Legendary and multi-Platinum rockers STYX—Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars), James “JY” Young (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass), along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo–are rested, healthy, and back on the road, but they’ve finally got a new album to promote along the way. Their highly anticipated 17th “masterpiece” new album, CRASH OF THE CROWN, was released June 18, 2021 on the band’s label, Alpha Dog 2T/UMe, which is available as clear vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and on digital platforms. Fans can order it here and at Styxworld.com.
Shortly before CRASH OF THE CROWN came out, they released new music on THE SAME STARDUST EP as part of Record Store Day (Saturday, June 12, 2021). Available on blue 180-gram 12-inch vinyl only, featuring two brand-new songs on side one (“The Same Stardust” and “Age of Entropia”), as well as five live performances on side two of some of STYX’s classic hits previously heard during their “STYX Fix” livestreams that have been keeping fans company during the pandemic on their official YouTube page, including “Mr. Roboto,” “Man In The Wilderness,” “Miss America,” “Radio Silence,” and “Renegade.” Starting September 17, 2021, it was made available worldwide on all digital platforms.
The album’s first song to be released, “Crash of the Crown,” breaks some brave new world ground for STYX. Actually, it’s the first cut in the band’s storied canon to feature three lead vocalists, seeing how it has James “JY” Young unleashed at the starting gate, Tommy Shaw heading up the heroic stacked-vocal middle section, and Lawrence Gowan leading the vocal charge for the final verse. “I’m always looking for the one different thing we can do and still have it be STYX,” the ever-ebullient Gowan notes, “and that’s the song I’m most proud of. The beauty of it is that it’s the culmination of all our talents crammed together into one song, ABBEY ROAD-style. I also got to use some gear I never thought I’d have the chance to play on a STYX record like Tommy’s Hammond B3 organ, my Minimoog, and my Mellotron.”
Efforts to record CRASH OF THE CROWN began in earnest at Shaw’s home studio in Nashville during the fall of 2019, with Gowan — STYX’s criminally minded showman extraordinaire and keyboardist/vocalist since 1999 — in the room together with Shaw and the album’s producer, Will Evankovich, as he conjured up the album’s first song to be recorded, with cosmetic flourishes that reign over the insistent, yearning call for togetherness, “Common Ground.” But the global pandemic that inevitably transformed the way we all wound up living in 2020 changed the course for how many of the band’s home-and-away recording sessions ultimately had to set socially distanced sail. Safety precautions took precedent for all involved STYX bandmembers and production compatriots with much diligent quarantining and testing required before any one of them could travel to Shaw’s tranquility homebase to spread the uniquely ingrained STYX stardust that’s been duly sprinkled across the album’s cosmically chosen 15 tracks.
Of all those who made the trek to Nashville, original STYX bassist Chuck Panozzo — who, along with his late twin brother, drummer John Panozzo, formed the initial nucleus of STYX when they began jamming together in their basement on the south side of Chicago in 1961 — is hands down the most effusive about the experience. “I’m constantly amazed at how Tommy’s songwriting continues to connect with the social consciousness that spans across generations,” marvels Chuck, who plays on “Our Wonderful Lives” and “Lost at Sea,” Lawrence’s all-too-brief aquatic fever dream. “Both he and Will have been able to tap into the core elements of the human condition, which is something that’s not going to change that much in 50 years — or even 500 years. That’s why STYX remains relevant after all this time, because we’re part of the human condition.”