James Young


I had the pleasure of interviewing JY before a charity show at the China Club, in Chicago. While intimidating, he's also a great conversationalist and surprisingly honest with his thoughts...even about the future of Styx.

Click on the JYG logo next to each question to read JY's responses. (Return to these questions by clicking on the JYG logo on the response pages.)


MJ - "It's interesting to finally see "Out on a Day Pass" in stores now, after it's been out for 2 years. What happened there?"

JY - "Well,it was a matter of...I couldn't get a major record company interested in releasing it and I think it was too good to let die. And there's a moment in the Styx schedule now & it seemed appropriate to put it out there. And I've got a band together, which is a killer band."


MJ - "Tell me about your band...where did they come from?"

JY - "They're all really from, generally around the Chicago area. Keith is a guy who's very familiar with a lot of the local musicians...he's a musician himself, he's played on some records a long time ago. But he gets a chance to see all of the great players in town and he just paraded people past me and I had a chance to pick and choose."


MJ - "How is JYG going to differ from Styx?"

JY - "It's not going to be that much different. I mean, in many ways, having been the guy who even though I stood center stage...clearly Dennis and Tommy had a much higher profile because they sang the big songs. I mean, Miss America & Snowblind certainly are not small songs, but they were not CHR hits and didn't get played like Blue Collar Man or Fooling Yourself forever on AOR radio. So I do really kind of have to establish myself, in a way."



MJ - "Are you going to be doing any songs besides what you've got on your 2 solo albums and some Styx stuff? During your warm-up I heard some unfamiliar tunes..."

JY - "There's a brand new song...some material we've been working on with this group..with the concept of maybe I'll get a solo album deal, with the James Young Group...which is my intention. I mean, Styx...it's a matter of Dennis has got his own separate things that he does. And Styx is going in the direction, really, that the record companies...all they want to hear is Dennis DeYoung ballads. And for me that's...I've enjoyed working with Dennis for the last 20 years, it's been great...but it's time for my personality to shine through a little bit more. And the record company doesn't want to hear that from this band...they don't want to promote it. They want something they can put on VH-1 that's got Dennis' voice on it. So this give me, sort of, a line-up of people that can really do a great job with MY ideas. The new song we're gonna do tonight is actually something that I didn't even write & another guys sings....Mike (Mike Baran). So we've got one new song that we're doing tonight."



MJ - "I noticed almost everyone else in the band has a more consistent hard-rock image than Styx did...must be quite a change, a different style of music and a little harder edge to everything."

JY - "Well, I've always been the harder edged guy and that's what this is."



MJ - "What Styx songs are you going to play tonight and are they your favorites from Styx?"

JY - "Let's see...we're doing Best Thing, Lorelei, Queen of Spades...Louie does lead vocals on that one...and Heavy Metal Poisoning, you heard that, Miss America, of course, Snowblind, Double Life.

"I don't want to do anything that I didn't either sing or that I didn't have something do to with writing. I didn't put a band together to go and trade on DDY songs or TS songs. I'm here to let people know what my contribution was, on one level, but really to have a contemporary musical group of my own."



MJ - "Is there anything on Day Pass or City Slicker that was maybe a "Styx hopeful" that didn't quite make it for the sound you guys were looking for at the time? Anything that we might have heard Styx doing a few years ago if things had been different?"

JY - "Well, I don't know. I mean, to me, Styx would've sounded good doing some of these things but it just didn't work out. I mean, clearly something like "Top of the World", people say it sounds like a Styx song."



MJ - "Are there any bands out there right now that you really like to listen to? Anything that might influence what you're doing?"

JY - "You know, I've always been a fan of heavy rock. I love Ozzy Osborne's No More Tears. For me, that really captures a contemporary heavy powerful rock sound. It's almost anthemic but it's got that element of the 60's, so it's got an element of the past that's kind of updated. And that's what I'm trying to do here...do a contemporary heavy rock thing and there will be no ballads. This is a very different thing that what Styx is perceived as today but it's a lot what Styx was, maybe in 1975."



MJ - "Being the age that I am, people are surprised that I'm a Styx fan. A lot of people my age & younger also say, "Didn't they sing Mr. Roboto?" and it's kind of funny because there's a misperception out there about different styles of music Styx has done. How do you feel about that?"

JY - "That song was an intentional departure for us because we thought we couldn't keep doing the same thing we'd done all along. But...it was kind of a tragic mistake." <smiles>



MJ - "Did you get a chance to hear any of the Damn Yankees albums? What did you think of them?"

JY - "Oh, I think that the first record was great. It haven't heard the second one yet, only heard Where You Going Now, which...I don't know, as much as Ted Nugent would talk about how they didn't want to be like Styx, to me, the two biggest songs they had sounded exactly like Styx."

MJ - "Rock ballads?"

JY - "Yeah! They're a good band though. I mean, they rock. I like them."



