Styx bassist enjoyed playing private party in Park City
Band plays Tuesday at the State Fair
Although bassist Ricky Phillips played in a Salt Lake City-based band Nasty Habit in the late ’70s and early ’80s, he never got the chance to play in Park City until a few years ago, after he became a member of Styx.
“The band I was in played in clubs in downtown Salt Lake City, and traveled as far east as Chicago, Illinois, as far south as Texas and as far north as Alberta, Canada, and as far west as Seattle, Washington,” Phillips said. “And while we predominantly spent our time in Utah, Montana and Wyoming, we never got to Park City. Park City was a high-priced gig, and we were the dirt band that was climbing up the ladder. So we weren’t quite there yet, even though the band was pretty strong, and everyone was very talented.”
Still, Phillips remembers the private party Styx played in Park City.
“Everyone was really into it, and there was a lot of energy,” he said. “It’s also a beautiful place to play.”
Phillips said he hopes some Parkites will head down to the Utah State Fair when Styx plays on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Styx, composed of Phillips, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, drummer Todd Sucherman, and guitarist and vocalists Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young, with occasional guest appearances by original bassist Chuck Panozzo, is currently touring in support of its 17th studio album, “Crash of the Crown,” which was released in June.
Although many of song themes allude to quarantines, unrest and finding peace within chaos, Phillips, who cut his teeth in FM-radio bands the Babys and Bad English before being asked to join Styx in 2003, said most of the songs were written and recorded before COVID-19 hit the United States.
“I think as songwriters you get in tune with a blanket of ideas that cover a lot of territory, and whatever the impetus for those specific songs, there are many things that are profound in the human condition,” he said. “These songs on the album appear to have crossed that line and seem as if they were written about what we were going through.”
“Crash of Crown” was produced by Will Evankovich, who produced the band’s previous album, “The Mission,” a concept album about a mission to Mars.
While the band was familiar with Evankovich’s methods, the recording process for “Crash of the Crown” was unlike the sessions for “The Mission” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When we did ‘The Mission,’ we came together and wrote our parts as a band,” Phillips said. “With ‘Crash,’ we were all separated. Todd and I live in Austin, Texas. Lawrence is in Toronto, Canada. Tommy and Will are in Nashville. JY is in Chicago, and Chuck is in Florida. And since there was a no-fly time for a while, things were a little daunting to find a way to record.”
The band members ended up working on ideas for the songs in their own studios, and once the no-fly restriction was lifted, they, with the exception of Sucherman, would mask up and travel one by one to record their parts in Shaw’s Nashville studio, said Phillips.
“Todd’s studio is wired so he can work remotely in real time, but the rest of us would fly in for a few days and record our parts and fly out,” he said. “I’ve never recorded that way before, and I think we all will tell you that we hope we don’t have to ever do it that way again.”
The band ended up recording 18 songs, 15 of which appear on “Crash of the Crown,” with two others released on a Record Store Day extended play called “The Same Stardust.”
Styx plans to play some of those songs during next week’s concert, said Phillips, who cited Yes’ Chris Squire and the Who’s John Entwistle as two of his many bass influences.
“It feels great to get back on the road,” he said. “We’re family, and we haven’t seen each other for a long time. We don’t take anything for granted, and we’re trying to stay on top of our game and be one of the premier bands that are touring right now.”
Even after a few new gigs under its belt the band finds itself working out some kinks, after not being able to physically play together for a year and a half, Phillips said.
“If you see two or more of us giggling on stage, you can bet one of us messed up,” he said.
When: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14
Where: Utah State Fair
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