FALLSVIEW CASINO: Sept. 29th, 30th & October
Interview: LAWRENCE GOWAN
QUEEN OF SPADES
Rock Renegades STYX
will once again stake their three night stand inside the
spectacular State of the Art Avalon Theatre inside the
Falls View Casino in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Its hard to imagine
its been nearly four decades since STYX
was formed in the Chicago as they continue to be a Tour
De Force throughout the year; they just finished up a
summer tour with Progressive Rock legends YES.
It hasnt always been
the Best of Times for the Blue Collar
Band but the resilient rockers have survived trials,
tribulations & tragedy with co-founding member
CHUCK PANOZZO & longtime bandmates JAMES JY
YOUNG & TOMMY SHAW steering the ship through storms
that would have capsized most vessels. The past decade
as seen the Band enjoying some smooth sailing as they
nurture their past while managing to blossom musically
with the additions of Drummer TODD SUCHERMAN &
Bassist RICKY PHILLIPS along with our neighbor
from North of the Border the enchanting LAWRENCE
When the Scottish Born Canadian
breed musician joined STYX
in 1999 he stepped into a celebrated group of players
that had successfully weaved their epic three part harmonies,
combo crunching guitar chords & spellbinding keyboards
into a theatrical spectacle rivaling that of QUEEN.
Even today, people have been inspired by Styx to find guitar teachers with the hopes of playing music like them.
stepped away from the legendary solo persona that garnered
him a plethora of awards in his own right as he seamlessly
synthesized his keyboard prowess & sonic voice into
the already established Band. Whether its the transcendent
musicianship he brings to the Band or the spirit that
is GOWAN he has become a Cornerstone member
of STYX ever since.
The Rock Rapport caught
up with LAWRENCE last week as STYX
was getting set to Rock the Chapparal Center in Midland,
CAT- Hello LAWRENCE as always
Thanks once again for taking time out from your extremely
busy schedule for the Rock Rapport.
Ross always a treat to speak with you.
Ross CAT- As always
theres so much to cover with yourself & STYX;
lets begin with an honor bestowed upon you this past spring
from your hometown of Scarborough Ontario, you were inducted
into the Walk of Fame talk about when that means to GOWAN.
GOWAN- I know people in Buffalo
are aware that Toronto is a massive city with the largest
borough being in Scarborough which has a population of
well over a million people and were I happened to grow
up after moving there from Glasgow, Scotland as a boy.
Last year I got this message
through the office that the Walk of Fame committee wanted
to talk to me about my induction to which I was ridiculously
honored. I say that because its not the type of
thing Ive ever put any thought into; after it all
sank in I thought WOW has it really been that long, do
I actually qualify. (Laughter)
All kidding aside it truly
is a great honor, the thing I like about this particular
accolade is that they dont just honor entertainers
or athletes they honor people from all walks of life whove
made significant contributions to society. One physician
made great strides in cataract surgery while a plastic
surgeon became a strong proponent of donating their spare
time to helping the less fortunate afford surgery to repair
things like cleft pallet & burn victims.
Quite frankly I thought
to myself what the hell am I doing here, needless to say
being honored along side such wonderful human beings was
very humbling to say the least.
CAT-While your hands may not have physically
touched persons in despair or need your music has obviously
touched their spirit & souls in times of need; so
dont sell your musical contributions short my friend.
GOWAN- Its funny you
do find out how much music permeates in peoples lives
& just how much it means to them. There are countless
times when I get to speak with fans that tell me I
saw you play here or when I got this record it helped
me through a crisis in my life. So yeah when Im
lucky enough to participate in such events as that Im
reminded just how much music means to people.
CAT- As someone whose gifted as a songwriter
& performer like yourself what does it take to stir
your soul musically?
GOWAN- I guess as a musician
I certainly listen to music differently, during my downtime
I like to shut down the analytical side of the brain when
listening to something to see if Im enjoying it
or not. For me the ultimate test is if something is getting
you up the spine; I tend to be more straight forward when
I hear something I like I dont really care if its
the paradigm of what Im supposed to like, whatever
that means. Thats the beauty about music you can
thing youre an expert but what it really comes down
to is what emotional level does the music register with
people. As a writer its a vibe that you try to send
out there that you hope meets a receptive body.
Ross CAT--A very cool
twist to the ceremony had the Randolph Academy Choir singing
Strange Animal, now that must have sent a
tingle down your spine.
GOWAN- Absolutely that was
the highlight of the day for me a very memorable moment.
It was a total surprise to me as they flash mobbed it
coming in from all angles it b Black T-shirts & Jeans
and sang Strange Animal & Criminal
CAT- Before we get into the STYX
shows this weekend lets dabble a little more into your
solo career. In 2010 you released GOWAN The Return
of the Strange Animal CD/DVD which marked the 25th
anniversary of the celebrated master piece.
