by Ross CAT

by Ross CAT

LAWRENCE GOWAN (Singer/Songwriter/STYX keyboardist)
Friday May 7th & Saturday May 8th

    STRANGE ANIMAL UNLEASHED…One of CANADA’S National Treasures is about to be unlocked this weekend; with the roar of one of the World’s Seven Wonders as backdrop GOWAN returns home.
    It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty-five years since
GOWAN released the Award Winning, Chart Topping Record Strange Animal”.
    In celebration GOWAN opens the cage for the “Return of the Strange Animal”; the 2 disc set includes the original Album fully Re-mastered, a treat in its own right.
     The second disc spins the tale of a Dream come true as
GOWAN takes you along on his Magical Mystery Tour to
Tittenhurst Park in Ascot England owned at the time by RINGO STARR.
     Prior to RINGO’S residency at Tittenhurst, JOHN LENNON was the Master of the Manor, he recorded his landmark Album “Imagine” inside Startling Studios located on the sprawling 72 acre Estate.
     It was there that LAWRENCE GOWAN would spend five months realizing his Dream; creating “Strange Animal” on those very same hallowed grounds tapping into the Beatle Magic & the Spirit of Startling Studios to create his own Masterpiece.
LAWRENCE GOWAN has spent the past eleven years sharing his keyboard wizardry & celestial voice with Arena Rock Legends STYX; this weekend at the FALLSVIEW Casino he will “Awake the Giant” known as GOWAN & take fans back to where it all began.
Rock Rapport caught up with our longtime friend from across the border during rehearsals for the shows this weekend.

    Ross CAT - Good Morning, great to speak with you as always hope all is well with you, might I be speaking with LAWRENCE or is this GOWAN?

    GOWAN - I think you might be speaking with GOWAN today. (Laughter)

    Ross CAT -  Congratulations on the new DVD “The Return of the Strange Animal” I know it’s been something you’ve worked on with great pride & passion for quite sometime.
    Did you have a clear vision of how you wanted to present this historical time in your career?

    GOWAN - Thank you very much, it did take me a couple of years to get it to where I was happy enough to release it, I kind of new it would.
    I initially worked on it for about six months & thought well this is good,  then I would realize I’m not detailing enough of the background of this amazing Journey; it was at that point the documentary began take shape.
    Musically the songs still stand strong especially after being Re-mastered and I was happy with the 2 new songs that I wrote to accompany the project.  What was missing was some kind of context for what happened to the “Strange Animal”; that’s when the animation began to emerge.
    Completing that was a monolithic task especially being on the road with

    Ross CAT - While I may be a bit biased as I was fortunate enough to grow up with this record in the mid-1980’s; taking this trip back with you while you weave this musical Fairy Tale of Tittenhurst Park was delightful.
    I even found myself going back a few times to catch all the comedic nuances that you implemented into the animation.

    GOWAN - I didn’t want to make it overly obvious from one viewing; it takes a while to realize that those are all orchestral treatments of the themes in the Album, all are thematic things from “Strange Animal”.
    You really do have to see it a few times to understand the layers of the story and actually say to yourself “Oh I get it”, but it is actually all there.

   Ross CAT - I especially enjoy the sense of humor that you exhibit in the “Return of the Strange Animal, both in the Documentary as well as the animation.

    GOWAN - (Laughter) That’s really just a part of my personality so I really can’t help myself; I do enjoy sharing little inside jokes with as many people as possible even at my own expense.

    Ross CAT - Speaking of sense of humor I got a kick out of your commentary on the GOWAN fashions from your videos & live performances on the DVD.
    I have to ask was that a throwback Vancouver Canauks Jersey with the long V down the front & the ugly Black,
Gold & Red I saw in the photo gallery.  Out of all your fashion statements from that era that may have been your bravest.
    Please tell me RINGO didn’t see you roaming the grounds in that?

    GOWAN - It absolutely was & I don’t think RINGO spotted me.(Laughter).
I wanted to wear a Hockey Jersey on stage but nothing really stood out as New Wave.
     When that Vancouver Jersey came out I thought Yeah that’s a whole new look, I can go with that on stage.
    Truth be told I even went out and bought one of those Rainbow colored Houston Astros Jersey’s back in the day.

    Ross CAT - I guess we can forgive a momentary lapse of reason for those purchases as long as you didn’t have GOWAN embroidered on the back of them.

