I thought my readers might enjoy the little conversation I had with fresh bass singer Ian Owens this past Saturday. He was very generous with his time, and I can now speak from experience that he is a great guy as well as a great singer. Enjoy!
Me: How did “The Old Rugged Cross” become a sugar stick for you—how did that happen?
Ian: Basically, it’s one of Ernie’s favorite hymns, and he said that he enjoyed my heart and my delivery in a song, and he asked me to do it. And I think he was pleased with what I did, and now it’s just kinda an every night thing.
Me: That’s awesome. So how are you doing keeping up with “the steps?”
Ian: [Laughs] Oh that, you know that’s the hardest thing for me, because I am not coordinated. I have rhythm, but I am not coordinated. Not at all.
Me: Can you play basketball?
Ian: No. I can be the ball. They can play basketball, I’ll be the ball. Or I can play basketball if it has a joystick. But the steps are really the hardest part for me.
Me: So where do you see yourself going now as far as sort of refining your craft and becoming an even better bass singer?
Ian: You know, I have the same mentality today that I did when I started. And the reason George Younce is my hero is because for him it was always about singing first. He just happened to have a low voice. And for me, I want to work on my singing. I don’t want to work on the lows, I don’t want to work on the depth. That comes, it comes with age, they say you’re not even a real bass singer til you’re 45…I got 15 years to be a real bass singer! [Laughs] And so, you know, I’m working on the singing.
Me: I want you to keep that. I want you to keep that upper register, ‘cuz that’s where you really, that fruity, rich tone—keep that, don’t lose that, okay?
Ian: Yeah, thank you very much.
Me: Do you foresee any Imperials covers in the group’s future now that you’re on board?
Ian: I would hope so, because you know some of the older Imperials stuff from the 70s, the Terry Blackwood, Jim Murray, Sherman Andrus, Armond Morales, those days, that harmony was impeccable, it was wonderful…
[I share my own early memories of the Imperials…]
Ian: You need to tell Ernie we need some Imperials covers.
[I assure him that I have suggestions…]
Ian: Well “I Believe” is an Imperials cover, and that’s you know, Armond hired me to take his place.
Me: You know what you should do, you should do “My Mind Forgets a Million Things.”
Ian: Oh, I love that song.
Me: You have to sing that.
Ian: The only reason I didn’t with the Imperials is because I felt like I wasn’t really old enough for that song to seem relevant.
Me: Well I know, but you have to do it. I mean, you’re the only bass who can really…I thought nobody could top Armond on that one, but now you’re here, you can do it.
Ian: Oh thank you, thank you. I love you. [Looks over at bystanding old ladies.] I love her. Insert, “This is where I hug her.”
[This is where he hugs me.]