Styx are coming to The Cove at River Spirit Casino Resort Friday November 10th, 2023. We caught up with singer, keyboardist Lawrence Gowan via Zoom to talk the show and a lot more. When speaking with his band mates Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young, they each mentioned something they were passionate about. For Tommy it was Banjo and for JY it was drag racing. That made me ask Lawrence what that thing may be for him. He spoke about juke boxes. Since his juke box only plays 78s, that found him speaking about older music that he can find that the juke box will play.
Next up, with a show coming to Tulsa, we spoke about live performances from the band. Being they do at least 100 shows a year, how do they keep it fresh every time they step on stage? Part of it is a group effort to elevate whatever they did the last time they played. Lawrence spoke about feeding off the audience at the shows. He said there is “Something about being in the moment that keeps it fresh.”
When speaking of Styx on stage, something that is very noticeable is the keyboard stand that Lawrence uses at shows. It spins freely around over a center pedestal. Lawrence told me when he was making his solo album “Lost Brotherhood” in 1990, which featured Alex Lifeson of Rush on guitar, they came up with the stand for the video of the title track. He spoke about creating it so he could move around in the video too. Then it was suggested he use it in live shows. Then he said when he first joined Styx, they asked him “Where is that spinning contraption?”
We also discussed the recent Styx albums “The Mission” and “Crash Of The Crown.” Lawrence spoke about “The lifeblood of a band is coming up with new ideas.” He said two things that are very important for bands are new ideas and playing live. He did say with the band being busy, he isn’t sure when they’ll get into the studio to make their next album. From there we talked about just having gotten new music from The Beatles and The Stones. Lawrence said he remembered reading an article where Mick Jagger at 30 said he couldn’t imagine still doing this at 40, and now he’s twice that.
I asked Lawrence what goes into writing the set list for a show. He told me how JY had said they have an “Embarrassment of riches” when it comes to songs to choose from. He did mention certain songs that are always on the set list. There are other songs that then move in and out of the list. Lawrence did say he now stays out of the conversation on the set list. We also spoke about some cover material that may make it into shows with guests.
That brought us to speaking about Lawrence’s keyboard influences. He had already mentioned Billy Preston and Little Richard. He talked about specific songs from The Beatles and The Stones that caught his ear for keyboards. He also mentioned Elton John and Burton Cummings from The Guess Who. He also had an interesting take on being influenced by Rick Wakeman as well.
When seeing Styx in concert, you have to realize this a show. We took some time to speak about what happens on stage when you go see Styx. Lawrence talked about the energy on stage and fans who have made multiple shows by the band. I shared with Lawrence something I’d seen Tommy do at a show and that brought us to speaking about the younger people showing up in the audience as well.
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