OOT Sits down with Styx!

Jun 27, 2012

Styx, REO & Nugent to Rock the Borgata July 1

By Lynn Ramage’

STYX-usableHaving sold over 30 Million LP’s in 4 decades, STYX is still selling out arenas and stunning audiences around the world! This summer the band joins forces with two equally Legendary bands “REO Speedwagon and the Ted Nugent” on “The Midwest Rock & Roll Express Tour” kicking off in Bethlehem PA on June 29th. “Out on the Town” was invited to cover this event and we’ll be meeting up with them in Atlantic City on July 1st! STYX consisting of Tommy Shaw on vocals, James Young also on vocals and guitars, Todd Sucherman on drums, Lawrence Gowan vocals and keyboards, Ricky Phillips on bass and surprise appearances by original bassist Chuck Panozzo. I’m sure we’ll be enthralled by hearing some of their power ballads such as; “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man” “Lady” and “Fooling Yourself” and so many other hits! I had a chance to sit and talk to bassist Ricky Phillips who joined the band around 2003. Now Ricky himself has had an astounding career starting with the record hits playing with the “Baby’s” and then onto “Bad English.” He has played also with many heavy hitters such as Jimmy Page and David Coverdale, Creedence, Joe Lynn Turner, Julian Lennon, Roger Daltry just to name a few!

L.R: This new tour “The Midwest Rock & Roll Express” do you know how long this tour will last and any word on a second leg by way of Philadelphia possibly?

R.S: That always depends on the promoters and who bids on it but that does sometimes happen with a tour and all of a sudden it catches a bit of a flame, where there is enough interest! So far we’re only doing two legs that I’ve seen. I know we’re booked thru November and we’ve got to be moving around the country quite a bit!

L.R: How long will each band play? Any set themes we can expect?

R.S: Ted goes on and plays for about an hour and then REO and STYX play for about 75 minutes. With the set changes that’s a full night. It’s definitely enough for everybody to dig into the catalog. The cool thing that I like about STYX is not really about one thing or one style. The band has evolved over the years and some of the hits happened by accident. The band really never thought as themselves as a singles oriented band. So within that you don’t really satisfy the audience unless you can touch upon all those things cause I think that’s all the elements that have given us the fan base we have had at this point now through all these years. We try not to do the same exact thing every night and we try to change it up. Sometime during the middle of the set we’ll play something that may not have had the airplay that the obvious hits did but there are songs our die hard fans know and want to hear so we try to change that up and throw a couple of those in every night.

L.R: Do you have a personal favorite song you like to play and why?

R.S: Ya know, it kind of changes for me but I can name a few as we go through, I love the deeper cuts. I came from a real harder edged rock school growing up. I started out with the Beatles but then when I heard Hendrix and Led Zeppelin that was it for me! I think the interesting thing about STYX is that we have this younger fan base and it’s really cool to see these young faces out there singing along with knowing all the words. It’s fun for us! One song…I think “Renegade” is just one of those songs that get you up! Another song that is a sleeper is just a masterpiece is “Fooling Yourself” you don’t think of it as one of your favorite “STYX” song, but you can feel the emotional response from the audience, so that is always fun to play!

L.R: Having done as much as you have, and joining STYX and to have sold so many millions of albums worldwide. Do you recall that moment when you realized what a huge success you had become? Do you recall your thoughts at that moment?

R.S: I think it sneaks up on you and you don’t realize it. I will say this. Everyone and I mean every musician knows where they were the first time they heard themselves on the radio. I was on Sunset Boulevard on a Beautiful day in Sunny Los Angeles going past Tower records which by the way is not there anymore. Back then, I lived walking distance from the Whiskey A Go Go! I was driving and Boom, there it was, it was a song “Back on My Feet Again” when I was with the Baby’s. You kind of look around and think is anyone else hearing this? So you pull over really fast to listen to it!

L.R: in October of 2011, a double CD release “Regeneration” with a few revamped “Damned Yankees” songs when Tommy was once in that band. I wasn’t aware of this release will it be available for fans at the show?

R.S: Yes it is and as a matter of a fact, Tommy had written a song “A Difference in the World” We are still writing for ourselves to satisfy our artistic creations and I suggested we add that song as a bonus track to the “Regeneration” release.

L.R: Do you have any Hobbies?

R.S: I’m deeply addicted to Golf! Sometimes for the band I do Golf Promotions where radio contest winners can join me in a round of golf to create a presence of any of the touring we may do. So its kind of fun with meeting some of my fans and radio personalities that I’ve known for years over the phone! The discipline of golf relates somehow to trying to master an instrument or being a good actor. Cause you have no one to blame. It’s all you! There is so much more to it! If you get somebody started on Golf it’s a great great discipline! I’ve been playing since I was a kid. My dad and I would go out on the course and we’d just have a good time together!

L.R: Finally what one thing is that you still would like to do?

R.S: Wow! One thing…Ya know I think I’ve always wanted to find the time, if you are a song writer and you’ve got them living in your head but to get them all recorded and get them down is a process! To do it properly, and to record them the way you feel they need to be represented. To me I write in a sense where the music is as important as the lyric & arrangements and time signatures…just the way I like to write is more complex then a simple little three chord song. I would love to have the time to dedicate to get fifty to even seventy songs recorded and trying to find homes with them with other artists. My main focus has been being in a band. In doing so there are some personal things musically that I would love…I would love to have success with a song that I’ve written for another artist. But I’d love to have a song that I’ve written that everyone knew! Oh a song someone would say “Oh I like that song!” I wish I could sing for what I write. I write for guys that have much higher ranges. Tommy is amazing! He is a fountain of ideas! He always has something going on in his head. I like the way he jams out his thought process so it doesn’t get stuck on an initial idea thinking that’s the only way it can be done. It can evolve and he finds the sweet spot in the stuff he writes! It’s really cool the way he works!

L.R: In all your travels who have been the most interesting person so far you’ve met?

R.S: Probably my grandfather. When you’re a little kid you don’t realize you’re putting that pallet together. He would start talking and he would never raise his voice, so everyone else would quiet down and listen to him speak and no one would speak until he was done. (Laughter) It was like a Power that was extraordinary. He had good things to say and he was a kind soul. Yeah He “got it!”

I wish I had more room to write here, as this interview was up there as one of my favorites! It was an honor and a pleasure for me to interview Ricky, he was just so down to earth and humble! We want to again thank him for to take the time he took with us before the tour! We really hope to see everyone out for these shows as they truly promise to be an incredible night promised with so much talent!

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