For decades, the iconic rock band STYX has been a sonic force, a potent blend of soaring harmonies, incisive lyrics, and intricate musicianship. Come September 1, the legends of classic rock will bring that unmistakable blend to FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan.
“It’s going to be a traditional STYX show. They’re going to hear ‘Come Sail Away,’ ‘Too Much Time on My Hands,’ ‘Lady,’ ‘Renegade,’ and a variety of other classics,” said James “JY” Young, one of the founding members of the band. But don’t get too comfortable; JY hints at a few surprises: “We might introduce one or two new songs. We’re busy out there performing and staying healthy.”
Michigan holds a special place for Young, born in Chicago but deeply connected to the Great Lakes region through family. “Michigan people love to rock. It’s a working-class state, thanks to the auto industry, and those folks want to come out and forget their troubles,” he said.
When STYX hits the stage at FireKeepers Casino Hotel, they aim to deliver exactly that: an unrelenting, foot-on-the-pedal musical experience that won’t let up until the final bow.
“We’re going to step on the accelerator and we’re not going to let up. No braking until the end of the show,” JY promised.
STYX has long been known not only for writing and performing great songs, but also for its diverse vocal talents, a trait particularly spotlighted in the title track from their latest album “Crash of the Crown,” which features three lead vocalists.
“Having multiple lead vocalists is a tremendous asset,” he explained. “Tommy Shaw is an awesome singer, as is Lawrence Gowan, who took over for Dennis DeYoung. They’re both unique but different from me. I’m sort of the screaming rocker guy. It makes for a richer tapestry of sound. You get variation not only in the writing but also in who’s singing it and how they’re singing it.”
The three-vocalist approach is not just a novelty but a reflection of the band’s organic composition process. “It wasn’t intentional,” JY admitted. “These are the guys who got together, and we’ve had tremendous success writing great songs.”
During the pandemic, the band faced the common challenges of isolation, yet managed to find creative spaces within constraints and write creative songs like “Crash of The Crown”.
“To be honest, it was my laziest period of writing,” JY confessed. “But Tommy Shaw is a prolific writer. He and our new guitarist, Will Evankovich, have been writing every day. Lawrence Gowan writes for himself and the band, while I usually play a strong role in the arrangement of the music.”
JY emphasizes that adapting to change is essential: “Change is the only constant. We’ve evolved.”
So, Michiganders and visiting fans alike, brace yourselves for a night of anthems, nostalgia, and maybe even a curveball or two. One thing is for sure: STYX is more than a band; it’s a musical odyssey. And on September 1, that odyssey sails through Battle Creek, promising a night that echoes long after the final chord has been struck.
For a much more in-depth interview with JY, watch for the September issue of 519 Magazine coming soon. Styx can be found at styxworld.com.