Update: Here's a review  of their 8/10/12 performance.
Styx  will be coming to Corbin, KY to perform at their 60th annual NIBROC Festival  on August 10th at 9pm on the Main Stage (3rd St & Depot St). Best of all, this event is FREE to the public! For those poor souls who don’t know who Styx is, Styx is a famous American rock band consisting of Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips (along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo). The band melds together prog-rock with hard rock and is known for its strong ballads and elements of American musical theater. Some of their hit songs include “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” and “Mr. Roboto.” This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of their self-titled debut album.
Louisville.com had the privilege to interview Styx bassist, Ricky Phillips .
Louisville.com: So, you’re the bassist for Styx.
Phillips: (laughs) Yes I am.
Louisville.com: Last time Louisville.com talked to you was back in 2010 when Styx played at the Louisville Palace. How long have you been with Styx now?
Phillips: I will have played over 1,000 shows with STYX this year. Before Styx I played bass in Bad English and The Babys. I also did a project with Jimmy Page and David Coverdale and we released an album called Coverdale/Page. I joined Styx in 2003, although I had first met the guys in 1979 when I was playing with The Babys, so I had known them for a while before. I also did and still do a lot of producing and writing. I love producing and writing songs, but it’s great to be back on the road performing live. Styx is an incredible organization and was a no brainer when I was asked to join.
Louisville.com: So you’ve obviously played with some legendary people. (Jimmy Page, Joe Cocker, Roger Daltrey, Mick Jagger, Sammy Haggar, Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Julian Lennon, Ted Nugent, Eddie Money, Steve Stevens, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner, Steve Lukather, Vinnie Caliuta, Alan White, Jeff Porcarro and Terri Bozzio) What’s so special about playing with Styx? What sets them apart from the other bands you’ve played with?
Phillips: Styx is one of the few bands I’ve seen who really depends on all the parts, not just one. The music comes from various sources and has three lead singers. It’s driven by all the parts. We’ll come off stage dripping with sweat and start discussing how we can make it better. We try to raise the bar night to night. If it was another band I probably wouldn’t have said yes.
Louisville.com: That’s great! It would seem to me after all those years it would start to get stale.
Phillips: We all enjoy it. We are always evolving and trying to make it better from our strong melodic prog rooted harmonies to being able to change the color and mood. It’s also funny, but I’ve found some of our songs are huge in Canada but not in the US. The west coast may be more familiar with different songs than the east coast. It’s crazy. Styx has also combined tours with Boston and Yes. Having audiences seeing us for the first time helps us continue to grow our fan base. It makes it worth it when you play a sold out show to sometimes over 140,000 smiling faces.
Louisville.com: Last time you played a show in Louisville Chuck Panozzo made a special appearance. Should the audience in Corbin, KY expect an appearance from Panozzo?
Phillips: Chuck is still much a part of the band and is at over 90% of our shows, but I don’t want to spoil any surprise.
Louisville.com: (laughs) Ok, no secrets spilled. Out of all the places in Kentucky to do a show, what brought you all to the NIBROC Festival in Corbin?
Phillips: To be honest our management handles all of that. I’m not sure. We are on tour 200 days a year and our management tells us where to play.
Louisville.com: You’ve obviously become very successful and made it big. On your website you mention that you quit your senior year at San Francisco State to play music full time. Looking back was it scary to quit school and move to LA to pursue your dream?
Phillips: It was a hard decision. I was quite against the Vietnam War and my options were go to Vietnam in the draft or stay in school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Everyone tells you, you gotta get married, gotta get a good job, etc. Deep in my heart and soul I knew I wanted to play music. The burden of the war ended when I was a senior and the threat of being drafted went away. I could suddenly do what I wanted. I had arguments with my family. But my passion was music and when a calling is beckoning you, you have to give it a shot. I went to Hollywood with no money, sleeping on couches, and auditioning for bands. I was hired as the bass player for The Babys and toured the world. That was the start of my career.
Louisville.com: Well you’ve answered all of my questions. Is there anything you’d like to tell readers who will see you in Corbin on Friday?
Phillips: Kentucky audiences are a blast. We see familiar faces. We have fans that appear show to show which is great. I look forward to seeing everyone!
Louisville.com: Well it’s been a pleasure talking to you and I look forward to watching you guys Friday.
Photos and images: courtesy of Styx Management