El Paso Times Online

'70s rock band taps younger generation of followers

By Leonard Martinez / El Paso Times
Summer is a busy time for rock bands, and this summer is no different for Styx.

"We're playing our sixth show in seven days," guitarist/vocalist James "JY" Young said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C. "That's rock 'n' roll in the summertime. There are lots of fairs and festivals, and people want to go to them because they've been cooped up too long."

Styx will headline the first night of the Downtown Street Festival on July 1.

The members of Styx -- who have been around since the early 1970s -- are still amazed by the audiences who go see them night after night.

"We're seeing a new young contingent of fans, under the age of 25, coming to see us who certainly weren't around at our peak," Young said. "We're seeing enough young people to make us feel that we did a good job of recording albums that reach people. We have three generations of humanity coming out to see us."

Young said young people's interest in Styx could be their way of rebelling against the gangster rap, death rock and death metal that is so popular these days.

"Young people are still out to discover something for themselves," he said.

"This is music that is really counter culture to their friends' (music), in a way. This is almost them rebelling against what's being jammed down their throats."

Last year, Styx released a CD of covers called "Big Bang Theory" -- a CD that came about by accident.

After a lackluster response to "Cyclorama," the band was trying to regroup and was asked to be a part of Eric Clapton's Crossroads charity concert.

"I did some Hendrix things, Tommy Shaw did some blues things, and it was the first time we ever did (Beatles song) 'I Am The Walrus,' " Young said. "We wanted to set ourselves apart in some way, so we did 'I Am The Walrus.' We had such a fun time doing it, we started adding it to our show in the encore."

A friend of the band who is in radio in Chicago asked them for a copy of the song so he could play it. The covers CD grew from that.

"We were still stinging from 'Cyclorama,' so the notion was to record songs that had an influence on us," Young said. "There have been so many tributes where a band just listens to a song once and slopped it out there. Our goal was to at least live up to the original in some way, shape or form, and outdo them in some cases."

Songs for a new CD are being worked on, and a new song "Just Be," should be available to radio in six to eight weeks. Fans may also get more songs before the CD is released.

"We're sort of embracing the notion that if we have a great song and we think we made a great recording of it, we want to just put it out there and make it available as a download and see how people respond to it," Young said.

With everything going on, in the Styx world there's plenty to get excited about.

For Young, one thing stands out above the rest.

"I personally derive the greatest joy from performing live," Young said.

Leonard Martinez may be reached at lmartinez@elpasotimes.com ; 546-6152.


What: The 2006 El Paso Downtown Street Festival, celebrating Independence Day, featuring Styx and Blue Oyster Cult on July 1 and Puddle of Mudd, 10 Years and Seven Mary Three on July 2. There will be four stages of live entertainment, a children's area, a fireworks display and food and drink vendors.

When: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. July 1 and July 2.

Where: Outside the El Paso convention center.

How much: Tickets are on sale at all Peter Piper Pizza restaurants. Prices are $15 in advance for adults and $5 in advance for children 12 and younger.

Information: 544-8864.

Styx information: www.styxworld.com.

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