Ricky Phillips: A new man joins the Styx club.
Ricky Phillips taks about his new rols as Styx bass player and what's ahead for him and how it feels to be part of a band once again after a long time in the studio.
So Ricky, I must thank you for taking to time to chat and offer some comments on joining Styx! Congratulations! I'm a long time fan of the band, but even more so a fan of Glen Burtnik and Lawrence Gowan, who I thought were great choices to join the band.
Yeah, I'm just the opposite...a huge STYX fan who is now a Lawrence and Glen fan.. Lawrence Gowan is the most amazing keyboardist. He can jump from rock to ragtime to classical like the flip of a switch...and scary good. He's also hysterically funny... I didn't know too much about Glen Burtnik. I had heard his name but he's East Coast and I'm West so our paths hadn't crossed. When I first got the call for the gig I went to a show in Orange County with Tommy, Todd and the tour manager George Packer. When we
got there I asked someone to introduce me to him. He and his wife were both very sweet. They couldn't have been nicer. I started talking to him and he said he did some gigs with [John] Waite and I said wow, small world.
...Tommy and I figure we've known each other for over 20 years
Are you serious? I was wondering how you got the gig!
Well you'd have to ask them that but I do remember saying I'm honored and flattered, but why me? I guess Todd said they put a list together of who would compliment the
band's style and I'm sure other various considerations and somehow I ended
up at the top.
Yeah, they did their homework checking me out, they called [John] Kalodner
and other people who knew me and had worked with me.
But I was really surprised. The biggest contention ... the biggest hurdle...
JY said to me "We're not even going to get into the bass playing end of it,
that's a done deal." But what he was concerned with was that... well, Styx
has this identifiable vocal sound - you throw in one voice that doesn't fit
and it can sound completely different.
Good bad or ugly you don't know what that's going to do or sound like until
you do it...and I knew JY was Right.
So they did their last shows in Orange County with Glen and the following night was in Pomona that was the last show. They had the trucks still loaded with all the gear and stuff and we got a soundstage in Burbank, went in and blew down the first 4 song opener and a 14 song medley that they do in the show. Then, Lawrence and I started doing the Beatles thing...and Tommy throws on his 12 string and starts going up to the mike doing his thing, then Todd jumps in it was brilliant. Then we blew through the back
side of Abbey Road...ya know...Golden Slumbers on out it was unbelievably
It was just like a bunch of guys hanging out like we'd been doing this for years.
They started firing new songs at me, as they are going to change the set around. They haven't been doing "Snowblind" and I dig that song...we're going to do that and they are going to revisit some cool songs they haven't been doing for a while. I toured with Styx when it was all the original members and I somehow have a feeling it is going to get back to that sound... with the addition of their new CD.
When I first heard the Cyclorama CD I was blown away with how good it sounded...a very clever fusion of styles. My 1st take...Definitely a modern sounding Styx with retro visits...Yes, 10cc,Zep The Beatles and some new territory.
For Styx fans that are interested, I think you are a very intricate player - Frederiksen Phillips and Coverdale Page for example.
Yeah, when I moved to LA, the first band I was in 'Dulaine' was like Genesis meets Yes meets ELP with Beatle harmonies. And there were only 4 of us in the band. His songs (Timmy Dulaine) were the hardest I've ever had to learn in my life.
That gig was in a round about way the reason I got the gig with The Babys. (Explains.....)
The point of that story is that I was doing really intricate sort of music back then and The Babys was an offshoot of Free, The Faces, Humble Pie and even the very first Led Zeppelin album. Real rootsy English stuff. I loved those bands. I like going from intricate stuff and still appreciating simple rootsy rock n' roll...not overstating the obvious by overplaying...I like all that. The best of both rock worlds.
Styx fans are very obsessed and they can be pretty intense.
Yeah, I've already got a lot of e-mails!
I bet you have
so you see yourself as more of a traditional member?
I'm not sure what you mean. I don't know what I am. I have been writing stuff with no avenue for it. When Tommy said let's go to the beach house and write, I was going shit man, maybe this is why I've been writing all this music. He and I have had conversations about...things that appear on the path were probably meant to be...and..."be careful what you wish for". It started when I said to Tommy, "Did you ever think 20 some years ago, when the Babys opened for STYX that we'd be talkin' about this"...me joining STYX.
Anyway, I have CDs and idea tapes of all this music...but I'm not even sure if its in a STYX direction...maybe. At one point I thought, ok I'll do another Frederiksen/Phillips record. I'm ready now. But now I have other things on my mind......
Neal Schon got on the phone a few days ago, and he says ..."Is this Mr. Roboto?"
Ha ha...that's cool.
Yeah, he and Deen both called me, they were supportive and excited for me.
It was a great phone call. They were telling me what a great organization Styx have and what great guys they are. Neal was saying this is the perfect band for me, how I can stretch out and do some cool things.
I saw the show in LA in May. I came around your place but you had to head out.
Oh yeah, I was I in the studio with Montrose that day.
Yes, you were. How's that going?
Great. Ronnie has asked me to produce the CD with him. Hagar's doing a track, Eric Martin is doing a track, Edgar Winter, Greg Rollie, Terry Reid, Mark Farner, and a few more surprises. We're having the singers write the songs with us. We've got the basic tracks done, but we're going to finish the tracks with the singers, so they can
have a little piece of themselves in each track.
The basic tracks though are absolutely fantastic. No click tracks, recorded as real live rock n roll. We recorded it on the same machine that recorded The Wall.
Good to see Sammy on there.
Yeah, Sammy and Ronnie are good friends again, so that's great, they did
those shows together with the original Montrose line up.
Joining Styx is a really big deal - you haven't been in a band for a while
Yeah, The Styx guys are great guys. Tommy and I have been friends for ever.
And Todd Sucherman - When we first worked together I told him he was the
best drummer I'd played with since Deen Castronovo and now Deen is a huge
fan of his.
Todd is a-mazing, we are having so much fun. We did this record together
that never got released a couple years ago called Forrest Blackburn. And
we've had this mutual admiration since.
We'll I think it's great for you. I gather you are in for the long haul, not
just this tour?
This was one of the conditions. Tommy said, "We are going to tour until me and JY drop... we want to do that. Is that what you want?" I like these guys...besides being great musicians they are good people. I'm really digging playing live again. I love producing and writing songs, but that was never supposed to replace performing live. Sometimes you have to know when to put your boots back on.
Styx carries a full crew just like they always did. They care enough about the show to carry and keep employed a full crew like in the old days, even a carpenter. They insist on delivering a quality show.
It looked like it too
I respect them for that.
How did the first shows with the band go?
The first shows have been really very good but each one seems to get exceedingly better. We're havin' us some fun up there!
How were the fans and the band's reaction to the shows?
The fans are amazing...they send presents and cards backstage...and some things I can't mention. They've held banners saying Welcome Ricky and a little kid handed me a button with a picture of me on stage from the night before with "WELCOME TO STYX WORLD RICKY" printed on it. Sweet stuff.
And have you discussed any other plans with the band as yet, or just the
immediate touring future?
Yes, we plan to rock your world.
Well, I can't wait to hear the next Styx record!
Haha me too buddy! I'll be doing what I can.
Good to talk to you Ricky.
Oh, thanks very much for your interest in calling me, it's always good to
hear form you. Anything you need, let me know.
Thanks, same goes. Bye for now.
Check out www.rickyphillips.com for more on Ricky and www.styxworld.com for more Styx.