Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Lawrence Gowan of Styx on All Access Radio. In case you missed it, this was one of my favorite interviews to date! Lawrence is a Scottish-born Canadian musician, and for the past twenty years he’s been keyboardist and has shared lead vocals duties with Tommy Shaw for the legendary American rock band, Styx.
Sometimes there’s an extra special synergy in my conversations with luminaries on All Access Radio and my conversation with Lawrence was one of those. This was truly a fireside chat and Lawrence was incredibly generous and masterful in in sharing his story and his passion for his work. One of the topics we touched on, near and dear to my heart, was the idea of the concept albums. Some of you may be scratching your heads and saying to yourself, “concept album? what’s that?” Long before the digital era in music, music fans had to buy the entire vinyl album to hear the artist’s hit single on the radio. There were no single downloads (though there were 45s). During this time many artists took a more creative approach to their work in the form of storytelling — aka the concept album – where the musical tracks collectively told a story or held a theme from start to finish, such as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club or Yes’ Close to the Edge – taking the listener on a journey. In today’s singles download environment, and with challenged attention spans, it’s difficult to get people to listen to an entire collection of music at one time. But Styx is helping to bring the concept album back to today’s listener. If you have not heard their latest album, The Mission, I highly recommend you do – even if you’re not fan -it’s truly an incredible collection of work, and they are strong and tight as ever! There are some real rockers on this CD; I can’t wait to see them perform it live!
Lawrence is a great storyteller – I loved how he described being the opening band for Styx in ’97 at Montreal’s Molson Centre, which unbeknownst to him became an audition of sorts for him to ultimately become a Styx band member. Or the first time Styx played their infamous version of “I am the Walrus” live at Eric Clapton’s 2004 Crossroads Festival which went “viral” on a local Dallas radio station, launching one of their best performing albums, Big Bang Theory. BTW, that cover version of Walrus has to be my all-time favorite, and I’m generally not a big covers fan. Lawrence used to play chords from “I am the Walrus” during band warm-ups which is how it all started! We also talked in depth about his mentors, relationships with fellow band members, and what is next for him. It was a really enjoyable and entertaining conversation! Be sure to check out the entire interview when you have a moment.