Pieces of Eight remains in non-rut Styx tradition

The Toronto Sun
Thursday, September 14, 1978

Pieces of Eight remains in non-rut Styx tradition

“Boston went from the darlings to the dogs in two years:
“No one told us we were doing anything good, so we kept changing”

Dennis DeYoung of Styx

In the beginning was ambition without much recognition, even at home in Chicago. Four albums on Wooden Nickel generated one belated regional hit, no national tour, less than no profit. Then….

No. 5: Equinox, more than 230,000 sold in Canada to date.

No. 6: Crystal Ball, more than 140,000 sold.

No. 7: Grand Illusion, released 7/7/77 and already more than 260,000.

Now it’s Pieces of Eight, and Styx has done it again – again a little differently.

Take that as you want, but a huge number of young and youthful rockfans will be delighted – from the punching-bag beginning to the dreamy instrumental ending, Pieces of Eight remains true to Styx and their legions of rock rivals without getting stuck in their collective rut.

“We’ve been a song-oriented high-harmony synthesizers-and –guitars rockband since ’72,” bandleader Dennis DeYoung told me. “Equinox was the beginning of our identity. Now we’re pretty much who we are musically.

“But we didn’t want to repeat Grand Illusion. We don’t want to be a commercial cop-out or an esoteric cop-out but just to move gradually. If we want to do something funky, we don’t try to be the Commodores. With our synthesizers we don’t try to be Tomita. We try to be Styx! And we do it damn well because we’ve been doing it for so damn long.”

J.Y. (James Young) and young Tommy Shaw, share the lead guitar credits and split both the songwriting and lead vocals responsibilities pretty evenly with Dennis, agree with this assessment.

They also disagree about other things and agree that therein lies their strength.

“The songs are put up to a group decision,” said Tommy. I trust the other guys’ opinion: The best songs are on the album.”

“I take my hat off to Paul Simon and even Peter Frampton, who have to follow up their own successes all by themselves,” said Dennis. “Fleetwood Mac are more like us. With their range of writers and singers it’s always fresh. The longevity of our band comes from the fact that there are three people around to share the creative load.”

The rivalry extends to performance as well. Admitted Tommy: “Dennis sang so well on (the new album’s) Queen of Spades that I went back into the studio and re-did all my vocals. It’s this competitive edge that makes us what we are.”

What keeps them going? Travel?

Not Dennis: “I love playing but I hate the road. I’d rather be in familiar surroundings with the people that I care about. My daughter starts school this week…”


Not Tommy: “Money draws a lot of flies.”

Not Dennis: “Some sort of neurotic desire to be loved was the original impulse. Suddenly with money there are new problems, and that’s an underlying theme of this album – but I never saw myself working for the purpose of earning money and I hope I never have to.”

What then? The music itself?

Yes, partly. Dennis is proud of the synthesizer voicings that were created for this album. And playing the pipe organ as he ahs here makes him want “to fall on my knees and scribble into the ground in blood that there is a god.”
Tommy is equally hooked. “I’m not as extroverted in real life as I am on stage. The show is my one chance to plug in and take control.”

What about artistic achievement?

Yes, that’s a motive too. The next album (possibly called Eine Kleine Styxmusik) will be a double live album, which they seem to feel is some kind of cop-out, but they like what they’ve heard on tape, and they think their creativity could use a break.
“This will give us a chance to decide what we want to do with the next stage of our career,” said Dennis. “I hope it will be something different – even shocking. I hope people won’t like it for four or five listenings… and then understand.”

“We’re going to do a classic rendition of Old Man River and the Theme from King of Kings,” J.Y. announced.

“I want to stick with rock’n’roll” said Tommy. “When my legs fail me, maybe then I’ll get out, but not until.”

“All my life I’ve wanted to have people concerned with what I think – life pays you no higher compliment,” said Dennis. “I want to go down in rock’n’roll history having made an important contribution.”

“Sing For The Day (on the new album) is for Hannah,” said Tommy. “She’s the little girl 15 years old in the front row at a Styx concert. Ten years from now she’ll still be young.” He smiled. “Rock’n’Roll is a very short-lived business. Sing For The Day is about choosing to ignore the inevitable.”


Source The Toronto Sun - Thursday, September 14, 1978
Member Dennis DeYoung , James "JY" Young, Tommy Shaw, Chuck Panozzo, John Panozzo

from Laurie Muffler
Articles Home
Styxtoury Home
This is a fan site. It is in no way associated with Styx, its members,
or its management and makes no claims to do so.