After almost thirteen years
in STYX most fans
are aware of your solo success do you think the CD/DVD
& the recent award bestowed upon you have heightened
I think so, all the border cities in the Northeast have
so much in common as far as cultural references so places
like Buffalo knew of my music. What I did notice after
the release of The Return of the Strange Animal
and the subsequent live shows I did in Niagara Falls was
the abundance of STYX
fans in the audience that would have never come to a
GOWAN show had I not been in the Band for as long
as I have. To have those fans embrace me in a new way
was really great; knowing that STYX
fans wanted to delve a little deeper into my musical past
and get a point of reference as to how I ended up being
in the Band is really gratifying.
CAT- The release also spawned a couple of sold
out weekends at the aforementioned Falls View Casino;
tell us about what it felt like bringing those songs alive
again after really only performing a few of those gems
with STYX since joining
the Band in 1999?
GOWAN- Its amazing
how much I enjoyed revisiting those songs again and seeing
the new faces some of them in their early 20s wearing
GOWAN T-Shirts really digging it thats was surprising
considering they hadnt even been born when the record
was recorded. (Laughter)
Ross CAT- While STYX
is one of the few Arena Rockers who tour beyond the Summer
Shed Season; can we look forward to some more solo dates
from GOWAN in 2012?
GOWAN- Thats a very
real possibility both the guys in the Band and STYX
Management are really in tune to those kinds
of things especially with TOMMY & I; theyve
really encouraged us to continue to pursue our other musical
missions & passions whenever possible.
CAT- While your contributions to STYX
both live and in the studio are extensive tell us about
what it was like to awaken the Strange Animal
and perform a two-hour solo set after all those years?
Your absolutely right about that; I Love the fact that
I am a front man in STYX
for part of the night thats really the strength
of the Band, in fact at certain points of the night we
all get step up & take the lead for a little while
thats what makes being part of this brotherhood
such a joy.
That being said I had a long standing career were I had
to carry the weight on stage for a few hours each night
so to answer your question; YES it was really invigorating
to be able to revisit that once again and to breath some
new life into songs that mean so much to myself and to
share them with some old friends while making some new
I really enjoyed stretching
things out both musically & physically, the 80s
were definitely a physical decade which allowed you to
get away with things that may not go over as well in todays
While I consider myself
to be in fairly good shape, constant touring demands that
of you; I will say probably the biggest change I made
was realizing that no matter how much I want to tell myself
that I can run around and jump off Speakers, Amps &
Drum Risers the reality is I can only do so for shorter
Luckily my affinity for
playing Guitar has taken up some of those moments during
the set, Ive had two incredible teachers the last
thirteen years in JY & TOMMY so thats
given me the confidence to implement that into the show
which is a more visceral way for me to reengage with those
CAT- You brought along a special guest on the
solo gigs TODD SUCHERMAN as everyone knows also
is the drummer for STYX,
was he tuned to your solo material before rehearsals started?
It just made sense since Ive played with TODD
longer than any other drummer in my career, when he listened
to the Album he immediately said Ill do this.
Being the consummate professional he is he learned the
JERRY MAROTTA parts beat for beat, while implementing
the intangible elements that TODD brings to the
table as a musician.
CAT- Now lets get into the STYX
weekend @ the Falls View Casino; the Band has taken up
residency annually the past few years everyone must be
VIP high rollers by now.
its just such a great venue for us to play, its
the smallest show we do all year so we really enjoy the
intimacy it brings between the Band & the Audience.
Having Niagara Falls as a backdrop raises the stakes even
more so to speak; while you & I grew up nearby there
are people who realize how exotic it is and travel from
all over the world for these particular shows.
Truth be told we all really
look forward to these dates obviously for me its
a homecoming; for the other guys its the only time
we get to play multiple nights which allows us to be a
little more creative with all the various aspects of our
Since we did the Album side
tour last year playing Grand Illusion &
Pieces of Eight in their entirety its
allowed us to expand on our set list.
Ross CAT- Thats
a perfect segue to my next question will we be seeing
a DVD release of that tour for those who couldnt
catch those epic performances live?
GOWAN Yes as a matter
of fact thats in the works right now, its
being edited the powers that be are going through the
process of picking out the best live versions, camera
angles things of that nature, that should be ready later
Ross CAT- As a performer
doing the Album sides must be a challenging venture, I
assume that some of the songs from those two Records have
either been played live sparingly or in some cases not
at all, tell us about putting that show together?
Thats absolutely correct JY is the ultimate STYX
scholar when it comes to the history of the Band; there
were several songs that had never before been performed
on stage. To take some of those pieces of music and play
them in order is an entirely different approach. It slots
a song like Come Sail Away forth in the set
when normally its part of the big explosion at the
end of a STYX show.
