STYX - An Embarrassment Of Riches Page 2
By Martin Popoff

Tommy lets us in on the album's strange title. "We had to name it something, for one thing (laughs). And we had lots of other names. But I had this name in my head, Cyc, just C-Y-C, and someone said, 'Oh you mean like psych you out?' And I said no, like Cyclorama. And as soon as I said Cyclorama, it was like, woah; it just felt good saying it. And then I went and did a little research on it. I thought cyclorama was just a backdrop where the bottom kind of curved into the floor, because that's what they called the one over at A&M Studios in the soundstage. But what it actually is is a painting done inside a circular room, on the walls of the circular room, and it's what's referred to as 19th-century virtual reality. It's what artists would do back in the 1800s. They would paint these very detailed murals, generally of a famous battle in history. And they would light it just so, so people could come inside and they would see a 360-degree image of what it might have been like. So it shows you people had that hunger for video and virtual reality, back in the 19th-century. But I like the word cycle. And if anybody has experienced the cycle of life, it's Styx."

Aside from guest slots by Billy Bob Thornton and Brian Wilson, the album includes John Waite and Jude Cole on closing "mantra" Genki Desu Ka. "What's funny," begins Shaw, "is that he came over to the house. He and Jude both came over and it was the one night all summer that it rained. Because the rest of the time, we did our vocals outside. We put the microphone out in the yard and sang; just about all the lead vocals on the album were done out in my front yard. But that night it was raining, so that's the rain you hear on the beginning of Genki Desu Ka. We just said, well f**k it, it's raining, let's take a mike out there. So we stuck a stereo mike out there and Lawrence had recorded the frogs out in the backyard a couple of months earlier, so we cheated the frogs in there. So we're inside there, and all we had was this drum loop and one little synthesizer pad. And John is looking at these words, and he's going, 'What?! Wha... First of all, what is that?' It's kind of Japanese slang. It's a formal phrase which is, 'Do you feel healthy?' But they use it as a way of just saying, 'Hey, how ya doing?' And Genki Desu Na (sp?) is the reply, 'I feel healthy.' But it's a very positive and upbeat mantra, even if you don't know what it means."

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