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‘Styx epic adventure’ comes to Utah on Monday

February 6th, 2014 Posted in Arts and Life

By Paul Christiansen 

Styx hasn’t let up since 1999.

Here they come again. The band performs Saturday at the Peppermill Concert Hall in Wendover, Nev., and will follow that up with a concert Monday in Richfield, Utah, at the Sevier Valley Center Arena.

Styx+Shirt+2The rock band has released two full-length albums, an extended-play compilation of rearranged and re-recorded versions of old songs, several singles and a live concert DVD filmed during its 2010 “The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight” tour. They’ve embarked on both national and international tours with the likes of REO Speedwagon, Boston, Def Leppard, Foreigner and Kansas.

But even after all that, says Styx keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, there’s still no sign of stopping.

“When I joined the band, kind of the little agreement that came along with it was that Styx wanted to reintroduce itself in a way to the entire world, and tour at a level that they had never done in the past,” said Gowan, who replaced Styx founder Dennis DeYoung in 1999.

“That meant playing over a hundred shows a year, every year, in every corner of the globe that wants to see Styx. That, along with making as many records and doing all the recording side as possible, was the mandate, but touring was at the top of the list of things to be done.”

Fifteen years later, he said, the “Styx epic adventure” continues to grow.

“This year we’re easily going to play 120 to 130 shows, and there just doesn’t seem to be any letting up from the insatiable demand of Styx fans around the world,” Gowan said. “We’re very pleased with the situation as it stands, and we hope that it will continue for as long as the rock gods deem it cool.”

Styx has seen several lineup changes over the years — most notably co-founding member DeYoung’s departure — but discovered Gowan after his platinum success with solo releases in Canada. Gowan admits most people don’t think of him as a classically-trained pianist when they hear his rock ’n’ roll, but the musician, inspired by great rock pianists like Elton John and Rick Wakeman, attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

“I just thought, ‘I’m going to go here and delve into classical music to see how far I can go with it,’” he said. “Once I got through that, it was really with the intention that I’d bring that into rock — my writing style and my playing style. And that’s really the extent that classical music had an effect on me.”

In spite of member changes in the band, Gowan is confident that Styx has benefited from every individual’s involvement in the making of the music. The band has no ill will toward anyone, he said.

styx“This been a tremendous band from the beginning, and everyone who has been in the band has made a tremendous contribution to what amounts to the band as it stands today,” Gowan said. “It really is a great testament to this group of people. They always seem to have the right person in the door when it was absolutely needed.”

Styx has been making music since 1972. Gowan says it’s fan dedication that has given the band such longevity. The band has tried to return that support through its work with the “Rock to the Rescue” charity, an organization founded by members of Styx and REO Speedwagon. Most recently, he said, the charity has raised more than $100,000 for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and more than $400,000 for people of Illinois impacted by destructive tornadoes in November.

“It’s really is something we enjoy anyway,” he said. “We just get up on stage and play songs, something we’d be doing regardless, so it’s so great to see something be so successful and to see so many people have such an impact on their immediate surroundings.

“It’s no big deal for us to do that, honestly,” Gowan said. “There are other people to whom the credit should be given, but it’s great to be involved in an effort like that, to give a little something back.”

Styx is now writing and working on new material for a future album, but it could be a long time before any recording will be done.

“The only thing that stands in the way is just that there is such a demand for Styx to play live,” Gowan said. “To go and make that full album, we would have to take six months off or at least . . .  break it up into smaller pieces. It is an issue that’s ongoing with the band. We’re trying to figure out how we make an album and still play this many shows a year.”

Gowan said that Styx has already climbed the ladder of rock ’n’ roll fame, but that doesn’t mean the members won’t keep doing everything they can to make the music their fans love.

“When a band has been around as long as Styx have, you become this monolithic institution almost,” he said.

“There is such a wealth of material that has built up over the years, the incentive to go record immediately isn’t as powerful as it was. We have to measure out our time and spend it in the most effective way that we can.

“Right now, that’s by touring our asses off as much as we can,” Gowan said, “and bringing the experience to as many people as possible.”


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