Tag: Ricky Phillips

Interview: Styx Bassist Ricky Phillips Talks Touring, Music And Career Highlights

Classic rock pioneers Styx has gone through waves of change over their legendary forty-seven-year career. But perhaps at no time in the band’s history has it shown more diversity, musicianship or the ability to adapt and fire on all cylinders than in 2019. In addition to showcasing its arsenal of radio hits on its current tour, Styx is able to draw material from deep in its catalog, much to delight of diehard fanbase.

Tracks from the band’s most recent release, The Mission, also find their way into the band’s set list. The concept album, an adventurous forty-three-minute thrill ride chronicling the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars, conjures images of the band’s mid-70s sound with with 21st-century appeal.

On Tuesday, May 21, Styx — Tommy Shaw (guitars/vocals), Lawrence Gowan (keyboards/vocals), James “JY” Young (guitar/vocals), Todd Sucherman (drums), Ricky Phillips (bass) and Chuck Panozzo (bass), will bring its well-oiled machine to The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA for what’s sure to be a night to remember.

I recently spoke with bassist Ricky Phillips about the band’s upcoming performance in and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from Styx’s appearance at The Sands Event Center?

Every show is different but what I can guarantee is that Styx is running like a well-oiled machine. We still do close to 100 shows a year and are on the road most of the time. We’ll play the hits everyone expects, like “Renegade,” “Come Sail Away” and “Blue Collar Man,” but we also try to go deep into the catalog and find little nuggets like “Snowblind,” “Suite Madame Blue” and “Castle Walls.” We also have a new record out called The Mission and we’ve been having fun playing some of the new songs as well.

Speaking of The Mission, didn’t the band recently do a show in Las Vegas where you performed the album in its entirety?

We did. It was only one night but it was a blast. We had people fly in from all over Europe and Japan just to see it. The Mission is a concept album about NASA preparing its first manned flight to Mars. The music and storyline is right in Tommy’s wheelhouse. He created characters and a storyline that runs throughout the album. It has a sound like the Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight period of the band, with vintage instruments and analog recording. It was a great feeling to create something that sounds like was recorded in the 1970s.

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Ricky Phillips of Styx Talks Def Leppard Tour and Ronnie Montrose’s Final Recordings

styxTo fans of classic rock and arena rock, it just wouldn’t be summer without the music of Styx.

For more than 40 years the band, whose hits include “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” “Renegade,” “Too Much Time on My Hands” and “Come Sail Away,” has been delivering the goods the only way it knows how: through infectious live performances.

This summer, Styx—Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars), James “JY” Young (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass)—are teaming up with Def Leppard and Tesla on what promises to be one of the season’s hottest tour packages.

I recently caught up with Phillips to ask him about the new tour as well as his time with Styx, the Babys and Bad English. He also gave me an inside look into his new album project, the final recordings of Ronnie Montrose.

GUITAR WORLD: What can fans expect from the new tour with Def Leppard and Tesla?

We’ve been wanting to work with Def Leppard again for quite some time. We did some dates with them around 2007 and it was a really good fit. If you’re familiar with Tesla’s catalog you already know that they’re a very aggressive, cool, no-frills band. They just come balls out and do it! Then we go everywhere from a little bit of prog to the guitar duo of Tommy Shaw and James Young to having three lead singers. Then Def Leppard come out with their big arena rock show. It’s a special package where fans will really have a great time.

You’ve been with Styx for more than a dozen years. What’s it like being part of such an iconic band?

The cool thing about this band is that everybody recognizes that what we have is really special. It’s rare to get a group of guys that gel as good as this band does. We all have a lot of strengths to lean on personally and musically. There’s a lot of fun and joking around to keep things entertaining, but once we get on stage it’s all business, which is a good time as well.

Has there been any talk of new Styx music in the future?

I can’t talk about it too much, but there’s certainly some stuff in the works. It’s going to happen. We’re just not sure when.

Let’s discuss a few of the other bands you were involved with. What was the story behind you joining the Babys?

I had always been a big fan of Tony Brock and John Waite and thought “Isn’t It Time” was just a masterpiece of cool rock. Shortly after I got to LA, a sound man for the band saw me play and tracked me down. It was around the same time that John had decided he wanted to front the band and not be weighed down by playing an instrument [Waite had also played bass in the Babys].

I was working in the music store across the street from where they were auditioning when the sound man came in and told me that I needed to go across the street and play. I remember pulling a bass off of the wall and (with the price tag still swinging from the headstock), went over and jammed with the guys for about 15 minutes. We played “Run to Mexico” and “Head First” and then Jonathan Cain and I harmonized with John on “Isn’t It Time.” After that, they all left the room and came back in with their manager and asked me to join the band. That’s how it all started.

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gw_logoInterview with Ricky Phillips by Clicking Here!