    GOWAN - You’ll be glad to know that I did not have my name on them, even if I wanted to I think at the time I could have only afforded the G. (Laughter)

    Ross CAT - Before we get rolling lets clarify the lyrics “Ominous Spiritus” from the song “Strange Animal”, the basic terminology is “menacing spirit” is that referring to the struggle within the “Strange Animal

    GOWAN - Exactly, it was a way of describing the arrival of the “Strange Animal”.
    I remember at the time when I came out with that expression; I had taken some Latin in High School & I Loved the word “Spritus” those types of words.
    I was always trying to work them into a song, all of a sudden one day the words “Ominous” & “Spiritus” came together.
    Almost daily when I’m in Canada people will come up to me & sing “Strange Animal”, what’s funny is most of the time they do manage to throw in the “Oh Ominous Spiritus” verse as well.
    That term really is the Magic Phrase and the key to unlock all this again.

    Ross CAT - Lets take that Journey back to 1984 as you headed for Tittenhurst Park with Producer David Tickle for the Strange Animal sessions.
As mentioned in the introduction at the time of your arrival the Estate was owned by RINGO STARR; prior to his residency BEATLES Band mate JOHN LENNON was the Lord of the Land.
    If that wasn’t enough history, enlisted to join the sessions were members of PETER GABRIEL’S Band, World Class Bassist TONY LEVIN, Dynamic Drummer JERRY MORRATA & Gifted Guitarist DAVID RHOADES.
    Tell us what was going through the mind of the Aspiring Artist from Scarborough Ontario upon your arrival to these hallowed grounds?

    GOWAN - Yeah even today when I think back it doesn’t seem real sometimes.  As for the Musicians in my opinion that was PETER GABRIEL’S greatest Band, I felt so fortunate to share this experience with such a talented group of players, it certainly raised the bar for me.
    The other guitarist DAVID JERROD who came along with DAVID TICKLE made just as poignant a contribution to the record.

    Ross CAT - In looking at the Re-mastered Track listing on Strange Animal I was reminded that the tracls Criminal Mind & “Strange Animal were the last songs on the Album, was that planned or coincidental?

    GOWAN - I’m glad that you picked up on that, there are a couple of reasons that “Cosmetics” is the opening track on the record.
First off it seemed to be the song that brought RINGO into the studio more then any other in the early stages; the kitchen was attached right to the studio so he could hear everything we we’re working on.
    Towards the end of the Record he admitted to me that every time that song started that members of his family & even his Chef would begin to dance around the house.
    At that point I figured if RINGO only listens to the Album once I should put that particular track at the very beginning.
Coincidently enough when I returned with the finished Record the CBS Executives also wanted “Cosmetics” as the first single released.

    Ross CAT-There’s another cool RINGO tale that you tell in the Documentary.
    Give the fans a little insight on the “Less Cowbell” story.

    GOWAN - (Laughter) That was one of those inside stories I wish I could have shared with people when the legendary Will Farrell & Christopher Walken Blue Oyster Cult “More Cowbell” sketch ran.
    What was even more hilarious is that STYX had been on the same Bill as Blue Oyster Cult just days before that Saturday Night Live episode aired.
    Basically RINGO could hear me sternly take my stance on lightening up on the Cowbell on the Record for the better part of one afternoon; all of a sudden he pokes his head in the door with a smile on his face and says, “That Bloody Cowbell’s ruined everything”.
    Everyone in the room was just floored with laughter.

    Ross CAT - How old was THE WHO Drummer ZAK STARKEY at the time, was he already honing his craft following in his famous Fathers footsteps on Drums?

    GOWAN - I’m glad you asked that as I didn’t mention that in the Documentary, he was eighteen at the time & every single day when we arrived I could hear him wailing away in one of the other cottages.
    Obviously he turned out to be a monster Drummer filling in admirably for the indelible KEITH MOON.  I had the chance to see THE WHO last year & was standing their watching him perform in absolute amazement.

    Ross CAT - I would assume that originally “Criminal Mind” was never considered as a single due to the 7:21 length of the song, was that a factor?

    GOWAN - Most definitely, I never even considered the possibilities of that being a single until an unexpected twist of fate intervened.  The President of CBS Records brought the Album home & his teenage sons went absolutely nuts over the song.
    The next day he told his staff that they would be changing the lead single to “Criminal Minds” so naturally we shortened it for radio play.
    I had never met or spoken to the man & out of the blue I get a call & he tells me “I want you to make a great video for this song, something really strong but not to dark so that MTV will put it into rotation”.
     I believe they gave us $60,000 dollars for that video which was unheard of back in the mid-1980’s, it was a unique undertaking & most certainly influenced other video’s that followed.
    That’s how the Arch Criminal comic book styling came to be as the backdrop for the song.