Theres a different kind of discipline that comes
into play in order to play those Records live to make
fans feel the Album experience & yet have the Band
right in front of them.
I feel that in a lot of
ways it was kind of the pinnacle of what weve amassed
as a Band over the last thirteen years. To be able to
do a show like that and have it go so well has elevated
everything weve done as a Band since. We have such
a crazy wealth of material to draw from and the confidence
& validation form our fans to know we can pull off
Castle Walls or Sing for the Day
on any given night within any set list and make it work.
It really is quite amazing
to be able to walk out of the dressing room some fifteen
minutes before show time and look at the set list and
say Yeah were playing Queen of Spades,
as an artist challenging its imperative to challenge yourself
and to keep the creative juices flowing.
Ross CAT - It was
just recently announced @ www.styxworld.com
that Eagle Rock Entertainment will be releasing STYX
Regeneration Volumes 1 & 2 on Oct. 4th. Those were
originally only sold @ STYX
shows last year but it seems the fans have spoken &
the songs will be released in a double disc format.
Like Come Sail Away
on Vol. 1; Vol. 2 includes a rebirth of the track Queen
of Spades featuring GOWAN
sinking his claws into the lead vocals tell us about adding
your dynamic to the songs.
GOWAN- Well you know its
a slippery slope basically I try to forget that the songs
were ever recorded in the past and approach it as a fresh
piece of music. At the same time Im referring back
to the original track to make sure Im not losing
any of the vital sounds or the essence of the original
energy. Ultimately we try to strike this amazing balance;
especially for me more than any other member of the Band
because TOMMYS recreating is own original
tracking so he has that to reference back to. The new
element to the classic songs is the inclusion of my voice
yet I dont want it to be so new that people cant
relate to the original STYX
CAT- While DENNIS De YOUNG will forever
be recognized as a major contributing member to these
amazing songs youve brought an entirely different
live dynamic to the Band as both a vocalist & keyboardist
GOWAN- Youre absolutely
right about DENNIS he was a major part of that
era of the STYX. This
is a different era for this Band & several other Classic
Rock Bands have grappled with the idea they can continue
on with different members & musical ideals. Many Bands
have gone through changes for various reasons especially
in recent years; even a Band as famous as the ROLLING
STONES for example, who Im still a really big
fan of, you see RONNIE WOOD up there its
very odd to think Wow that was once BRAIN JONES
playing those parts and he was such an integral part of
There are so many Bands
that have had to withstand & whether those types of
situations many continue to expand & blossom musically,
there a lot of people that feel that way about STYX
and there are some that cling to the past & will never
let it go; there is no right or wrong both opinions are
most certainly viable ones.
The best part about the
situation Im in is that the signature sound to STYX
is the three part harmony; when I do have the opportunity
to take lead vocals I just try to sound like myself &
sing the songs that DENNIS sang as sincerely as
I can at that moment.
Ross CAT- Obviously
what the Band has done still works at a very high level;
its rare for a Classic Rock Band to tour as extensively
as STYX does year
round, most Bands from that era tour during the summer
months or in combo packages.
It is unusual and we are very aware of how fortunate we
are to have the supportive fan base that we do. For us
its necessary, its part of the vital life
that these songs take in a live setting.
Most importantly I think
its why we still like each other so much as people
after all these years, we share so many triumphs that
we have those moments to lean on to remind us that combined
this Band is a formidable force. We are very lucky because
we are all people & players that are invigorated by
touring, which isnt always the case in many Bands.
I love the fact that I woke
up in Texas this morning and tomorrow Ill wake up
in Salt Lake City then the next day in Vegas after that
we work our way back East to spend the weekend with our
fans in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Ross CAT- Lets get
back to the new STYX
Regeneration Vol. 1 & II double disc which drops on
October 4th; the Band gets to break out a couple of DAMN
YANKEES classics Coming of Age & High
Enough featuring the great TOMMY SHAW; as our friend
Terry Gibson put it those songs have been Styxified.
GOWAN- Yeah its a blast
playing them, TOMMY wanted to add those to our
live shows which we did; we wanted to do something unusual
for the Vol. 2 disc so it made sense to record STYX versions
of those great songs. Thats something I never really
envisioned doing but man when I saw how well the songs
went over live for both the Band & our fans I knew
it was a good idea to add them to the Regeneration Record.
The Rock Rapport as always
would like to our Longtime Friend LAWRENCE GOWAN
for his time; we would also like to Thank Terry Gibson
from the STYX Media
Relations Department for hooking us up like he always
Check out www.styxworld.com
for upcoming Tour Dates & to get your copy of STYX
Regeneration Vo. 1 & Vol. 2 out next Tuesday October