Though it's gone noticeably light on recording during the past couple of decades, Styx has been a fixture on the road.
And the veteran group is finding that familiarity is breeding fondness -- and even new fans.
"Touring has been the focus of this band since '99," guitarist and co-founder James "J.Y." Young explains by phone from his home in Chicago. "There response is, like, crazy good, and how an act that's as mature as we are for as many years can get that kind of response out of a crowd and then see younger people coming out is humbling.
"I mean, we have parents telling us that their teenage children have given up on normal teenage fans and are Styx fans. They say, 'My kids have forsaken Katy Perry and the rest of those and they want to come see a Styx concert.' So we're building a new, younger audience by being on the road as much as we are -- and probably more than we would by putting out another album."
Styx's last album, the covers set "Big Bang Theory," came out in 2005, while its last all-new release, "Cyclorama," rolled out in 2003. Young, 66, says that there's "not much economic incentive" for the group to record anymore in a market focused on streaming and stealing rather than sales, and with little in the way of radio support -- even from Classic Rock stations that are happy to play past hits such as "Come Sail Away," "Lady," "Renegade" and "Too Much Time On My Hands" but eschews new material.
"That's really been kind of the story for everyone," Young says. "I don't know how much (Paul) McCartney or the (Rolling) Stones sell, but I'd be shocked if they're going platinum and even if they're going gold, in a way. There's just no incentive to go take a year off and a make a great record and spend half a million bucks and then sell 75,000 copies. It just makes no career sense."
Styx has released some live CDs and DVDs during the past decade, however, and has another one coming -- from New Orleans in 2014 -- later this year. And the group has not given up entirely on new material; In fact, Young is certain that something will come along in the not too distant future.
"We're sort of noodling with some ideas," he says. "Tommy (Shaw) heard some riff I played the other day and he said, 'That sounds like something.'I think somewhere down the line there'll be another Styx record. I just don't know when. But there needs to be a new record from us at some point, and I think that's less than five years."
9:45 p.m. Friday, July 1
Stars & Stripes Festival at the Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway at Schoennherr Road, Sterling Heights.
Admission is free. VIP seats are available for a fee.
Call 586-268-5100 or visit starsandstripesfest.com.
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