    Ross CAT - You did a wonderful job capturing that time period through the photos & narration taking fans on an in depth ride through your solo career.
    While GOWAN fans here in the North East United States have enjoyed your solo gems there are still several generic STYX fans that aren’t aware of your solo success.
    Was that the reason you added the stirring live version of “Criminal Minds on the DVD?

    GOWAN - Your absolutely right, that is why I thought it was integral that at least one STYX version be included on the DVD.
    That was one of the many things I wanted to accomplish with this project; I wanted to compress the past twenty-five years and have it make sense to both curious
STYX fans & my own loyal followers.
STYX fans who’ve seen me in the band over the past 11 years are aware of my solo work to a certain extent; but  for the most part they are there to see one of the Greatest Live Arena Rock Acts Touring today & I get that.  I decided to give fans who wanted to investigate a little further the opportunity to discover what my time before STYX was all about.
    I felt I needed to draw a line from the amazing experience of Tittenhurst Park which lead to the huge success of “Strange Animal” & then connect it to the time I joined
    That song was actually the catalyst to TOMMY SHAW approaching me about joining the band he told me that song would have fit perfectly in their string of hit Albums throughout the eighties.

    Ross CAT - I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you perform Criminal Mindboth solo & with STYX dozens of times & this particular rendition on the DVD is epic.
    The harmonies between you & TOMMY are amazing, the JY solo is galvanizing & always I Love seeing GLEN BURTNIK play no matter what band he may be in.

    GOWAN - I had originally wanted to include the version which featured the Cleveland Youth Orchestra, but as you mentioned that had already been previously released to STYX fans.
    So I went back and found this version from a few years back it was shot in Pittsburgh; I concur the band really nailed it & again it’s a perfect example of how that song could have fit into the
STYX catalog.

    Ross CAT - It truly is an amazing feat that one of the Greatest Arena Rock Bands of all time would not only embrace one of your solo songs, but permanently implement into their already hit laden live set.

    GOWAN - It is pretty amazing & I’m truly grateful that the band has embraced my music.
 When I looked at that live video I thought WOW everyone is just smokin’ on stage, each member of the band is well featured & you can see what they bring to the song.

    Ross CAT - Getting back to the CD/DVD there are two brand new tracks, the first one I want to touch on is Tittenhurst Park (I Met the Spirit There)”.
    It’s a very cool tribute track that pays homage to your Journey there & the spirit of both JOHN & RINGO; I especially enjoyed the string arrangements there very Beatlesque, tell us about that song?

    GOWAN Once again very keen observation on your part.
 I wanted it to be reminiscent as to what an important record “Imagine” was for me growing up.  I remember watching JOHN play the piano & thinking I Love playing the guitar but I think I’m going to be a piano player.
    When I arrived at Startling Studios to begin recording “Strange Animal” and sat in the same exact spot were “Imagine” was recorded it was just truly an astounding moment in my life.
    When I began to put this project together I knew I had to somehow meld the LENNON influence and to give my own emotional impression of what it was like to have this spiritual connection I felt in that room.
    As for the String Arrangements I wanted to tap into a little of what JOHN did on “Imagine” he called those the flux fiddlers.  If you go back & listen to that Record the strings really slither around, you can really pick up all the sliding strings in the song “Jealous Guy”.
    I wanted to walk myself & the listener back through that experience by reflecting musically not just of my time at Tittenhurst Park but also the extraordinary energy that exists in those walls left behind by JOHN & RINGO.

    Ross CAT - Have you had the chance to return to the scene of the crime since you took up residency during the recording of Strange Animal in 1984?

    GOWAN - I made the attempt about 2 years ago while STYX was touring with DEEP PURPLE in the U.K. when this project was still in its infancy.
    I really wanted to walk the grounds once again to get some new footage for the DVD, unfortunately the current owner of the property had just recently passed so the Estate was tied up and completely on lock down so sadly I couldn’t make it happen.

    Ross CAT - The second new track Radical SuperJam is a prodigious orchestral accompanying piece to Strange Animal”.
    Tell us what’s behind that piece of music?

