A Q&A with Styx vocalist/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan; the band brings their "Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight Tour" to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday

How did the idea to feature Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight together come about?


We’ve had it in our minds to play the full Grand Illusion album for about five years now, but we’ve never had an opportunity where we actually sat down and said, okay, instead of recording a new record, instead of getting ready for another 100 shows, let’s rehearse Grand Illusion from top to bottom. But this is the year we decided that we must it. As soon as we started on that, we said, wait a minute, that will carry the first hour of the show but we better add a second album. So I said that my favorite album is Pieces of Eight and a bunch of hands shot up and everybody said, let’s do that one.


What’s the format for the evening?


We’ll go chronologically, so we’ll start the show with Grand Illusion and we’re debating if we should take a break, then come back and play Pieces of Eight because that’s a lot of staging and production involved. Or we could just run the show straight through with back-to-back albums.


If this tour goes well, is there any possibility that the band might attempt this format with other Styx albums?


Highly likely. With albums like Cornerstone and Paradise Theater, there are a lot of possibilities for this in the future.


Tell be about the new EP that you’ve just released, Regeneration. I believe it’s something you’re selling on the tour?


Yes, Regeneration Vol. 1. I guess that’s part of what this tour is bringing to people as well. You know, having been in the band only 12 years, I’m somewhat new. However, in the past 12 years I’ve been in the band, we’ve played more shows than Styx played in its strongest, record-selling years between ’75 and ’82. So what’s happened is that there have been a couple of new generations come through who want to hear the classic (Styx) songs done by this line-up. So we thought that it’s time to do this now. Foreigner has done this, Journey has done this and, for some people, there is a disconnect when they hear the greatest hits but don’t hear this band. Now for others, that’s sacred ground. So, we decided to make a record that bridged the two timeframes.”


Styx plays Ruth Eckerd Hall this Friday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $39 to $79. For more information on the band and the Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight Tour, check out the official Styx website.

For nearly four decades, progressive rock band Styx has managed to avoid the self-destructive downward spiral experienced by innumerable other classic rock bands, producing seven gold, one platinum, and five multi-platinum albums in their extended musical tenure. This wealth of material allows the band to perform on a regular basis while offering their generations of fans new concert experiences and setlists with each tour.

For their current "Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight Tour" — which stops at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall this Saturday, October 23 — Styx presents a unique evening of music with performances of both 1977's Grand Illusion (the one with “Come Sail Away”) and 1978's Pieces of Eight (“Renegade”) in their entirety, and in the order the songs appear on the LPs. It’s a format that gives Styx fans the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience their favorite albums in a live, dynamic setting. In advance of this ground-breaking show, I spoke with vocalist/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan. Check out our conversation after the jump.

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