July 14, 2021
Legendary rock band Styx, who have been making music for nearly five decades, are coming up on their 50th anniversary on Feb. 22, 2022.
They’ve produced a new studio album, Crash of the Crown, against the backdrop of touring their previous hits. Their latest tour features a sold-out show at the Sweetwater Performance Pavilion on July 22, at 7 p.m.
Time to Record Again
In an interview with Whatzup, Styx’s co-founding guitarist and vocalist James “J.Y.” Young mentioned that, according to band member Tommy Shaw, it was time to create another record after a four-year hiatus.
The band, which is comprised of Young, Shaw, Chuck Panozzo, Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan, Ricky Phillips, and Will Evankovich, started working diligently to bring this album to life.
Though Young served a major role in the creation of this album, this is the first record in which he wasn’t involved in the writing process. Rather, he concentrated on playing guitar and singing his parts.
“The first voice you hear on the title track is my lower register voice,” Young said.
Before the prevalence of advanced technologies that musicians have access to today, the band manufactured creative systems to produce sounds on their records.
“We used to have to do crazy microphone set-ups in hallways to get echo sounds because there was no digital device that could duplicate it,” Young said. “We had to go stand in a giant hallway and scream and make an echo chamber of our own.”
Mixing It Up
As the craft of recording progressed, and with the help of skilled sound engineers, the band’s ability to efficiently and artistically create records has drastically expanded. This has allowed Styx to produce a wide range of hits over the years.
If Styx’s genre was boiled down to three words, Young stated it’d be a progressive rock band. They were heavily influenced by bands such as Yes and Genesis.
As a guitarist, Young’s biggest influence was Jimi Hendrix. He was fortunate to see Hendrix perform live five times.
Growing up on the southside of Chicago, the blues also influenced Styx members. As Young said, the group is hard to categorize as one particular style.
“We’ve had a heavy song like ‘Renegade,’ or a light song like ‘Babe,’ and we’ve had quirky things like ‘Mr. Roboto,’” he said.
Pandemic and Performance
While their songs may vary, one thing that stays true is their love for performing. In 2020, when a year’s worth of touring was canceled due to the pandemic, they had to adjust their lifestyles.
They were accustomed to having many aspects of their lives put on hold because of touring and always being on the road, but this past year was a chance for them to reconnect with certain people and activities.
“There were little bits and pieces of our house that my better half was interested in changing, so there was a long to-do list waiting for me when I got home,” Young said. “We were also able to rest a bit and connect with our loved ones a little more than we might otherwise.”
The band is used to change. Young said change is the only constant in their lives.
“One foot in front of the other, one day at a time, let’s go out there and rock n’ roll,” Young said.
Now they’re ready to get back in the rhythm of playing concerts and to continue their passion for performing.
According to Young, there’s a positive energy at live concerts that you can’t duplicate anywhere else.
That energy is palpable in the room and makes its way to the stage.
“People in the audience are high fiving each other because it’s their favorite song and they love the band,” Young said. “We’re getting these waves of joy and positive energy from the audience and we’re reflecting it back on them.”
Because of this, Young said it’s life affirming to be on the concert stage.
“It just kind of swells into this giant, wonderful thing about, ‘Isn’t it great today to be alive,’” Young said.
At their show, fans can anticipate hearing some of Styx’s greatest hits, along with a few new songs.
“You can expect great musicianship and great performers and to have a really good time and feel good when you leave,” Young said.
Styx has performed live in Fort Wayne several times. Most of the band members are from Chicago, so they are accustomed to the Midwest.
“The state of Indiana has always been very friendly to Styx,” Young said. “Midwestern people are all very similar. There is a Midwestern friendliness that you might not run into in places like New York.”
Young loves performing for large crowds and hopes people will “turn off the news and come see Styx.”
“Give me a big audience,” Young said. “I’m not afraid, I’m ready.”
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