By MIKE CHAIKEN
Keyboardist/ vocalist Lawrence Gowan gives The Soundtrack of Summer Tour his stamp of approval.
Gowan’s band, Styx, as well as Foreigner and Don Felder are going out on the road this summer in a classic rock package that will sure to please rock fans. The tour comes to the Grand Theater at Foxwoods this Sunday.
When asked what he liked about the tour, Gowan, calling from Melbourne, Fla., said, “I like the fact we’ve toured with Foreigner in the past… (now) the band is at such a high level (of performance)… They’re at the pinnacle of their power.”
As for Felder, Gowan said liked the familiarity with the former Eagles’ guitarist. Both Styx and Foreigner have been on the same bill with Felder in the past. Additionally, Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw has performed with, and written songs, with Felder.
When the opportunity came up to package the tour, Gowan said, “Our management said this could be a great combination.”
Since this is a “Soundtrack of Summer” tour, Gowan was asked if there is any one particular Styx track that, for him, reminds him of summer.
Gowan said Shaw’s “Renegade” screams summer to him. He said whenever he hears it on his car radio, he knows he has to crank it up.
As for a typical summer Foreigner song, Gowan said he’s always been a fan of “Cold As Ice,” even though it doesn’t seem like a track for summer. But he said the middle of the song, with the keyboards pounding, just seems to drive home the analogy of the lyrics. He also loves the opening piano riff of that classic 1970s rocker. “The whole song is cool.”
As for a typical summer song from his tour mate, Don Felder, Gowan said he’s always been a big fan of“Life in the Fast Lane.” “It’s one of those great Eagles summer songs,” said Gowan. He also said “Hotel California” reminds him of summer, stoking memories of driving around with his then-girlfriend in his old AMC Pacer.
By now, Styx, Foreigner, and Felder are firmly entrenched in the canon of classic rock and permanent residents of the summer touring circuit.
But, were there any classic rock bands that Gowan wishes he could have seen back in the day?
Gowan said there aren’t many classic rockers he didn’t see in his youth. “I was an avid concert-goer.”
However, believe it or not, one of the bands he never saw as young fan— that he wanted to see—was Styx, especially during their “Grand Illusion” tour in 1977. (Gowan joined the band in 1999.)
“By the time, they came to Toronto (his hometown), my band (Gowan) was up and running.” It wasn’t until 1997, when his band Gowan and Styx played on the same bill that he was able to see them at last.
“All kinds of emotions welled up in me,” said Gowan when at last he had the opportunity to catch Styx.
As a way to promote The Soundtrack of Summer Tour, the members of Styx and Foreigner have joined up with Don Felder to record the classic Eagles’ track, “Hotel California.”
“It was our managers’ idea,” said Gowan of the impetus to revisit the classic track. “The idea was to do something that showed the camaraderie (of the three acts).”
“It’s a great song,” said Gowan of “Hotel California,” and the track illustrates how crucial Felder was to the sound of the Eagles.
As for other new recordings from Styx, Gowan said, “We’re tinkering with things all the time, and pretty in-depth.”
But, he said, honestly, the band’s number one priority these days is playing out on the road. And it hasn’t had the time to pull itself away from touring long enough to record a full album.
Gowan said he would like the band to possibly take the “single mentality.” He’d like to see the band release one track here and there, much like they just did for the “Hotel California” collaboration.
The industry has changed from the days when Styx would sell millions of records as it did for their huge hit “Paradise Theater,” said Gowan. And recording a new album is just an unfortunate victim of those changes.
Styx, Foreigner, and Don Felder bring the Soundtrack of Summer Tour to Foxwoods’ Grand Theater in Mashantucket on Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $60 to $90.
For more information, go to Foxwoods.com or Styxworld.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN