Throughout the existence of Styx, singer-guitarist
James Young has been the band's lone constant. During
the Chicago band's glory years, 1975 to 1980, Young
provided balance for the baroque act. Singer-keyboardist
Dennis DeYoung's power ballads were sugary-swet, and
Young's rockers were dark and aggressive. “Babe,” “Lady”
and “Come Sail Away,” the former's compositions, became
massive hits, while the latter's bitter “Miss America”
and raucous “Snowblind” earned play on album-oriented
rock stations. DeYoung, who's no longer with Styx, is on
tour rendering the band's hits, while Styx is on the
road offering tunes from its canon.
— Ed Condran
STYX, Peter Frampton,
p.m., Thursday, May 6
1145 W. Steels
Styx has been around for more than 30 years.
What is left to prove?
That we're still a
vital and vibrant band, which we prove every night we
Unlike many of your peers, who are content to
live off old hits, you're still making new
It's something we need to do. We're
doing some exciting stuff now that we've left our
previous keyboard player at home in 1999.
You're referring to Dennis DeYoung, who was
always very different than you and Tommy
In the very beginning, Dennis and I
were on the same page. He always had different musical
tastes than me, but we found common ground. Then Tommy
joined the band, and he was so successful as a rocker
that Dennis changed a bit. Dennis was looking for a new
identity. He started channeling Barry Manilow, which is
exactly what I didn't want to do. Dennis wasn't a team
Your 1983 album, Mr. Roboto , which
essentially splintered the band, was basically a DeYoung
It was his dream and our
You replaced DeYoung with Glen Burtnik. Why
did Burtnik quit Styx?
Glen had never been
part of a band that toured constantly like we decided to
do in 1999. A lot of our rehearsing is in Los Angeles.
He wanted to spend more time at home. He's a family guy.
He didn't want to miss his kids growing up. He became
less happy with the situation and he left.
You were really close to drummer John
Panozzo. When he passed away during the mid-'90s, did
you ever consider scrapping Styx?
because every night that we go onstage we dedicate what
we're doing to John. We're doing what he would want us
to do. We're doing what we have to do. I've been doing
this so long. It's a big part of my life. It's hard to
imagine doing anything else.
Is Damn Yankees a potential conflict for
Tommy Show, or is that band finished?
Yankees is becoming more and more of a historical
footnote. At this stage, if anybody has a chance of
getting on contemporary rock radio — I doubt either band
does — it would be Styx. Tommy is focusing on Styx.
During your salad days, Styx was lumped into
progressive rock. What would you call Styx now, since
the band is hardly progressive?
I think we
returned to what is known as the progressive-rock
mindset. The whole pop side is there. The growling blues
aspect is there, but I think if you had to label us,
we're a progressive-rock band.
How do you showcase new material when most of
your fans just want to hear the hits?
have to structure and pace the show in the right way. My
own strategy, which has been adopted by the band, is to
play a hit song everybody knows and loves. Then you play
a new song. The best thing you can do is play three very
familiar songs and then throw in an up- tempo new song
that rocks. That way you won't lose them. It's like
feeding a dog a pill. You stick it in with a sweet
treat, and it all goes down and the dog will love it.
At some point, every band calls it a day,
except the Rolling Stones. When will you write a final
chapter for Styx and leave the prog-rock world to the
I don't think about the end
of this band. I can't think that way. All I know is that
we love being out there watching the fans going crazy,
singing along with us. It's a wonderful reaffirmation
for us and our body of work. We're thrilled that the
fans want us, and we're not going to go