Dennis DeYoung, founding member of Styx, on his latest studio album – Music – Buzz

Dennis DeYoung, former lead singer and founding member of the band Styx, has just released what he says will be his last solo studio album. “26 East Vol. 2”, (Frontiers Records) the companion to “26 East Vol. 1” is titled after his childhood address in the Chicago area.

At age 15, DeYoung formed a musical trio with two friends who lived across the street, Chuck and John Panozzo. They formed the core of the band that became Styx in 1970. The band went on to score 8 top 10 hit singles, seven of which were written and sung by DeYoung, who parted ways with Styx in 1999. He recorded 13 albums with the group. , four of which achieved multi-platinum status, selling over three million copies each.

“26 Est, vol. 2” offers a mix of rockers, ballads and progressive rock, not unlike the mid-to-late ’70s albums he recorded with his former band. DeYoung has written a number of tracks and has also collaborated with Jim Peterik, founding member of Survivor and The Ides of March. DeYoung credits Peterik’s “talent, encouragement and encouragement” as the driving force in convincing him to record his later albums.

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello appears on the album’s final single, “The Last Guitar Hero”.

In homage to the group DeYoung calls his greatest influence, the album cover is a nod to the Beatles Capitol Records’ debut album, “Meet the Beatles.” During an interview with The Maine Edge, DeYoung gushed at length about the band’s effect on his life, summed up in the opening cut of his new album, “Hello Goodbye,” an original song filled with references to the Fab Four.

As for his decision to stop recording studio albums, DeYoung offered an explanation on his social media pages using The Who’s latest release to illustrate a point. DeYoung says he’s a fan of the band but only recently learned of the band’s latest album. The record he refers to, 2019’s LP “Who,” was well received by critics and even managed to reach No. 2 on the Billboard album chart, but only sold a fraction of the amount that the group’s previous titles had moved.

“Wait, The Who has a new record?” DeYoung wrote on April 29. “And therein lies the problem that all musicians now face. If I, a real fan, don’t even know about this record, why should anyone know?

During the following interview, which airs on BIG 104 FM, DeYoung talks about his new album, his love for the Beatles and his offer to join Styx for one tour. DeYoung has concert dates on his itinerary for this fall with his solo band, but says he’s taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to those shows.

The edge of the Maine: My favorite cut on “26 East, Vol. 2” is the opening song “Hello Goodbye”, not a cover of that Beatles song but an original filled with Beatles references, both lyrically and musically. You must have felt like a kid in a candy store composing this song, it’s so cool.

Denis DeYoung: It’s also my favorite song on the album. It kind of pays homage to that early era of “A Hard Day’s Night”. I took a few song titles from throughout their career and weaved them into a story about what it was like to be a fan and how they changed the world for so many billions of people, really.

I mix my music myself and when I finished mixing this track, I was on my own, and I literally jumped up and started running around and shouting “I did it!” because I was so happy. These guys meant everything to me.

The edge of the Maine: Beatles fans will recognize the album cover “26 East, Vol 2” as a tribute to “Meet The Beatles”, their first Capitol Records release in America. Given your love of the band and the Fab Four-inspired opening cut, “Hello Goodbye,” it’s a good idea.

Denis DeYoung: Thank you, it’s either a tribute or a scam, I’m not sure which one (laughs). You know, the real reason I formed my band was because I was tired of waiting for Paul McCartney to call me (laughs).

The edge of the Maine: You packed a lot of different styles on this record. Was a double album originally planned?

Denis DeYoung: Yes, my label wanted two separate releases. We released “26 East, Vol. 1” last year, but I saved some of my favorite songs from the sessions for “Vol. 2.” It’s a pretty eclectic record. Styx that you would have heard in the mid to late 70s, but there are a few things that are unique to me. One is a song called “Your Saving Grace” and the other is the latest single – “The Last Guitar Hero” – which features Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello. You can go to YouTube right now and see this video along with the first single “The Isle of Misanthrope”.

