A STAPLE OF rock radio in the '70s — particularly in
the Midwest, where the band was from — Styx was one of
the most popular prog rock bands of the era. But when
singer Dennis DeYoung tried to push the act in a more
theatrical direction in the '80s, the group split.
DeYoung went to Broadway, and Styx carried on without
him, first recruiting Glen Burtnik, who has since left
the group, to help handle vocals. Perpetually on tour,
the band's guitarist James Young called from a tour stop
in Redding, California to discuss the group's
— Jeff Niesel
6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan.
House of Blues
You played here this past summer at Blossom
with Peter Frampton and Nelson. Was there anyone under
20 at that show?
- Well, you know, the crazy thing is that we have a
huge and growing audience that is 14, 15, 16 years
old. It's hard for me to give you a breakdown. There's
a new wave of people into Led Zeppelin and ourselves
and Journey. More and more we're seeing a young
audience interested in our band. We span the
generations. So to answer your question, yes, there
were, wearing Pink Floyd T-shirts and vintage Styx
I know you tour regularly with REO
Speedwagon, but if you could tour with one band from
say, the '90s or the '00s, who would it be?
- Evanescence is a band that sounds a lot like Styx.
They do a lot the things that made us successful —
harmony vocals with heavy guitar underpinnings. They
sold four million records, but like us, don't get
critical praise. When Creed was together, I thought
they had a sense of melody, but the power of guitars
were still there. There's two for you.
Would Styx have ever been popular if it kept
its original name, TW4?
Are all the lawsuits between the band and
former singer Dennis DeYoung finally settled, and are
you still on speaking terms?
- Yeah. They were filed in October 2000 and settled
in 2001. He hasn't called me, and I haven't called
him. I haven't spoken to him since June of 1999. I
hear he moved close to my neighborhood, though. I keep
expecting to see him at the car wash, but it hasn't
How would you rate him as a Broadway star?
- Dennis is a talented human being. His aspirations
differ from mine and Tommy Shaw's. I'm not really a
student of musical theater. I don't know if I could
consider myself a judge. The guy can sing. I saw him
in Jesus Christ Superstar , and he could
carry himself well.
Was Pontius Pilate the perfect role for him?
- There are more fitting roles, but it was a good
What do you think of Eric Cartman's version
of “Come Sail Away” on South Park ?
- I guess imitation of any sort is a form of
flattery. We were flattered that they utilized a
track. The reality is, I know they're fans. Like many
comedians who are insult comics, they make fun of you
because they do like you. I thought it was fine.
Have you ever eaten at [original bassist]
Chuck Panozzo's hot dog shop?
Billy Bob Thornton sings on your song
“Bourgeois Pig.” What'd you think of his breakup with
- We met Billy after Angelina. He speaks about her
fondly. I never talk to him about her. He's talked to
me about her. He'll always love her in some way. In
many ways, I think he felt unworthy. She's pretty hot.
Tenacious D plays on the tune “Kiss Your Ass
Good-bye” with you. How does their song “Tribute” stack
up against the great prog-rock anthems of the '70s?
- I think Jack Black and Kyle Gass are geniuses. I
love those guys. It's very cool stuff.
Styx still isn't in the Rock Hall, and very
few prog-rock bands are. Why do they get short shrift?
- Well, I believe in terms of the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame, there's a small group of people who choose
who's eligible. It's a controlled decision-making
process by people who are biased against prog rock.
That's just the way it is. It doesn't bother me. There
are great cinematic performances that aren't nominated
for awards. The real test is when I take the stage
tonight and how people respond. If that's as far as
the appreciation goes, then I've done my job, even if
15-20 people sitting in New York don't show their
appreciation. I'll probably be in a wheelchair by the
time it happens. But I'm a patient guy.