MJ - "I assume that the official status of Styx is that you're still on hiatus? Do you see anything new coming up?"

JY - "Dennis & I have spoken a # of times this week and there'll probably be a Greatest Hits out next year with a couple of new tracks."

(As for new material)..."It's hard to say. Quite bluntly, Styx does not have a recording contract right now. And Dennis is not interested in doing it with anyone else but a big-time major record company...and I think there's something to be said for that."



MJ - "Did you get an opportunity to see Dennis in Jesus Christ Superstar?"

JY - "I went & saw it. Dennis has always had inclinations towards musical theater. Even 10 years before Kilroy when he was a teacher. He taught music education, he'd put on these plays with the kids in the junior high school and where they'd do all of these things. And there was always this sense of comedy, which maybe people don't realize about Dennis but there was this sense of comedy. There's always been this sense of theatrics about his performance, needless to say. So for me this was a natural thing for him do to and I thought he didn't over play it, he did it in an understated way. I mean Pontius Pilate...you don't have do to much to establish the character, we all know that he was gonna put that guy on a cross. And so, I thought he did great...he sang his ass off. And he wasn't on-stage long enough to make a fool of himself."

MJ - "I assume you're not insinuating that he *would* have made a fool of himself?" <laughing>

JY - <laughs> "No, the fact of the matter is, that the first time that anyone is out there doing something like that....I think it's good that he wasn't the lead. It's like get your feet wet....you know, get your theatrical legs happening...and if he does something like this again, he'd be ready and maybe he could get one of the lead roles."



MJ - "Would you ever like to work with Tommy Shaw again, now that Ted is working with his own band and Jack & Tommy are doing a side project?"

JY - "I'm open for suggestions. Tommy's an okay guy and when you spend 20 years with people...in Tommy's case it was about 8 years...you not only know all of their good points, but you know all of their bad points. None of us are perfect human beings. Tommy likes to rock. Damn Yankees has got that same problem, where the record company then goes for that Styx-like power ballad. And all of a sudden they're not selling concert tickets like they were and they're not selling albums like they were." <shakes his head> "Why is that?" <smiles>



MJ - "Where do you see yourself in the future if things work out? Do you want Styx to be somewhere in 10 years, or do you want the James Young Group to be somewhere in 10 years?"

JY - "Well, it's like Paul McCartney...no matter what he does, people are always gonna ask "Are you ever gonna get back together with the Beatles?" The Styx thing is always gonna be there, there's always gonna be a demand for people like yourself and the millions of people who bought Styx records who say, "Wouldn't it be great if those guys got back together and did something..." So I'm sure that there's going to be an on-going, every few years there'll be some kind of a Styx thing, the same way that Phil Collins & Mike Rutherford do Genesis. But the James Young Group is as high a priority, and this is something that I have to do for myself as a creative human being. I love to rock hard and that's not what Styx is really about, and that's not how it's perceived by the record companies or radio. And mostly because Dennis has just been so successful at what he's done, that he's overshadowed me in a big way and I needed to do something else once again. While City Slicker was sort of the beginnings of that, my personal situation wasn't such that I was really ready to go out & make a commitment to other human beings. To put a band together and say "Hey, guys...we're sticking together and the group's gonna have my name. But this is a band, and this is something that is going to continue to exist and do." I wasn't ready to do that with City Slicker, because I always felt at that point that Styx SHOULD get back together, that we BELONG back together. But in seeing how the reunion went & that Tommy chose not to do it. Then he's off doing what he's gonna do, and Dennis is doing what he's gonna do...10 years from now, I don't know that I'm gonna be playing heavy rock <laughs!!> 10 years from now. FIVE years from now I think I will be...five years from now, I want the James Young Group to create an album that's the equivalent of Pink Floyd's The Wall. That's what I'd like to see."

MJ - "So this isn't just a side project for you..."

JY - "Exactly."



MJ - "What's coming up for you & JYG in the immediate future?"

JY - "Well, we're working on new music and we're looking for a major recording contract. But short of that, there'll be another Absolute Records thing...another self-financed project that represents what these guys have contributed and added. This is a killer band and you're gonna see that tonight....and I have great fun with these guys. There's an incredible mutual respect here. I love playing live and the problem with Styx is that there's just not enough of that going on." <grins!>



MJ - "I've heard that there might be a live album out for the James Young Group because your live show is so great. Any truth to that rumour?"

JY - "Well, the suggestion has been there, that we do that. And who knows? Depending on the timing of what happens in the next 12 months, there may be an EP, or an album that's got 5 new songs and 5 live tracks. There's some things on this record that sound a lot better live...you talk about DY sounding better live, but sounding live in a room is one thing, recording it live and having it come across on disc is still another thing. But we may make an attempt to so something like that as well."





Styx Renegade 1998

Line Up/Member

Styx-James Young


Originally cataloged on jamesyoung.ws


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