a while, a demo with a couple of hastily scribbled song titles would show up in my mail. He was right: the band sounded great. And the new songs were as good as if not better than the ones on Salesmen and Racists. As 40 approached, Reilly, who brings his band to T.T. the Bear’s Place this Monday, was coming into his own.

page 1  page 2 

Issue Date: March 11 - 17, 2005
Back to the Music table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group