Styx' JY Comes Clean!
Some Personal Secrets From The City Slicker Himself!
In your private life, is it easier for you to be emotional than it is in music, which is very public?
Well, I think everyone is that way. I think that people in general tend to be potentially different from what they do. For me it has always been that way. I'm going to blow my image by saying this, but I'm a pretty straightforward, rational individual - except on certain occasions, except for rock 'n roll - and I'm not prone to outrageous temper tantrums or things like that. But the music, the persona that I portray is sort of that side of me which, maybe, has suppressed the conservative upbringing I had. In the framework of the music it's like, 'Let's let it all out!'
You certainly look like a rock star, are you in fact a lot more straight-laced in your private life than one would imagine?
Gee, I don't know. I think I am probably a little more straight-laced than people would think, but I still have my moments.
Does the rock world look different to you than it did twelve years ago?
I think so. I mean there was a certain naiveté that we all entered the music business with. I still down deep love rock and roll and, for the longest time, I viewed it as the avoidance of getting a real job. Now I see it more as my life's work and I think I'm a lot more serious about actually doing the creative work. In Styx, Dennis was such a prolific songwriter and such an assertive individual… Tommy was maybe slightly less so, but not very much less so. I just wasn't that assertive about my artistic ideas. I'm not, maybe, that confident about them either, but my confidence now stands at a point where it really has never been before. I'm talking about my ability as a guitarist, as a songwriter, as a performer and as a vocalist, as, let's say, a personality also. I feel I have just come into my own.
Do you have any hobbies?
I'm a big football fan - and this is the year of my team, the Chicago Bears - and hockey, too, the National Hockey League. They have an element of aggression which is, I suppose, present in my music, also an element of finesse and danger. I had a notion, at one point, to do some parachuting, jumping out of airplanes and skiing, but I've been so afraid of breaking a finger, a critical finger, or something that would ruin me for the rest of my days.
As an experienced , professional, what do you say to a fan who wants to get into the business?
It takes a lot of time and energy and it's not easy and in addition to having talent and working very hard and having a little business sense besides, you can't forget that money is going to play a role. If you don't have money so you can put gas in the car, so that you can drive to the next show, you can't make it. There's an awful lot of things that are required of a person to succeed in the music business and that's really what we're talking about, having a career. That is, getting paid for being a creative individual. That requires an awful lot of energy and talent and L-U-C-K. Make sure you have a second career of some sort to fall back on. I have my aerospace engineering degree. Make sure that you've got something else in place, because this is sort of a pipe dream. So many people have succeeded and have not made money at it or have spent or lost all the money, so it's something that requires somebody to keep their eyes wide open. Rock and roll stars are now heroes, they are the ones that people look up to. I mean, President Reagan mentioned Springsteen in his speech!
So, you know, probably at some point a rock star will run for president, of course Joe Walsh already has. If we've had an actor, why not some other kind of performer? And who has more impact on modern culture than a pop star?
That's interesting, who's your number one nominee?
After being in the music business, I don't trust any of them. No, that's not totally true, but you'd like to think that there are some career professionals who understand the ins and outs of international politics, who would somehow be the choice of the American people.
Styx had an interesting public profile when it came to the press. What's your personal feeling?
Well, our profile in regard to the press was basically (created by) our manager who had very strong ideas and said that the press were of no use to a touring band. The press is not an objective group of individuals. They have their advertisers to convince. In a sense, they are in the same position as the radio stations or television stations and so they are not really objective and the press look for, you know, the most outrageous line. I know a lot of nice people that are in the press and I enjoy talking to them. It is what it is and you can talk to them or not talk to them. Styx were just too mainstream and too popular and we did not have a press champion in the beginning where someone would say, 'These guys are the great undiscovered thing and I will champion them!'
I really took a long look at what has succeeded and, in the long term, things that are now viewed as classics were virtually unrecognized in their own time. So, I think the press has its own purpose. I can choose to speak to the press or not to speak to them, but it's too much fun to sit around and shoot the breeze. If I'm not recognized in my own time, I'm not going to be depressed.
RockLine! magazine, June 1986
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