Styx frontman and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan has been called “the new guy” in the band ever since he joined the group replacing former lead singer Dennis De Young. Seventeen years later, he still is.
“Look, I’m always going to be ‘the new guy,’ and I’m OK with that,” Gowan said in an interview from Dallas, where the band is co-headlining a tour with Def Leppard. “It is what it is, and it’s all working so far.”
Cowan, along with mates James “JY” Young, Tommy Shaw, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips will bring the tour to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in St. Louis on Sept. 4, along with Def Leppard and Tesla.
“We are all comfortable with where it is now, and so are the fans,” Gowan said. “We are all out there playing together, and rocking the fans with the music they want to hear. And, in my opinion, we just keep getting better and better. We feed off of each other on stage, and we are all busy creating music, and involved in our own projects outside of the band. Something is working out right.”
Gowan said that everybody takes his turn holding different responsibilities to the band, and everyone has something to offer.
“We work together creatively, and we work hard on our show, so it really is and equal membership,” Gowan said. “We all bring something to the table for the band, and it changes all the time.”
“I guess you could say the one thing I bring to the band is the ‘international factor’ since I come from Canada,” Gowan said, jokingly. “Seriously though, it’s the fact that we all have a part to play, and we all gel together.”
Gowan also spoke about the current tour with Def Leppard, and how lead singer Joe Elliot remarked on the band’s show.
“I was speaking with Joe the other night backstage, and he complimented me on how the band’s show production has gotten better since we last toured together about eight years ago,” Gowan said. “That, to me, was a great compliment because as a performer, you want your show to get better and better each year.”
Gowan also said that the tour with Def Leppard and Tesla has been a great combo this year.
“For years now we have been touring with some great groups of people, and we’ve all become friends,” Gowan said. “Whether it’s Def Leppard or Foreigner or REO (Speedwagon), we’ve all worked together to bring the best summer tour to the fans, which is what it’s all about really. This year is no different.
“We were just talking about that the other day, about how well things are going, and honestly we were talking about St. Louis as well. Joe (Elliot), and Chuck Ponnazo (original co-founder of Styx) both remarked about coming to St. Louis when we were looking over the schedule, and we know that we have to be spot-on when we play there.”
Gowan said that St. Louis is a city that is very important to the band.
“We’ve always had a great relationship with St. Louis, and the fans, and when we see it on the schedule, it’s exciting for us,” Gowan said, “and there’s a little extra pressure. We give the best show we can everywhere we go, but St. Louis is one of those cities that we don’t ever, ever want to disappoint the fans in. The relationship is great, and it’s just a good feeling to be there. For me, I love the history there, especially like visiting the Scott Joplin house.”
Gowan also said that Ponazzo, who had been sidelined earlier in the year for health reasons, has been making as many appearances as possible.
“Chuck is doing well, and is making as many dates as he can,” Gowan said. “I do know that he is looking forward to being in St. Louis, because he mentioned it to me. We just certainly hope that he will, as we do for every show.”
Gowan said the current tour has also garnered new fans for the band.
“With us, Def Leppard, and Tesla, there’s a mix of fans who may not own any of our records or have seen a particular one of the bands live, even though they know their music,” Gowan said. “We are finding first-timers on every date of the tour, which is exciting for all of us. We just want to get out there, and give the fans four hours of rock ’n’ hits, and a chance to escape from the pressure of life and have a good time.”
At a glance
Who: Styx, Def Leppard, and Tesla
When: Friday, Sept. 4
Where: Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Tickets: $25-$175; www.ticketmaster.com, www.livenation.com