DENNIS DEYOUNG - Symphonic Ride On The River Styx Page 2
by Martin Popoff
Looking back, over time, Dennis had become controversial presence in Styx, mainly as the lightning rod for turning the band poppy around the time of 1979's Cornerstone, specifically the song Babe. This DVD, which also includes solo material and well-known classical riffs, reinforces this sense of Dennis as the pop guy, as well as a certain bombast inherent in Styx. Dennis is not so sure Styx was predominantly bombastic though...
"Well, Styx were so many different things; you take a song like Babe - that really has no bombast in it at all. You know, it's just a straight ballad. But if you took Babe and Come Sail Away and Mr. Roboto, I don't think they have that much in common. So, my cookbook would say: a pinch of bombast when needed."
"I thought art rock was finished, as an art form," notes Dennis, addressing this transition from Pieces Of Eight to Cornerstone. "And I felt that personally as well as professionally - that art rock was finished. So I tried to lead the band toward more acoustic stuff, real horns, like Boat On The River, Babe... it was more of a pop album than anything we had ever done. Because, I knew we couldn't make a country record (laughs). I mean, klezmer seemed to be out. So I thought we would make an album that played up the songwriting talent of Tommy and James and myself."
"We did a lot of things," continues Dennis on Styx's legacy. "If you go from Renegade to Miss America then over to Babe and Boat On The River on the other side, I think we were more like a band like Queen, who did a lot of different kinds of things, you know? We weren't really relegated to one little niche. I think we started off with progressive rock pretensions, in the very beginning. We were probably more of a progressive rock band on the first four albums than ever, the ones that people paid no attention to. And then I think we just progressed. I think what separated us in my mind was... it was always my theory that progressive rock... you know, virtuosity as an end is meaningless to me. I think we were song-based, as a band. Whoever wrote the song, we tried to fit the arrangement and the musical style to the song that was being created. And then add a pinch of bombast as needed, and if not, don't."
Having all these songwriters, were you an arguing band right from the start? I know you had troubles later...
DENNIS DEYOUNG - Symphonic Ride On The River Styx Page 3