    GOWAN - That was another arrangement to take viewers into the animation portion of the DVD. I wanted “Radical SuperJam” to be something that wanders through your mind while reflecting on the Album.
    I began to hear themes in all different treatments; I’ve been playing a lot more guitar lately & I started just kind of hacking away with
STYX Drummer Todd Sucherman & “Radical SuperJam” just kind of organically developed from there.
    The piece really seemed to work as part of the montage of photos, videos & memories of that year it seemed to help celebrate the kind of phenomenon that the record became in Canada.

    Ross CAT - Let’s talk about the exciting weekend coming up at the FALLSVIEW CASINO on Friday & Saturday Night; as the “Strange Animal will be lurking in the Shadows of the Mighty Niagara?

    GOWAN - I’m just really inspired by the entire process from rehearsing the Band, to dusting off the songs that are so much a part of me & getting them back up to show level is definitely a remarkable feeling.
    The fact that both shows Sold Out so quickly is really fantastic, I did begin to wonder that maybe I’d been with STYX for so long now that folks may have forgotten that period of my career.
    Thankfully that wasn’t the case, I’m going to treasure the memories of this weekend like I do the Tittenhurst Park “Strange Animal” Adventure I embarked on a Quarter of a Century Ago

    Ross CAT - You mentioned that STYX Band Mate TODD SUCHERMAN will be amply presiding over the Drum Kit, who else will be along performing with you on Stage?

    GOWAN - Yeah TODD is phenomenal,  I’ve had the honor of playing with him longer then any other Drummer in both my solo career & my tenure with STYX.  I was really lucky that TODD was a big fan of JERRY’S & really Loved the work he did on the “Strange Animal” Album when he was growing up so he plays the material to a tee.
    Also joining us will be TODD’S brilliantly talented wife TAYLOR MILLS, whose regular gig is singing backing vocals for the Great BRIAN WILSON over the past twelve years.  She’s also toured with PAUL McCARTNEY, BILLY JOEL & ELTON JOHN, I think that tells fans what she’s bringing to the stage this weekend.
    I do have some returning Alumni from the 1985 GOWAN Touring Band, my brother TERRY as well as another very talented Musician PETER NUNNPETER’S been all over Canada touring with HONEYMOON SUITE & GLASS TIGER to name just a few.
    He’s basically been Canada’s go to Keyboard Player ever since I left
. (Laughter)

    Ross CAT - Will you be performingStrange Animal in its entirety?

    GOWAN - I will, straight through right out of the gate in order.  Obviously we want to take fans on that ride to support the new release “Return of the Strange Animal”.

    Ross CAT - Can fans expect some other GOWAN gems like Moonlight Desires”, “All the Lovers in the World” & “Lost Brotherhood”?
Look at me trying to hand pick your Set List for you. (Laughter)

    GOWAN - No your doing Great.  Remember there are GOWAN fans from the “Strange Animal” Era; then there are LAWRENCE GOWAN fans from my Acoustic Era in the nineties who know songs like “When There’s Time For Love”, & finally the STYX fan faithful who’ve so wonderfully welcomed me to the family over the past eleven years.
I’m really looking forward to trying to pull together all three decades to share with my Family, Friends & Fans this weekend at the FALLSVIEW Casino.

    Ross CAT - Lets talk about the upcoming summer for STYX, the band will be hitting the Summer Concert Circuit with FOREIGNER & KANSAS beginning May 12th.

    GOWAN - Yeah that is a really exciting tour package to be a part of.  I do want to mention how amazing that STYX Management has been to me throughout this entire project.  They knew that I needed a few months to really get this thing out there & done right in a live setting & everyone in the STYX family couldn’t have been more supportive, especially my Band Mates so a Big THANK YOU to all those involved.

    Ross CAT - I know many of my Rock Rapport readers would Love an update on Mrs. James “JY” Young’s condition.
Also will we see CHUCK PANOZZO continue to make appearances during the tour?

    GOWAN - Thanks for asking, she is recovering slowly but steadily.  Her communication level is almost back to 100% as she continues to work tirelessly on improving her motor skills.
CHUCK just continues to blow me away, he seems to be gaining strength & momentum each year as he continues to battle the HIV Virus relentless.

    Rock Rapport as always would like to Thank our Friend the “Strange Animal LAWRENCE GOWAN for his time.  Also Thanks again to our Bud from the STYX camp Terry Gibson.

    Fans interested in the 2 Disc Set can purchase it at the FALLSVIEW Shows this weekend, it will also be available at all STYX shows on the upcoming Summer Tour.

     Check out the GOWAN universe @ as well as

**********************PEACE & Harmonies*****************

Back to Main


Buffalo Web site hosting by
Professional Media and Web Site Services