The edge of the Maine: Tom Morello must have been delighted that you wanted it on your last record. How did this collaboration come about?

Denis DeYoung: I met Tom at an Adam Sandler Christmas/Hanukkah party about four years ago. I was surprised to find out that he was such a big Styx fan, even though he told me that KISS was the first band he liked and I got. He had seen us on the Paradise Theater tour (1981) and the “Kilroy Was Here” tour (1983). He said he dug “Mr. Roboto” and he was so nice that I thought of him when it came to finding the right guitarist to play on the aptly titled “The Last Guitar Hero”. I call Tom “the great Houdini”. He was the last guy, I think, to do something really unique with the guitar. I sent him the song, he said he loved it, he played it, we made the video and that’s it. It really was that simple.

The edge of the Maine: The first single, “The Isle of Misanthrope”, will remind listeners of many of those early prog-rock Styx epics. What can you tell me about this song?

Denis DeYoung: Well, a misanthrope is someone who theoretically hates everyone (laughs). With all that we have been through over the past 14 months with the pandemic and the political situation here in our country, we have seen the best of human beings in our first responders, doctors and nurses – the people who sacrificed to save lives. And we’ve seen the worst in people who constantly seem to hate, hate, hate. “I hate this one because he doesn’t think like me, I hate this one, what’s wrong with that one?” Who eats thin crust pizza? Who prefers deep dishes? They argue about everything.

I wondered if we had become an island of misanthropes where we join little cliques with our own ideology, our own dogma, whatever it is. I don’t care if it’s religious or political or social, if it’s a biker gang or a sock hop. We do not care? Deep down we’re all the same, that’s what I said on the album “The Grand Illusion” years ago. We are human beings and I would have thought that experiencing something like this would have clearly taught us that we all deal with the same kinds of things and that we are on a planet in a universe that we really don’t know much about. In this song, I’m trying to say that it would serve us much better to have a little more humility and a little less pride. Take a step back and realize that all empires built will one day burn. No matter how haughty we think we are, we’re just tiny dots whistling through the universe. The video for this song is an interesting adventure through the history of mankind.

The edge of the Maine: You said you would welcome a return to Styx for a tour that I think the fans would overwhelmingly support. You’re open, the fans want it, I don’t understand why it didn’t happen.

Denis DeYoung: I do not understand either. People say, “Dennis, you should just bury the hatchet.” I don’t have a hatchet to bury. I say for five or six years – just one more tour for the fans. I don’t want to be back in the band permanently – let Tommy (Shaw) and JY (James Young) do what they want to do. How about one more chance for fans to see Larry, Moe, Curly and Shemp on the same stage? It would be a thrill for many Styx fans. You’re right, that’s what Styx fans overwhelmingly want. There’s no one in the music industry who doesn’t know that would be a very successful venture. Some probes were broadcast through side channels and as far as we heard, Tommy just said no. Don’t send me cards or letters, kids, I’ve got my bags packed and ready to go.

The edge of the Maine: Congratulations on “26 East, Vol. 2. » It’s a very cool record and if it’s really your last album, you have the right to be proud of it. It’s a remarkable collection of songs that ends your studio career on a high note.

Denis DeYoung: You know, when I was a kid, playing the accordion and dreaming of the Beatles, that’s how it all started, if you had told me that I would be 74 and that people would still put me on the radio to talk about the music I was creating, I probably would have had a stroke. It’s just an amazing thing that happened to me. I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan like so many people did in 1964. I had a little band, just the three of us, and when I saw the Beatles I said, “That’s what I will do.” The core of this small group became Styx in 1970 and the rest is almost history. I want to thank all the people who listened to me and who were Styx fans or my fans. This latest album gives me a chance to say goodbye to all the people who really gave me the life I lead, and that’s pretty cool, so thanks kid.

About Elizabeth J. Swartz

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