Styx guitarist brings bandmates home for two shows

  • Styx plays the Genesee Theatre and the Star Plaza Theatre this weekend.

    Styx plays the Genesee Theatre and the Star Plaza Theatre this weekend.

Updated 12/28/2012 1:46 PM

Styx guitarist and Chicago native James Young is coming home.

And he's bringing the rest of the band.


Just don't expect to hear "Mr. Roboto," or anything else off "Kilroy Was Here" for that matter, when the rockers take the stage Saturday in Waukegan and Sunday in Merrillville, Ind.

The album that broke the band up and eventually led to the ousting of frontman and chief songwriter Dennis DeYoung is still kind of a touchy subject with Young, who hesitates not even for a nanosecond when asked if he misses his former bandmate.

"No," Young said. "He's a profoundly talented man and truly gifted in many ways, but his musical tastes and mine were always dramatically different."

So expect a lot of late 1970s arena-rock Styx if you're heading to one or both of the shows. You're going to get "Miss America," "Renegade," "Blue-Collar Man" and "Fooling Yourself." You may even get some of the hits off "Paradise Theater," which many critics believe was the blueprint for Kilroy.

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"'Kilroy Was Here' was Dennis' dream and our nightmare," Young explained. "We really don't play 'Babe' or 'Mr. Roboto.' Soft syrupy ballads are also not part of our set lists."

Many fans of the current incarnation of Styx will be fine with that.

"We are going to play the songs that our fans want to hear," Young said. "This works. Tommy (Shaw) and I are the connection to the source."

DeYoung has been out of the band for more than a decade now. Shaw had left for some time, but came back when DeYoung departed. Only Young and Shaw remain from the group's heyday, but they keep a loyal following and remain a successful draw on tour.

"We do about 110 shows a year, so I'm away from home about 150 nights every year," Young said. "We've been touring constantly."


The southside native still calls Chicago home, when he's actually able to get home. He assures that life on the road is not as glamorous as it has been mythologized.

"Sometimes the hotel choices are pretty limited and don't make for a comfortable night," he said. "The indignities of travel in the modern world have taken much of the glamour out of touring."

But touring isn't the same as playing music, he said.

"The two hours we spend onstage, those are magical, wonderful times and that's not work," he said. "We go up there and play with our toys for a couple hours and everyone has a hell of a time."

Mainly touring with other pop/rock acts from the 1970s and '80s, Young said sharing the stage with other bands who have gone through similar travails is half the fun of touring.

He said the schedule doesn't give him or Shaw a lot of time to do much fresh songwriting.

"The way the music industry is these days, there's not much incentive to write new music either," he said. "Nobody has sold more than 100,000 records, so to spend a year off making a new record doesn't make much sense when you can do a better job of making new fans with your older stuff."

Despite growing up in Chicago, playing all sorts of legendary spots throughout the city as the band made a name for itself and still calling the south suburbs home, Young claims a particular fondness for playing at the House of Blues in New Orleans.

"Every venue has a unique charm, but my favorite in the world is House of Blues in New Orleans," he said. "Those crowds they get in there are just profoundly enthusiastic in an over-the-top way that you don't get anywhere else."

The gauntlet has been thrown, Chicago.

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