The Styx saga continues: Four years after the concept album "The Mission", the band from Chicago reports back with the no less ambitious work "Crash Of The Crown". Even after about five decades in rock orbit, they continue to evolve without losing their identity. Founding member, guitarist and vocalist James "J. Y." Young has his very own take on things and chats candidly about his relationship with Chuck Panozzo, who still occasionally plays bass, and former keyboard leader and vocalist Dennis DeYoung.
If we had been particularly interested in collecting euphoric statements about the new Styx album, it would have been best to talk to Tommy Shaw again. The guitarist and singer joined the band in 1975 and became more and more a central figure there, especially after Dennis DeYoung's departure in 1999. We last spoke to him in 2017 on the occasion of the release of "The Mission", then Styx's first studio work of original material in 14 years. This time, however, I'm delighted to have James Young on the line. The guitarist already belonged to the band from 1970, when it was still called TW4. From an interview from the 90s I know that Young is a pragmatic, direct person who calls a spade a spade - which corresponds very well with his usually hard guitar sound.
eclipsed: You are the one in Styx who provides or pleads for the hard rock elements. Or is that just an often repeated and no longer true legend?
James Young: Every rose has a thorn, and that's me with Styx. (laughs) That's right, as much as I like Styx with all their facets, be it balladesque or sometimes really progressive, I'm already the hard rocker in the band and say my opinion quite clearly. Sometimes I can assert myself, other times not.
eclipsed: For example?
J.Y.: "Boat On The River". I mention it here because, although the song is completely irrelevant to Styx in the US, someone thought it should be released as a single in Europe, and it became our biggest hit in the German-speaking countries - sort of a "signature song", although it never, ever represents Styx, maybe a small sound niche of ours, to put it charitably. I disliked the song from the start and also hate Tommy Shaw's mandolin in the track. And I'll go on record: I had nothing to do with the song and refused to be involved
eclipsed: But you enjoyed working on the last two albums, didn't you?
J. Y.: I have my problems with "The Mission". It reminds me a little bit of "Crystal Ball" [the first album with Tommy Shaw in 1976]. Not so much in terms of sound, but like "Crystal" it's a very special album and not a typical Styx album. "The Mission" was completely Tommy's thing, he wanted to make a melodic prog album. This whole space thing is not my thing at all, maybe I'm too down to earth for that. Okay, Tommy is the driving force behind Styx. He just needed the album to let off steam. He's constantly thinking about what direction it could go in. And I'm on his side there, a band has to evolve, otherwise it's dead ...