DENNIS DeYOUNG To Former STYX Bandmates - "Let’s Get Together And Give The Fans One More Run At This Thing And Then I’ll Ride Off Into The Sunset"
March 19, 2020, 15 days ago
Former Styx frontman, Dennis DeYoung, will release his new album, 26 East: Volume 1, on May 22 via Frontiers Records Srl on CD/LP/Digital. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, DeYoung talks about the album, his hopes for a Styx reunion tour, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, politics, and the eternal legacy of “Mr. Roboto”. An excerpt follows:
Rolling Stone: It’s interesting that when you go and see Styx, there are so many songs they just don’t perform.
Dennis DeYoung: "That’s because they’re mine. They’ve taken a stance. But since the last time we’ve talked, they’ve added “Roboto.” It’s like going into a deli and the guy going like, “No, we’re not giving you any corned beef.” “What?!? I’m in here for the corned beef!"
Rolling Stone: They still bash that song, though. Aren’t you tired of hearing that?
DeYoung: "They’re doing that while they’re playing it! Look, when J.Y. and Tommy and myself were the only ones left in the band, I got really sick. And I’m still carrying the scars of that Influenza A I got. I still have light sensitivity. It doesn’t go away. They wanted to assume control, the two of them. And need I say there’s an increase of a third of the money as well? They wanted the power to do that and they did it. But you can’t tell your fan base we got rid of this load over here because he was sick and couldn’t go on tour when we wanted him to, so they came up with this story that they’ve told for 20 years. They said in 1999 that the reason they had to replace me was because of something that happened in 1983. And we’d just done two successful reunion tours in 1996 and 1997 and we were recording a new album! But if you tell a lie long enough and with enough enthusiasm, people are going to believe it. And I didn’t respond right away because I was sick. They wanted to tell that story: “If you didn’t like ‘Mr. Roboto,’ which apparently tens of millions of people disagree with, he’s to blame.” Here’s what they don’t understand and I’ll say this on the record: All boats rise with the tide. Styx fans were not in a contest to see which member they liked best. They liked the band. Most of them loved the variety."
Rolling Stone: And for context here, when you brought Tommy into the band in 1975, you’d already had a big hit with “Lady.” He was joining a successful band.
DeYoung: "The reason that I’m focusing on John, Chuck, and I is that we were the closest. We lived on the same street. We had the same ethnic background. That’s what kept the band going. Over the years we had various guitar players. Every guitar player that joined us, joined a successful band. Every guitar player that joined the band, they joined because we had gigs. J.Y. joined in 1970 after his band had imploded. He was looking to make money. We had the gigs and he joined us. We were a cover band. It was only temporary in his mind. But then boom! He and I joined together and the Styx sound was forged. But it was only temporary for him. He wanted to run his own band. So every guitar player joined a successful band, including Tommy Shaw. He joined a band that had just recorded an album that would go on to sell 2 million copies, a band that had a gold album and a Top 10 single. But the core was always the Panozzos and me."
Rolling Stone: Do you get any money from their ticket sales these days?
DeYoung: "We had to come to an agreement. The reason I sued them … and they made this big thing, “They sued me!” They took the name after they replaced me. The used it for a year and a half on the road and I never sued them or said a word to them. They never paid me a dime. And then I saw the Behind the Music segment where they started this campaign of going after my music and me. I cried. I cried and I called my lawyer.
Throughout that year and a half I was hopeful they’d just call me back in and say, “You’re better now, let’s go.” But they were out to get me. The only reason I sued them was to get my share of the Styx name. I’m part owner. I mean, am I starting to sound like a whiner?"
Rolling Stone: No. This feels very justified to me.
DeYoung: "Here it is. I’m a lucky guy, buddy. I still go out and play. They pay to see me. I’m not even in the band I made famous. I don’t want to sound like a whiner. I have moved on. I have probably said over and over again we should do one last tour for the fans. I don’t have to have the name. Let’s go do 80 or 100 shows. Let’s put Moe, Larry, and Curly back on the stage."
Rolling Stone: When was the last time you spoke to Tommy or J.Y.?
DeYoung: "Twenty years."
Rolling Stone: If you were talking to them right now, what would you say?
DeYoung: "I’d say, “Let’s get together and give the fans one more run at this thing and then I’ll ride off into the sunset. You’ll keep doing your Styx thing and using the name. I don’t care. I want it one more time for our fans. And can I say this? I want to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because we deserve to be. I’m sickened by the fact that we’re not. I know that’s going to look really bad in print. There was a time the Hall was controlled and run by a certain mentality, which I respect. I do. The people who raise the money and got it, those people have the right to put who they want in there. It’s their deal. But in recent years, too many of our peers have gotten the nod. Is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the be all, end all? Of course, it isn’t. But it’s the only one. Would you like to be in the Rock Journalism Hall of Fame, if there was one, even if they said all your articles were poo-poo? We’re human. We’re looking for a pat on the head. We’re asking for someone to tell us, “Nice job! You’re not as bad as we thought.”
Read the full interview at Rolling Stone.
Pre-order 26 East: Volume 1 here.
"East Of Midnight"
"With All Due Respect"
"A Kingdom Ablaze"
"You My Love"
"Run For The Roses"
"Damn That Dream"
"The Promise Of This Land"
"To The Good Old Days" (duet with Julian Lennon)
"East Of Midnight":
"To The Good Old Days" featuring Julian Lennon:
DeYoung previously announced this will be his last album but added an update: "This was supposed to be my final album but there were so many songs written that Serafino Perugino, CEO of Frontiers, suggested dividing it into two albums rather than one. So be it. This is Volume 1, which sounds pretentious to me, but the marketing folks wanted you to know there are going to be two of them, so hey kids, there are two of them; this is Volume 1."
It all started when Jim Peterik, a fellow Chicagoan and nearby neighbor, sent a song demo to Dennis.
"If not for Jim Peterik’s encouragement, talent and prodding I would not have recorded this music", said DeYoung. "He once told me that the world needed my music; to which I replied 'have the world text me for verification.' We collaborated from the get go, happily and seamlessly and at this time we have written 9 songs together of which five will be on Volume 1. Just two Chicago guys doing what they do best, making music and having a laugh.”
The collaboration with Julian Lennon came about when DeYoung wrote a verse and chorus of a song with Lennon in mind. Lennon heard the demo and said he would be honored to participate. Lennon's vocals were recorded in October at Mission Sound in Brooklyn, NY.
DeYoung shares: "The moment we sang together in the studio it felt magical. I wrote the song specifically for our two voices. I had never met Julian previously but I have been an admirer since Valotte."
The album title 26 East represents the birthplace of Styx. 26 E 101st Place was the address where DeYoung grew up in Roseland, on the south side of Chicago. Across the street at 39 E 101st Place lived the Panozzo twins, Chuck and John, whom would go on to form Trade Winds in 1962, which a decade later would become the core of Styx. The cover artwork of 26 East features three locomotives, representing the three original members of Styx leaving the Chicago train yard dreaming of bigger and better things.